Visually impaired author from Salford hopes new book will help youngsters rethink cluttered streets

  • Video report from ITV Granada correspondent Rob Smith

An author, who is losing his sight, has put pen to paper to write about the barriers faced by blind and visually impaired people every day.

Ben Andrews from Salford has written a series of children's books in the hope it will encourage youngsters to make their communities better for disabled people.

He hopes his first book will encourage his young readers to think about helping to make their roads safer for everyone to navigate.

Ben said: "It's things like streets cluttered with posts, signs and trees, buses with no audio signalling or buildings with dull lighting that make life more difficult."

Ben is hoping his book will make a difference. Credit: Tiny Tree Children's Books

Two million people in the UK experience sight loss and with it comes a whole host of barriers.

Ben is no stranger to the issues he writes about in Nicky and Candy's Street.

The author has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative visual impairment, and grew up around family members with the same condition.

Named as one of the Shaw Trust's most influential disabled people in the Disability Power100 earlier this year, Ben has been working to make the topic of accessibilityaccessible to children and young people.

Illustrated by Charlotte Jenkins, Better Places will offer a fun, light-hearted and interactive insight into the barriers disabled people face, with the opportunity for the reader to put them right.

Ben said: "A lot of the barriers disabled people face don't have to happen.

"They often come from a lack of understanding and awareness from those putting these things in place.

"My hope is that Better Places will help children become more aware and considerate ofaccess and inclusion for disabled people so that it's just part of who they are, who they think and operate as they grow so that these issues aren't being repeated generation aftergeneration"

Ben has also made a series of videos discussing the barriers he faces

The issue of poor access for blind and visually impaired people is a stark one.

Research by the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) finds that one in three blind and visually impaired people had been injured over a three-month period in attempting to access their local area, with some feeling so intimated by the risks outside they'd end up staying inside resulting in loneliness and isolation.

Ben is exploring creative ways to encourage a change in policy and practice to reduce the barriers.

Published by Stockport-based indie publisher Tiny Tree Children's Books, the series will launch on 23 February 2023.

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