As lockdowns ease around the world, blind and partially sighted people face a growing list of social distancing challenges.
Shops have one-way systems that are difficult to navigate due to floor markings visually impaired people often cannot see. Guide dogs do not understand social distancing measures and blind and partially sighted people often will simply not see a queue.
Blind and partially sighted people worry about travelling on public transport and getting the assistance they need under social distancing measures.
And there is a lack of awareness among businesses and the wider general public on how to help blind and partially sighted people to social distance.
Best practice guides
Visually impaired Sight Loss Council members have created a suite of best practice guides for local transport providers and businesses to highlight what measures they could put in place to help blind and partially sighted people social distance.
Share your social distancing stories
Using the hashtag #DistancingBlind, raise public awareness by sharing short videos, blogs or quotes of your experiences of social distancing and life in lockdown.
Do you have any concerns about going out and maintaining social distancing? What is it like in the shops with their new one-way systems? What else can businesses and the general public do to help?
Sight Loss Council member stories
Meet blind and partially sighted members of our Sight Loss Councils across the country and find out how social distancing is affecting them.
Matt Cliff has retinitis pigmentosa and is a member of our Merseyside Sight Loss Council. He was recently admitted to hospital to undergo major surgery and talks about the support he received from staff, whilst adhering to social distancing measures. He also shares the difficulties he’s faced social distancing as a visually impaired person.
Anela is registered blind and she talks about the difficulties of hearing staff who are wearing masks and behind protective screens at shops. She also talks about her hopes that businesses and service providers will download leaflets and best practice guides, produced by Sight Loss Councils, so they can learn how to support blind and partially sighted people in their communities.
Maria talks about the challenges of social distancing as a visually impaired person, as well as solutions that shops can put into place to support disabled customers.
Kim talks about the isolation she’s felt during lockdown and shares the challenges of social distancing as a visually impaired person.
“It’s felt like I’ve made a big step back in my independence.”
Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council member Ines, shares what #Lockdown has been like for her as a #VisuallyImpaired person.
Write to your local councillor
Write to your local councillor asking them to encourage local businesses and service providers to adopt the Sight Loss Council guidelines. These best practice guides provide easy-to-implement solutions for all organisations to help blind and partially sighted people to social distance.
Four easy steps to send your local councillor a message:
1) Go to www.writetothem.com and enter your postcode
2) Select your councillor – if you have more than one you can choose to write to them all. This will create a blank form for your message where you can write your own or use the text from our template letter. Make sure you include your contact details on your form so that you get a reply.
3) Click Preview and Send
4) You will receive a confirmation email – click this and your letter is sent.
Further information and support
If you are blind and partially sighted and want to know what Covid-19 support is available for you, check out our Covid-19 information page, which is updated regularly