Steve McCabe MP gets a glimpse of the difficulties blind people face every day

Steve McCabe MP met with local blind and partially sighted campaigners in Birmingham to understand the challenges people with sight loss face in their daily lives.

Mr McCabe visited Focus Birmingham, a local society for people with sight loss, and was challenged to try certain aids and adaptations which help blind and partially sighted people remain independent.

Each task aimed to highlight sections of The Care Bill, currently being debated by MPs, which RNIB believes need strengthening. RNIB is campaigning to ensure all blind and partially sighted people receive a proper programme of rehabilitation and the on-going care and support they need to remain independent.

Facing Blindness Alone

RNIB recently launched its Facing Blindness Alone report. It revealed between 2005 and 2013, there was a 43 per cent decline in the number of blind and partially sighted people in England getting even the most basic types of council support - down from 55,875 people to 31,740, nearly 25,000 fewer people. [1]

The research, commissioned by RNIB, shows that although care and support has declined for all adults with a physical disability (30 per cent), people with sight loss have been the worse affected (43 per cent). [1] 

At the meeting last Friday (24 January 2014), Mr McCabe MP was invited to wear simulation specs and identify whether food had gone out of date and talk through how they'd go about cooking and preparing the food. RNIB campaigner Nina Davis then explained to the MP the support people with sight loss need in the home with cooking and cleaning.

Other activities the MP was invited to carry out included walking a short distance wearing simulation specs and using a white cane. The activity aimed to explain how using a white cane can be a good aid to use when getting out and about, but only if a person receives training on how to use it properly.
Steve McCabe said: "I am supporting RNIB's social care and rehab campaign and will raise these issues in Parliament to ensure blind people are not left facing blindness alone."

RNIB's Chief Executive, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE said: "Being left alone to cope with sight loss is wholly unacceptable. No matter how tight the budgets of Government are, this is essential support which must be provided. The Government needs to act now."

Government action needed

RNIB is calling on the Government to make changes to the Care Bill and ensure:

  • All newly blind and partially sighted people are offered rehabilitation to help get back on their feet after first being diagnosed.
  • Rehabilitation isn't limited to just six weeks as often blind people need longer to gain the new skills needed to remain independent.
  • Longer term care assessments properly recognise the barriers blind and partially sighted people face in remaining independent and that the necessary support is provided.
  • All newly blind and partially sighted people are provided with aids and adaptations to help them remain independent.

For more information on RNIB's Facing Blindness Alone campaign visit our campaigns webpage

Notes to Editors:

For more information contact Steve McCabe MP, on 0121 443 3878 or [email protected]

For more information on RNIB's report contact RNIB's PR team, on 020 7391 2223 or [email protected]

Images of the props can be sent on request

Download a copy of the Facing Blindness Alone report

[1] Secondary analysis of Adult Care Data (2013). Blake M and Byron C, National Centre for Social Research - research commissioned by RNIB.