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International Day of People with Disabilities

International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) on December 3 aims to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in all spheres of society. It seeks to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in political, social, economic and cultural life.

At London Vision, we understand the challenges disabled people face only too well. Most of our staff have sight loss themselves, bringing a wealth of lived experience to our practice.

Almost 200,000 people in London are affected by sight loss – incurable, untreatable absence, loss or impairment of vision – blind and partially sighted people face daily challenges and everyday inequalities.

Whether it is finding work, accessing public services or tracking down information, blind and partially sighted people face greater challenges than their sighted peers. Even voting in the forthcoming General Election, a fundamental democratic right, is not straightforward if your sight is impaired. And whilst technology can be a game-changer, constant vigilance is required to ensure that blind and partially sighted people are not digitally excluded as technology and artificial intelligence develops.

London Vision believes that sight loss should not be a defining factor in equality of access and opportunity in London.

Our vision is that blind and partially sighted people are an equal part of the London community. Our mission is to do all we can to support people with impaired vision to live the lives they choose in London.

Supported by national sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust and working with partners across sectors and with blind and partially sighted people themselves, London Vision is seeking to change the conversation around blind and partially sighted peoples’ everyday lives in London. We want to ensure that people with visual impairments are included in all that London has to offer.

London Vision provides information, runs networking events and delivers programmes of support. These include employment, technology and “Living with Sight Loss” courses. Our work equips people with skills and knowledge and connects them with other people affected by sight loss, to share tips, life hacks and develop peer support.

We also campaign to bring about greater understanding of the needs of people with sight loss to bring about change which benefits all.

We promote improved understanding of the potential of blind and partially sighted people at work and in wider society. This potential is currently not always realised due to outdated stereotypes and societal attitudes.

Research conducted by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in 2018 revealed that the biggest barrier facing blind and partially sighted people in the UK was the lack of knowledge and understanding of sight loss and outdated attitudes towards people affected by it.

People with lived experience of sight loss are active in all sectors and across all parts of society. We work to raise awareness of this to challenge outdated stereotypes and to support societal change.

We want to stop visually impaired people being held back and will act as a critical friend to organisations who seek to make their practices more inclusive for people with visual impairment.

We are delighted to be working with the British Medical Association on International Day of People with Disabilities. We hope that after our Visual Impairment Awareness training, your concept of the impacts of sight loss and of those affected by it – will change. We also hope that you take away a commitment to reviewing and making your personal and corporate approaches more inclusive to people with sight loss.

London is a city full of opportunity, and together, we can ensure that everyone has equal access to the opportunities on offer.

By Cathy Low, CEO London Vision

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