A day without sight on Scunthorpe High Street left me scared and frustrated
After it was claimed in the Scunthorpe Telegraph that facilities for blind people in the region have failed to improve in the past 30 years, reporter Amy Downward experienced life without sight in Scunthorpe town centre ...
I had never considered just how many hazards there were for a blind person on Scunthorpe High Street before I experienced being blind for an afternoon.
I met Martin Howson, who has been blind for two years, and Edward Buckley, who founded North Lincolnshire Talking News 30 years ago, outside the Talking News building on Frances Street.
We went inside and they explained some of the problems I may come across once I no longer had my sight.
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Martin explained that I should think of a straight line in my head and try to keep going, using the wall as a guide.
He said I should try and use a reference point and use texture and sound to find my way around.
Martin said he was hoping I would find out and understand just a fraction of what he goes through every day.
We then went outside and Martin gave me a demonstration of how to tap the floor in front with a white cane, in order to identify dangers.
When I put my blind-fold on, I instantly felt anxious.
I did not want to walk forward as I could hear a lot of noise and could not work out where it was all coming from.
I took tiny steps as I did not like not knowing what was in front of me, putting all my trust in Edward to guide me down the street.
We then went to Ravendale Street, which Martin said was normally a "no go zone for blind people".
Being left on my own was very scary and daunting.
I slowly made my way down the street but within a few steps I identified an A-board outside a shop and had to find my way around it before nearly walking into a lamp post and another A-board.
I got increasingly frustrated by the amount of signs outside shops in the middle of the pavement as it was very difficult to find my way around them.
When I came to the road, I found it very difficult to establish the end of the pavement because of the lack of kerb and one of the scariest parts was crossing the road.
I was not sure when it was safe and could not have done it without Edward stopping the traffic for me.
I continued to struggle to make my way down the street because of various obstacles such as signs and benches.
Edward then told me to stop because the next bit was harder to tackle as the area was covered with tables, chairs, bikes and trees.
At the end of the challenge I was relieved to take my blindfold off and get my sight back.
It was a frustrating and anxious period which I found it very difficult.
The experience has highlighted to me the problems blind people have to tackle walking down the high street.
A lot more could be done to help make Scunthorpe High Street a safer place for someone who has no sight.
'Something needs to be done'
Edward Buckley, who founded North Lincolnshire Talking News 30 years ago, said there were many obstacles posing problems for blind people every day.
He said: "The high street gets worse every day and has become more cluttered than ever.
"What we need is a councillor to take this issue on and change
the layout of the high street.
"The situation is getting worse and the lack of kerbs in some areas makes it difficult for blind people to know when a road is coming up.
"On Hamilton Road in Scunthorpe there is no kerb so people can cross the road without knowing they have left the path.
"It is absolute madness and something needs to be done.
"The number of obstacles on pavements in the town centre is also a major problem.
"Nearly every shop has got something outside it.
"A-boards can pose a serious hazard and nearly every shop in Scunthorpe has one outside.
"Quite often cars are now parked on pavements which is another problem that needs to be tackled."