The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has said outdated views towards the abilities of blind and partially sighted people plays a factor in people feeling excluded.
A survey conducted by the charity showed 47 per cent of North-East residents believe blind and partially sighted people would struggle to find or hold down a job.
Another 53 per cent of people said they did not think blind and partially sighted would be able to play football and 21 per cent did not think they would be able to read books.
The charity said these figures showed a widespread lack of awareness in the community regarding sight loss which creates a bigger challenge for people than finding a job, navigating streets or using public transport.
“We’ve come a long way since RNIB was formed in 1868, but as our research shows, there’s still work to be done, particularly around improving society’s understanding of the experience and spectrum of sight loss,” Sharon Gardner, RNIB Network Manager, said.
The charity said these views are partially caused by a lack of confidence when it comes to providing assistance, as half of the people surveyed admitted that they would not always help a blind or partially sighted person with 12 per cent said that they would be afraid of causing offense and a further 6 per cent said they were unsure of how to help.
The charity says they are working to break down these barriers to help blind and partially sighted people feel more included.
As part of their 150th anniversary, RNIB have launched a series of adverts and short films which use everyday scenarios and humor to urge people to see the person, not the sight loss.
“One example is around offering assistance, something which people in the North-East are reluctant to do for fear of causing offense, being unsure of how to help or finding the situation awkward,” Gardner said. “Our message is simple, just ask. Like anyone, blind and partially sighted people appreciate an offer of help. It’s just about working out the best way to do it.”
“Looking to the future, our vision is a world free of barriers for people with sight loss, where blind and partially sighted people can live the lives they want to lead and are valued for who they are, not defined by the disabilities they have,” Gardner added. “It’s an ambitious vision but one I’m confident we can achieve by working with our partners as we move into an exciting new chapter of our story.”
More information about the charity can be found at rnib.org.uk