South Yorkshire councillor highlights how street clutter affects blind people

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Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Places took part in a ‘blindfold’ walk around Barnsley town centre.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Places took part in a ‘blindfold’ walk around Barnsley town centre on Thursday (15 June 2017). The walk highlighted the challenges blind and partially sighted people face navigating the area.

The councillor was invited on the walk by the council’s Visual Impairment Accessible Environment Sub Group. The group, - which also includes members from local organisations, charities, and campaigners - is working to ensure Barnsley’s town centre is accessible for all.

Maqsood Sheikh, RNIB’s Regional Campaigns Officer in Yorkshire and the Humber, and Barnsley Sensory Impairment Services supported the event. During the walk Councillor Miller wore simulation spectacles which simulate three of the most common sight conditions: age related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.

Councillor Miller said: “I’m grateful to the Visual Impairment Accessible Environment Sub Group for arranging the blindfold walk. Walking around streets in an area I’ve lived in for years and know very well, while wearing the simulation spectacles, really put the issues blind and partially sighted people face in perspective.

“Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council looks forward to continuing to work with local groups and campaigners to ensure all future developments in Barnsley town centre are accessible and welcoming to everyone.”

Steve Waller, RNIB campaigner and guide dog owner, who is registered as severely sight impaired, said: “I’m very pleased Councillor Miller joined us on the blindfold walk.

“As someone with sight loss, walking around Barnsley can be challenging because of obstacles including advertising boards, and street furniture such as seating and bollards.

“We’re very grateful Councillor Miller made time to meet us and see first-hand the challenges people with sight loss face. He really listened to our concerns and we’re looking forward to continuing to improve the re-development of Barnsley’s town centre together.”

RNIB has produced a Street Charter toolkit with blind and partially sighted people on what changes they most want to see. Campaigners will use the toolkit to create their own charters alongside their local councils. Each charter can be based on local needs, such as focusing on banning advertising boards, pavement parking, or removing unnecessary street furniture.

For more information please visit www.rnib.org.uk/onmystreet