Accessible info and Supermarkets top of the agenda for RNIB’s Equalities Inquiry response

Post date: 
Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Accessible information
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RNIB – together with the Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary - has shared evidence of how coronavirus and the lockdown has disproportionately affected blind and partially sighted people in a response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s new inquiry.

The Select Committee is an influential group of MPs who investigate how well Government policy is working for people with characteristics protected by the Equality Act and make suggestions about how the Government could improve. 

The evidence we shared was collected through different channels, including our helplines, online communities and local groups.  We detailed the impact of the lockdown for blind and partially sighted people in seven key areas; and offered the committee recommendations about how the impact of these changes could be reduced. 

Accessible information about coronavirus has been a priority area for RNIB since lockdown began. We have been monitoring the accessibility of government updates and unfortunately it seems as though in the rush to put information out, it may not be going through the usual accessibility checks. We’ve been tracking this with our hashtag #InfoForAll, raising the issue with civil servants and Ministers, and have even written to the PM about this. Our submission called again for the appointment of a senior national lead for accessibility.

We explained to MPs the practical difficulties in maintaining social distancing when you have sight loss, and shared some snapshots of negative experiences people have had. For example we’ve heard about blind and partially sighted people who have been aggressively challenged by other pedestrians for not maintaining a two metre distance. 

We also raised the problems being experienced accessing vital supplies, such as groceries and medicines. We talked about the difficulties reported by the blind and partially sighted community in going to supermarkets or securing supermarket delivery slots, which we’ve been campaigning relentlessly to improve. 

We also raised concerns about the impact of the lockdown on eye health services and vision rehabilitation, due to deferred appointments; and the accessibility of testing for Covid-19.

Now the Select Committee will examine all the evidence submitted by different individuals and organisations, with a view to putting together recommendations for the Government. We’ll keep you updated!