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Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Edinburgh, officially opens RNIB’s new London office

Anna Tylor, Dame Gail Ronson, The Duchess of Edinburgh and Matt Stringer opening Grimaldi, RNIB New office

Today, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Edinburgh joined staff and supporters of The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to officially open their new London office –The Grimaldi Building on Pentonville Road in Islington.

The move is part of the charity’s continued work to ensure its support and services are robust, future-facing and consistently meeting the needs of people with sight loss.

The new London office offers a modern and accessible space for customers, volunteers, supporters and staff to use. After careful consultation with blind and partially sighted people and design experts, the space has been renovated with inclusivity and accessibility at its heart and is one of the first buildings in the UK to achieve the BSI PAS 6493 “Design for the Mind – Neurodiversity and the Built Environment” rating.

Present on the day was The Duchess of Edinburgh, Dame Gail Ronson, RNIB’s President, Anna Tylor, RNIB’s Chair of Trustees, Matt Stringer, RNIB’s Chief Executive and many other trustees, major donors and supporters of the charity.

Led by Anna Tylor and Matt Stringer, The Duchess of Edinburgh was taken on a tour around the building where she saw the facilities available and met several guests along the way. Shortly after the tour, The Duchess of Edinburgh, joined volunteers and ambassadors in the RNIB boardroom for a roundtable discussion about sight loss.

Bringing together a number of services available at RNIB, facilities at The Grimaldi Building include The Low Vision Centre, Products for Life store, heritage area, usability lab, Talking Books recording studios, RNIB Connect Radio broadcast studio, a multi-faith room, a serenity space, amenities for guide dogs, office workstations and meeting rooms for collaborative working and events.

In line with RNIB’s values, the building symbolises the charity’s confidence to look forward and to create an inclusive environment for everyone. The London office has been designed with everyone in mind with *accessibility features including muted tones and dimmer lighting to create a sensory-inclusive environment, tactile surfaces, NaviLens codes and much more.

Dr Amit Patel, RNIB’s Celebrity Ambassador, said: “Visiting RNIB’s new office in London was brilliant. As someone who has sight loss, it was great to navigate a building where accessibility has been considered from the very start. It’s important that blind and partially sighted people can maintain their independence, in all walks of life, and The Grimaldi Building, supports this.”

Dame Gail Ronson, RNIB’s President, said: “It has been an honour visiting RNIB’s new London space and it is clear The Grimaldi Building has been designed with inclusivity and accessibility at its heart. Visiting an office which meets such a high accessible standard is a reminder that as a society we must continue to work together to build a world without barriers for blind and partially sighted people.”

Matt Stringer, RNIB’s Chief Executive said: “Our new London office is so much more than a place of work. It represents an inclusive and accessible standard that we believe all buildings should be meeting. We are honoured that The Duchess of Edinburgh, chose to officially open our new office and can’t wait to welcome staff, customers, volunteers, and supporters to our modern London base.

“As a charity, we believe that the world should be accessible to everyone, and this move represents RNIB’s values and our continued determination to build a more inclusive society.”

Notes to editors

All media enquiries to Latifah Davis-Cole on 0207 391 2223 or [email protected] For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.

*Accessibility features at RNIB’s Grimaldi Building include:

  • Muted tones and dimmer lighting have been used inside the building in a bid to create a sensory-inclusive environment. There is also a Serenity Room (quiet space) for recovery from stress or sensory overload.
  • Tactile surfaces have been installed inside and outside of the building
  • NaviLens codes are placed throughout the office. By scanning the code with a phone camera, using the NaviLens app, visitors will hear an audio description of the surrounding area, helping people locate information and points of interest.
  • The building has a clear, colour-coded, tactile signage system with braille, embossed text and symbols, enabling visitors to easily locate information and points of interest
  • There are wheelchair-accessible and ambulant-accessible toilets on every floor which are gender-neutral