This year, we will continue to break down barriers, change minds and open up opportunities for people with sight loss. Here is an overview of what is coming up in 2019:
A general election?
Increased political uncertainty means that we are planning how to respond if there is a general election. One thing is for sure, whether it is a local or general election, we always want candidates to hear directly from blind and partially sighted people, so that if elected, they’ll be ready to take your views to Parliament. So watch this space to find out how you can get involved in your local area .
As local elections are definitely on the horizon in some areas, we’ll also be continuing our work to make sure voting is as accessible as possible and that blind and partially sighted people are able to vote independently and in secret.
Many blind and partially sighted people face challenges finding and staying in work. We are developing a campaign to support blind and partially sighted people’s employment, which will be launched later in the year.
Our activities will focus around providing resources to help make employers more knowledgeable and confident, to better recruit and retain blind or partially sighted staff. We will also be challenging employers on the stereotypes of the type of jobs blind and partially sighted people can do. If you are in a job and would like to appear in our film, please do get in touch by email at [email protected]. Filming will take place on Monday 18 and Friday 22 February in London.
Making simple walking journeys along UK streets and public places is becoming increasingly difficult for blind and partially sighted people, due to redeveloped designs that remove kerbs and crossings.
Our lobbying of local and national government contributed to the pause on controversial shared surface schemes in England, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2018. The DfT specifically referred to fears that shared surfaces are “dangerous and difficult to navigate” for blind and partially sighted people, in their ‘Integrated Transport Strategy’. We want to put a stop to all inaccessible street redevelopments across the UK, and we will be influencing the government to achieve this. All streets should be safe and secure for all. Our Policy and Campaigns Manager, Hugh Huddy has started a regular blog, so make sure you tune in to hear the latest.
RNIB Northern Ireland (NI) and Guide Dogs NI are working on a best practice toolkit on public realm schemes, with the Department for Communities and local councils across Northern Ireland. Based on the practical experience of pedestrians, and to tackle the growing number of schemes, the toolkit will set out eight principles on ensuring accessibility. The longer term aim is to secure the commitment of all eleven councils to sign up to a Street Charter.
Eye health and preventing sight loss
We’re continuing to lobby for the implementation of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry recommendations, focussing on increasing capacity in eye care services. The recommendations aim to ensure that patients don't face delayed and cancelled time-critical appointments, currently resulting in some patients not receiving sight saving treatment and care when they need it. We have been working with NHS England to make sure that hospital eye care services prioritise patients most at risk of avoidable sight loss. We will continue this work in 2019.
This year, Wales will become the first UK nation to introduce a “performance measure” especially for eye care patients. The aim is to prioritise eye patients based on their risk of coming to harm, meaning that the highest risk patients will be seen and treated first. This is the results of several years of campaigning by RNIB Cymru – but the work is not over yet. We will be closely watching how Health Boards implement these huge changes to how Ophthalmology services are delivered.
Children and young people
Every child, including children with visual impairment should have the same opportunities as their sighted peers. We will continue to work with the Young Vision Alliance to make progress on the asks of the ‘Our Futures Matter’ campaign report. We will be working on the accessibility of national tests and exams, ensuring that every child and young person with vision impairment receives them in adapted format.
Recent research shows that the biggest barrier facing blind and partially sighted people is the lack of knowledge and understanding of sight loss, and outdated attitudes of the people around them. We are doing further research to find out what this means, and how to best break down stereotypes, whilst and increasing the public’s understanding of sight loss.
Campaigning in your area
There will be a lot more campaigning across the country. Local campaigns include continuing a push to ban advertising boards, improving transport services, protecting vision rehabilitation services, defending Low Vision services and many more. Contact your Regional Campaigns Officer if you have an issue that you would like to campaign on in your local area.
Huge efforts are also going on in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to influence policy within the devolved context. Contact the devolved nations campaigns teams for more information.
We look forward to continuing campaigning with you, making a difference and creating a world without barriers to social inclusion. We wish you all a fantastic and inclusive 2019.
If you like to get our latest updates, make sure you follow us on @RNIB_Campaigns
We’re proud of our campaign successes in 2018, which you can listen to on our Radio Connect roundup of last year. A big thanks to all of our campaigners for their help improving the lives of blind and partially sighted people. We couldn’t have done it without you.