Seven-year old Maggie Simms, who lives in Derry/Londonderry, has been chosen to take part in a special film to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) – the UK’s leading charity for blind and partially sighted people.
To mark this milestone, the charity has worked with visually impaired children from across the UK to create a light-hearted short film to encourage people to see the person, not the sight loss.
The children share their ambitions for the future and ideas about what the world could be like, with suggestions including living in space and eating ‘glow in the dark’ food, cars with technology that will allow visually impaired people to drive and robots to assist with daily tasks. And it’s clear that they don’t see their visual impairment as a barrier to achieving their dreams and fulfilling their potential.
Maggie lives in Derry/Londonderry with her parents and little brother, Peter. Maggie has albinism – a rare genetic condition which usually includes a high degree of visual impairment. The body has no or very little melanin which results in very pale skin meaning Maggie has to wear lots of sun cream and hats to protect her from sunlight. Her brother, Peter, who is three, has it too.
Maggie dreams of going to university to become a guide dog trainer. She also plans to make clothes for the dogs to wear once they are trained and her granddad’s dog, Molly, has already been measured up for a dress.
Eleanor Southwood, Chair of RNIB, said: “As we mark our 150th anniversary, we’ve been reflecting on how the lives of blind and partially sighted people have been transformed over the last century and a half. But it’s also a chance to look to the future and the world we want to see: a world free of barriers for people with sight loss like me, where we are valued for who we are, not defined by the disabilities we happen to have.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in a world where blind and partially sighted people don’t have to think twice about being included. Everything from accessing documents and information to travelling the world where we can be exactly who we choose to be.
“That’s why our commitment is to breaking down the barriers that still exist, dispelling misconceptions and making sure that visually impaired children live in a society that values their experience and enables them to fulfil their potential.
“And with the future in the hands of children like Maggie, I know we can do it!”
RNIB has supported millions of blind and partially sighted people since its inception in 1868 and aims to support lots more people in the future. The charity offers information, advice and services on issues including legal rights, access to books and education and employment, as well as providing emotional and practical support.
Today there are more than two million people living with sight loss in the UK – a figure that is set to double by 2050. At least half of all sight loss is avoidable, but according to research  25 per cent of UK adults haven’t had an eye test in the past two years despite guidelines.
To watch the film and find out more about RNIB’s 150th anniversary and to be part of our vision of the future, visit the RNIB website.
The short film is available on YouTube.
All media enquiries to Kirsty Campbell at RNIB on [email protected]k or 028 9033 4137. For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07702 856686
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss – that's over 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk
 The State of the Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review https://www.rnib.org.uk/state-nation-2017