Covid-19 pandemic

We have worked closely with other sight loss organisations and Department of Health and Social Care during the Covid-19 pandemic to support blind and partially sighted people.

Our work has included helping people access food supplies and medicines, supporting the rollout of the Covid vaccines and working to deliver accessible Covid testing.

Covid-19 home testing

TPT is has been working with sector partners and the government to improve the accessibility of testing instructions to include alternative formats.  After months of campaigning the government is making all home testing kits more accessible for blind and partially sighted people. Find out more on Gov.uk

Video assistance for home testing via Be My Eyes

COVID testing at home is a step further to being more accessible for blind and partially sighted people as Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched free live video assistance to any UK citizen via the Be My Eyes app.

Be My Eyes can connect people to specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff who can help with as much or as little of the at-home PCR or lateral flow testing process, from ordering a test kit to taking and returning the test.

TPT and Sight Loss Councils have worked alongside partners RNIB, Macular Society and Visionary throughout the last six months to provide insights, assist in the training of specialist agents and take the service from a critical trial phase to full launch.

Find out more on Be My Eyes

You can read more on our work to make Covid-19 testing and vaccine process is as accessible as possible for blind and partially sighted people.

Watch the video below of TPT’s Mike Bell discussing our work to improve accessibility of home testing.

COVID-19 tests are available to anybody, with different tests depending on whether you have symptoms or no symptoms. You can apply for a test online here.

Read more on how the government is making all home testing kits more accessible for blind and partially sighted people on its website Gov.uk

Street design guidance for local authorities

In partnership with Guide Dogs, RNIB and Visionary, TPT helped to develop guidance for local authorities on street design in the wake of COVID-19.

Increasing the space available for walking is particularly important for blind and partially sighted people who may struggle to maintain social distancing from other pedestrians they cannot see.

It is important changes, including those intended to encourage cycling, maintain or improve accessibility of our streets for everyone. The guidance outlines the importance of communication with visually impaired people on the changes and their reliance on physical cues such as kerbs, tactile paving and controlled crossings to navigate safely. It also highlights the importance of a physical demarcation between pedestrian areas and cycle tracks.  You can read the full guidance here. 

Accessible communications

A group of leading disability charities, including Thomas Pocklington Trust, have been lobbying government to make sure information reaches everyone in society, especially the most vulnerable.  We have highlighted the inaccessible government updates on coronavirus and asked the Prime Minister to appoint a national lead on the issue.  The Government has consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, despite reminders from many disability organisations.

Read our open letter to the PM 

We are delighted to report, following this joint letter to the PM above, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP, has appointed a senior lead for accessible information. Claire Pimm, Director of National Resilience Communications at the Cabinet Office, has been appointed as the senior lead for this.

In response to our comments that the Government had consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, the Cabinet Office has now reissued guidance to all Government Departments reminding them of their duties under the Equality Act that “reasonable adjustments” are made to ensure communications are accessible.

The group has created and shared with Government a checklist of simple steps that should be taken to ensure communications are accessible.

You can read this checklist for accessibility here

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