Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 158 - 159)




  158. Welcome to the Committee. Could you please identify yourselves formally for the record. Would you introduce yourselves and your titles, please?

  (Ms Hadi) My name is Fazilet Hadi. My role in the Royal National Institute for the Blind is Director of Policy.
  (Ms Ellis) I am Caroline Ellis, UK Parliamentary Manager for RNIB.

  159. Thank you very much for coming here this afternoon. We have been looking at aspects of the Census and you very kindly sent in a response to our request. In that you refer very bluntly to serious shortcomings which prevented blind and partially sighted people from taking part in the Census on an equal basis with everybody else. What were the main issues?
  (Ms Hadi) The main issues were the fact that blind and partially sighted people and ourselves were consulted far too late in the process to ensure that their needs were truly catered for and they were included in the Census process in an equal way. The second was the fact that there were a number of mixed messages coming from the Census Office on the arrangements they were prepared to make for blind and partially sighted people, a number of confusing, conflicting messages. The third shortcoming was around the fact that whilst the Census did do some things, for example produce some information in alternative formats, it did not actually think through the whole process, so it did not make any arrangements for people who wanted to respond in those alternative formats. Finally, on the telephone help line service staff were not as trained as they could have been and, again, when blind people rang up frustrated, anxious, worried about being fined they did not always provide the most helpful, constructive responses. We wanted to draw those issues to your attention, obviously with the hope that we can move forward constructively well in advance of any regulations or practices being drawn up for the next Census.

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