A GROUP of Scottish Borders councillors tried to navigate around obstacles and clutter on the streets in Kelso on Friday September 15 wearing spectacles that mimic different sight loss conditions.

The exercise was arranged by national charity RNIB Scotland in a bid to demonstrate the problems that blind and partially sighted residents experience when confronted with advertising boards, bollards, cycle racks and café furniture.

Wide-ranging concerns have been expressed by disability groups as towns and cities across the country engage in moves to redesign urban streetscapes, part of a bid to encourage more active travel like cycling.

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The councillors taking part in the 15-minute walk were guided by members of RNIB Scotland. The special spectacles they wore simulate blotchy (retinopathy), cloudy (cataract) and tunnel (glaucoma) vision and other conditions.

The event also allowed residents with sight loss to share their concerns with their local representatives.

Border Telegraph: Councillors being shown round Kelso by RNIB membersCouncillors being shown round Kelso by RNIB members

James Adams, Director of RNIB Scotland said: “We welcome this opportunity to let elected councillors from all the main parties in the Scottish Borders find out more about how difficult getting out and about can be when you have sight loss.

“The short route we chose has numerous obstacles that can present a hazard to blind and partially sighted people.

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“This is why we continue to raise the profile of ongoing street developments from a visually impaired person's perspective.

“We believe the needs of all residents and visitors should be built into future developments, to ensure some areas in the Scottish Borders don't inadvertently become no-go areas for those with sight loss.”

John Lamont MP, Member of Parliament for Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk had hoped to take part but was unable to attend due to other commitments however he arranged for a representative to take his place.

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He said: “People with sight loss must be fully considered when any changes are made to our roads and streets.

“New developments can prove to be very challenging for blind and partially sighted residents.

“I am pleased to support the outstanding work of the RNIB to increase awareness about the difficulties that visually impaired people face in everyday life.”