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People with visual impairments usually find it more difficult to fill in questionnaires. We went to two East Devon clubs specifically to gather the views of people with visual impairments face to face.

Exmouth and District Macular Society

We attended a meeting of the Exmouth and District Macular Society, who are residents with visual impairments and who are registered blind. We ran through the background information Moving and Improving consultation with the group. There were around 22 members at the meeting, most if not all of whom were over the age of 60.

  • Members of the group access our services by telephone and are happy with using this method of accessing services. They would not access our services online due to their visual impairments.  
  • A couple of members of the group felt they would visit Exmouth Town Hall to access our refuse and recycling service and one would visit to access dog bin services. No other services were mentioned.
  • Several members of the group said to make sure we don’t have automated phone services or a phone service where you have to press a lot of buttons to talk to a human, make sure they can talk to a real person quickly. 

Requests for Exmouth Town Hall:

  • Paint the edges of the steps going up the entrance.
  • Easier access up to and into the building.
  • Have another hand rail up the steps into the building.
  • Have a more obvious ramp into the building.
  • Have obvious and easy access into the building.
  • Have private meeting rooms.
  • Make sure there is adequate visitor car parking, there isn’t enough at the moment.
  • The parking spaces are too narrow for people with visual impairments and other disabilities, they need more room.
  • Have plenty of simple seating in the reception / waiting area.
  • Good clear signage about where to go.

Seaton and District Visually Impaired Club

We attended a meeting of the Sidmouth and District Visually Impaired Club, who are residents with visual impairments and those who are registered blind. We ran through the background information Moving and Improving consultation with the group. There were around 24 members at the meeting, most of whom were over the age of 60.

  • Members of the group access our services by telephone and are happy with using this method of accessing services. They would not access our services online due to their visual impairments.  
  • They did raise concerns that our automated system takes you to the Customer Service Centre where you explain your issue to a Customer Service Advisor, who then often puts you through to the service you require where you have to explain your problem all over again.
  • A few members suggested that when we move we have a phone system like Devon County Council. This involves calling one central number and saying the name of the person you want to speak to, and then the phone system puts you through.
  • No one had used drop in sessions. They prefer to contact us by phone generally.
  • Members of the group were generally happy contacting us by telephone and if necessary having someone come out to them in their own home to discuss their query. They felt that if they did ever need to go to Honiton or Exmouth this would be made incredibly difficult and lengthy by public transport not being easily available from Seaton to Honiton or Exmouth. 

Thinking about specific requirements for the buildings in Exmouth and Honiton for visually impaired people:

  • Paint the edges of any steps going up the entrance.
  • Have doors that open easily or are automatic. 
  • Have well designed disabled accessible toilets for visitors.
  • As few steps as possible.
  • Easy access up to and into the building.
  • Have hand rails up the steps into the buildings.
  • Have appropriate ramps ramp into the building.
  • When people go to reception have someone that can safely lead visually impaired people all around the building.
  • Full wheelchair access.
  • Have red flashing lights to accompany loud fire alarms, these then work for deaf people.