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Sight loss charity wants island to be "more accessible and inclusive"

Sight loss charity wants island to be

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Sight loss charity wants island to be "more accessible and inclusive"

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Increasing awareness of issues caused by shared spaces and EVs for islanders with sight impairment is one of the ways a local charity will be pushing for Jersey to become "more accessible and inclusive" in 2022.

At the end of every year, Express speaks to local charities about what their Christmas wishes are for the year ahead.

Today, it's the turn of EYECAN, Jersey's only charity focused solely on supporting islanders with sight impairment.

After two very busy years in 2020 and 2021, the charity is looking to build on its work in 2022 to raise awareness of sight loss and improve opportunities for its clients, as the team told Express...

Pictured: This year, EYECAN transformed its St. Martin's base, Westlea.

"Whilst covid had a negative impact on so much, the temporary suspension of EYECAN’s social clubs provided opportunity for the charity to undertake a complete transformation of Westlea, our base in St. Martin. 

The centre, which now presents a harmonious and accessible interior, showcases a wide range of equipment to boost independence, whilst walls throughout the building display members’ art works. 

The charity’s annual EYECAN Solutions event, hosted this year at Westlea, was a huge success. The event provided opportunity to learn more about established and innovative assistive equipment, as well as the chance to meet staff and discover the full range of EYECAN’s services. Also attending were representatives from other services and organisations with something to offer to those living with sight loss. 

The suspension of social clubs also enabled us to review our activities programme and revitalise offerings.

New activities include cycling on adapted bikes, walks, dance, themed days, outings, and speakers on subjects of interest, whilst established favourites such as art and craft remain on the itinerary.

Pictured: Pottery was one of the new activities EYECAN recently introduced.

We were really thrilled that pottery, one of several new activities recently enjoyed by Social Club members, was led by our lovely client, Zena, who not only demonstrated how to make Christmas tree decorations, but later fired clients’ creations in her own kiln. 

On a different note, EYECAN Children’s voucher scheme has proved popular with the public, with families and carers of children under the age of 8, able to get up to £90 off the cost of their child’s prescription spectacles at participating opticians.

Awareness raising to reduce public misconceptions and increase knowledge of sight loss is always important to us. We particularly love it when our clients get involved, so we were delighted when EYECAN and Macular Society members, Julie, and Pat, stepped forward to raise awareness in the media of the many ways in which people with sight loss can still access books. 

 We were also pleased that so many different organisations took up our Sight Impairment Awareness Training, enabling staff in a variety of roles to respond with confidence to the needs of Islanders with sight loss.

Pictured: This year, the charity provided Sight Impairment Awareness Training.

Training encompasses mistaken expectations relating to how individuals with sight loss might appear, as well as simulations of the main types of sight loss, the 'dos and don’ts' when engaging with individuals with sight impairment, sighted guiding advice and the equipment and services available to support Islanders with sight loss. We are already booking training slots for 2022. 

Looking forward to 2022, we will continue to develop an even closer working relationship with the Eye Department.

We also intend to work closely with the Government's Disability and Inclusion Team and look forward to greater accessibility and inclusion for islanders with sight loss, and other disabilities, achieved via the delivery of Jersey's Disability Strategy. It is hoped that Jersey's Carers Strategy will ensure recognition of the contribution made by Jersey's many carers.

To promote accessibility, we regularly work with Liberate on the delivery of access audits. Audits identify the barriers which prevent Islanders with disability from fully accessing provision. Barriers might relate to inaccessible communications, or to access difficulties to, or within, premises. 

For islanders with sight loss such challenges might include poor lighting, or text which can’t be read because of its size, font, or poor contrast. The charity looks forward to ever more businesses requesting audits to help Jersey become the inclusive society it needs to be. 

Pictured: EYECAN wants to make Jersey "the inclusive society it needs to be". 

EYECAN can support clients’ independence, enabling them to manage daily tasks at home and in the wider environment. We can provide social opportunity and activity to promote quality of life, but we are all poorer whenever Islanders with disability are prevented from participating in Island life because of barriers encountered in society.

EYECAN wants to know about the challenges faced by islanders with sight loss. We can advocate alongside our clients, or on their behalf, for positive changes to make Island life inclusive. 

So, what are our targets for 2022? Well, we fully intend to build on our successes: strengthening ties with partner agencies, supporting the independence of Islanders with impaired sight, providing greater social and activity opportunity, raising awareness of sight loss - including issues concerning shared spaces and electric vehicles, and helping to make the island more accessible and inclusive.

Onwards and Upwards! EYECAN wishes everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year."

For more information about the work of EYECAN, you can visit their website, email or call the office at 01534 864689.


More in the 2022 charity wishes series...

Kairos Arts: Arts charity to expand therapeutic offering to children

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