I want streets that work for blind and partially sighted people

Andrew Stephenson MP took a trip down ‘memory lane’ when he met with the Guide Dogs charity in Manchester at the Conservative Party Conference to speak about the challenges blind and partially sighted people face when walking the streets.

Pavements blocked by parked cars or street clutter such as wheelie bins and overhanging branches can force pedestrians to walk into the road, putting them in danger of oncoming traffic.

Shared space streets, where vital safety features such as kerbs and controlled crossings are removed, can also be dangerous and disorientating for people with sight loss.

To illustrate these risks, Guide Dogs asked the MP for Pendle to take a trip down memory lane and play their ‘Navigation Game’—a take on the classic final challenge of the Generation Game—memorising the hazards that a guide dog owner might encounter on a typical journey.

Andrew Stephenson has been supporting Guide Dogs for many years. Including at last year’s Conservative Party Conference and has even participated in a blindfolded walk around Nelson with a Guide Dog in 2017.

Guide Dogs are calling for action on the most common dangers for people with sight loss, including a new law limiting pavement parking to areas determined by the local council, action from local authorities on street clutter and a safety review of existing shared space schemes.

Andrew Stephenson MP said, “I support the action that has been taken in Pendle to improve the streets to work for blind and partially sighted people. We continue to support Guide Dogs UK and their actions to eliminate challenges that people with sight loss face. As well as pushing for more action in Parliament.”

Helen Honstvet, Senior Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager at Guide Dogs, commented: “The street environment has a huge impact on people with sight loss. When a street is blocked with obstacles or lacks vital safety features, it can make the difference between getting out and about with confidence or feeling forced to stay at home.

We’re calling for action to tackle the most common hazards that affect blind and partially sighted people on their local streets: pavement parking, street clutter and shared spaces.”