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RNIB delivers Disability Awareness training to MPs

It’s essential MPs understand sight loss and accessibility to service their blind and partially sighted constituents. We’ve been working hard in Parliament to make sure MPs make the adjustments they need to.

As well as our “How to support your constituents with sight loss” event early last year, we’ve been remotely delivering disability awareness training to MPs. Organised by the Westminster Skills Centre, which supports politicians and staff in Parliament, RNIB, alongside Disability Rights UK, presented to MPs at a 90-minute virtual session.

MPs heard about how disability is defined in the UK, discussed the medical versus the social model of disability; they were surprised to hear that an estimated one fifth of their constituents will have some kind of disability.

RNIB’s Robin Spinks detailed the practical ways MPs can support their constituents with visual impairments. This built on the guidance for Parliamentarians, produced by RNIB last year.

Robin showed MPs how to ensure digital copy is accessible and how frustrating it can be for people with sight loss when it isn’t. He shared examples of common mistakes - such as using PDFs on Twitter with no alt text, or not capitalising words in hashtags - to drive this message home.

He also outlined ways to better support blind and partially sighted constituents in MP’s surgeries, such as asking for their preferred format and explaining things verbally, instead of relying on gestures.

All MPs have since received specific guidance covering these issues. MPs’ staff have also been invited to receive this training.

Many thanks to Westminster Skills Centre for choosing RNIB to deliver this crucial training.