London SLC leads first VI Awareness session
London Sight Loss Council (SLC) has delivered its first VI Awareness session to help increase accessibility for blind and partially sighted people in Camden.
Sight Loss Council members were invited by the Transport Design team at Camden Council to discuss the accessibility of the built environment in Camden. This includes footways, pedestrian crossings, roads and cycle lanes.
There are currently 217,000 blind and partially sighted people living in London. 6610 of these live in the borough of Camden. This is alongside thousands of other blind and partially sighted people travelling in central London. (Source: RNIB)
The session was led by London SLC member, Steven Reed; Senior Engagement Manager (South), Lucy Williams; and SLC coordinator, Liam O’Carroll.
London SLC first invited participants to try on simulation spectacles (sim specs). These enable the wearer to get a better understanding of some of the most common eye conditions. Participants then learned about the types of mobility aids on offer and how visually impaired people use these to navigate the built environment.
London SLC then asked the group to consider the challenges that people with sight loss may face as they negotiate the streets of Camden. They were also asked how these journeys might be made easier through the work of the transport team.
At the end of the session, attendees learned the principles of sighted guiding which they were able to practice with colleagues.
Steven Reed, London SLC member, demonstrating how he uses his cane to members of Camden Council Transport Design Team.
Feedback from the session
Steven Reed, London SLC member, said:
“I have delivered VI awareness training before, but this was the first time for London Sight Loss Council. I love delivering these sessions as they are fun and interactive. They offer sighted participants a real insight into the lives of blind and partially sighted people, and how best to offer help. This can only benefit both parties.
“What I particularly liked about this session was that the participants were already thinking about ways in which they could implement what they had learnt into their work.”
Steven, London SLC member, standing with Richard from the Transport Design Team, Camden Council
Lucy Williams, Senior Engagement Manager for the South, added:
“We were delighted to deliver our first VI Awareness session and to receive such positive feedback from Camden Council. It was especially beneficial to discuss with the transport team how a blind or partially sighted person might safely navigate the surrounding area and how their work could reduce any challenges faced. We’re excited to continue our relationship with the team and advise on future schemes in the borough.”
Anthony Christofi, Transport Design Team Manager, Camden Council, said:
“Camden Council’s Transport Design Team was pleased to host representatives of London Sight Loss Council at our offices to learn about the challenges that visually impaired users face in London.
“The instructors were engaging and fascinating in explaining to us the spectrum of visual impaired conditions with props and real-world examples. We left the session feeling energised and more educated on this issue, with knowledge that we can apply to our work in creating a more inclusive environment. We are pleased to have established some great contacts who we can reach out to in the future.”
As a result of the session, London SLC will continue to work with Camden’s transport design team to advise on future schemes.
Interest has been expressed by the local cabinet member to hold a similar session for borough councillors, as well as expanding this work across the capital.
Image shows the sighted guide training taking place, with a lady being guided to the stairs
Join London Sight Loss Council
London Sight Loss Council is looking for new members for its London and South West London Sight Loss Councils.
If you are blind and partially sighted, live in London, and want to improve services for visually impaired people in your area, we want to hear from you.
Sight Loss Councils are led by blind and partially sighted members and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. We advocate the needs of visually impaired people in our communities and work to improve access to goods and services at a local and national level.
Publication date: 26 January 2023