Leicestershire members of the National Federation for the Blind had quite the eventful day when they took Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan on a blind walk to celebrate White Cane Day, on October the 19th.
Adorned with a simulation specs and helped by people with sight loss and a trained rehabilitation officers from Vista, it didn’t take Nicky Morgan long to discover the daily difficulties faced by those with sight loss as they move around Loughborough.
Before they’d even got going, Leonie, a guide dog user who was there to discuss the impact her dog has had on how she gets around, was verbally abused by a stranger for not allowing her working dog to be played with, despite clearly wearing the hi-vis harness.
Nicky Morgan was guided around a busy Friday market by Sibi, a Vista rehab officer, and Susan, a white cane user. Although much has been done to help those with sight loss get around Loughborough, from tactile paving to accessible crossings, there were still issues making mobility difficult, mostly caused by a minority of peoples’ actions.
Cars parked across pavements nearly caused Nicky to walk into a lamppost, goods left across walkways in the market lead to a near miss involving some pottery, and vandalism that had rendered controlled crossings unusable due to lack of rotating cone underneath the push button control box on the pedestrian crossing.
After her walk and experiencing first hand both the good and the areas that needed improving, Nicky asked to keep the simulation specs she had been wearing to share the experience with her colleagues and friends.
Nicky said after the walk “It is easy for all of us to take our sight for granted and very difficult to appreciate the challenges those with sight loss experience every day, especially when they are out and about.
“I very grateful to the NFBUK for inviting me to take part in this insightful experience, the sensory deprivation really does make you appreciate the consideration that needs to go into town planning to accommodate the needs of those living with sight loss.”