Over a quarter of adults believe that blind children have different dreams and aspirations to their sighted peers,according to a new survey commissioned by the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC).
The survey shows that very little is known about the impact of sight loss on children’s lives. Almost one fifth of those surveyed don’t know what effect being blind or visually impaired will have on a young person’s life with only 11% thinking that blindnessmakes itdifficult to make friends.
This comes despite the fact that 2 out of 5 blind children have no local friends to play with. Nine out of 10 blind children won’t have a long term job when they grow up and blind children are more likely to live on or below the poverty line. The reality of childhood sight loss is not the ability to see. Rather, it’s the impact on a child’s future life chances if their family doesn’t receive the right support.
To tackle this, RSBC is launching a new campaign, Every Blind Child, whichaims to raise awareness of the real challenges faced by the children it supports. At the centre of the campaign is a commissioned artwork by Robert Montgomery, which will be unveiled on 31st January at Granary Square in London before embarking on a tour of the country.
The internationally acclaimed artist and poet has custom designed a vehicle, which incorporates his iconic light poetry and a film installation of interviews with blind and visually impaired children who inspired the work.
Other findings from the survey:
- 60% of people in employment said that they have never come across a blind or visually impaired person at work.
- 84% of respondents believe that there would be barriers to a visually impaired child achieving their dream job
- 52% of respondents believe that blind and visually impaired children won’t be able to live alone in adulthood, travel, cook or take care of finances, independently.
RSBC’s services in England and Wales aim to ensure that, blind and visually impaired children grow up to lead fulfilling lives, with early post diagnosis support at the forefront of their work.
The campaign, which features the real voices and experiences of blind children at its core, aims to bolster awareness from the public and ensure that, by 2020, 11,000 families have access to a sight loss specialist who can give them immediate, one to one emotional and practical help for as long as it’s needed.
Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive at RSBC said, “The survey findings demonstrate a profound lack of understanding around what it means to grow up with sight loss. For many, sight loss is a hidden disability, which can often lead to misconceptions about the unique set of challenges blindness presents to the individual. Blind and visually impaired children tell us they have the same career ambitions and hopes for the future as their sighted friends, but it’s an uphill struggle for them to achieve their dreams. Once they start to encounter the kind of prejudices and false assumptions reflected in our survey, their self-confidence starts to diminish and their mental wellbeing is impacted negatively.”
The artist, Robert Montgomery said,“I’ve been proud to work with an amazing group of blind and partially sighted children on this project. I chose to film them talking about their dreams to give an insight into their vivid and charming imaginations, and also because in a way we are all equal when we dream. RSBC does amazing work in fighting prejudice and opening up life opportunities for this often overlooked group of young people who desperately need our help to live fuller lives.”