Blind and partially sighted people have adjusted as much as possible to the daily challenges the pandemic has created – but some of the more visual safety measures, like social distancing and changes to the environment, are going to continue to be major barriers to independence and confidence.
Our Head of Social Change, Sarah Lambert, talks about our campaign to encourage everyone to 'maintain the space, be patient, be helpful'.
Support us with social distancing
We created a short film to help people not feel awkward interacting with blind and partially sighted people as we come out of lockdown.
You can download the transcript of the social distancing film here.
Help by learning more about sight loss
Social distancing relies on being able to see where others are, something that’s impossible for many people with sight loss, and this has impacted on people’s independence and confidence.
Take our 'Sight loss and social distancing quiz' to find out more about the challenges and how you can help and then share with your family and friends.
What businesses can do
As businesses begin to reopen again, making changes to protect staff and customers is so important and it is essential these changes are accessible for blind and partially sighted customers.
We have created some best practice guidelines to help businesses understand how they can help their blind and partially sighted customers with these changes.
We've also made it clear that businesses need to consider accessiblity in every step of planning and providing services and the Government has a key role to play, and has recently updated its guidance on how businesses can work safely as coronavirus restrictions ease.
The Government guidance by BEIS and DCMS is available on GOV.UK.
What the Government can do
Since the outbreak of the pandemic we’ve been working to make sure that information on coronavirus and Government measures to reduce the spread work for blind and partially sighted people.
We’ve had a number of successes, including our work on improving the accessibility of the coronavirus test and on sighted guiding but there’s more to do.
What we can do
Priority supermarket delivery continues
Blind or partially sighted people finding it difficult to access essential shopping can contact the RNIB helpline for advice and support on 0303 123 9999.
We also have essential supermarket information and updates available online or via our Helpline.
Living well with sight loss
Our free and informal Living Well with Sight Loss courses aim to help you increase your independence, boost your confidence and connect with others to share experiences. Our new range of themed “Focus on” courses are dedicated to specific topics, including daily life during coronavirus, confident living, wellbeing and money matters.
Eye health and attending eye clinics
Anyone with questions or concerns about their sight or eye condition, or anyone concerned about safely attending their eye clinic appointment can call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 999 or read our online advice.
Mental health and wellbeing
Lots of us are finding this time challenging and so it's vital to continue to look after our mental health. Whether you’re struggling with feelings of isolation and need to speak to someone, or if you just want some tips on how to maintain your mental health, you can speak to the RNIB Sight Loss Advice Service by calling 0303 123 9999.
We have many ways of keeping people connected online and through different communities. For example, our Facebook groups are a welcoming and supportive space for people affected by sight loss, and our Connect Voices network offers the chance to get involved with RNIB’s work, and to share experiences.
Sighted guiding support in England
Sighted guiding for blind and partially sighted people can continue, but our guidance highlights important steps to follow, to minimise the risks of catching, or passing on coronavirus.