Have you ever tripped on a broken kerb? Been hit in the face by an overhanging bush? Injured yourself walking into A-Boards on your local high street? Or even struggled to find a safe place to cross the road?
If you have, you are not alone – and imagine the impact that would have if you were blind or partially sighted.
Last week Guide Dogs (www.guidedogs.org.uk ) challenged the Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor David Harding to put himself in the shoes of the blind and partially sighted people of Coleraine, negotiating the Town Centre in a blindfold with the assistance of guide dog Heath. The challenge was part of Guide Dogs’ Street Clutter campaign which aims to highlight barriers to independent mobility that the visually impaired community face and calls for steps to be taken to make the Town Centre more accessible for all.
Cllr David Harding said: “Coleraine Council strives to ensure that our streets are open and inclusive environments for all and we welcome this opportunity to work with Guide Dogs and their partners to increase understanding of the needs of blind and partially sighted people.
“Taking part in the blindfold walk around Coleraine today gave me a small insight into the challenges that blind and partially sighted people face day-to-day.”
Fiona Brown, Guide Dogs NI Manager said “We are committed to ensuring freedom of movement for all blind and partially sighted people. But the reality is that they have to overcome extraordinary challenges every day to do the things that the rest of us take for granted. We are delighted that the Mayor has today put himself in the shoes of the visually impaired community to experience the many obstacles to independent mobility they face and we look forward to this for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people.”