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Borders Councillors Experience Street Hazards Facing Blind Residents

A group of Scottish Borders Councillors tried to navigate around obstacles and clutter on the streets in Kelso, wearing spectacles that mimic different sight loss conditions. The exercise was arranged by national charity RNIB Scotland in a bid to demonstrate the problems that blind and partially sighted residents experience when confronted with advertising boards, bollards, cycle racks and café furniture.

RNIB staff member Eileen guiding one of the councillors, who is wearing sim-specs

Wide-ranging concerns have been expressed by disability groups as towns and cities across the country engage in moves to redesign urban streetscapes, part of a bid to encourage more active travel like cycling.

The councillors taking part in the 15-minute walk were guided by members of RNIB Scotland. The special spectacles they wore simulate blotchy (retinopathy), cloudy (cataract) and tunnel (glaucoma) vision and other conditions.

The event also allowed residents with sight loss to share their concerns with their local representatives.

RNIB Director James guiding a representative of John Lamont MP's office, who is wearing sim-specs

James Adams, Director of RNIB Scotland, says,

“We welcome this opportunity to let elected councillors from all the main parties in the Scottish Borders find out more about how difficult getting out and about can be when you have sight loss. The short route we chose has numerous obstacles that can present a hazard to blind and partially sighted people.

“This is why we continue to raise the profile of ongoing street developments from a visually impaired person's perspective. We believe the needs of all residents and visitors should be built into future developments, to ensure some areas in the Scottish Borders don't inadvertently become no-go areas for those with sight loss.”

RNIB staff member Catriona guiding one of the councillors, who is wearing sim-specs

John Lamont MP, Member of Parliament for Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, says,

“People with sight loss must be fully considered when any changes are made to our roads and streets.

“New developments can prove to be very challenging for blind and partially sighted residents.

“I am pleased to support the outstanding work of the RNIB to increase awareness about the difficulties that visually impaired people face in everyday life.”

About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality, and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently.

Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit

For further information, please contact Rory Paterson at RNIB Scotland on [email protected].