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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Local MP announces cutbacks for visually impaired people

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Meg Munn MP has announced cutbacks, not to save money, but in supporting Guide Dogs' Safer Streets campaign for blind and partially sighted people.

Wearing a pair of goggles, which simulate visual impairment, the MP for Sheffield Heeley completed an obstacle course at the Parliamentary launch of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's A-Z Guide to Street Obstacles on Tuesday, 9 March.

The A-Z publication includes a pop-up pavement, with three-dimensional pedestrian obstructions - Slalom Street. It offers practical suggestions for an obstacle-free environment. These include cutting back overhanging hedges, and avoiding blocked walkways by removing badly positioned A-boards and wheelie bins.

Tom Pey, Guide Dogs' Director of Policy, explains: "We're delighted that the local MP is supporting our on-going work to reduce pedestrian obstacles, which are hazardous to visually impaired constituents.

"We know of cases where vision impaired people have received serious facial injuries from sharp, overhanging branches, or have stumbled on uneven pavements. Frequently we hear of clients walking into A-boards, whilst others have been forced into the road - close to traffic they cannot see - because cars are parked, blocking pavements.

"We're working with MPs, local authorities, retailers, drivers and other residents to make a difference, and have launched a web-page www.guidedogs.org.uk/saferstreets where people can find out more about the campaign."

Suggestions for an obstacle-free environment include:

Regularly trimming back branches which overhang pavements. Finding an alternative parking area that doesn't involve blocking walkways. Leaving wheelie bins in driveways where possible, ensuring pedestrian areas remain clear. Reflective white stripes on bins highlight them to people with limited vision.

A-boards and shop displays should be positioned in designated areas, which don't obstruct pedestrians. The Guide appeals to litter-louts: broken glass might cut guide dogs' paws and chewing gum can stick in dogs' hair. Contractors should ensure pavements are level and that barriers surround roadworks, whilst ensuring alternative safe walking routes. Cyclists should use bicycle tracks where available, avoid riding on the pavement or abandoning their bikes outside the entrance to shops.

For further information about Guide Dogs' Safer Streets campaign, including copies of the A-Z Guide to Street Obstacles, phone Chris Dyson on 0118 983 8281 or log-on to www.guidedogs.org.uk/saferstreets



Meg with guide dog owner Iain McAndrew - and his dog Danny - at the Safer Streets Reception.

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