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South Wales campaigner shortlisted for RNIB See Differently Award

Margaret Rees

A woman has been shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently Award in recognition of her campaigning efforts to improve the accessibility of health information and accessible streets, using her lived experience as a catalyst for change.

Margaret Rees, 73, from Cardiff, who has retinitis pigmentosa (RP) has been shortlisted in the Campaigner of the Year category. The category is sponsored by Microsoft, and the award will recognise individuals who have shown great commitment and courage in campaigning to improve the world for blind and partially sighted people.

Margaret played a key role in RNIB Cymru’s Make it Make Sense Campaign, which called upon the Welsh Government and local health boards to make health information more accessible. She openly shared her experience with the Welsh Government and took part in patient panels and surveys to improve the accessibility of health information.

She described her experience as “very difficult” and recounts how “mortified” she felt when she missed two appointments because she was unable to read the appointment letters.

As a result of Margaret’s support of RNIB’s campaign, the Welsh Government are now working with RNIB Cymru to implement an action plan to update the All-Wales Standards for Accessible Communications and Information for People with Sensory Loss and ensure that health boards comply.

Rachel Jones, who nominated Margaret for the Campaigner of the Year See Differently Award, said: “Margaret’s insights were invaluable as she supported our work through our survey and focus groups and participated in our Patient Panel during an event hosted at the Senedd.”

Additionally, Margaret also campaigns to improve the safety and accessibility of public transport. She was recently filmed by BBC Cymru and the film was shown across Wales. Many people contacted Margaret to say it was the first time they had ever become aware of the challenges blind and partially sighted people face.

Margaret said: “Losing my sight was very distressing. I was scared and anxious and I thought that if I’m feeling this way, there must be thousands of others out there. People with sight loss are socially isolated because they’re scared to go out and that’s wrong. I want to make sure that people like me don’t feel fear in the future.”

The RNIB See Differently Awards will bring together a host of people across the UK and aims to shine a spotlight on the excellent work happening every day across the UK to support people with sight loss. They will recognise and reward individuals and organisations taking positive action to help break down barriers and make the world a better place for blind and partially sighted people.

RNIB CEO Matt Stringer said: “The RNIB See Differently Awards will celebrate those who dedicate their time, passion, and skills to help build an inclusive world for blind and partially sighted people. Congratulations to the shortlisted national finalists, you’re all fantastic with incredibly moving stories and we wish you the best of luck.”

The RNIB See Differently Awards will recognise exceptional individuals and teams across seven categories: Campaigner of the Year, Eye Care Professional of the Year, Best Content Creator of the Year, Team of the Year, Employer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Design for Everyone Award.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony which will take place at a hotel in Central London on Tuesday 21 May 2024.