Concern outside hospitality causing problems for blind or partially sighted people

People have been making the most of being able to go out to bars and restaurants this week with the easing of Covid restrictions. 

As yet hospitality outlets can only serve food and drink outdoors, which has meant a lot of new outdoor furniture on our streets.

After we broadcast these pictures of Newcastle's Grey Street on Monday, we were contacted by people with concerns about accessibility for those who are blind and partially sighted.

Mary Hewison from Sunderland is registered blind. For her, the changing streetscape as we unlock after Covid poses such a challenge that she almost preferred lockdown...

It was actually better, really, to get about. Because there was no menu boards out, there were no tables and chairs. I try to memorise where things are, but occasionally there's new things out

Mary Hewison

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, there are simple steps councils and business owners can take to help make life easier.

One of the things that business can do to help is, if they are putting pavement dining out, just think about how their layout of the street furniture matches with the next shop or next cafes. Making sure that there's a pathway that's consistent, so that if you're walking in one straight line you can continue without having to go on the road or anything like that.

Royal National Institute of Blind People

Pavement cafes aren't the only new obstacle that can pose a problem for Mary .. although the public are often willing to lend a hand.

Watching Mary navigate her way around these crowded streets is nothing short of impressive. But the danger is, that as life returns to something approaching normal for many, for some, it could actually get harder.