SLC increases councillor understanding of street obstacles
Camden Councillors have fed back how Sight Loss Council’s (SLC) vision awareness sessions increased their understanding of the impact of street obstacles and will inform their future work.
London SLC ran two vision awareness sessions and guided simulation spectacle walks this month with Camden Council Councillors. This followed a similar session with the council’s transport planning team earlier this year.
Simulation glasses simulate different eye conditions. The aim was to illustrate what it feels like to walk the streets of Camden when blind or partially sighted, increase their understanding of sight loss. This is so they can apply it to their work across the borough.
From left to right: Jenny Mulholland, Adam Harrison, My Sighted Guide volunteer, and Sian Berry are shown crossing a road during the sim spec walk
Feedback from Camden Council councillors and cabinet members includes:
- increased insight into challenges blind and partially sighted (BPS) people face when navigating our streets to inform future policy developments and council committee meetings
- increased understanding of the impact of street obstacles on BPS people, alongside the issues they create for other individuals including wheelchair users and people with prams
- highlighted the importance of ensuring the council and other bodies consult and engage BPS people in future consultations and any proposed changes
- increased their confidence to speak with BPS people about their sight loss and the challenges they face
- potential for joint work with Sight Loss Councils on future campaigns to raise awareness on key issues.
Councillors were very positive about the session and the impact it will have on their future work.
Sian Berry, Camden Councillor and former leader of the Green Party, said:
“The visual impairment awareness session was so well done, with a practical, inclusive and non-judgemental format and warm and informative facilitators, all with visual impairment and real-life experience to share.
“It helped give me far more appreciation of the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people than I would get reading about them, and into the changes needed in policies and the built environment to make life more equitable for everyone. I would highly recommend this training to all councillors.”
Councillor Adam Harrison, Camden Council Councillor and Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, said:
“I highly recommend these vision awareness sessions from Thomas Pocklington Trust.
“It was fascinating to experience at least a sense of the different types of visual impairment and how this affects an individual’s ability to navigate around.
“It is important that local authorities, including Camden, strive to ensure that their pavements and public spaces are designed to best assist visually impaired residents, visitors and commuters.”
Jenny Mulholland, Camden Council Councillor, said:
“We all need to work together to make our streets accessible. No one would want to stay at home or risk injury when they go out because of changes outside of their control, such as roadworks, or tables and chairs being placed on the pavement outside a café. This is something no one should have to accept, including the council and Camden residents. Thank you for a great session.”
Camden Cllrs Jenny Mulholland and Adam Harrison walking around a bin on the sim spec walk
London Sight Loss Council feedback:
London SLC is pleased that the council invited them back to run additional vision awareness sessions and guided walks, following their work with the transport planning team earlier this year.
Accessible public transport and streets are key priorities for all Sight Loss Councils this year, as BPS told us these issues matter to them the most during Listening Month.
London SLC volunteer, Davinder Kullar, said:
“This was an interactive session with councillors to highlight the impact of low sight through to no sight to inform future planning. This includes what to consider when communicating and interacting with blind and partially sighted people. We also explored how we can work together to improve society. Thank you to all who attended a very enjoyable and rewarding session.”
London SLC Senior Engagement Manager, Lucy Williams, added:
‘It has been great working with Camden Council to increase awareness of visual impairment amongst Cabinet members and Councillors.
“Our hope is that attendees left the sessions feeling informed about the issues that affect blind and partially sighted people across the borough, and how they can consider this in their day-to-day work and council-wide policies.
Across England, our 18 Sight Loss Councils are aiming to make streets more accessible by working with senior decision makers to influence change.”
Cllr Sian Berry, being guided by a My Sighted Guide volunteer during the sim spec walk
Streets for all
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Publication date: 23 June 2023