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Appeal for input to help design social distancing signals

Appeal for input to help design social distancing signals
18th August 2020 Ian Streets

The RNIB is seeking advice from blind and partially sighted people on how to make others aware of the difficulties of maintaining social distancing.
Working with the Cabinet Office, the charity has helped to come up with a social distancing graphic but it is now working on other ideas to help get the message across.
The charity notes that because social distancing is a visual process it can be impossible, exhausting and stressful for many blind and partially sighted people.
Changes put in place to help maintain social distancing, like new queuing systems in shops, have made it harder for many blind and partially sighted people to navigate even previously familiar environments.
The charity says it has heard about blind and partially sighted people being confronted in the street by other members of the public who haven’t understood why they have not been able to abide by social distancing rules.
A statement at www.rnib.org.uk said: “Many blind and partially sighted people have shared feelings of anxiety around being unable to socially distance and how this has directly affected their wellbeing. We’ve been working hard to raise public awareness but while we have reached a lot of people, we haven’t and won’t reach everyone.”
The “Please give me space” social distancing indicator is a circle with a person in the centre, with two arrows pointing out to either side to indicate space. The Cabinet Office have also used the same logo on their facemask exemption, and it can be downloaded from the government website.
The RNIB said: “You could print it off and stick it to a bag or a similar item if you wanted to. We’re looking into producing products that can be worn which display the logo, such as lanyards and facemasks.
“We understand this option won’t suit everyone, and lots of people have told us that their guide dog or cane does this for them. But our research showed that nearly two-thirds of disabled people said their confidence in social distancing would likely increase if they wore a visual indicator, and 80 per cent of people thought an indicator was a good idea.”
The charity adds that other organisations including The Partially Sighted Society and the Distance Aware programme are also offering items which people can use to show that social distancing is difficult for them.
The statement said: “We’ve worked to make it applicable for anyone who finds it difficult to socially distance or who is anxious about people getting too close. This means you can avoid having to disclose the specific reason why people need to keep their distance.
“Equally, you may feel that you don’t want to use a social distancing indicator at all. The choice is entirely up to you. If you have any particular requests, please let us know, we’d love to hear what you’d prefer to use!
Suggestion can be sent to the RNIB campaigns team at campaigns@rnib.org.uk

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