Blind campaigner's victory after six-year battle over council letters
- Credit: Leigh Day Solicitors
A woman who battled for six years to get bosses to change the way Norfolk County Council communicates with blind people has won her fight.
Rachael Andrews, 48, from Norwich, is registered blind and had complained to Norfolk County Council because it kept sending her correspondence about adult social care by letter - which she could not read.
She needed correspondence sent by email, which she is able to access using a screen reader, but the council continued to send hard copies of letters.
She instructed Leigh Day Solicitors to send County Hall a letter before action - asserting that the council had breached its duty under the Equality Act because the correspondence was not accessible to her.
And the council has agreed to bring in a new system to change the way it communicates, so such requirements for blind people is flagged up.
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She said: "I am delighted that finally Norfolk County Council has listened to me.
"I have repeatedly asked them for correspondence about my adult social care needs to be communicated in an accessible format over the course of nearly six years but didn’t get anywhere.
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“At last we won’t have to worry that we have missed a letter, or have to explain about our disabilities yet again when they ring to find out why we haven’t filled in a form.
"I feel this outcome has struck a blow for people with disabilities.”
A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “We’d like to thank Mrs Andrews for bringing this issue to our attention; it is important that all of our residents to receive communication in a way that works for them.
"We have now reviewed and refined our system for flagging how these messages are delivered, and have taken steps to ensure our staff are aware of this system and the need to refer to it when writing to individuals.
"We are also taking steps to clarify the advice on our website on how to access information in accessible formats, to ensure it is easier for our residents to receive the information they need.”
Mrs Andrews was named the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) Campaigner of the Year in 2019 after a High Court battle to improve voting access for blind and partially sighted people.