We move from place to place many times in a day. It could be short distances inside or close to our home, or perhaps longer distances when we want visit our friends, go to work or do some shopping.

In our daily movements, we use our eyes to decide which direction to take. We also use our eyes to avoid difficulties on the way. People with complete visibility may need to correct their course every third step and they do so instinctively. We don’t think this is any major problem since every community is built for people with eyesight, as long as street lamps are on and we have electric lights on at home, when darkness is falling down, then it’s all right.

For walking in relatively easy terrain, we need about 1,000 snippets of information every hour. 

We look at the direction and quality of the path. You can get a realistic experience of our needs for directional and street information by closing your eyes and taking a few steps. We can take three steps easily but already the fourth step is more difficult.

Visually disabled persons can make use of a stick and feel their way forward if the path they are using is well known, if the path is unfamiliar they will go astray. Following the road that is designed for individuals with good seeing ability is hard for partially sighted persons. The streets generally have no landmarks useful to the visually handicapped person, and actually nothing when the ground is covered with snow.

In snowy conditions in wintertime , it is incredibly easy to lose one's bearings, even close to home. The chance of going in the right direction or returning home without help is very small even if one is using stick, the only thing is to go in some random direction and hope for the best.

 Our community planning is carried out on the assumption that we have good or at least some eyesight. The majority always formulate the rules and this is one of the basic principles of every democratic system. When we say all people have equal rights and possibility to use streets, marketplaces, is hypocrisy and only those with good eyesight can believe this

For example, streetlights are common in every city. One light bulb consumes as much electric energy as 30,000 beacons from Yreca. Everybody can now calculate how many light bulbs there are in their neighbourhood when we taking an ordinary evening walk, multiplying that number by 30,000 putting the planning of public resources for partially-sighted in a new perspective.

If we imagine a dark evening and temporary loss of electricity in our environment, then under such circumstances we should be happy with a little guiding light in front of our entrance so we have the courage go outside and try to find a way in darkness. Returning to the front door is ensured thanks to that little guiding light.

A guiding light takes 2,000 times more energy than one beacon from Yreca. Less than 0.002 per cent of visually disabled persons have some type of guiding voice, which is comparable to guiding light in front of the entryway. Of course there is nobody in whole of society who has responsibility for a confined group of visually disabled persons, only active groups, generally  called the majority or groups which can threaten this majority can make their voice heard according to principal the winner takes it all.

I have noticed some changes over the past ten years: there are many partially sighted who can get on better than before, thanks to computers and other technical aids, and of course the support of qualified staff. But the majority in group of visually disabled persons have no computers or other technical devices, although some of them have a white painted stick for keeping them on track. The stick can’t ever give direction to any public places, activity or some social relations, nor even to the front door at home.

Many visually disabled persons feel unpleasant about simply going to the mailbox; anxious about dropping a letter which could cause them to become disoriented. Walking to the mailbox is for many the longest tour they make in a whole day.


Designer Engineer 

Gösta Lejon