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Covid-19 Guidance For Blind People ‘Breaches Equality Laws’

December 29, 2020

A blind woman is taking legal action against the government claiming it has failed to keep her properly informed during the pandemic.

Sarah Leadbetter, who is clinically extremely vulnerable, said she has not been sent any shielding information she can access.

The 45-year-old added she only found out she is on the shielding list through her mother.

The government has said guidance is available in “alternative formats”.

Ms Leadbetter, from Narborough, Leicestershire, said vital information was not sent in accessible formats such as email or files compatible with a voice-reader.

Her solicitors said this breaches duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Accessible Information Standard.

They have applied for permission for judicial review of the Secretary of State Matt Hancock’s “failure to provide accessible correspondence regarding shielding to blind/sight impaired people”.

Ms Leadbetter has a genetic condition that affects her immune system, is in remission from cancer and lives with her elderly parents who also have health issues.

She said she only discovered she is on the Shielded Patients List because her mother, who is also shielding, received the same letter and told Ms Leadbetter.

“Large type does not work for me, nor does Braille, I need it on an audio CD or just a simple email that can be read out on an iPhone with voiceover,” she said.

“It is like being treated like a child. I want to be able to do this myself, to be able to look after myself as much as possible.

“Without this information I could be out there with other vulnerable people doing the wrong thing.

“The banks can do this, so why can’t the Department of Health?”

In earlier correspondence, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told Ms Leadbetter generic versions of the shielding letters are available on the internet.

But she said this is not adequate as people might not know they are shielding, or could struggle to access the internet.

Solicitor Kate Egerton, who is acting for Ms Leadbetter, said: “The Secretary of State’s position means that sight-impaired people are required to have access to the internet and check the government’s website for guidance every time they leave the house.

“This is far from the position afforded to sighted people and is, in our view, discriminatory.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We remain focused on protecting the most vulnerable, and have been committed to supporting disabled people throughout this pandemic.

“We have issued guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable with information on how they can keep themselves safe during the restrictions, and an array of public health guidance has been made available in alternative formats, including Easy Read, British Sign Language and Audio.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. cammeag permalink
    December 29, 2020 2:23 am

    When individuals want to take action against ‘anyone’ else, I have questions that quickly come to mind. Is this for proper justice or just remunerative? Will any award minus expenses be given to charities of the disability they suffer from? With this case: I do not know. But, I do know this. She ‘was’ sent a letter, how or why should the government know she prefers audio. There were over 10 million vulnerable to help, they cannot do this perfectly! They did not have years to prepare. She’s not deaf!! The news is constantly full of reminders for the physically and mentally vulnerable. If her mother has sight, use her sight, do not wail over a circumstance that many blind alone are in! I am angry at this action! Why? I am one of those vulnerable ones and am just grateful it is this country I live in and no other!!!

  2. December 29, 2020 5:47 am

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.


  1. Covid-19 Guidance For Blind People ‘Breaches Equality Laws’ | sdbast

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