Blind date in European Parliament

Posted: 
12 November 2014

Kimberley Burrows with Catherine Bearder MEPKimberley Burrows is the co-chair of Envision, our campaign network for people with sight loss aged between 18 and 30 years old. Kimberley recently attended a Euroblind event in European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the need for accessible goods and services. Find out more about Kimberley's experience of European Parliament and what we were seeking to achieve. Here’s an excerpt from Kimberley’s blog about the event:

Last week I travelled to European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium to represent RNIB in a two-day 'High Speed Blind Date' event held by the European Blind Union. The event was designed to reach out to MEPs, researchers and journalists through interactive activities to showcase the increasing inaccessibility barriers faced with manufactured goods, information, services, websites and apps.

There are 30 million blind and partially sighted people living in Europe and manufactured products, such as kitchen appliances, are continuously becoming harder to use independently.

The Blind Date event consisted of blind and visually impaired people based at individual tables which housed different examples of manufactured goods - both old and new to show the contrast in the ease of access between the two - for the blindfolded 'dates' to attempt to use! Items ranged from remote controls, to washing machine control panels, to an imitation iPad.

All of the people I dated (including MEPs, researchers and journalists based all over Europe) found the older model of washing machine control panel much easier to use with its tangible buttons; and admitted that they wouldn't be able to do their washing independently, if faced with an LED screen or a touch screen, with their blindfold still firmly in place.

With this foundation of evidence, it is clear that we urgently need the EU to deliver a strong European Accessibility Act to regulate products and services as well as a robust Directive on the accessibility of websites and apps. With strong political support we can achieve this change.

The European Blind Union published their Access Denied report online on November 11th to coincide with the Blind Date event. The report summarises the issues that the EBU are currently in the process of working on.

I had an absolutely wonderful experience at the European Parliament in Brussels and met so many supportive people who had nothing but positive things to say about my involvement with the project and my enthusiasm for blogging and social media as a severely visually impaired person. I want to say a big thank you to the RNIB and to the EBU for having me at the event!

Have a read of Kimberley’s full blog post and follow Euroblind on twitter.