Saturday, November 08, 2008

When budgets goes beyond the needs of the visually impaired

AROUND 50 visually-impaired children have been left without a visiting teacher due to spending cutbacks.

The service was provided to children across Mayo -- some of whom are totally blind -- but was withdrawn by the
Department of Education last month due to "growing pressure nationally".
Fine Gael TD and Mayo football manager John O'Mahony said he had spoken to the frustrated parents who were "up in arms" after their children had lost out on the service.

"It is hard to explain to them that we could sit in the House all night a week or two ago to provide billions to bail out banks yet we cannot provide a few buttons, as it were, to maintain a service such as this," he said.

Previously, a visiting female teacher travelled down from
Dublin and shared her expertise with each child at least once a term. Those who benefited included six pre-schoolers, 23 in primary schools, eight at second level and 14 in special schools.

The 51 visually impaired children are now dependent on a telephone advisory service for two hours per week.

But when the issue was raised by Mr O'Mahony in the Dail,
Junior Education Minister Sean Haughey said alternative arrangements for a visiting teacher for Mayo were being examined.


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