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Wheels in motion to create visually aware space for people with sight loss

Representatives from the Royal National Institute of Blind People in Northern Ireland (RNIB NI) met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy today to agree a way forward in implementing a recent Motion passed by Council to make Derry City and the Strabane District Council area a visually aware space.

From left to right: Councillor Philip McKinney, Dr. Linda Hegarty, Rory McCartney, Mayor Sandra Duffy and Brian Murray, and Paula Beattie. All standing next to a sign which says 'See the person, not the sight loss'.

Mayor Cllr Duffy who brought forward the Notice of Motion at last month’s Full Council meeting said she was delighted the motion got the full support of Council and she looked forward to seeing it being implemented across the Council area.

She said: “As someone who is visually impaired myself I am delighted that the Council has made a commitment to work with RNIB to look at how we can improve our public spaces to ensure they are safe and accessible to everyone, especially to those affected by sight loss. This is an issue that is very close to my heart and I look forward to working with the organisation and other stakeholders to do all we can to increase awareness of sight loss and the challenges people who live with it face every day. I sincerely hope that this Council motion will help bring about a better understanding of the issues faced by blind or partially sighted people in our community and also work collectively towards removing any barriers that exist and making our city and district safer and more accessible to all.”

Welcoming the passing of the council motion on Wednesday 22 February, RNIB Northern Ireland’s Policy and Campaigns Manager, Paula Beattie, said: “I wish to extend our gratitude to the Mayor Councillor Sandra Duffy, Councillor Philip McKinney and all the members of the Derry and Strabane District Council for unanimously agreeing this motion to make Derry and Strabane District Council a visually aware space. I welcome such a public commitment by the council members. We very much look forward to the journey that lies ahead, sharing knowledge, embedding best practice, and collaborating with local businesses and service providers to enhance the lived experience of citizens’ and visitors affected by sight loss.

“I’d like to pay special tribute to our RNIB volunteers for their tireless efforts and in particular Rory McCartney who has worked so hard with local elected representatives to bring this council motion to fruition. At RNIB, we are committed to bringing about positive change and breaking down the barriers people with sight loss face in all areas of life. This work includes improving access to and inclusivity of employment, education, and health care services. We work to ensure public transport, streets and local communities are fully accessible, safe, and clutter-free. We know that increasing awareness of sight loss and what that means to those who live with it, will lead to a change in attitudes for the better and a deeper understanding of how we all can remove the barriers that exist for blind and partially sighted people in our society.

“We welcome this renewed commitment by the council to work with ourselves and alongside blind and partially sighted people and broader society to raise awareness and ensure sight loss issues are central to public policy planning. I believe that by working together, we can change society for the better For everyone.”

On hearing that the motion had been passed by council, RNIB NI volunteer Rory McCartney, said:

“I am always saying we need a visually aware city so why not see if we can make it happen. After holding a very successful event in Derry/Londonderry for World Sight Day in October 2022, I wanted to continue my advocacy work on behalf of blind and visually impaired people to have accessible services and for them to be treated equally and break down the barriers that they and I face daily. Making Derry a visually aware city means that anyone with a visual impairment coming to the city for business or pleasure in the future can expect a welcome from a service and hospitality sector who have been fully trained in sight loss awareness, should they go to a hotel, out for dinner, shopping or visit one of the many attractions my amazing city has to offer.

Today, I am a really proud Derry man because my local council have set a precedent for others to follow.”

Who We Are

The Royal National Institute of Blind People in Northern Ireland (RNIB NI) is here for everyone affected by sight loss. Driving the creation of a world where there are no barriers for people who are blind or partially sighted.

If you’re blind or partially sighted, or supporting somebody who has lost their sight, we offer a wide range of services, support and information.

From providing practical and emotional support at the point of diagnosis, advice on employment, and campaigning for change, to advice on useful products and technology.

Working with our supporters and partners, we’re changing wider society to create a world where sight loss isn’t a barrier to living life to the full.

To find out about sight loss support services in your area, call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999, or if you have an Alexa device just say 'Alexa, call RNIB Helpline'.


Notes to editors

All media inquiries to Joe Kenny at RNIB NI

T: 07936 601266

E: [email protected]

About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently.

Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit

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