On Friday 9th December, the Birmingham Sight Loss Council visited the Houses of Parliament for a tactile tour of Parliament.

The fully guided tour of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords is designed specifically for those with sight loss. It grants those taking part unique, fun and interactive access to Parliament, including exploring models of the historic parliamentary estate before being taken on a tour of both chambers.

The group from Birmingham Sight Loss Council were allowed to touch the interior design, and statues, and were able to sit in the Speaker’s Chair. Parliamentary tours do not usually incorporate these features but the tactile tour enables those who are blind or partially sighted to fully immerse themselves in the fascinating parliamentary experience.

The day was enjoyed by all, and Mohammed Rashid from the Birmingham Sight Loss Council said:

“I found the Tactile Tour of the Houses of Parliament very informative. We were encouraged to interact with and feel every part of the tour, from the ornate wooden carvings to the Speaker’s chair and even some of the crown jewels that are worn as part of the formal uniform of the doorkeepers. This tour gave us a greater understanding of what happens in Parliament which will support our preparation for the work we are doing in the Birmingham Sight Loss Council.”

The Birmingham Sight Loss Council helps to represent the 30,000 blind and partially sighted people living in Birmingham. Visually impaired people are recruited to act as mediators and sometimes as lobbyists to help bring about change for those living with sight loss. It is backed and funded by The Thomas Pocklington Trust, which is a national not-for-profit organisation that supports people who are visually impaired.

Andrew Billingham, Network Engagement Manager for the Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:

“The tactile tour of Parliament was a fantastic opportunity for the Birmingham Sight Loss Council to immerse themselves in the heart of UK politics. It was an insightful and enjoyable day for everyone and we hope to be able to interact with Parliament more as a part of the Sight Loss Council’s work.”