A blind woman who was verbally abused in a shop has shared a messaged for sighted people about social distancing.
The Belfast woman was attacked in a store for "not following social distancing" and has spoken out about the difficulties of following rules without sight.
Heather Owens has had some difficult experiences since the start of social distancing rules.
She revealed the difficulty in trying to navigate guidelines in the new socially distanced world.
As essential guidance on social distancing, to support blind and partially sighted people has now been published, Heather has an important message for the public, reports Belfast Live.
"We need to help sighted people to better understand how difficult it is to socially distance when you can’t read the signage or see the tape," she said.
"People must have patience and understanding as we're doing our best under very difficult circumstances.
"My hope is that the release of this guidance will mean people will show greater awareness and kindness to people with sight loss and that my previous experience won’t be repeated."
The new guidance has been developed in partnership between RNIB Northern Ireland, Guide Dogs Northern Ireland, the Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency.
It comprises of two documents. One addresses the needs of blind and partially sighted people specifically, covering issues such as guiding and mask-wearing.
The second is aimed at raising awareness among the wider public and service providers, offering tips on how to support blind and partially sighted people to resume their everyday activities, as society begins to emerge from lockdown.
Country Director of RNIB in Northern Ireland, Dr Jacqueline Witherow, said: "RNIB NI was delighted to work with colleagues in Guide Dogs NI, the Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency, to deliver this vital guidance. Social distancing has proved to be a tremendous challenge for people with sight loss.
"Our research shows that since lockdown two-thirds of blind and partially sighted people say they feel less independent. We hope that this guidance will help rebuild the independence they’ve lost and provide confidence in navigating a changed world.
"Just as important, we want the wider public to better understand the difficulties our community faces and the support they can provide to those with sight loss."
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