A local MSP learned the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people first hand during a visit to Ellon recently.
Wearing a blindfold, North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes learned about the obstacles faced by pedestrians as she walked around the town.
Mrs McInnes was led the way thanks to guide dog, Seve and mobility instructor Kate Mayes from the Guide Dogs Training School at Forfar.
Obstacles faced by those who are partially sighted and blind, including cars parked up on the pavement, advertising boards and clutter on the street were posed to Mrs McInnes during the walk.
She said: “The guide dog did fantastically well, but the blindfold walk brought home the difficulties presented by street clutter.
“It certainly made me realise how different the world is when you do not have your eyesight.”
The event was organised as part of an initiative to support the Guide Dogs Streets Ahead campaign, which aims to draw attention to some of the obstacles that people are presented with everyday.
The guide dogs are trained to avoid obstacles and lead their owners along the most direct route, but this approach can lead to potential dangers for owners and their guide dogs.
Avoiding clutter on the street can result in owners being directed into a road, possibly coming into the path of on-coming traffic.
Long cane users also come face to face with difficulties due to randomly placed obstacles - such as shop advertising boards. Unfortunately accounts of injuries sustained from collisions with such items are very frequent.
The importance of the Guide Dogs Safe and Sound campaign urging mandatory audio on electric vehicles was also highlighted during the walk.
Nowadays vehicles are quieter thanks to electric, hybrid and quiet combustion engine cars but this could cause serious risks for blind and partially sighted pedestrians.
Mrs McInnes added: “Judging when it was safe to cross the road was very difficult because of so much noise around. “But I would be far more worried if there was a vehicle coming towards me at speed that didn’t make any noise at all.”
Find out more about the campaign by visiting guidedogsscotland.org.uk.