Visually impaired residents voice concerns about obstructions on footpaths

A group of local residents with visual impairments met with Constable McConnell at Lisburn PSNI Station.
A group of local residents with visual impairments met with Constable McConnell at Lisburn PSNI Station.

A group of visually impaired local residents met with police officers at Lisburn PSNI Station recently to discuss some of the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis.

Speaking after the meeting, Constable McConnell said it had been “an education” to hear how obstructions on footpaths can cause serious issues for people who are blind or visually impaired.

“It was an education for me to hear about how things like street cafes, sandwich boards or A boards, overgrown hedging along footpaths, bollards and street furniture can cause issues for those who are blind or visually impaired,” Constable McConnell posted on the PSNI Lisburn Facebook page.

“Another issue is vehicles parked on the footpath. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is blind or visually impaired, walking with the aid of a cane or a dog. When they approach that car parked on the footpath they don’t know what’s at the other side. They don’t know if they will be able to get through the small gap that’s been left or if a bramble hedge is going to scratch their face as they squeeze through. Did you know that if a guide dog detects a car on the footpath that they are trained to take the user of the dog onto the road to get around the car? I didn’t. Take a minute to think how those two incidents would affect you as someone who can see and then consider how it affects those who are blind or visually impaired.”

Constable McConnell’s post concludes with a plea to local householders, motorists and business owners to show more consideration for people with visual impairments.

“Next time you go to park your car take the time to think about the obstruction you may cause. Have a look at your hedges, are they overhanging and causing a danger to users of the footpath? Do you own a business that places an ‘A board’ at their door? If so, place it against the shop wall where it can be detected more easily.”