West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin in blindfold walk in Bridport organised by Guide Dogs charity

Courtesy of the Bridport and Lyme Regis News

 

AN MP’s eyes were opened to the plight of blind people on a walk through a town centre.

West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin said his understanding of the challenges faced by the blind and partially sighted were ‘completely changed’ following the experience.

It came after Sir Oliver was blindfolded and taken on a walk through Bridport courtesy of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Sir Oliver’s own escort was Corky, a German Shepherd cross retriever.

The walk took him past A-boards on the pavement, street furniture in front of a business, and also involved navigating two pedestrian crossings.

 

Peter Bungay, Engagement Officer for Guide Dogs said: “The aim of the challenge is to highlight the difficulties people with sight loss face in our community.

“This includes the need for safe crossing points, navigating street clutter and the problems created by quiet electric and hybrid cars on the roads.”

Sir Oliver said of the experience afterwards: “This has completely changed my understanding of the challenge faced by blind and partially sighted people when negotiating the urban landscape.

“It has also brought home to me the incredible work that is done by those who both train guide dogs and those who use them.”

The charity said as the number of quiet electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads continues to increase, the risk to pedestrians living with sight loss is growing, as many rely on being able to hear a car to cross the road safely.

Guide Dogs wants the Government to make it compulsory for quiet vehicles to have sound generating systems built in and turned on.

The organisation says it “will not rest” until people living with sight loss can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

Guide Dogs breeds and trains guide dogs which provide life changing mobility. There are currently 4,500 working guide dog partnerships in the UK.

To find out more about its work visit guidedogs.org.uk/supportus