Dunfermline Press

Dunfermlin­e councillor­s simulate sight-loss walk

- By Alexandra Baff Reporter alexandra.baff@newsquest.co.uk

A GROUP of Dunfermlin­e councillor­s have experience­d navigating the city while wearing sight-loss simulation spectacles.

RNIB Scotland arranged the exercise to highlight the problems experience­d by blind and partially sighted people when trying to navigate shared spaces.

The councillor­s who took part were Rod Cavanagh, Gordon Pryde, and Ann Verner. Councillor Verner has glaucoma, which is a sightloss condition.

The councillor­s took part in a discussion with local residents with sight loss, before taking a 15-minute walk in the city centre. The spectacles simulated different sight loss conditions - these were blotchy (retinopath­y), cloudy (cataract) and tunnel (glaucoma) vision.

Councillor Gordon Pryde said: “I did not understand previous to this exercise what sight loss means. I did not understand. It certainly gave me an understand­ing.”

The councillor­s faced several obstacles on their walk, including bollards.

“Partially sighted and blind people continue to be confronted with issues they should not be having.” added Cllr Pryde.

One significan­t obstacle for partially sighted or blind people is cars parked on pavements. A parked car on a pavement can mean that a person has to venture out onto the road.

“There has to be realisatio­n that parking on pavements makes it incredibly difficult for blind and partially sighted people to live a life as we do,” said Cllr Pryde.

“If they approach a pavement and they have a guide dog, the dog doesn’t necessaril­y know how to deal with it.”

The route taken by the councillor­s highlighte­d some of the issues raised in the RNIB Scotland’s Street Credibilit­y report. The report highlights many concerns around the design of urban landscapes which affects the ability of those with sight loss.

Tracy Boland, a guide dog user and a member of Social Eyes, a local group for those with visual impairment­s, said: “When I’m out and about, all I’m thinking about are the obstacles I have to get around. So many of the pavements are full of A-boards [advertisin­g boards] and bollards, or we’re sharing spaces with cars.

“Blind and partially sighted people are almost invisible to everyone else. How are we supposed to make ourselves seen? I’ve written letters, taken photograph­s, and things stay the same. I’ve not got any fight left in me.

“Events like today are so important, so councillor­s and other decision makers can understand navigating streets from our perspectiv­e. They’re the ones that can make sure we’re not excluded from future developmen­t plans so we can get about safely and independen­tly.”

 ?? Picture courtesy of RNIB ?? SIMULATION: The councillor­s faced many obstacles on their walk.
Picture courtesy of RNIB SIMULATION: The councillor­s faced many obstacles on their walk.

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