Severely vision impaired people in England, Scotland and Wales are being asked to keep audio diaries of the daily barriers they encounter due to mobility impairment, as part of an RNIB campaign for blind people to be able to claim the same level of state disability benefit as wheelchair users.
The move is the latest phase of the ‘Taken for a ride’ campaign ,
to ensure that the mobility needs of severely vision impaired people are recognised by the Government.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a means-tested tax free benefit comprised of two parts: a care component – paid at three rates; and a mobility component, paid at two. Currently, severely vision impaired residents of England, Scotland and Wales are not entitled to the higher level mobility component of DLA.
“We wanted people with severe sight loss to be able to explain to their MP the real day to day difference that being able to claim the higher rate mobility component would make to the quality of their lives. An audio diary seemed to fit the bill,” said RNIB Campaigns Officer Helen Dearman.
Participants are asked to record examples of what they could do, were they eligible for the higher rate of DLA mobility allowance. They are also asked to document incidents where, for example, they have been unable to attend hospital appointments or afford the costs incurred by shopping independently, visiting friends or joining classes.
In December, audio diaries, recorded onto standard audio tapes, will be presented to each campaign supporter’s local MP along with a text transcription. A compilation of excerpts from all diaries will be presented to a parliamentary reception and the RNIB’s Campaigns Department will send each campaign supporter’s full audio diary to their local MP, encouraging them to continue to support the campaign and take the issue forward in the new session of Parliament.
The Campaign has previously seen supporters writing to their MPs asking them to sign a supporting Early Day Motion, which 248 MPs have now signed; and the largest ever lobby of Parliament by blind and partially sighted people in December 2005. Supporters are asked to make their last diary entry by 7 October.