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Charity issues guidance on how hospitality industry can support customers with sight loss during pandemic

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is calling on the hospitality industry to ensure that physical changes to their facilities are accessible for people with sight loss.

The charity has created new practice guidance, outlining how measures introduced to keep customers safe can be made accessible. The guidance also aims to improve understanding of the challenges being faced by blind and partially sighted customers as lockdown restrictions ease.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of people with sight loss who responded to an RNIB survey feel less independent now than they did before lockdown.

Measures such as social distancing have turned the world upside down for blind and partially sighted people, with one-way systems in cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars being almost impossible for those with a vision impairment to navigate.

Some key points from the guidance include introducing tactile markers, audio announcements, colour contrasting signs, as well as having staff assist with any test and trace registrations. The guidance also calls for staff to be aware of outdoor furniture, which may create obstacles for people with sight loss.

Marc Powell, Strategic Accessibility Lead at RNIB, said: “As lockdown eases, we want to ensure that those working in the hospitality industry are fully aware of the challenges being faced by blind and partially sighted people, and to know how they can best provide support.

“We’re hearing daily from blind and partially sighted people that they are incredibly anxious about how to manage the situation when visiting hospitality facilities. This has the potential to have a real impact on people’s quality of life. We hope these simple, implementable measures outlined in our best practice guidance will make life easier for blind and partially sighted people at this time.”

For more information about the our guidance, please contact External Accessibility Enquiries Mailbox on [email protected].

Notes to editors

All media enquiries to Emily Peachey on 0203 829 2917 or [email protected].

Or, for urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.

About the research

This RNIB survey ran from Tuesday 28 April to Monday 11 May. There were 26 questions in total covering access to food, accessible information and social isolation. In total there were 471 responses across the UK from variety of people covering different levels of sight impairment.

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