Barrow mayor experiences life as a blind person
Last updated at 16:45, Friday, 19 October 2012
BARROW’S mayor and mayoress took to the streets to help raise awareness of issues faced by the blind.
Representatives from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association were joined by mayor Councillor Wendy Maddox and mayoress Dorothy Ashburner, as well as Councillor John Murphy, at an event at The Forum.
And they showed their support by donning blindfolds to experience for themselves how it feels to be out and about as a blind person.
Berry, an 18-month-old guide dog in training, guided the pair on a familiar walk around Barrow wearing special blindfolds called “mindfolds”, which block out all light.
Cllr Maddox, said the experience was “absolutely brilliant. ‘’
She added: “It was not as frightening as I thought it would have been. You think you’re going fast, but you’re not. You’re actually going at a snail’s pace. I can now understand how blind people feel.”
Cllr Maddox is backing the association’s campaign for audio visual systems to be installed on all new buses. These systems will help the blind with travelling on public transport.
Linda Oliver, engagement officer for the association in the North East and Cumbria, explained the bus technology would benefit everybody, not just blind people. She said: “Audio visual will help lots of other people, from tourists to people with learning difficulties and older people.”
The AV system reads aloud which stop the bus is approaching to the passengers.
Ms Oliver said that the charity was also campaigning for guide dogs to be re-classified as working dogs, which would relieve the charity from VAT on dog food.
She said: “The VAT on the dog food costs us £300,000 a year. That’s the equivalent of six guide dogs a year.” It costs the charity £50,000 for the working life of a guide dog.
Cllr Murphy described the experience to be disorientating because he knew the area so well. He said: “ I’ve been out with a mindfold on and my vision was completely blacked out. I found it so bizarre.”
Cllr Murphy described the feeling of having to rely totally on a dog as hard to get used to. He said: “It’s a hard lesson to learn.”
To find out how to get involved with volunteering for the association, either by fundraising or campaigning, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/campaigns.
l See next Wednesday’s Love Life supplement in the Evening Mail to find out how features editor Claire Crisp got on tackling the blindfold walk.
First published at 16:23, Friday, 19 October 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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Lets just hope they dont get shot with a Taser Gun, because there white stick is mistaken for a Samurai Sword?