New Guide for Rehabilitation Workers Supporting Blind and Partially Sighted Adults Through Physical Activity

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Logos of British Blind Sport, Metro Blind Sport, Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network, Visionary, North East Sensory Services and Wilberforce Trust

British Blind Sport is pleased to announce the launch of a new guide for Vision Rehabilitation Workers who support blind and partially sighted adults through physical activity.  The resource was created in collaboration with British Blind Sport, Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network, Visionary, Metro Blind Sport, The Wilberforce Trust and North-East Sensory Services.

The guide includes an accessible resource and activity cards containing a variety of low-intensity workouts that can be shared with clients and safely performed in their own home or local outdoor spaces. The exercises have been designed to help individuals develop strength, flexibility, cardiovascular capacity and balance; all of which can improve a person’s confidence, mobility and independence.

Alex Pitts, National Partnerships Manager at British Blind Sport said:

“We believe that physical activity has the potential to improve people's lives and recognise that vision rehabilitation services play an important role in ensuring the wellbeing of blind and partially sighted people. We believe that our new guide, which was developed in collaboration with sight loss organisations, will assist professionals in encouraging people with visual impairments to increase their physical activity and develop skills that will enable them to remain as independent as possible.”

Simon Labbett, Chair of the Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network said:

“The role of Vision Rehabilitation Workers is to improve personal independence after sight loss. Teaching people to get around their neighbourhood safely and confidently with little or no sight is what we are all about, yet this is so much harder if they are not feeling fit or lack physical stamina. This easy-to-use guide is an ideal resource for professionals to help them incorporate fitness and stamina-building into their work.”

Martin Symcox, CEO of Metro Blind Sport said:

“We are pleased to have contributed to this resource to support the important mobility work that Vision Rehabilitation Workers provide to their clients. It’s good to see the sector working together and listening to what is needed to upskill the workforce. We know that the pandemic has had an impact on levels of physical activity, and we hope that the simple exercises in the guide can be a starting point for increasing the confidence of blind and partially sighted people to be a little more physically active.”

Sarah Halliwell, Partnership and Innovation Lead at Visionary said:

“Members of Visionary’s Rehabilitation Forum raised concerns about the decline in the physical fitness of their clients during the pandemic – this had led to some people not being fit for rehab. This important collaboration has brought together professionals from across the sector to create a resource focused on building confidence and independence. The guide has been created to enable rehabilitation workers across the UK to offer personalised activities to gradually build an individual’s physical strength and resilience, which in turn will increase confidence and independence. Visionary is extremely proud of this collaboration between our members and national partners and we look forward to sharing this with rehabilitation workers across the UK”.

Almost 2 million people are living with sight loss in the UK. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. Research conducted by British Blind Sport found common barriers to participating in physical activity for blind and partially sighted people include a lack of communication, poor mental health, low self-esteem, and transportation issues. COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on the support services available to those with sight loss, resulting in increased isolation, decreased physical activity and growing concern about mental health. The goal of this guide is to provide professionals with the resources they need to encourage and support blind and partially sighted people to increase their levels of physical activity, ensuring that they have the stamina and strength to achieve their goals and take part in activities that are important to them.

The new guide can be downloaded from the British Blind Sport website.

If you have used the resource or cards in your activity sessions, please get in touch. For more information or to provide feedback, email Alex at British Blind Sport  or phone 01926 424247.

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