A poll has revealed that 40% of people in the North West believe that blind people cannot hold down a job, prompting the Royal National Institute of Blind People to call for greater awareness around blindness to quash outdated attitudes.
Insisting that one of the biggest barriers facing blind and partially sighted people is the lack of knowledge and understanding of sight loss, the RNIB are committed to altering perceptions around those living with sight issues as they celebrate their 150th anniversary as a charity.
More than a third of people (34%) in the North West think that someone with sight loss cannot enjoy TV and film, while 27% did not think that blind and partially sighted people can read books. Additionally, the RNIB survey revealed a lack of confidence when it comes to offering assistance, with 46% admitting they would not always help a blind or partially sighted person saying they would find the situation awkward (10%) and that they would be afraid of causing offence (8%).
“We’ve come a long way since RNIB was formed in 1868, but as our research shows, there’s still work to be done, particularly around improving society’s understanding of the experience and spectrum of sight loss," said Terri Balon, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the North West.
“One example is around offering assistance – something which people in the North West are reluctant to do for fear of causing offence, being unsure of how to help or finding the situation awkward. Our message is simple – just ask. Like anyone, blind and partially sighted people appreciate an offer of help. It’s just about working out the best way to do it."
The findings of the survey demonstrate that a lack of public knowledge is a bigger barrier for visually challenged people then even practical challenges such as finding a job, navigating streets, and using public transport, with the charity unveiling a series of adverts which use everyday scenarios and humour to urge people to see the person, not the sight loss.
“Looking to the future, our vision is a world free of barriers for people with sight loss, where we can live the lives we want to lead and are valued for who we are, not defined by the disabilities we have," Terri added. “It’s an ambitious vision but one I’m confident we can achieve by working with our partners as we move into an exciting new chapter of our story.”
To find out more about RNIB’s 150th anniversary and to be part of the charity’s vision of the future, visit www.rnib.org.uk/150