New survey highlights public misunderstanding of the challenges facing blind children in the UK

Post date: 
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Photo of a young person with vision impairment using a braille keyboard in a room with a professional

Over a quarter of adults believe that blind children have different dreams and aspirations to their sighted peers, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC), shows that very little is known about the impact of visual impairment on children’s lives. Almost one fifth of those surveyed don’t know what effect being blind or partially sighted will have on a young person’s life, with only 11 per cent thinking that blindness makes it difficult to make friends.
 

This comes despite the fact that two out of five blind children have no local friends to play with. Nine out of 10 blind children won’t have a long-term job when they grow up, and blind children are more likely to live on or below the poverty line.

The reality of childhood sight loss is not the ability to see. Rather, it’s the impact on a child’s future life chances if their family doesn’t receive the right support. To tackle this, RSBC has launched a new campaign, Every Blind Child, that aims to raise awareness of the real challenges faced by the children with vision impairment (VI).
 
Other findings from the survey include: 
  • 60 per cent of people in employment said that they have never come across a blind or partially sighted person at work.
  • 84 per cent of respondents believe that there would be barriers to a child with VI achieving their dream job.
  • 52 per cent of respondents believe that blind and partially sighted children won’t be able to live alone in adulthood, travel, cook or take care of finances independently. 
The campaign, which features the real voices and experiences of blind children at its core, aims to bolster awareness from the public and ensure that, by 2020, 11,000 families have access to a sight loss specialist who can give them immediate, one-to-one emotional and practical help for as long as it’s needed.
 
Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive at RSBC said: “The survey findings demonstrate a profound lack of understanding around what it means to grow up with sight loss. For many, sight loss is a hidden disability, which can often lead to misconceptions about the unique set of challenges blindness presents to the individual. Blind and visually impaired children tell us they have the same career ambitions and hopes for the future as their sighted friends, but it’s an uphill struggle for them to achieve their dreams. Once they start to encounter the kind of prejudices and false assumptions reflected in our survey, their self-confidence starts to diminish and their mental wellbeing is impacted negatively.”
 

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