The number of people living with sight loss in the UK has been forecast to rise from 1.8 million in 2010 to 2.8 million by 2030 and almost 4 million by 2050.
The figures are staggering particularly given that many of us won’t give our sight a second’s thought – that is until it’s gone.
Despite the growing numbers society has a lot of catching up to do in order to make our public spaces sight loss friendly.
From the influx of shared spaces for cars, buses and pedestrians in our town centres across the country which make it difficult for people with sight loss to know where to walk, to digital exclusion via modern websites which look great but don’t work for people with screen readers, people with sight loss struggle in all aspects of life.
So what can we do to help?
I work at the Beacon Centre, a sight loss charity based in the West Midlands and we are looking to harvest technology to bring about life changing results for people with sight loss.
We’ve teamed up with the University of Wolverhampton to launch a £20,000 competition to find innovative products to help those with sight loss and other sensory conditions.
Emerging technologies are increasingly as important as gene therapy, surgery, and medical aids in empowering and enabling independent living but are unaffordable for many.
People living with sensory and cognitive impairments are socially and economically disadvantaged but need not be with access to appropriate technologies and support to use them.
We believe that if the Visionary+ Challenge could come up with an innovative sensory solution it could transform the lives of those living with sight loss or at risk of developing it as well as other cognitive conditions.
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