Quick wins for local councils and disabled people


The RNIB, as a national organisation representing more than 15,000 members and campaigners, was acutely aware that disabled people across the country stood to be amongst the hardest hit by the cuts in public spending.

Almost two million people in the UK have a sight problem which has a serious impact on their daily lives. The vast majority of these people rely on a core bedrock of services – e.g. accessible information or support with getting around or regaining employment – in order to live independently. Much of this support is provided by local councils.

These services are not luxuries, and often don’t cost much. Yet if withdrawn the impact on people’s lives can be dramatic. At the same time the RNIB knew that to make the case for even modest continued investment, they needed independent evidence of impact, and practical recommendations – which is where OPM came in.

What we did

A wide range of RNIB members from nine places across England were invited to take part in the research, including young and old people with different backgrounds and experiences.

The research included focus groups, in-depth ethnographic interviews to ‘tell the story’ of a day in the life of a blind or partially sighted person, and three participative case studies exploring the good work three local authorities were doing (Leicester, Plymouth and South Tyneside).

OPM and the RNIB launched the report based on the findings from the research at the national Local Government Association conference, with speakers including the (then) leader of South Tyneside Council.

Social impact

The research went a considerable way to achieving its aim of raising awareness of the practical steps needed to improve outcomes for disabled people when the findings were covered by The Guardian, as well as in local papers where the research had taken place.

Since the launch of the report the RNIB has continued to work with a network of local authorities to encourage and support them to adopt best practice like the innovations showcased by the research.