Intended for healthcare professionals


Minimising the impact of visual impairment

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 11 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:707

From October this will have to be done to conform to the law

  1. Joyce M Carter, consultant in public health medicine,
  2. Natalie Markham, disability equality officer
  1. Liverpool Health Authority, Liverpool L3 6AL
  2. Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Health Authority, Liverpool L3 2AW
  3. Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester M13 9WH
  4. Directorate of Medicine, Leicester General Hospital NHS Trust, Leicester LE5 4PW

    EDITOR—Margrain's editorial on minimising the impact of visual impairment is firmly based on the medical model of disability, which locates disability in individuals.1 Disabled people have developed the social model as an accurate description of their life experience, and the World Health Organisation is revising its definition of disability to take this into account.2 The social model locates disability in society; therefore it is society that causes “much individual suffering and economic hardship,” not visual impairment.

    The editorial refers to the percentage of visually impaired people who could read normal print before and after the provision of a low vision aid and some training. But if everyone who produced information in print realised that the size of the print (or the use of print) can exclude people from gaining access to the information all information might be fully accessible.

    Under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, from October 1999 those who offer goods or services to the public are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people can …

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