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Report calls for more to be done for visually impaired

Eye opener: Minister of Health Zane DeSilva smiles wearing tunnel vision glasses as he is led through Cabinet by Kristina Bean author of the paper Through My Eyes: Accessibility in Hamilton through the Eyes of a Visually Impaired Person which was presented to Premier Paula Cox today.

A report submitted to Premier Paula Cox today suggests that Bermuda needs to make changes to provide greater accessibility for the visually impaired.The report, written by Kristina Bean and presented to the Premier by Health Minister Zane DeSilva, compares buildings, sidewalks and public transportation in Bermuda to those in Canada.Ms Bean, who is herself blind in her left eye and has tunnel vision in her right, says in the report that Hamilton currently presents a number of challenges for the visually impaired.“Some individuals may find it hard to navigate within Hamilton without assistance due to poor lighting, unmarked stairs and glass doors,” she wrote.“While in Toronto, pursuing my educational aspirations, I noticed many aspects of traveling in the city that could be of use in Bermuda.”She praises the Automated Stop Announcement system in Toronto, which informs passengers which stop is theirs, unlike the Bermuda bus service, where the visually impaired have to ask the bus driver to tell them when their stop is coming.“An automated bus system will not only help out those with visual disabilities, but it will also assist the general public and tourists visiting the Island.”Other suggestions made in the report include:l Brighter lighting and bigger writing on signs.l Contrasting sidewalks to help those with limited vision to see where the sidewalk ends, and where there are ramps.l More consistant ramp placement.l High-contrast markings on glass doors and windows.l Improved lighting and marking on stairs, both indoor and outdoor.l Brail on elevator buttons and audio systems inside the elevators to announce what floor the elevator is on.This morning Mr DeSilva volunteered to be toured around the city wearing glasses intended to simulate tunnel vision and periphery vision, two types of limited visibility.“It's a challenge getting around,” he said.