Influencing change: Our 2020 highlights
From launching two national campaigns, to podcasting about accessible shopping, Sight Loss Councils have not been stopped by Lockdown. Read on to discover some of the ways Sight Loss Councils have been advocating for the needs of blind and partially sighted people across the UK.
Bridge the gap
In February 2020, our Merseyside Sight Loss Council held an employment event at Anfield Stadium, that brought together employers and blind and partially sighted job seekers.
Two new Sight Loss Councils
In March we launched our Greater Manchester and Gloucestershire Sight Loss Councils and, despite having to adapt to meeting remotely, both councils got to work straight away.
Gloucestershire met with their MP Alex Chalk to raise awareness of issues affecting blind and partially sighted people, as well as working with StageCoach West on their new accessible audio bus announcements.
Volunteers Week 2020
June saw the launch of our Volunteers Week 2020 activity, where we shared the stories of SLC members and the reasons why they love volunteering for Sight Loss Councils.
Bristol Sight Loss council member Anela, said: “We are really making a difference.”
In July Sight Loss Councils got together to launch their national Distancing Blind campaign. It raised awareness of the social distancing challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people. The council members also wrote resources and best practice guides for businesses and service providers to help their visually impaired customers social distance. For example, the guidance recommends:
- Marking out one-way systems with black and yellow or black and white markings to make them more visible.
- Making signage at least size 48 point font to make it easier to read.
The campaign also featured the stories of visually impaired people like Ines, who spoke about the ways lockdown and social distancing measures has affected her life.
Sight Loss council’s work is driven by the issues blind and partially sighted people tell us are important to them. One way that we’ve been capturing the views of visually impaired people in communities across the country, is by running VI forums. Each forum is run by a Sight Loss Council and usually has a theme. Bristol Sight Loss Council has run vI forums on the Covid-19 crisis and access to transport, while an upcoming forum in January by the Birmingham and Black Country Sight Loss Councils will focus on employment.
Streets For All
Fast and silent e-scooters and cluttered pavements are putting blind and partially sighted pedestrians at risk. Our #StreetsForAll campaign, which launched in October, is raising awareness of these hazards and campaigning for safer and accessible Streets For All. As part of the campaign, Sight Loss Councils are working with e-scooter operator Tier on solutions for adding Acoustic Vehicle Alert systems to e-scooters. Greater Manchester Sight Loss Councils also approached e-scooter operator Lime, who have agreed to add safety messages to their apps, making riders aware of visually impaired pedestrians.
On Purple Tuesday, a day raising awareness of the importance of accessible shopping, Merseyside and Greater Manchester Sight Loss Councils recorded a podcast, sharing their shopping experiences. Laura Kennedy (Merseyside SLC member) was also featured in a blog about her frustrations with inaccessible shopping websites.
Celebrating our volunteers
On International Day of persons with Disabilities (03 December) we held two events, celebrating the work of our Sight Loss Council members.
Firstly we held a private event, packed with workshops and talks from guest speakers including: award-winning poet Dave Steele, and Paralympian and Dancing on Ice star, Libby Clegg. We rounded off the day with our public ‘Meet the Councils’ webinar, hosted by journalist Jaldeep Katwala. Jaldeep interviewed a panel of engagement Managers and Sight Loss Council members about their work and reasons for volunteering for the Sight Loss Councils.
Want to become a Sight Loss Council member?
In 2021, we will be launching our new Sight Loss Councils in Tyne and Wear, Bedfordshire and York and we are looking for members. If you are blind or partially sighted, and passionate about improving services for blind and partially sighted people, we want to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.
We will also be launching the second phase of the #StreetsForAll campaign in January, which will highlight the dangers of poor street designs and cluttered pavements for visually impaired pedestrians.
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