In preparation for the reopening of leisure and sport facilities, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), British Blind Sport (BBS), Metro Blind Sport and Visionary have been working together to provide practical guidance to support the return of blind and partially sighted people to physical activity.
Research conducted by RNIB has found that two thirds (66 per cent) of blind and partially sighted people feel less independent now compared to before lockdown, demonstrating that social distancing measures, as brought in to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, are incredibly difficult for many people living with sight loss. In addition, inaccessible signage and fear about how the public will react to them if they are unable to follow the guidelines is causing increased stress and worry.
In response to these anxieties, RNIB, BBS, Metro and Visionary have created practical guidance which will help leisure operators and sport providers prepare for welcoming people back to physical activity, with the least amount of stress and difficulty. The guidance provides simple considerations that will make the return more straightforward and encourages the wider public to be mindful that sight loss may not always be obvious. The guidance demonstrates how to communicate clearly any changes to the facilities, particularly floor indicators or arrows, protective screens and temporary barriers.
Marc Powell, Strategic Accessibility Lead at RNIB, said, “The findings from RNIB’s survey clearly show how much of a significant impact social distancing measures are having on the lives of blind and partially sighted people. As lockdown restrictions ease, we’ve increasingly heard from people with sight loss who are incredibly anxious about how to manage the situation. By creating clear, implementable guidance for leisure operators, we hope that some pressure and stress will be relieved for blind and partially sighted people, and that we will make the general public more aware of the challenges being faced by our community during this time.”
Alaina MacGregor, Chief Executive at BBS, said, “During the pandemic, blind and partially sighted people have been facing specific and unique challenges that have had an enormous impact on everyday independence. We have been interested to learn about the issues that people with sight loss have faced due to social distancing particularly visual cues in public places. To ensure that these issues are not repeated in the sporting environment, together we have created clear and easy to follow guidance that can be put into place for safe return to play. This guidance will make a huge difference to people who want to return to living independent lives and will offer additional assistance to the organisations who provide inclusive physical activity opportunities.”
Martin Symcox, Chief Executive at Metro Blind Sport, said, “People with sight loss have faced significant difficulties in observing social distancing since lockdown has been in place and again since it has been relaxed. Many individuals have told us that they are worried about returning to physical activity without any clear guidance in place and are unsure of the new barriers that they may face. We hope that we have made it simple and cost effective for our suggested measures to be implemented before facilities reopen and that this will give blind and partially sighted people the confidence and reassurance they need to return to the activities that they enjoy.”
Please click here to read the new Sport and Leisure Sector Guidance
For more information on this guidance, please contact Marc Powell on ExternalAccessibilityEnquiries@rnib.org.uk
Notes to Editors
Royal National Institute of Blind People
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are. RNIB. See differently. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit the RNIB website.
British Blind Sport
Based in Leamington Spa, British Blind Sport is the national disability sport organisation that represents visually impaired people in sport across the UK. The charity helps blind and partially sighted people get active and play sport. Sport and recreational activities can enhance the lives of people with visual impairments, by improving their health and increasing their social interaction. We encourage adults and children to participate in activities at all levels, from grassroots to the Paralympic Games. For more information about British Blind Sport, please contact call 01926 424 247, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the British Blind Sport website.
Metro Blind Sport
Metro Blind Sport is a London based Charity (Charity No. 1158098), our aim is to open doors to sport for all vision impaired people, regardless of age or sporting ability. Our aim is to encourage participation and to create opportunities to take part in a wide range of activities. Metro Blind Sport was founded in 1973 by an inspirational group of young blind and partially sighted people who were not prepared to accept the expectations and restrictions of the day. Metro is determined to keep alive this spirit of adventure, challenging barriers and opening doors to all sports for our members. For further information please email email@example.com or visit the Metro Blind Sport website.
Visionary is a membership organisation for local sight loss charities. Our Vision is for a world in which people living with sight loss can access the services they need at a local level where and when they need them. Our Mission is to develop a strong national network of good quality local sight loss organisations, covering all parts of the UK, to help achieve this. For more information about Visionary email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Visionary website.