The roadmap out of lockdown
From Monday 12 April, all non-essential retail is reopening, hospitality venues will reopen outdoors and more opportunities will exist for people to get out and about in their communities.
This page provides all the up to date information to support blind and partially sighted people enjoy the benefits of the country coming out of lockdown. The page includes tips and guidance for businesses and members of the public.
Advice for businesses
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.
Good Practice Guides
Visually impaired Sight Loss Council members have created a suite of good 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. You can check out our guides here.
We have worked with our friends at Guide Dogs and RNIB to produce specific advice on sighted guiding during Covid-19 restrictions. This has links to government guidance and represents our good practice on safe and appropriate guiding.
Please give me space
For many people with disabilities, including blind and partially sighted people, maintaining social distancing can be very difficult. We have partnered with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, with support from the Cabinet Office and RNIB, to create the ‘Please Give Me Space’ campaign.
The campaign enables people to download and print or buy a card, badge or lanyard that will help identify them as somebody with a hidden disability who may need extra help with social distancing. It has been designed to encourage businesses and members of the public to be aware of others, give them space and help to maintain social distancing.
You can access downloadable resources to print at home on the government website here.
Or you can visit the Please Give Me Space website, run by the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, where you can buy other materials.
Covid testing and vaccines
Sight Loss Councils and TPT have worked closely with other sight loss organisations to make sure the Covid-19 testing and vaccine process is as accessible as possible for blind and partially sighted people.
Home test kits can be delivered to your door and you can get braille, audio or large print instructions. You can also have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff to help you register and take a home coronavirus test. You can find out more about testing here.
Priority supermarket delivery is still available
Blind or partially sighted people still finding it difficult to access essential shopping can still contact their supermarket for home deliveries. Following campaigning by a range of disability organisations, including Thomas Pocklington Trust and Sight Loss Councils, any blind or partially sighted person having difficulties getting a delivery slot can contact the RNIB helpline for advice or support on 0303 123 999.
As part of the response to Covid-19, many local authorities are redesigning their streets to accommodate more pedestrians and cyclists, in order to adhere to social distancing measures. New one-way systems, increased cycle lanes and outdoor seating areas, however, are acting as physical barriers to blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Many of these changes are being implemented with little consultation and they are not being communicated effectively to disabled people.
Sight Loss Councils are running a #StreetsForAll campaign to raise awareness of the impact of these changes on blind and partially sighted people and to urge local councils to engage and consult before introducing changes that might affect disabled people.
Contact your local Sight Loss Council
We currently have 10 Sight Loss Councils operating across England. 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.
For the very latest Government advice on Covid-19 restrictions, testing, vaccines, support for businesses and more, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Other sight loss organisations
Our partners at London Vision have put together a set of resources and pages for blind and partially sighted people in London. You can read more here.
Our partners at Visionary have a dedicated Covid-19 knowledge hub with lots of advice and support for local sight loss organisations. You can read more here.
RNIB have published a range of materials and advice supporting blind and partially sighted people during the Covid-19 crisis. You can read more here.
Guide Dogs have a special section on their website with a raft of materials and advice. You can read more here.