Crippen asks why have blind and visually impaired people been left off the coronavirus vulnerable list?

It appears that the government has not fully considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on blind and partially sighted people.

Labour’s shadow Women and Equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova has raised concerns that the government have excluded blind and partially sighted people from its coronavirus vulnerable list. She said:

“Blind and partially sighted people are unable to access priority online grocery deliveries and are forced to do without vital supplies. This is due to supermarkets basing their priority list on the government’s guidance on shielding and protecting people, and therefore leaving disabled people out who would have otherwise been on the list.”

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has already taken action on this issue. It has launched a petition to:

“make sure supermarkets and the Government are doing everything they can to ensure blind and partially sighted people can access priority shopping delivery slots and get the necessities they need through the coronavirus lockdown.”

It also raised other issues for blind and partially sighted people during the pandemic. These include:

  • Them relying on guides who may not be “part of their household”. This puts some blind and partially sighted people at odds with the government’s rules around only going outside with people from your own household.
  • The new two-metre distancing rules which would make usually familiar surroundings now unfamiliar.

There are still unresolved issues for many Disabled people. Not least among these is the government not providing a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter during its daily coronavirus briefings. But it seems that even the basic necessities in life for some people have not been considered by the government.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is set in the entrance lobby of Fresco’s supermarket. An older shop assistant is welcoming a young Asian man with purple hair who is wearing dark glasses and carrying a white stick. There are large black arrows on the floor leading into the store. A large sign on the wall advises customers that they must follow the arrows and keep two meters apart. The shop assistant is saying: “Just follow the instructions dear!”. The visually impaired man has a large exclamation mark over his head!

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