There are 14,000 registered visually impaired people on the Fylde Coast – 30 are assisted by a dog – but many flock to the area.
It has been a difficult time of late for many disabled people and visually impaired people included – but, despite the impact of Covid-19, the Glo’ Walkies though the Blackpool Lights For Guide Dogs led by guide dogs and their owners, will still take place – but virtually this year.
While the Guide Dog owners take part in their walk, they would like other dog owners to join in –uploading a cute pic of their pooch in action – which will be used on the three giant screens in Blackpool until October 31st . There is more information by clicking here
Brenda Wildish, of Guide Dog Volunteers on the Fylde Coast, says: “This is the 10th year that the Walk has been held between North and South Piers, now including the Sandcastle Waterpark at its southern end. it provides a deep sensory experience and has grown each year. This year’s “Walk” will be a virtual fundraiser, but we hope that the public will enjoy seeing their dogs, lit up in Walk mode, up on the giant screens.”
And, with it still being a difficult time for visually impaired people, Brenda thinks it is also a good time for people to think about the issues they face with social distancing and how others can help.
“ Social distancing creates anxiety among many visually impaired people and Guide Dog owners reluctant to go out in public in the present circumstances, including those guide dog owners who regularly visit this area.
“Guide dog owners are as keen to socially distance as everyone else, but cannot see
potential problems ahead and issues include people passing by in silence or stroking the dog – creating a potential hazard as the dog’s coat can be a potential source of viral transmission and also blind people need to be in a constant state of high alert when out – listening for clues about people around them – this is exhausting, particularly for the many who also have a hearing problem.”
So, what can be done to help?
By saying to an approaching guide dog owner, ‘Hello, I can see you are a guide dog owner/ have vision problems, do you need any help?’
This alerts a blind person to the presence of another person allowing the blind person to stop. If necessary halt their dog, without losing orientation, letting the sighted person continue round them, before the former continues on their way.
By speaking, the sighted person gives their approximate position and direction of travel, allowing the blind person to remain confidently in control – they can also ensure that their dog is not touched.
hOW BUSINESSES CAN HELP?
Guide dog owners have learnt to phone a venue before making the journey, and the information they generally would like to know:
1. to ascertain a quiet time.
2.To arrange to be met, it helps to know that all staff are trained/ alert to their needs
3. That a security staff member will expect them and will contact an appropriate person when they arrive.
4. That a helper unknown to the blind person accepts an arm band with a handle attached to enable the blind person to be led safely alongside them.
5. That a sighted companion is accepted to accompany a blind person to assist them where staff are short and only one person at a time is allowed into the venue.
6. Ensure that a staff member meets them at the door eg with a trolley to enable social distancing,
7. That a tactile strip is placed across an entrance floor with arrow heads to indicate the position of the hand sanitiser, with a tactile square on the floor in front of it to mark its exact position.
The tactile strip only needs to be a length of thin rope covered over in adhesive hazard-tape, that is maintain in line with the sanitiser.