The Scottish arm of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has pledged that local authorities are key to improving life for the 170,000 Scots who are blind or partially sighted.
Launching its manifesto ahead of the country’s local elections scheduled to take place on 4 May, the RNIB Scotland highlights that people with a visual impairment are more likely to depend on public services, be it from social care or transport.
Releasing the manifesto, director of RNIB Scotland, Campbell Chalmers, said: “It's vital that councils fully understand the real day to day challenges that people with sight loss face.”
He explained: “Scotland’s 32 local authorities will operate across a changing landscape in the next five years, both in terms of policy and service delivery. They will have new opportunities to help blind and partially sighted people live more inclusively, independently and safely. Our manifesto sets out practical steps that can help make this happen.”
Entitled Looking local, the manifesto calls for a review of the regulations and bylaws governing street obstacles that can be a hazard for people with sight loss. Furthermore, it urges councils to make all of their communications available in a range of accessible formats and states that the educational achievement gap between blind and partially sighted schoolchildren and their peers needs to be closed. The manifesto also highlights the importance of councils maintaining an up-to-date register of people who are blind or partially sighted in their area.
The director of RNIB Scotland pointed out that with an ageing population, and sight threatening conditions such as diabetes on the rise, the number of people with sight loss in Scotland will, inevitably, increase.
Mr Chalmers emphasised: “We need to start thinking now about a society in which more of our population will have needs connected with their vision. And local authorities will be at the forefront.”