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Susan Jones from Warrington with nine-year-old labrador retriever cross guide dog Vaughn after he was crowned Guide Dog of the Year at the Kennel Club in central London, Thursday September 8, 2005, for his "outstanding loyalty and devotion" to owner Ms Jones. Ms Jones, who is visually impaired and is occasionally struck deaf, said: "I rely on my hearing to orientate myself and to lose it suddenly can be very frightening, but I know that Vaughn is here to help and guide me in the right direction." See PA story ANIMALS Blind. PRESS ASSOCIATION PHOTO. Photo credit should read: Jane Mingay/PA.

BLIND and partially sighted people continue to face discrimination and exclusion – and are missing out on crucial support – say leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).

The findings emerged from a research study of 1,200 people with sight loss, one of the largest ever studies of the lives of registered blind and partially sighted people.

RNIB’s My Voice report shows many blind and partially sighted people aren’t getting the support they need from government services.

This includes practical support for managing everyday life, getting online, getting into employment, or accessing services and benefits, and emotional support for adjusting to sight loss and dealing with deteriorating vision.

The global recession, welfare reform, cuts in public services and the digital revolution have all impacted upon the everyday lives of people with sight loss.

Key findings show:

  • A fall in employment rates from 34% in 2006 to 27% in 2015
  • Only 17% of people experiencing sight loss being offered emotional support
  • 39% of blind and partially sighted people of working age saying they have some or great difficulty in making ends meet
  • 35% of blind and partially sighted people saying that they sometimes, frequently or always experience negative attitudes from the general public in relation to their sight loss
  • 31% of people rarely or never optimistic about the future

Fazilet Hadi, director engagement at RNIB, said: “Lack of support, low employment rates, barriers to accessing information and difficulties in getting around all contribute to isolation and exclusion for people with sight loss.

“Our My Voice report brings us a clear message directly from blind and partially sighted people that they are missing out on crucial support and experiencing discrimination.

“These findings must act as a wake-up call to Government, charities and business to look critically at how we’re supporting and including blind and partially sighted people as customers and citizens.”

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk