Blind peo­ple on ben­e­fits de­serve bet­ter than this

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - OPINION -

Most of us could not be­gin to imagine what it must be like to be blind or to suf­fer from se­ri­ous vision prob­lems. Trapped in a world of dark­ness, even the most or­di­nary of tasks, such as walk­ing down the street to the shops, be­come a huge and try­ing chal­lenge. So those who do suf­fer from blind­ness should be given our re­spect and also our help so they can en­joy their lives just like ev­ery­one else.

How­ever, those points, sadly, seem to have es­caped those peo­ple who de­signed this coun­try’s ben­e­fits sys­tem. Cam­paign­ers say blind peo­ple are “rou­tinely” asked to com­plete a va­ri­ety to tasks to prove that they have this lifeal­ter­ing dis­abil­ity.

They also ar­gue that this still hap­pens de­spite blind peo­ple go­ing to a PIP meet­ing armed with an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment stat­ing they have vision prob­lems.

To add in­sult to in­jury, some as­ses­sors even add on of­fi­cial pa­per­work that in­ter­vie­wees dis­played “good eye con­tact” dur­ing meet­ings.

These claims are deeply wor­ry­ing and leave the ben­e­fits sys­tem open to ac­cu­sa­tions that it is un­feel­ing and un­sym­pa­thetic.

We all un­der­stand that checks must be made to en­sure those peo­ple re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits are en­ti­tled to the sup­port they are given.

We also un­der­stand that there is a mi­nor­ity of folk who will cheat the sys­tem in or­der to get their hands on money.

How­ever, that does not ex­cuse the cre­ation of sys­tem that, at times, ap­pears to put sus­pi­cion first and sym­pa­thy sec­ond.

We can only hope that those cam­paign­ing for bet­ter treat­ment of the vis­ually-im­paired are suc­cess­ful in their fight for im­prove­ments.

And we can only hope that some­one with the DWP lis­tens to their case and pro­vides bet­ter train­ing to its staff.

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