As leisure facilities reopen we’ve issued guidance on social distancing and sight loss

Post date: 
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Other campaigning
Photo of people at the gym on treadmills

Alongside British Blind Sport (BBS), Metro Blind Sport and Visionary, we’ve produced practical guidance to support the return of blind and partially sighted people to leisure and sports facilities.

What the guidance can help with

Our guidance provides simple considerations to make the return to leisure facilities more straightforward for blind and partially sighted people and encourages the wider public to be mindful that sight loss may not always be obvious. It explains how to communicate clearly any changes to the facilities, particularly floor indicators, one way systems, protective screens and temporary barriers. 

It’s part of our World Upside Down campaign and wider work on social distancing, to help sports and leisure providers prepare for welcoming people back to physical activity as safely and easily as possible.

Marc Powell, Strategic Accessibility Lead at RNIB, said:

As lockdown restrictions ease, we’ve increasingly heard from people with sight loss who are incredibly anxious about how to manage the situation. By creating clear, implementable guidance for leisure operators, we hope that some pressure and stress will be relieved for blind and partially sighted people, and that we will make the general public more aware of the challenges being faced by our community during this time.

How we are ensuring businesses and services are accessible

Social distancing can be near impossible for people with sight loss, and we’ve launched our #WorldUpsideDown campaign to raise awareness of this and encourage people to safely offer help.

The Government announced last week that leisure facilities such as swimming pools and gyms will be allowed to open from July 25, but haven’t given specific guidance to operators on how to ensure the new measures they put in to make spaces safe can be made accessible. This is one of the key asks of our World Upside Down campaign on social distancing. 

Our research found that two thirds (66 per cent) of blind and partially sighted people feel less independent now compared to before lockdown. In addition, inaccessible signage and fear about how the public will react to us if we are unable to follow the guidelines is causing increased stress and worry.

Read our new sports and leisure guidance or find out more about the World Upside Down campaign on our campaign homepage.