Public Health Wales issues guidance on safe guiding, social distancing and touch navigation

Post date: 
Monday, 24 August 2020
Category: 
Wales
A close up of a person from behind, holding a white cane in a street

In a win for RNIB's World Upside Down campaign, we have received confirmation that blind and partially sighted people in Wales can be guided by someone living outside their household.

Since March, we have been continually pressing Welsh Government for answers to important questions, like how people with sight loss can be guided safely and how to practice safe social distancing. 

This gap in public health information has caused lots of uncertainty, but we’re delighted to announce that new guidance, released by Public Health Wales earlier this week, provides a range of advice to help people with sight loss to get out and about safely while social distancing. 

The impact of social distancing 

Two thirds of blind and partially respondents to our recent survey said they felt less independent since lockdown. Largely, this was a result of trying to follow rules around social distancing, which is why this new guidance is so important.

Ansley Workman, Director of RNIB Cymru, welcomed the news. “People with sight loss have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Social distancing presents real challenges to daily life and has particularly affected those who rely on others from outside their household for support to get out and about.

"We have been continually raising these issues and calling for official guidance for months, through our World Upside Down campaign and government lobbying. This new information will help people to be guided safely and will reassure many people who felt their ability to leave their house has been eroded since lockdown.”

However, Public Health Wales continues to stress the importance of correct guiding technique and good hand hygiene. 

It is also vitally important that no guiding is undertaken if the person with sight loss, their guide, or any member of either household experiences symptoms or is advised by a member of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect team that they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

Here is the guidance in full.

Find out more about our World Upside Down campaign and how you can help.