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VI People Facing Abuse For Not Social Distancing

June 10, 2020

People with sight loss say they have been abused and abandoned during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many say they are struggling to access services during the lockdown.

Some have been verbally abused because they find it hard to follow social distancing rules.

The Fight for Sight charity is calling for health services and retailers to ensure that people who are visually impaired can get the help they need and “are not excluded”.

A survey it carried out of 325 people with sight loss found one in four find it difficult to follow social distancing.

More than half of respondents said their access to food and other services had become worse during the lockdown period.

‘I don’t know there’s a queue’

Angharad Paget Jones says her guide dog Tudor is her eyes on four paws – she’s only confident leaving her home in Port Talbot with him by her side.

But during lockdown, she has found people are far less tolerant of her disability, making a trip to the shops a scary experience.

“I’ve been yelled at in stores for being too close to people when they can see I’ve got the dog – I can’t see them,” she said.

“Tudor is trained to find the door of a supermarket – I don’t know there’s a queue because he’s shown me where the door is and I’ve been yelled at for not queuing.

“I’m lucky I’m quite thick-skinned, but if someone just told me they were there or told me ‘sorry actually, there’s a queue’, it doesn’t take two seconds to let me know.

“I have a lot of help – I have friends and family around me. But some people don’t have that help and they do have to go to these places alone and if their confidence is knocked, they won’t want to go outside.”

Sherine Krause, chief executive of Fight for Sight, said there needed to be more advice given to retailers on social distancing measures “to ensure the needs of people with poor vision are not excluded”.

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