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Local MP Nick Thomas-Symonds has met with Torfaen resident Peter Jones to learn about the challenges facing children with sight loss at a special event in Parliament.
Mr Thomas-Symonds visited an exhibition in the House of Commons, hosted by the charity Blind Children UK, which promoted the importance of training in mobility and independent living skills, known as habilitation, for children with sight loss. A recent report has shown that since 2006, Wales has seen a 40% increase in the number of children under the age of five who were blind or partially sighted.
Staff from the charity – who work directly with children – told MPs that early intervention was crucial in enabling young people with a vision impairment to fulfil their potential as adults. But the charity’s recent report Time to Move found that provision of training across English local authorities was patchy. In Wales, a similar study is near completion and the results will be published in May 2016. A quarter of the parents surveyed in Wales by Blind Children UK said that they had to wait longer than a year to have their child diagnosed with a vision impairment.
Peter Jones, Wales Policy Officer for Blind Children UK, said: “Children with sight loss need to learn certain key skills as early as possible to help them get around, orientate themselves in the world and eventually live independently as adults. We were delighted to meet with Nick Thomas-Symonds and give him an opportunity to find out more and ask us questions on this important issue.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “I was delighted to meet with Blind Children UK in Parliament to talk about the services they provide to children with sight loss and their families. It’s vital that these specialist services are in place to support children and families from the earliest stage possible, and I look forward to Blind Children UK’s upcoming report on habilitation in Wales.”