West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

McAleer pledges support for Guide Dogs for the blind

Published: 12 October, 2016

Declan Mc Aleer MLA with GuidedogdNI member Debbie at the 'Blindfold Lunch'

Declan Mc Aleer MLA with GuidedogdNI member Debbie at the 'Blindfold Lunch'

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has said that society must do more to recognise and address the challenges faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. He was speaking after attending a "Blindfold Lunch" in support of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Mr Mc Aleer said "With the help of a guide and a blindfold, I experienced the world of a blind person for almost one hour and found it to be incredibly profound. Blind people experience many obstacles in our society and most of these are caused by other human beings who cannot or do not envisage the world from the perspective of another person. "A few of the many challenges that were raised with me are people who park their vehicles on pavements, disrupting the linearity of the kerb which guide dogs use to navigate their way around towns and villages. Another major issue, is people who encroach upon the pavement with outdoor seating and tables. These present severe obstacles for people who are blind and can result in mishaps and embarassing situations. "At the event, I got a deeper appreciation of just how important a guide dog is to a blind person. In many cases, the guide dog is the reason they are able to get out of the house and lead a reatively independent life. "I was glad to note from the blind people I met that there has been many good developments in recent years such as the 'talking busses' however, it is clear that much work still has to be done, particularly in educating the people of the challenges which blind people face in society. As a member of the Infrastructure committee I gave them a commitment to continue supporting their work and raising any relevant issues at the committee and in the Assembly. "By working with groups like GuidedogsNI, local councils, planners and the Assembly we can all play our part in making society more inclusive of everyone.