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Politicians must focus on sight loss, says charity

 

Sight Scotland launches manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections

Scotland’s leading sight loss charity has launched its manifesto for the
Holyrood elections in May with a call for the next parliament to focus on
better support for thousands of Scots affected by sight loss.

Every hour someone in Scotland starts to lose their sight, and by 2030 there
will be over 200,000 blind and partially sighted people in the country.

As the charity launches its manifesto, on World Braille Day, Sight Scotland
has published new findings from a survey of over 400 visually impaired people which shows that 90% believe there is not enough awareness about visual impairment among the general public. 

Only 15% believe there is enough support for people with sight loss other
than that provided by Sight Scotland and its sister charity Sight Scotland
Veterans, and only 7% that there is enough support for their families and
carers.

Sight Scotland’s manifesto calls for a new national low vision service to
link people with the support they need quickly after they have received a
diagnosis of a sight loss condition. 

The charity is also calling for better access to specialist support for
children and young people with visual impairment, action to tackle high levels of unemployment among blind and partially sighted people, more community support and increased provision of information in accessible formats including
braille.

Launching the manifesto, Sight Scotland chief executive Mark O’Donnell said: “These are crucial elections for blind and partially sighted people in
Scotland. The number of people affected by sight loss is set to increase
significantly in the coming years. It is vital MSPs in the next parliament
realise more support is required to ensure blind and partially sighted people are not left isolated but are included in our communities and have the support they need.

“Too often blind and partially sighted people aren’t being given the chances
they should have in education and employment. Too often there is not enough support available to them and their families to deal with the impacts of sight loss, including on mental health.

For too long blind and partially sighted people have not had equal
opportunities in our country, a situation which has been thrown into sharp
relief by their experience of the pandemic, and that is why we are asking
candidates in this election to recognise it is time for our parliament to focus
on sight loss.”

Army veteran John Baptie, 72, of Ardersier, Inverness. John is registered as
sight impaired and receives support from Sight Scotland Veterans.

He said: “If it wasn’t for charities like Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland
Veterans, I feel there would be little other support for people with sight
loss. The support they can provide is just the most important thing. Sight loss can stop you from getting out, so it has been a great boost to me and given me confidence and independence.

"I think there's definitely a lack of public awareness about sight
loss. The majority of people fend for themselves and you get put into the
background. When I first started losing my sight I was in shell shock. I was
completely confused and didn’t know what was going on. Through Sight Scotland Veterans I’ve been able to speak to others going through the same experiences and the charity has been with me through all stages as my sight loss has become worse.”


 

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