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How you made a difference in this General Election

Following the General Election on 4 July, RNIB would like to welcome the new UK Government led by Prime Minister Keir Starmer, and new and returning MPs across the UK.

Our Interim Director of Campaigns, Eleanor Thompson, said:

“We’re really looking forward to working with the new government and the new Parliament, to create a country where there are no barriers to people with sight loss.

I’d especially like to thank our campaign volunteers and supporters because you helped us achieve a huge amount in just a few short weeks, making parliamentary candidates aware of the importance of campaigning accessibly, and championing what’s important to blind and partially sighted constituents.”

RNIB Champions

Since the General Election was first announced in May this year, many of you contacted your parliamentary candidates, asking them to support their constituents with sight loss, should they be elected as MPs.

A total of 127 candidates agreed to be RNIB Champions, including 26 who went on to be elected MPs. This brings our total number of RNIB MP Champions to 103, meaning that we’ll have a strong starting point for getting action on issues affecting blind and partially sighted people.

Guided walks with candidates

Across the country, RNIB staff held more than 30 “guided walks” with candidates from all major parties. This involved guiding candidates through local high streets and town centres, to highlight challenges which blind and partially sighted people face when trying to get around safely and independently. Examples include poor street design, and obstructions like advertising boards, outdoor café furniture and badly parked bikes.

These were great opportunities to get to know candidates, and share RNIB’s full list of asks for the new UK Government. We also let candidates know how they could make a difference in their own campaigning, by taking simple steps to make their communications accessible to voters with sight loss.

Accessible voting

In elections we frequently hear from blind and partially sighted people about challenges faced when exercising the democratic right to cast a secret and independent vote, because of the visual nature of reviewing and marking the ballot paper.

Reliable solutions do exist, but have not been rolled out nation-wide. We asked supporters to sign our open letter to the new Prime Minister, calling for voting to be made accessible once and for all, and by 4 July, over 2,400 of you added your name to our call!

To get the message across loud and clear, our #BlindVotersCount campaign film highlighted just how unfair and frustrating the lack of a secret vote is, and further short films demonstrated the solutions which are already out there.

Campaigners and content creators with sight loss, including Lucy Edwards, shared their previous experiences of voting across social media, and urged their followers to sign our open letter. They were featured on ITV, BBC News and in the Guardian coverage of the election, reaching millions of people.

What’s next?

We’ll be building on these achievements by telling the Government that there’s no time to wait to build an inclusive society for blind and partially sighted people.

Two of the top issues we’ll be raising are:

  • Our #OutOfSight campaign for timely access to good quality vision rehabilitation services in England. These services enable people with sight loss to stay independent: to get out and about, adapt their work, shop and enjoy hobbies. However, a quarter of local authorities in England left people waiting for more than a year for a vision rehabilitation assessment and [SD1] support. The new Social Care Minister could make a start by supporting our call for clear guidance and national standards to tackle the postcode lottery of support.
  • Eye Health services: despite the potentially life-changing impacts of sight loss, there is a crisis in access to vital NHS care and treatment. As part of a coalition of organisations, we’re calling on the new Government to commit to ensuring that all those affected by eye conditions receive timely, expert care. In England, we’re calling for a much-needed national plan for eye care.

But before we move on from the election, we’re asking blind and partially sighted voters to let us know about their experience of voting by taking our survey. It’s vital for us to gather this evidence, to demonstrate to the new Government that solutions for accessible voting need to be put into practice at all future elections.