Uneven ground, bollards and planters are just some of the issues visually impaired people can have difficulties dealing with in town
An officer for one of the UK’s leading blind charities visited Barnstaple to find out some of the issues faced by visually impaired people in the town.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind’s (RNIB) South West campaigns officer Steve Hyde joined former town councillor Simon Harvey, Liberal Democrat disability lead Julie Adnams-Hatch, town centre manager Hannah Harrington and representatives from Barnstaple Town Council and North Devon Council for a tour of the town centre.
With some wearing glasses to simulate different conditions and using guide sticks to help them, the group were presented with issues blind or partially sighted people may face while navigating the town, such as uneven ground, kerbs, bollards and planters.
Mr Hyde said: “Simon asked me down to help highlight objects and issues currently faced on a daily basis by people with visual impairments and recognise some of the problems they face.
“Sometimes people don’t actually realise what we have to go through.”
Barnstaple town clerk Will Austin said the town council was hoping to link up with authorities to try and overcome some of the problems faced.
He said: “We are looking specifically at issues of access to and around the town centre for blind and partially sighted people.
“As a town council we are really keen to identify these issues and link with relevant authorities, particularly district and county councils to see whether any of this can be overcome.
“There are clearly some difficult points in the town centre to negotiate, and I’m learning that.”