National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Awareness Campaign Promotes Independence

NCBI Advert

6,500 people are registered blind in Ireland. It is this stark fact which often shocks. But behind the statistics and the official figures are many, many individuals living fulfilling, rewarding and challenging lives, coping, striving and succeeding.

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) has launched a nationwide advertising and awareness campaign. 'Promoting Independence' today, Wednesday 27 March 2002. The brainchild and donation of QMP D'Arcy Advertising, the campaign uses two vision impaired Irish people to demonstrate that they and other people with vision impairments do not need pity or sympathy on account of their disability, but rather acceptance and recognition for their many other abilities.

Jenny Hollingsworth, a mother of two from Knocklyon, Co. Dublin is shown with her two children, Zacaharay aged 6, and Zara aged 13 with the line 'Mum sees nothing, yet sees to everything' and the byline 'The National Council for the Blind of Ireland Promoting Independence'.

Jenny lost her sight through diabetic retinopathy 13 years ago, and admits that it was difficult being a new mum and newly blind at the same time, but that she had great support from her family and from NCBI. "So much depends on the way you approach life. The biggest change for me when I lost my sight was other people's attitudes. Suddenly I wasn't seen as a capable independent woman with a good week's wage - I was just blind. I didn't change who I was, so I couldn't understand why other people's approach to me did. I guess I still don't."

It is with this approach that Jenny has succeeded in raising two beautiful, happy children. "Obviously they know Mum is blind, but I honestly think the biggest impact it has on their lives is when I walk into their toys. 'Mum you hurt my bike - be careful!' My vision impairment has affected my life, but it hasn't changed who I am. I'm Jenny first: mother, wife, broadcaster, woman. I also happen to be blind."

NCBI Advert Pádraig Naughton a vision impaired artist from Co. Roscommon is featured with one of his works of art. 'He Starts Every Day with a Blank Canvas. The National Council for the Blind of Ireland Promoting Independence.' For Pádraig, the essence of the campaign is the focus on his art, his ability and his status as a self employed person, and not on his somewhat surprising occupation as an artist with a vision impairment. 'The truth is that every day is a blank canvas, and every day I have to find some way of expressing myself creatively through my art, as all artists do. The challenges I face are not very different to the challenges that face fully sighted artists, but obviously the way I approach them is different.'

"I guess I've flown in the face of convention most of my life" he says "Rather than pursue a career such as telephony or information technology which might have seemed 'suitable' for someone with a vision impairment, I chose art - or maybe it chose me! To many, the very notion of an artist with a vision impairment is a contradiction. To me, it's just my life - it's who I am."

"A great deal of my work has been influenced by my own vision impairment. I was keen to illustrate how this apparent disadvantage provides me with a unique view of the world with endless possibilities for the fresh approach for the creation of art. I don't want pity or sympathy, I don't want to stand out from the crowd because of my vision impairment, but I do want to be recognised for my talent - my art and sculpture. I like to think of myself as an artist who happens to have a disability rather than a disabled artist. I hope this campaign helps to communicate that message for myself and the thousands of other vision impaired people in Ireland."

The advertising campaign will run for a month from 27 March 2002 on billboards, bus stops, dart cards and in publications. The NCBI hopes that it will encourage people to come to a new way of thinking about people with a vision impairment. "We want to promote independence and to highlight the many abilities, achievements and potential of all vision impaired people in Ireland with this campaign - it's a simple message and one which I hope will hit home." said Des Kenny, Chief Executive of NCBI. "This campaign would not be possible without the generosity and creativity of QMP D'Arcy Advertising and the commitment of Poster Management Ltd, Viacom, Clearchannel, JC Deceaux, International Screen Printing and Donal Maloney Photography. We are in their debt."

Wednesday 27 March 2002

For further information please contact: Sarah Gahan on 01 8307033. Email:

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