Twelve visually-impaired youngsters had the chance to take to the wheel and drive at real-world road speeds as part of Norfolk’s sight loss charity’s programme of activities for young people and their families.
Vision Norfolk teamed up with national organisation Young Drivers to enable the twelve, aged between 10 and 18, to take a one hour one-to-one driving lesson at the Norfolk Showground, learning clutch control, reversing, parallel parking and more.
The event was made possible thanks to the generosity of local people who responded to an online crowd-funding appeal, as well as the support of Young Drivers and their sponsor Vauxhall.
Each of the young people spent an hour with a government-approved driving instructor learning the basics of car control around a specially laid-out course at the 150 acre showground.
“Many of these young people will never be able to have driving lessons on the road, so the ability to take to the wheel in this safe way will really boost their confidence and help them feel they are not being left out,” said Barbara Dunn, children, young people and families co-ordinator at Vision Norfolk.
Ernie Griffiths, one of the instructors teaching the visually-impaired young people in the manual, dual-controlled Vauxhall Corsas, added, “Whatever disability you have, you have to make the most of what you’ve got. You just have to give them the opportunity to do it.”
One of the young people taking part was ten year-old Seth Arber from Norwich, who has ocular albinism, which means he has limited peripheral and distance vision. Despite this, he was able to drive at speeds of up to 40mph, as well as doing manoeuvres such as a three-point turn and parking.
“I was really excited and a bit nervous, but it was easier than I expected,” he said. “The most difficult bit was straightening out after a turn, but it wasn’t too scary. I would love to drive again.”
Seth’s mum Amy paid tribute to the support that Vision Norfolk offers families with visually-impaired children. “We have been supported by Vision Norfolk ever since we first found out about Seth’s condition – it was a lifeline for the whole family. It’s not just about Seth – his two siblings, who are fully-sighted, have both taken part in activities, it’s really nice to be part of the wider Vision Norfolk family.”