Serious about inclusion? Priorities for the new Prime Minister
What does it take for all of us to be able to “succeed as a nation”?
On 24 July, new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson entered Number 10 Downing Street. He swiftly put together a new Cabinet, which he described as “a Cabinet that is bursting with ideas, ready to create change, determined to implement the policies we need to succeed as a nation”.
But what does it take for all of us to be able to “succeed as a nation”? To accomplish lasting change for blind and partially sighted people, this is what we’d like to see happen next:
Improved eye care
There is clear evidence that some patients are permanently losing vision due to delayed and cancelled appointments, for example with conditions like glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. The Government must implement the recommendations made by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, in its report on improving capacity in NHS eye care in England published more than a year ago.
Increase employment opportunities
With only 1 in 4 blind or partially sighted people in employment, urgent action is needed to ensure that more blind and partially sighted people can get into and remain in work. Later this year we will be launching an employment campaign to raise awareness of sight loss and work amongst employers, and to promote positive employer attitudes.
Make ‘shared space’ areas safe and accessible
Around the country, Britain’s streets have been losing kerbs and pedestrian crossings as part of ‘shared space’ developments. Blind and partially sighted people say that many streets have become unsafe and are now ‘no go’ areas. Recognising these concerns in July 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a pause on new shared space developments, and that a review must take place. A year later the review still hasn’t got underway. The problem of shared space remains the same as when it was first highlighted by the Women and Equalities Select Committee, back in April 2017. We need the new government to act to rebuild confidence and end ‘no go’ shared space areas.
Invest in specialist education support
The 35,000 children and young people with vision impairment face some of the biggest barriers of all disabled children in accessing education. Teachers do not always have the experience of working with children with vision impairment, meaning advice from specialists like Qualified Teachers of Visual Impairment and specialist teaching assistants is essential. However, there has been a decline in the availability of these vital services, meaning many children and young people have had a reduction in their support. We are calling on the Government to invest some of the new Prime Minister’s promised £4.6 billion for education, to plug the projected £1.2 billion shortfall in special educational needs and disabilities budgets.
We continue to campaign with the government on these issues. And with your support, we’ll keep up the pressure until we get the changes we need.