Neil Hudson MP 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.”
After hearing from Nell and other young people with sight loss and their parents about the difficulties they have faced in accessing the right support, the MP for Penrith and The Border has pledged to support Guide Dogs’ work on ensuring all children have the support they need to live an independent and active life.
Neil Hudson MP said:
“It was a pleasure to meet with such brave young people with sight loss to discuss the education and specialist support they have been receiving and how important it is to them. Their positive attitudes in the face of their day-to-day challenges were inspirational.
The Guide Dogs charity have been doing fantastic work in this area and I fully support their ongoing campaign to ensure children get the early and specialised support they need. I was also pleased to hear about the Guide Dogs Educational and Family Support Services which offer vital to support to the children suffering from sight loss and their families.”
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.”