Charity highlights street problems for blind people

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A charity has organised a street clean-up with a difference to highlight the obstacles facing blind people in public places.

Guide Dogs for the Blind volunteers raised awareness of the problems posed by cars parked on pavements, stray wheelie bins, overhanging vegetation and fly tipping during the litter pick in Headingley, Meanwood, Hyde Park and Woodhouse.

They teamed up with Leeds City Council and the police to remove dumped items and speak to residents about the dangers of pavements for people with sight problems.

Guide dog trainer Janet Champion and black labrador Zeus demonstrated how easily an assistance animal can be forced into the road by an unexpected obstacle, risking its owner’s safety. Passers-by were also given the chance to try on a blindfold and attempt to navigate around street furniture to experience how disorientating it can be to have sight loss as a pedestrian.

Guide Dogs engagement officer Debbie Linford said:

“Cars parked on pavements and wheelie bins are an everyday nightmare for blind and partially sighted people, as well as other pedestrians. Too often people with sight loss are forced out into busy roads because a pavement has been blocked. Imagine how terrifying that can be when you can’t see oncoming traffic. It’s an unwanted barrier to the freedom and independence a guide dog brings. This action day is a great example of different organisations coming together, and we want to continue to work with them to ensure local authorities and West Yorkshire Police do whatever they can to address these problems.”

For more information about the charity’s campaign to ensure streets are cleaner and more accessible for blind people, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/supportus/campaigns.