Don’t turn blind eye to the needs of visually impaired, says RNIB

Holyrood seen through sight loss
Holyrood seen through sight loss

A leading charity has called for every area in Scotland to become kinder, safer and more inclusive for people who are blind or partially sighted.

The call by RNIB Scotland comes as the charity warns the number of people suffering sight loss is expected to double by 2030.

Ahead of the Scottish 
Parliament elections on May 5, the RNIB insists the 
costs of inclusion would 
be relatively modest.

But the charity added: “The gains for the vulnerable in our society would be far-reaching and profound.”

Around 180,000 people in Scotland have significant sight loss, around 3000 of them are children.

According to the charity, these numbers are expected to double because of an ageing population and poor health.

Ross MacFadyen, interim director of RNIB Scotland, said: “Sight loss will, inevitably, be a more common feature of our society.

“It is vital then that we act now to maximise the independence of those whose vision cannot be saved.”

The RNIB’s manifesto for the elections, A Vision for a Better Scotland, wants more support for people who are newly diagnosed with sight loss, disability benefits that recognise the extra costs involved in being blind and more accessible public transport.

Mr MacFadyen said: “Being told you are going to lose some or even all of your vision is devastating news.

“People need reassurance they can find their lives and independence again.

He added: “There are vision support services in over half the health board areas in Scotland but we want to make sure this support is available to everyone.”

The charity also hopes additional powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament surrounding disability benefits could help make the welfare system more sensitive to the needs of people who can’t see.

The charity wants mandatory training for bus and coach drivers to better understand the needs of passengers.

Mr MacFadyen said: “Little things like not moving off until someone finds a seat or telling them when they have reacher their stop can make a tremendous difference.”