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Disability Wales questions MP's blindfolded bus ride

Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns made a bus journey blindfolded today to draw attention to the problems experienced by blind and visually impaired passengers.

Blind charities say they wanted Mr. Cairns to understand the day-to-day challenges facing people with visual impairments.

But Disability Wales questioned whether the stunt was the best way of raising awarness.

Alexandra Lodge reports.

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How the new disability benefit will affect you

Ministers have said the new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives, and includes a new face-to-face assessment and reviews.

Here is how the changes may affect you:

  • Personal Independence Payment will have a Daily Living component and a Mobility component
  • Each component will have two rates - standard and enhanced
  • There are three rates for the care component (low, middle and high) and two for the mobility component (low and high)
  • Claimants will be assessed on 12 activities such as preparing food, washing and dressing
  • They will receive a points score for each activity, depending on how well they can carry them out and the help they need to do so
  • The total score will determine whether a claimant is entitled to benefits
  • For example: The assessment will consider a claimant's physical ability to move around without severe breathlessness, pain or fatigue
  • Ministers have said the new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives, and includes a new face-to-face assessment and reviews

Disability benefit changes take effect in Wales

The UK Government says the new benefit is "designed to support disabled people to live independent lives." Credit: PA

A controversial new benefit replaces the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claimants in Wales today.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in pilot parts of England in April - and is now being rolled out for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.

The new assessment includes an individual's ability to carry out a broad range of activities such as washing, dressing, cooking and getting around.

Existing working-age DLA claimants will start to be re-assessed from October - and there are no current plans to replace DLA for children under 16 and people aged 65 and over who are already receiving it.

Disabled in Wales could 'lose £4,000 a year in cuts'

Demonstrators outside the Department of Work and Pensions in London protesting against changes to disability benefit rules. Credit: PA

Changes to welfare could take £1bn out of the Welsh economy with the South Wales Valleys feeling the biggest impact Assembly members have been told.

Communities & Tackling Poverty Minister Huw Lewis claims Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly will fall within the 25 worst affected local authorities in Great Britain.

He has highlighted research by the Welsh Government, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Sheffield Hallam University which claims benefit and tax credit cuts will hit Wales even harder than the UK as a whole due to its higher levels of welfare dependency.

It also warns that reform to Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance Income could see some disabled people in Wales lose around £4,000 a year.

The Department of Work and Pensions says the Government is committed to supporting disabled people and spends around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.

A spokesman said: "Hundreds of thousands of disabled adults and children will actually receive more support than now with the combined effect of benefit changes under Universal Credit."

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Technology helping visually impaired hit the mark

As a young boy, Lyndon Powell used to shoot at tin cans with his father.

He's still practising the sport - but today he relies on his ears, not his eyes, to hit the target.

Lyndon, who began to lose his sight at the age of 17, is one of many who attend Tondu shooting club.

There, a new facility is helping blind and visually impaired people enjoy shooting practice.

Nicola Hendy went to meet them.

Visual impairment "no difference" for shooting

"Visually impaired people and shooting sounds a strange combination but it is really happening and we are all very excited.

This is one of the very few facilities available for people with a visual impairment around. I've had a go and for the first time the fact that I am completely blind made no difference. It was a completely level playing field. I managed to score four bulls-eyes out of five!"

– Julie Thomas, chair of visually impaired society Bridgevis

New kit for visually impaired shooting

The old range at Tondu Target Shooting Club has been adapted for the visually impaired Credit: Tondu Target Shooting Club

A brand new shooting range for the visually impaired is being opened today in Bridgend. Specially adapted equipment using lights and sound technology allows shooters to hit their targets.

The new facility at Tondu Target Shooting Club - which has existed under various names since the 19th century - has been launched with the help of Julie Thomas, who lost her sight four years ago.

Disabled woman 'harassed and unfairly dismissed', tribunal rules

A woman was harassed and unfairly dismissed on the grounds of her disability, a Cardiff employment appeal tribunal has ruled.

Elizabeth Harris had been a support worker for Neath-based company Prospects for People with Learning Difficulties since 2002.

But the tribunal found that twice in 2010 she was suspended from her workplace without prior consultation for reasons relating to her disability, although the company was aware of it.

Prospects said that both times they had suspended Ms Harris on health and safety grounds, saying risk assessments had identified that Ms Harris may be at risk of injuring herself.

They appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, but the findings were upheld.

This is a victory for Elizabeth and for that I am very pleased. This situation, however, should never have happened in the first place and we hope that her victory will serve as a serious warning to Prospects, and any other employers, who fail to treat their employees appropriately.

– Mark Turner, UNISON Regional Organiser
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