Visibly Better - Designing accessible housing and buildings

Visibly Better Cymru

RNIB’s accreditation scheme for supported housing in Wales.

There are currently nearly 100,000 people in Wales who are living with sight loss and over the next 25 years the number of people with sight loss is expected to double. Visibly Better helps supported housing providers ensure their properties, services and staff are able to meet the needs of this growing population in a simple and cost effective way.

Prevalence of sight loss

Although sight loss affects people of all ages, as we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss. One in five people aged 75 and over are living with sight loss; this rises to half of people aged 90 and over.

Many of the client groups for supported housing are at particular risk of sight loss. People with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people, for example, and the majority of people over 50 with dementia will have some form of sight loss. For many people sight loss goes undetected and Visibly Better will assist organisations to prevent needless sight loss, and ensure those with sight loss have their needs identified and met.

Over a fifth of people with sight loss live in social housing.

What is Visibly Better?

Visibly Better Cymru is RNIB’s accreditation scheme for supported housing in Wales. Organisations work towards six standards, which focus on different aspects of accessibility, and receive Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of accreditation as they progress through the standards.

Working with you

We know that every organisation works differently, and has it’s own priorities and challenges, so we work with you to develop a tailored package of support that will help you meet the Visibly Better standards. We will agree a programme of work with you, provide your organisation with the correct advice, support, training and guidance on how best to meet the needs of people who are blind and partially sighted.

Why choose Visibly Better?

  1. Our standards help you meet a variety of legal obligations and quality standards, including: the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, the Lifetime Homes standard, the Welsh Government Development Quality requirements, duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the objectives contained in the National Tenant Participation Strategy for Wales.
     
  2. Visibly Better accreditation is a hallmark of good practice, recognised by Welsh Government, which organisations can use in marketing materials to attract new clients and to include in tenders for contracts. RNIB Cymru is happy to promote organisations that have completed the scheme and to work together on joint publicity around the awarding of accreditation.
     
  3. The changes organisations need to make to meet the standards are often simple and inexpensive, and yet can make a huge difference to the lives of tenants. People report an increased ability to live independently, enhanced wellbeing as a result of being able to participate more fully in their community and a reduction in falls and accidents in the home. Although the standards are aimed at improving accessibility for people with sight loss, many of the principles will benefit a much wider range of tenants including people with dementia and people with mobility problems.

The six Visibly Better standards

Standard one

The organisation can give evidence of ongoing visual awareness training for staff and management, and this training is also included in the induction process for new staff.

Standard two

The organisation will ensure that people with sight loss receive the same standard of information and choice that is available to their fully sighted counterparts. This supports organisations to meet the Equality Act 2010.

Standard three

The site has integrated design features to minimise risks to people with sight loss and help maintain independence. The site design complies with – or is in the spirit of – the Welsh Government’s Development Quality Requirements.

Standard four 

The site has appropriate external features or adjustments to promote independence, mobility and use of the outdoor environment for residents with sight loss.

Standard five

Eye health is actively promoted on the site to ensure continued independence. Residents with sight loss are linked up to local and national services.

Standard six

Tenants with sight loss enjoy the same rights and access to services as their fully sighted neighbours. Evidence here can support the Welsh Government’s National Tenant Participation Strategy.

 

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