Westminster event celebrates leaders with sight loss

The Vis-Ability event was hosted by Keith Valentine, CEO of Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation, and Marsha de Cordova MP

Marsha de Cordova MP is speaking on stage in front of a purple Vis-Ability banner. Seated attendees can be seen in the foreground

Leaders with visual impairments and sight loss were celebrated at an event in Westminster.

The Vis-Ability event, held on Thursday 26 October, celebrated the growing representation of leaders with visual impairments and acknowledged their growing influence and impact across society.

It was hosted by Marsha de Cordova, MP for Battersea (pictured), and Keith Valentine, CEO of Fight For Sight/Vision Foundation.

De Cordova has nystagmus and is registered blind. Through her role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Vision Impairment, she is pushing for a national eye care strategy for England.

Speaking at the event, de Cordova said: “My life and my lived experience has shaped and helped drive my career. My purpose has always been to make a difference and to be a voice to the voiceless.

“If we can’t fix the problems here, in what I believe is the heart of democracy, then how can we expect society to willingly comply? I want to see change.”

She added: “The more senior and the more successful you are in your career, the less challenge that you will face. All of us here, in our work, our professions, in our careers, in our industry, we occupy space, but we must use our voice. We know representation matters.”

Valentine is also blind, and has retinitis pigmentosa.

“Our single, unifying mission is to save sight and change lives,” Valentine said.

He added that the event was designed to build connections between people, “to start to think about what we all might do, as people with visual impairment, to put the ladders down, and to talk about what’s possible.”

Looking at the success of attendees emphasised that progress is possible and “that it is possible to succeed in society if you live with a visual impairment,” Valentine said.

Guests included Sir Robin Millar, a music producer, businessman and campaigner, BBC Washington correspondent Gary O'Donoghue, and dual Paralympian Darren Harris.

Also in attendance were representatives from RNIB and the Thomas Pocklington Trust, as well as other senior figures from business, charity and the media.