'They'll just push past me' - Calls for more respect and understanding for visually impaired people in pandemic

Video report by ITV Wales reporter Dean Thomas-Welch

A visually impaired woman from Port Talbot has said she has been verbally abused and pushed while out shopping, as a charity seeks to raise awareness of how challenging life can be for people living with sight loss during the pandemic.

Angharad Paget-Jones also said she believes people have become less patient and less respectful as the pandemic has progressed.

"I think people are less tolerant of other people at the moment and they're less patient", Ms Paget-Jones said.

"Instead of just waiting for me to pick up what I need at the supermarket they'll just push past me.

"Back in the first lockdown...a man yelled at me for getting too close and I was actually pushed into a produce stand.

"That was the worst one."

Ms Paget-Jones said the distressful incidents she has experienced have made her fearful to go out shopping and that having less of an ability to socially distance added to her anxieties.

She said: "It's actually scary because I know that I can't socially distance.

"I can't see if someone's next to me, in front of me and Tudor doesn't understand what socially distancing is so I'm scared when I go outside because I'm conscious of the fact I can't.

"I limit the amount of times I go to shops, I limit the amount of times I'm out.

"Tudor, he's used to working most of the day, but we only work for about an hour or an hour and a half a day now."

Ms Paget-Jones relies on her guide dog Tudor to get around safely

Guide Dogs Cymru is now trying to raise awareness of the challenges blind and visually impaired people face, particularly around social distancing.

They are also seeking to remind the public not to interact with working guide dogs or touch them.

Andrea Gordon, from Guide Dogs Cymru, said: "We do know that people are very worried about going out mainly because of this problem of not being [able] to anticipate where people will be, for instance in queues.

"My dog doesn't go the end of a queue, she would go to the door so she automatically queue jumps and in normal circumstances without even meaning to.

"We've all got different issues with this current situation and we just ask that people work together and include us in this conversation."

Ms Paget-Jones has now written to both the UK and Welsh Governments to highlight some of the issues she faces on a daily basis.

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