New survey highlights public misunderstanding of the challenges facing blind children in the UK

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 blindness makes it difficult 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, that aims 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."

-Ends-

Notes to Editors

Launch & photocall
The unveiling and media photocall for Robert Montgomery’s In Our Dreams We See Forever will take place from 5 to 8pm at Granary Square Brasserie, 1-3 Stable Street, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AB and will be attended by VIPs, RSBC staff and the children and families who inspired the artistic response.

For images of the artwork, to register interest in attending the launch or to request interviews with case studies (campaign children) and spokespeople, please contact Mel Vessey on:
mel.vessey@rsbc.org.uk or 07939 504646.

Survey details
The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,084 respondents aged 16+ in the UK, between 19.01.18 and 22.01.18. The survey was conducted from a random sample of UK adults. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. For the full survey results please contact Mel Vessey on: mel.vessey@rsbc.org.uk or 07939 504646

RSBC campaign
Every Blind Child is RSBC’s first national campaign. RSBC will also be calling for people across the country to pledge their support to generate £3m in income over the next three years. These vital funds will enable RSBC to extend its services to an increased number of blind and visually impaired children, young people and their families in England and Wales.
www.rsbc.org.uk/fundraising/every-blind-child
Twitter: #everyblindchild @RSBCcharity
Instagram: @rsbccharity

National tour
The artwork will be touring the country from February to July 2018, including the following locations:

London:

  • Spitalfields Market - 7 February
  • O2 arena - 10-11th February
  • Oval Cricket Ground - 29th May

Nationwide:

  • Hertfordshire (Hitchin) - from 5th March
  • Bedfordshire (Milton Keynes) - from 19th March
  • Plymouth - from 9th April
  • Newcastle-Upon-Tyne - from 30th May
  • Sheffield - from 11th June
  • Birmingham - from 16th June (at the Brindleyplace Film Festival)

For information on the tour as it unfolds, visit: https://www.rsbc.org.uk/fundraising/the-every-blind-child-tour-2018.html

Robert Montgomery 
Born in Scotland in 1972, Montgomery has built an international reputation for his use of poetic discourse and text art.
www.robertmontgomery.org
Instagram: @robertmontgomerystudio

Facts and figures 
There are an estimated 22,000 blind and visually impaired children and young people in England and Wales and every day four more children will be diagnosed with sight loss. Currently:

  • 90% of those who lose their sight in youth will never work for more than six months at a time in their lives (i)
  • One in four vision impaired children under twelve are depressed (ii)
  • Blind and visually impaired eleven year olds are twice as likely to be bullied at school as their sighted peers (iii)
  • Two out of five blind children have no local friends to play with (iv)
  • Significantly more VI children live in families below the poverty line compared to sighted children (v)

-Ends-

i - Survey of Young People Parents Educators and Mobility Specialists, (Nzegwu and Dooley 2008) Investigation of data relating to blind and partially sighted people in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey: October 2009 – September 2012
ii - Survey of Young People Parents Educators and Mobility Specialists, Nzegwu and Dooley 2008
iii - NaTcen, RLSB, RNIB ‘sight impairment at age 7’2012, ‘sight impairment at age 11’ 2014
iv - NaTcen, RLSB, RNIB, ‘sight impairment at age 11’ 2014
v - NaTcen, RLSB, RNIB, ‘sight impairment at age 11’ 2014

You can call us between 9am-5pm Monday - Friday on 020 3198 0225. Prefer us to call you?