Last week I met with children with sight loss and their families to hear about their experiences of education and specialist support at a virtual event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs.
New research from Guide Dogs has found a decrease in happiness, independence and confidence in children with sight loss over the last 12 years. It also found that more than two thirds of parents felt that there was not enough support to help parents and guardians at the point of their child’s sight loss diagnosis.
A child who can see will typically learn through watching and imitating, but a child with a vision impairment instead needs to learn strategies to gain everyday skills such as walking, dressing and navigating.
Guide Dogs knows that with the right support, children and young people with sight loss can achieve anything. Rachel, the mother of five-year-old Nell who spoke at the event, said “”The early support is going to help Nell grow up to be an independent adult who is blind, and ultimately I think that is a goal for every parent.”
I’ve pledged to support Guide Dogs’ work on ensuring all children have the support they need to live an independent and active life. I know from speaking to Guide Dog users in Newport East just how transformative an impact these wonderful animals can have on peoples’ lives.
Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs commented: “Guide Dogs is best known for our work providing life changing dog partnerships, but we also work with children and young people with sight loss to support their development and education. We know more needs to be done to better support children and young people with sight loss. This is why next year we will set up a commission made up of young people, parents, professionals and experts to explore the best support for children and young people with sight loss.”