'Social distancing is impossible' - lockdown ‘more difficult’ for those with sight loss
Lockdown has been harder for those who are partially sighted, according to the largest survey of people with sight loss undertaken in Scotland during the pandemic.
The research has been released by Royal Blind, one of Scotland’s oldest charities, to mark its official re-branding as Sight Scotland on today.
Its sister charity Scottish War Blinded has been renamed Sight Scotland Veterans.
The charities have unveiled plans to support more people in line with research predicting the number of people who are blind or partially sighted will increase by 30,000 in the next decade to 200,000, with someone in Scotland starting to lose their sight every hour.
In a survey of 404 people with visual impairment in August and September 2020, Sight Scotland found that two thirds thought lockdown was an easier experience for those who are fully sighted.
Kirin Saeed, 50, a Braille Proof Reader at the Scottish Braille Press in Edinburgh who lost her sight entirely aged 11, said social distancing is particularly difficult for those with sight loss.
“When lockdown happened my life crumbled, and when it was eased it took a lot of courage for me to go back out again,” she said.
"Social distancing can be impossible when you can’t judge what’s around you. The only people I will see now are the people who I
work with or the carers who come into my house.
"I know the restrictions are needed, but people need to recognise it’s hard for people with visual impairment as we rely on touch, contact and human connection.”
Angus Dixon, 16, from Tranent in East Lothian, has been blind since birth.
He found the lockdown period “very difficult”.
"I was missing friends and schools,” he said.
"I was worried about how social distancing would work being back at school but it was great seeing my friends again and I feel much better.”
Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans said: “This is an important day in the history of our charities.
"For over two hundred years we have worked to support people with visual impairment of every age.
“Today, we are excited to be launching our new charity names and vision so that we can play our part in supporting even more people living with sight loss in Scotland.”