ONE of Aberdeen’s oldest charities has been giving local people a taste of living without sight, during Remember a Charity Week.
North East Sensory Services (NESS), which has offices in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin, supports over 6,500 people in the north-east who have sight or hearing impairment.
The charity invited local dignitaries to experience what it feels like to live without sight this week, by taking them on a blindfold guided walk.
Aberdeen’s Lord Provost, Barney Crockett, was guided along Union Street and around the Town House buildings by NESS volunteer, Christa Reid.
The Lord Provost wore glasses which demonstrated serious sight impairment and was given instruction by Ms Reid, to negotiate busy streets, steps, narrow doorways, revolving doors and busy corridors.
Russell Borthwick, chair of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, agreed to be blindfolded while he was guided around the AGCC offices in Aberdeen, and Zoey Clark, World Athletics Championships silver medal winner and University of Aberdeen graduate, learned how to navigate Aberdeen Sports Village in a blindfold.
The Lord Provost said: “Being inside, in a building I know well, seemed fairly comfortable thanks to the expert guiding, but as soon as we got outside I felt quite overwhelmed. It was fascinating and gave me a real insight into what life is like for people with a sensory impairment.”
Mr Borthwick, who was guided by NESS volunteer Hazel Young, added: “I am lucky that my eyesight has never caused me any problems, so I was quite surprised by how frightening it was to walk with no and reduced vision.
“Corridors and paths which had seemed wide and open, felt very close, and walking downstairs was particularly challenging. I was very grateful to my expert guide, who made me feel much more at ease and I relied upon her totally. It really made me feel grateful for having good vision.”
Zoey Clark said: “I was expecting my hearing to compensate but actually the noise and voices made walking around more difficult! I relied completely on my guide and often felt very disorientated – particularly outside when I know the track quite well!”
Graham Findlay, CEO NESS, said: “Remember a Charity Week is an annual event which asks people to think about the charities in there area and consider leaving a legacy to help less advantaged people.
“Something as simple as walking along the street and up stairs can be very difficult for people who have limited or no vision.
“We are very grateful to the Lord Provost, Mr Borthwick, Miss Clark for taking time out of their busy days to help us demonstrate what life is like without sight, and how a little bit of expert help can make an huge difference.”
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