29 Jan 2022

GALLERY: Navigating Kilkenny City blind is “all about attitude”

Dramatic Improvements: Kilkenny County Council do the simple things well to enable greater mobility for visually impaired or blind people - like a ban on sandwich boards

The local authority have gone to great lengths to make the city navigable for those who are blind or visually impaired but a well-known stalwart of the local community says it still boils down to a person’s attitude.

Tom Kennedy, who is blind, works for the local authority and is a fitness enthusiast, he says things have improved dramatically in Kilkenny City for those who are blind or have difficulties seeing.

Speaking to the Kilkenny People, he said: “More could be done with talk of street furniture and that but the world can’t be changed for a few blind people. It’s not that simple. I could see one time. I’ve seen life from both sides. A lot of it is attitude.

"I just get on with it. I have the cane, I don’t have a problem getting around.

“Out of every 100 people, how many have a visual impairment? 99% of the world can see. Are you going to spend €20 million for one person?

“I’m completely sound dependent. I get around everywhere in Kilkenny.

“I could give you a list of ten things that could be changed, but will they? Probably not. So I just get on with it. Things have improved dramatically. All the crossings, the lights.

“There wouldn’t even be ten things that need to be improved. On the Ring Road, the cycle lanes and walking lanes, I use all of them.

“I remember when there were no lanes and you were running on the road. I can walk around the city four times a day with no problem.”

Kilkenny County Council have made several efforts to make the city as accessible as possible.

They say that where possible they place street furniture (bike stands, seats, planters) away from main walking areas.

There is ridged paving on High Street with all street furniture outside the main footpath.

There are controlled pedestrian crossings which have audio (beeps) and braille buttons.

The Council also says there is tactile paving and dropped kerbing at crossings and they work with accessibility groups and from feedback (for example: repairs to footpaths etc.)

Sandwich boards are not allowed on footpaths and all new works are planned with full accessibility in mind.

Tom says cities in Europe are friendly for the blind or visually impaired.

He added: “I find people very helpful to me as well in Kilkenny.”

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