Paralympian helps blind housebuyers find dream home

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Paralympian Libby Clegg has teamed up with a city property giant to help those with vision problems find their dream home.

The partially sighted 25-year-old has drafted a series of guidelines on behalf of ESPC to help their blind customers buy a house that is safe and suitable – and to make things easier for them at the same time.

The sprinter, a former Royal Blind pupil, has represented both Scotland and Great Britain at international events despite a deteriorating eye condition which gives her only slight peripheral vision in her left eye.

However, buying or renting a house for a blind person comes with a different set of challenges to athletics – as she discovered when she bought a flat on Slateford Road.

Libby, who now rents the flat out, said: “I hope I have come up with most of the guidelines that would be needed based on my own experiences.

“I like things to be quite bright because it’s even more difficult to see in the dark.

“The things I look for are where the light switches are and whether they are in obvious places.

“There also needs to be nothing you are going to trip over. Some fireplaces stick out massively and a blind or partially sighted person could easily trip or stub their toe. I am forever getting bruises and I don’t know where they come from – so this is also about safety.”

Libby, who is sponsored by ESPC, is an ambassador for the Royal Blind, recently chosen as the firm’s charity of the year.

Her involvement with ESPC began several years ago when she took up a work experience placement with the firm.

And, through its sponsorship of Libby and its recent partnership with Royal Blind, the firm has put together the list to help them accommodate blind or partially sighted buyers.

The guidelines will be circulated to the firm’s solicitors, agents and people working in their showrooms to help improve the service and to make the process of buying a house for the blind or partially sighted as easy as possible. Amy Walker, marketing manager for ESPC, said: “It is good for staff and members to be aware of what to look out for and what to point out.

“It’s easier for blind people as buyers to find the right properties if staff have a better understanding of the challenges blind and partially sighted people face.”

The ideal property, according to Libby, would have “lots of natural light and openness” with “easily accessible” light switches and electrical sockets in every room.

She also recommended that ESPC members ask potential buyers if stairs might be an issue – and if they would prefer a bungalow or homes with a lift.

The ideal home would offer easy access to rooms house and one-level flooring to avoid trip hazards. The customer is also advised to bring someone they trust to any viewing to give their point of view, read through the paperwork and ask important questions.