How we started

In September 2003 a meeting was held by Sandwell council to launch the Royal National Institute of the Blind’s (RNIB) Progress in Sight Initiative (PinS). This aimed to involve people who used visual impairment services in looking at how well councils met certain standards for their services, and how to improve these. Sandwell was one of six pilot areas to volunteer to take part in the PinS.
200 visually impaired people registered for the meeting.

Some volunteers went on to look at the standards in detail. They found that all of the standards had one important thing in common – that service providers must seek the views of the user in developing and running services.

The standards covered the following issues:

  • Was the communication format appropriate, for example braille, large print, email, tape?
  • Was the service adequately resourced – was it delivered by trained staff and did it meet the needs of the people who used it?
  • Were users involved in monitoring the service, and was something done if they did not feel it was working properly?
  • Did all staff know how to meet the needs of a visually impaired person?     

As a result of our experience as volunteers we formed SVI.  We wanted SVI to be the means by which people with a visual impairment could put their views across. This would enable us to work with people who provide services and improve the lives of all visually impaired people living or working in Sandwell.

The RNIB website gives more information about PinS.