Sea of Change

Filming for Sea of Change gets underway
Filming for Sea of Change gets underway

A charity based in Hailsham features in a film that highlights access problems for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Steve Saunders, aids and equipment officer for East Sussex Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted People, spoke to filmmaker Rohini Makwana.

She was inspired to get behind the camera for the production called the Sea of Change after people living in Stoke-on-Trent voiced their concerns over a roundabout, which she says was the central hub of the town, being removed.

She decided to film the roundabout before and after it had gone and was replaced with a staggered junction.

Once the piece was put together it went on social media sites and began to go viral, prompting the graduate to look at the issue on a wider scale.

The 23-year-old, who says a lot of authorities do not consider blind or partially sighted people in their road designs, set about filming with friend Sarah Gayton and they spent a year talking to people who were blind or visually impaired about their experiences at getting around their town.

Mr Saunders said, “The reason I got involved with the film is because more and more shared space schemes are happening around the country.

“What it’s doing is making it a no-go area for people with disabilities.

“It’s quite powerful when you see the film in full.”

The production, edited by Sib Ali, premiered in the House of Lords on the United Nations International Day for Person with Disabilities on December 3 last year and Rohini said of the response, “As the reaction was so strong I took a letter and the film, with a delegation of blind and partially sighted people to Number 10 Downing Street on the 6th January 2014 and asked the Prime Minister for a public inquiry into this national scandal.”

Rohini, who graduated from Staffordshire University with a BA Honours degree in Film, Television and Radio in 2012, said, “It was very challenging and there were a lot of obstacles we came across.

“When we told authorities that the film was going to be premiered in the House of Lords people then started to sit up and take notice.

“The premiere on December 3 was overwhelming but very good.”

The Sea of Change is around 20 minutes long and the team has also put together an archive of films from clips which go into more detail about each town.

The film will go online but in the meantime people can find out more via a blog and the trailer

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said, “We have drawn on the experiences of other towns that have implemented a shared space scheme, the nearest being Ashford.

“We have found that since its introduction people in general have become more comfortable with the concept and the schemes have been extremely successful, with pedestrians and motorists being much more respectful of each other.”