#BeforeYouAsk is key message as partially sighted actor from Horsham features in charity film

A partially sighted actor from Horsham features in a charity film aimed at getting people to think #BeforeYouAsk.
Natalie (contributed pic)Natalie (contributed pic)
Natalie (contributed pic)

Natalie Owen is one of the main actors in a new series of short films which aim to raise awareness of and dispel misconceptions about sight loss.

Natalie appears in the Office film which demonstrates blind and partially sighted people can, and do, have jobs.

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Leading sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has released the light-hearted short films as part of its See the Person, Not the Sight Loss campaign.

The #BeforeYouAsk films use every-day relatable experiences – in the workplace, romantic relationships, applying make-up, watching football, travelling on the night bus and unavoidable school message groups – to banish myths around what it’s really like to live with sight loss.

The main actors in each of the six short films all have sight loss and were keen to use their own experiences to inform their performances.

Natalie said: “I loved the sound of this campaign right from the start – that it’s taking down the stereotypes of blind and partially sighted people. As someone who’s been visually impaired for their whole life, you get a lot of questions. Campaigns like this can play a big role in helping to change attitudes.

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“Disabled people are often told we can’t get involved or try new things, but we can – I’ve done dance classes and musical theatre and enjoyed them. I’m an avid reader, and some people don’t understand that blind and partially sighted people can read. I can read, it might be different to how you read but it’s just as valid.”

Alongside the short films, RNIB has developed an interactive video chat where users can navigate around up to 40 questions to hear the answers delivered personally by blind and partially sighted people. The questions were gathered directly from people with sight loss who shared what questions they are frequently asked. The interactive video chat is now live.

Vivienne Francis, RNIB’s chief social change officer, said: “Before you Ask adds a fresh element, centred around the lived experience of people with sight loss and focusing on specific challenges they face. Alongside the short films and interactive video chat, OOH posters will be on display at various sites across the UK, along with radio ads, a quiz and paid social and digital content.

“RNIB’s Before You Ask films use humour and familiar scenarios to make people think.

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"They also underscore a serious point about the misconceptions people face and the barriers these lead to in terms of people living independently. The films challenge these misconceptions head on, showing that of course blind and partially sighted people go to work, watch football, use public transport, seek romance and navigate the tricky world of school message groups – just like sighted people do.

“These scenarios were chosen for a reason; each relates closely to the issues that blind and partially sighted people have identified as the key areas that need to change, from removing barriers to getting around easily, to levelling employment opportunities.

“We hope this campaign will go a long way to stopping both the misguided everyday questions blind and partially sighted people face but also the more deep-rooted misconceptions about the expectations, needs and wants of people with sight loss, which we know are leading to gaps in experiences compared to sighted people; these gaps need to close.”

Last October, RNIB launched a new campaign See the Person, Not the Sight Loss, challenging outdated public attitudes and misconceptions of sight loss.