Insight Gloucestershire’s Communication Officer recently submitted a letter (printed 19th September 2015) to the Gloucestershire Echo in response to comments made by the public on their social media channel concerning the controversy around the alterations at the Lower High Street, Cheltenham.
Recently we have been following the story in the press around the changes to the Lower High Street in Cheltenham and have been disheartened to read comments on social media saying that ‘people should just look where they are going’. In some cases this may be true but, for many people with low vision relying on design features to navigate our streets, it’s the difference between being independent or not, keeping injury free or not.
Also comments along the lines off ‘just ask for help’ are not helpful. Now presuming you are a fully sighted person reading this, how would you feel if you had to ask someone to help you cross the road every time? How would you cross if no one else was around? What if people ignored your requests? People with any disability should be able to get around their environment as independently as possible.
The issue we have with the new design is that part of the road surface is the same as the kerb, you cannot necessarily tell where you need to step up or down. If the Government wants to get disabled people into work, the only way this can be achieved is by prompting people’s independence in all areas of life. How are you going to get out to work if you do not feel safe crossing a road?
Not everyone that is sight impaired has an outward sign of their disability such as a ‘white stick’ or guide dog. Even people who are registered severely sight impaired (blind) may have some sight that they can use to navigate around. Different eye conditions affect people in different ways but by having an inclusive and standardised built environment everyone will have the opportunity to keep safe.
If anyone would like some more information on living with sight loss please get in touch with Insight Gloucestershire on 01242 22 11 70.
Monica Farthing, Communications Officer