Hafod Housing have been working with RNIB Cymru to gain Visibly Better accreditation. The Visibly Better scheme offers a wide range of workshops that are designed to support and develop inclusive design in homes and public buildings for ageing eyes and people with sight loss.
Hafod own and manage over 4,500 homes across south Wales, including retirement schemes for older people, and are always striving to make lives better for their tenants.
John Higgins, Maintenance Surveyor for Hafod was not fully aware of the Visibly Better Scheme or its connection to Hafod Housing until last year when he took part in a sight loss awareness workshop. He is now able to apply what he learned, most recently during a refurbishment of one of Hafod’s retirement schemes. He explained:
“I learned so much from RNIB Cymru on that day. Trying on the simulation glasses completely shocked me. I had no idea how difficult life can be for someone living with a sight condition like cataracts for example. Everyone should do that course to raise awareness of sight loss and the impact it has on life. I also learned that by using specific lighting and colour contrast, a person with sight loss can get about a lot more safely and independently. I have taken everything I learned that day on board and have been applying it to the refurbishment work at Glanogwr House.”
Glanogwr House is a listed building, which has made the refurbishment quite challenging at times. Even so, John has discovered that applying Visibly Better principles has not cost any more than similar previous refurbishments carried out.
John concluded: “Having this knowledge has empowered me to improve tenants’ lives. A number of our tenants have sight impairments and it has made a huge difference to them.”
Tenant Mary Farmer is sight impaired and is thrilled with the new work at the scheme. She said: “Since everything has been painted I can see more clearly. The work so far has really helped me to get about more easily.”
Alan Morgan, Managing Director of Hafod Housing: “We have worked with RNIB for a number of years to improve the accessibility of our services and information and we are delighted to have now gained the Visibly Better accreditation. The process has provided our staff with the knowledge they need to help identify and make physical improvements to our homes which are already proving to be hugely beneficial to tenants.”
Organisations work towards six standards, which focus on different aspects of accessibility, and receive Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of accreditation as they progress through the standards. Visibly Better accreditation is a hallmark of good practice, recognised by Welsh Government, which organisations can use in marketing materials to attract new clients and to include in tenders for contracts.
For more information on our Visibly Better scheme or to book onto our 2017-2018 sight loss awareness training please ring 01792 325309 or email VisiblyBetterCymru.Mailbox@rnib.org.uk. You can also visit our website https://www.rnib.org.uk/wales-cymru-how-we-can-help/designing-accessible-housing-and-buildings