Councillors can help transform blind people’s lives

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​Sight loss charity issues challenge to would-be councillors

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25th April 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Local authorities are key to improving life for the 170,000 Scots who are blind or partially sighted.

That’s the message coming from RNIB Scotland in the run up to next Thursday's (4 May) council elections.

The charity is emphasising that people with a visual impairment are more likely to depend on public services - from social care to transport.

Deputy director James Adams said: "It's vital that councils fully understand the day to day challenges that people with sight loss face.

"Scotland's 32 local authorities will operate across a changing landscape in the next five-year term. They will have new opportunities to help blind and partially sighted people live more inclusively, independently and safely. The manifesto we have sent out to all political parties sets out practical steps that can help make this happen."

Among the things that RNIB Scotland's manifesto, Looking Local, is calling for are a thorough review of regulations and bylaws governing street obstacles such as advertising boards that can be a daily, even dangerous, hazard for people with sight loss and ensuring council communications are available in formats such as audio, braille and large-print, or on accessible websites.

It also wants action to close the attainment gap between blind and partially sighted school-children and their peers and for councils to maintain an up-to-date register of people who are blind or partially sighted in their area.

Scotland's ageing population, and the increase in vision-impairing conditions such as diabetes, means the number of people with sight loss will inevitably increase, says the charity, and could potentially even double within a generation.

But RNIB Scotland warns we have yet to fully prepare for this.

Adams added: "For the first time ever, the age demographic in the first world is tilting towards there being more older people than younger people, and this will have major implications that we have yet to fully grasp.

"We need to start thinking now about a society in which more of our population will have needs connected with their vision. And local authorities will be at the forefront of this."

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