Stroud Town councillors walk blind in town centre
Stroud Town councillors have been learning first-hand about the barriers which prevent the town centre being accessible for all.
Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council led a group of town councillors and officers, and blind and partially sighted community members, on a guided walk around the town centre.
During the walk, councillors wore simulation spectacles (sim specs) which simulate the various sight conditions some local residents have.
By using glasses which mimic certain eye conditions it enabled the group to experience first-hand the challenges and hazards that our streets present.
Also taking part were Stroud District Council officers, representatives from the office of the MP and the community policing team.
Participants during the sim spec walk, navigating a narrow street
Feedback from the walk
Wayne Hands, Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council member, said the walks were a great way to raise awareness about the difficulties people with visual impairments face when out and about.
“The people who join us on these walks get to experience how hard it can be to get around our town centres when there are obstacles like A boards, tables and chairs outside cafés, overhanging bushes, and broken paving just to name a few.
“Although the experience is a serious issue it can also be a fun way to learn more about how we should not make assumptions about our environment and take more care in planning to allow easier access for people with visual impairments.”
Alun Davies, Sight Loss Council Engagement Manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:
“This is one of several walks we are delivering across Stroud in partnership with Stroud District Council and all the town and parish councils.
“Everyone who has taken part has said how illuminating and helpful they have found them. They have given them ideas about how to improve their local built environment for blind and partially sighted people.”
Adrian Sparkes, a partially-sighted local resident, joined the group and recounted some of the other issues he experiences on his walks around the wider Stroud area.
Some of the challenges he has encountered include uneven pavements, tables outside cafes, advertising boards and some bollards and lamp posts due to their colour making them hard to see.
“I have also had problems with single traffic sign posts,” he said. “If a post is hit by a car causing it to tilt over, it is a hazard when walking past. I have walked into various posts and hit myself on the top part of the post.”
Stella Parkes, Stroud Mayor, said:
“The walk certainly made it apparent that our busy high street, with its many A frames, bollards, planters and seating, can be really difficult to move through when your vision is compromised.”
Town Councillor Naomi Seffar, added:
“I have the impetus now to share my experience with other members of the community. As someone who works on the High Street, I have witnessed how people navigate all the obstacles and traffic. I will also advocate and support any positive actions to improve things in Stroud Town Centre.”
Participants of the walk, stood together outside Stroud Town Council
Streets for all
Passionate about making a difference? Want to influence positive change? Our Sight Loss Councils, led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, are recruiting new members. Join us today!
We use our lived experience to create positive change for others. Together, we tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.
Join us to help ensure visually impaired people in your area can live the lives they want to lead.
You’ll get the opportunity to create positive change for others, meet like-minded people, have a voice, feel valued, receive training and learn or enhance your skills. Whether you’re interested in public speaking or honing your social media skills, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.
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Publication date: 06 September 2023