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About Wales Council of the Blind

"I have found all my contacts with WCB over the years to be so useful and professional." - Rehabilitation Officer for VI.

Wales Council of the Blind is the umbrella agency representing vision impairment within Wales. We work to campaign, lobby and support the improvement of services for people with sight loss. WCB provides a platform vision impaired people to raise their concerns and wishes.

WCB's Articles of Association sets out a way of letting their members contribute to setting priorities and work streams. An important part of the new structure is the creation of Regional Steering Groups to inform WCB's work. The four new Regional Steering Groups will be established across Wales, covering North, West, South East and South Central.

Each group intends to offer a platform for local clubs, charities, statutory services and people with sight loss to get together and contribute to directing the work and resources of WCB. It's likely that priorities may vary from region to region, and we want that to be reflected in the work of WCB.

WCB's Board of Trustees will include four representatives - one nominated from each of the four regional steering groups - to bring the views of the regions to the table.

What does Wales Council of the Blind do?

Latest WCB news.

Latest RESET booklet is about reactions to the pandemic

The latest booklet in WCB's RESET project is 'Conversations that Count', a look at what people from the sight loss community had to say about their experiences of the pandemic.

Interviews were carried out by Frame Collective CIC, a UK registered community interest company, as part of a project which also looked at the experiences of people in other groups whose voices often go unheard. Although the stories of the vision impaired interviewees highlight many problems caused by covid 19 and lockdown, some more positive experiences are also reported.

To read the RESET booklet, click here and follow the link under RESET Publications (number 8).

To find out more about Frame Collective CIC, visit their website.

WCB's RESET project and Frame Collective's 'Conversations that Count' are both supported by the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales.

WCB report raises concerns at shortage of ROVIs

A new report from Wales Council of the Blind raises concerns about the shortage of Rehabilitation Officers for Vision Impairment (ROVIs) working with adults in Wales.

The report, 'Rehabilitation Officers for Visual Impairment: Addressing a workforce crisis in Wales' is based on interviews with 38 ROVIS covering all 22 Welsh local authorities. It stresses the importance of the role in helping people with sight loss do things for themselves and live safe, independent lives, but shows that there is a crisis looming. Wales is already under resourced and the impending loss of workers through retirement creates a crisis situation where local authorities will be failing people with sight loss.

The report makes a series of recommendations for improvement. To obtain a copy, please contact Richard Bowers, WCB’s Communications Officer by sending an email to rich@wcb-ccd.org.uk, stating whether you require it in alternative formats.

Wales Eye Care Conference 2021 cancelled

Welsh Government and Wales Council of the Blind intended to progress a virtual event for 2021, but due to unforeseen circumstances and the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision that the National Eye Care Conference will not take place this year.

We know this will come as a disappointment, but we look forward to meeting again in 2022.

WCB is a Census Champion

We were delighted to receive a 'Census Champion' certificate and letter of thanks from the Office from National Statistics, in recognition of our 'invaluable support of Census 2021'.

WCB raised awareness and provided information about the census (particularly related to accessibility) for people with sight loss in Wales via our newsletters, website and social media.

WCB RESET Project - Transport and Travel resource issued

WCB's RESET project is intended to assist people with sight loss in negotiating the measures put in place under the Covid-19 pandemic by producing information booklets on a range of topics. The latest booklet, on transport and travel, has now been issued. The RESET project is supported by funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The booklet contains the latest advice from Welsh Government, advice on travel for people with sight loss from Guide Dogs and the Macular Society, contacts for booking travel, and information on concessions. It is being posted to WCB members, and you can read a copy here.

Other booklets in the RESET series are about education, retail, employment and health & social care. You can find out more about the RESET project, download all of the booklets and read a wide range of resources here.

Third Sector Organisations offering support in Wales

You can now find out about third sector organisations offering support to people with sight loss in one place on our website.

Click here, or use the 'Support' tab at the top of this page to find out about organisations that are national (Wales-wide), regional, specialist (for example, dealing with particular eye conditions) and locally-based.

WCB supports call for more Rehabilitation Officers for Vision Impairment

A rehabilitation officer for vision impairment (ROVI) can transform the life of a person with sight loss, although there currently are not enough people providing this vital service in Wales. WCB estimates that at least 45 ROVIs are needed, but currently only 34 are in post, meaning that access to a ROVI is something of a postcode lottery.

We are supporting RNIB Cymru’s Manifesto for the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Election this May. This calls for the next Welsh Government to take action to address five key issues affecting vision impaired people:

RNIB Cymru has prepared a template letter which you can use to contact your Senedd representative asking them to commit to these actions. You can complete it online here.

If you think a ROVI could help you, you should contact your Local Authority in the first instance. If you're struggling to access rehabilitation we'd like to hear from you. Feel free to contact Wales Council of the Blind on 02920 473 954.

Making the vaccine rollout process accessible

Wales Council of the Blind has joined with RNIB Cymru and Guide Dogs Cymru to call on the Welsh Government to ensure that the rollout of Covid 19 vaccinations is accessible to people with sight loss.

This includes ensuring that communications are sent in accessible formats, and that venues are set up correctly, with clear signage. You can find out more here.

The 'Advice for staff involved with administrating the Coronavirus vaccine to blind and partially sighted people' issued by the three charities can be read here.

WCB is now on Instagram

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, we are now sharing the news of the sight loss sector in Wales via Instagram.

Visit or follow us here.

WCB RESET Project

The restrictions brought in to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have not gone away, and seem set to remain in various forms for quite some time. We at WCB are concerned that blind and partially sighted people face additional barriers and attitudinal challenges to combat. Therefore we want to ensure that the best information gets out to people with sight loss and to people who work with them.

WCB shall produce information packs and online resources to assist people with sight loss in negotiating the measures put in place under the Covid-19 pandemic. We shall look at a number of domains:

Education and Employment are being dealt with first because they are immediately pressing topics that have not been dealt with in as much depth as the other areas.

How you can help us: We want to know what the specific measures are in place across the various areas of education and, importantly, what the impacts might be for blind and partially sighted people. What adjustments are necessary to enable people with sight loss to overcome these impacts and participate fully in education? Do you have any stories to tell about problems faced and solutions reached? If you can help, please email richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk or telephone Owen on 02920 473954.

This initiative has been made possible with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

Advice to people with sight loss regarding safe guiding, social distancing and dealing with surfaces

We have updated our coronavirus information to include a new section giving advice to people with sight loss on safe guiding, social distancing and touching surfaces.

You can read the new section here. For all of our advice and resources on the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

Independent review of the Sensory and Communication Service (SenCom) has been published

Led on by WCB, the sight loss sector in Wales campaigned as a single voice against Newport Borough Council’s decision to withdraw from the SenCom group. As a result, the Gwent authorities jointly agreed to a review of the service.

The independent review of the Sensory and Communication Service (SenCom) commissioned by the Welsh Local Government Association has now been published. Read the full review here: https://www.torfaen.gov.uk/en/Related-Documents/SEN/SenCom-Independent-Review-2020.pdf

SenCom will work on implementing the recommendations in the review which will form the basis of service planning over the next eighteen months.

The 5 Gwent local authorities have committed jointly to the continuation of the best practice SenCom regional service, until March 2022.

Making meetings accessible.

Wales Council for Deaf People and Wales Council of the Blind join forces to produce good practice guidance for accessible meetings. It's available for download at in PDF form and Word document. A Welsh language version available: Welsh Word and Welsh PDF

WCDP are working on a BSL version.

Shielding in Wales

Wales Council of the Blind is one of over 30 health, care and wellbeing organisations who have written a joint letter to the First Minister of Wales, expressing concern at the clarity of information provided to people in Wales who are shielding, or being asked to take particular care when social distancing. This follows the publication of updated shielding information on 1st June.

Issues raised in the letter were:

The Welsh Government has now issued a statement on the support to be provided to extremely vulnerable people, which you can read here.

New resource - Use of Direct Payments during the pandemic

Social Care Wales has updated its information about the corona virus to include a section on the flexible use of direct payments during the pandemic.

This includes information about employment issues for personal assistants and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). You can read the information in English here, and in Welsh here.

If anyone with sight loss has any questions about the information, Wales Council of the Blind can help: please contact Owen via email owen@wcb-ccd.org.uk.

Community Support booklets to download

Patient-focused booklets of support in the community are available in Word format for each local authority

These booklets give contact details for support in the community and lists of optometrists open for urgent eye care.

The can be downloaded at the printable support for individuals page or viewed online at the coronavirus support page

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the rights of disabled people in Wales

Wales Council of the Blind has joined other members of the Wales Disability Reference Group (Disability Wales, Learning Disability Wales, and Wales Council for Deaf People) to issue a joint statement on the rights of disabled people during the coronavirus crisis, which you can read here.

Please read and sign up to the principles to ensure people's human rights are upheld in these unprecedented times.

Voice message in Swansea Bay spreading false information.

Swansea Bay NHS has become aware of some scaremongering falsehoods circulating in a voice message. The field hospitals being built in the Swansea Bay area, and all over the UK, are there to help support the main hospitals which don't have the capacity to deal with the numbers of patients coming their way in the next few weeks.

Please disregard the nonsense being spouted in this irresponsible voice message.

If you want to find out the facts about Swansea Bay's field hospitals, go here: Swansea Bay NHS Wales News: field hospitals.

If you want to know more about the rest of the things being done to prepare for COVID-19 across all their hospitals, go here: Swansea Bay gets ready.

Welsh national disability organisations raise concerns about the impact of the corona virus epidemic on disabled people living with pre-existing medical conditions

Wales Council of the Blind has joined other national disability organisations to raise concerns about the impact of the corona virus pandemic on disabled people living with pre-existing medical conditions.

They have released the following statement: Disability Wales, All Wales People First, Wales Council of the Blind, All Wales Parents and Carers Forum, Learning Disability Wales and Mencap Cymru call on the UK and Welsh Governments to act decisively to safeguard the well-being and survival of disabled people and others categorised as being at high risk of contracting the virus in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are extremely concerned that necessary measures to minimise fatalities in these groups are not being taken.

In particular we are concerned that:

Taken together these factors lead us to believe that disabled people are likely to face harm not just through the Coronavirus itself but through the general strain on the health and social care system as well as wider societal barriers. The UK Government has announced £5 billion in emergency funding for public services to alleviate the pressures resulting from the Coronavirus.

As organisations representing the interests of disabled people, we call for urgent support from this fund to ensure social care delivery and provision or accessible information and support is adequately resourced in Wales. We urge both the UK and Welsh Governments to intervene urgently to ensure disabled people are not treated as unavoidable casualties in this pandemic.

For more information and media enquiries please contact Grace Krause at Learning Disability Wales, email grace.krause@ldw.org.uk or phone 029 20 681160.

Corona virus outbreak

WCB would like to ensure its members have access to all the information they require to remain safe during the Coronavirus outbreak. This page has detailed information about services.


More information.