Low Vision Awareness Month
Posted: Tue, 28 Feb 2023 11:30
Last week, the Active Oxfordshire team took part in a Visual Awareness training session, which was delivered by one of our Active Ambassadors, Nathan, and Mark, who both work forMyVision Oxfordshire, the charity previously known as Oxford Association for the Blind. We found this important to note as the change is deliberate, they found that their previous name was in fact a barrier to their service. People with a visual impairment could find the term 'blind' as something they don't identify with and could just be reinforcing negative stereotypes.
With the end of February bringing a close to Low Vision Awareness Month, this blog serves as a reflection of the team's learnings and a chance to consider the simple adjustments we can make as employers, residents and physical activity champions to being more genuinely inclusive.
The training served as a great knowledge builder for the team. Understanding more about the picture nationally and locally, but also the types of different visual impairments people may have and how they effect their vision, but also their way of navigating through life.
The team were also given the opportunity to run a sighted guiding exercise introduced to us by Nathan and Mark. Whilst it seemed straightforward after a skilled demonstration. It was interesting to see how challenging it was for the team and to hear some of the feedback indicating how tough they found the exercise.
"I found the exercise difficult from both a guide and guided perspective. It can become so hard to trust what you think you know, from the changes in floor surfaces, to a walking through doorways, it is very unnerving even with a guide at times to have full confidence in such a simple task. Then there also becomes so much to think about as the guide, all of sudden you realise how much information you process subconsciously that needs to be considered!" Harmy from Active Oxfordshire on how we found the guided exercise.
At a local level
In Oxfordshire, there are 24,000 people who are living with a visual impairment, and 7,000 of these individuals will be living with severe sight loss. The team were informed that 1 in 3 people with a visual impairment would like to try a new sport, however, alongside traditional barriers including transport and cost, sports not knowing how to make adaptations for those with visual impairments are a significant influencing factor. This therefore contributes to why visual impairment is the second least likely disability to participate in sport and physical activity.
It was great to have Nathan explain with a more focused lens on our work within physical activity and how we can make a meaningful impact. From showing us adapted equipment such as balls and pucks with bells and rattles in, to shorter tennis rackets meaning the point of contact is closer to the body.
The team were also able to consider how some of the programmes we support may have participants who are living with a visual impairment. The Move Together pathway supporting those with long-term health conditions; it was interesting to hear 1 in 5 people over the age of 75 live with a visual impairment, and this stat moves to 1 in 2 for those over the age of 90. It has made us reflect on what we can do to ensure that the pathway is as inclusive as possible as it may be more a prevalent condition than we currently acknowledge.
Chief Executive Officer of Active Oxfordshire, Josh Lenthall, said "I found the session to be very useful, and it certainly illustrated very clearly how we have a responsibility to ensure that opportunities to be active are readily available to everyone. I wasn't aware of the very high percentage of older people who experience visual impairment and given the ageing profile of the population of Oxfordshire, it is important that opportunities to move and be active are inclusive and appropriate".
As a team, with our now increased knowledge in this area, we can continue to reflect on what we can do, as an organisation, to ensure that we are inclusive and are playing our part in making sport and physical activity accessible for everyone. To do this, we know we have more to learn and action to take, but by working with partners such as MyVision Oxfordshire, we know we can do this.
To find out more about the work MyVision Oxfordshire do, please visit MyVision Oxfordshire - Supporting Visually Impaired People - MyVision Oxfordshire
If you would like more information on opportunities to access sport and physical activity with a visual impairment, please visit Home - British Blind Sport