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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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2:07 PM 12th June 2020

Letter From Keith Valentine, Development Director Of RNIB

Dear Editor

Across England, non-essential shops are due to reopen on 15 June. It is expected that, as with shops that have remained open throughout lockdown, visual markers will be used to signify the correct distance from others, one-way systems and designated queuing areas.

With social distancing now part of everyday life it is important to highlight that not everyone can maintain the required distance as easily as others.

People who are blind and partially sighted can struggle to know when they are getting closer to someone, or if someone is approaching them. And guide dogs, of course, aren't trained to help in this regard. In general, people are supportive, but there have been occasions when individuals with sight loss have been challenged or even shouted at for coming too close to others, when the reality is they simply weren't aware of it.

In such uncertain times, tensions over distancing can rise. But we would ask that if you feel someone seems to be ignoring the restrictions, consider for a moment whether that person, rather than being careless, might not be able to fully see you.

Hundreds of thousands of people in England are living with a degree of sight loss. Please be aware that some people do need just a little extra thought.

Keith Valentine
Development Director
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE