Blind people struggling to reduce energy bills
New research has revealed that blind and partially sighted people are struggling in the cost-of-living crisis, particularly with rising energy bills.
93% say they are struggling to keep energy costs down or fear they soon will, with almost half feeling left behind. A further 44% say they have a condition that requires extra energy use.
However, a new smart meter has been created which has an accessible in-home display. It has a high contrast display, text-to-speech, and buttons with tactile feedback. This will mean smart meters can be used by those who are visually impaired.
Zac Shaw, a visually impaired paralympic sprinter from Grimsby, told ITV Calendar: “Your home is a safe space but it’s also a trap because your thinking am I spending too much money.
“You might walk past a plug and see it’s bene left on or see if you heating’s on, if you’re visually impaired its not always that easy, you might miss things or not realise you’ve left things on. There’s so many situations that make it more difficult.
“For someone that’s maybe elderly or maybe not as familiar with technology or maybe fully blind it can be quite difficult so to have a smart meter that can read out your costs in pounds and pence in real time its vital especially in a crisis like now.”
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) handed in a petition signed by 2733 people to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding that they take urgent action to support blind and partially sighted people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.
David Clarke, RNIB Chief Operating Officer, said: “Even before prices began to rise, one in five blind and partially sighted people said they had some or great difficulty in making ends meet. It’s deeply concerning that many are now using less energy to save money to afford the rising cost of living.
“The one-off £150 disability cost of living payment for people who receive non-means tested disability benefits is simply just not enough.
“It’s vital that the Government supports blind and partially sighted people by urgently increasing benefits in line with inflation rather than waiting until April 2023 as currently intended. The decision to cut the Warm Home Discount Scheme must be reversed as this has further exacerbated financial concerns.”
If you want to find out more about getting a smart meter that is suitable for the visually impaired then contact your energy provider.