Royal National Institute of Blind People: “Amar’s inclusion on Celebrity MasterChef will change stereotypes of blind people”

Without the representation of blind people in pop culture, people overlook the needs of blind and partially sighted people, says Sarah Lambert, Head of Social Change at the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

Celebrity MasterChef Amar Latif

Presenter Amar Latif made his Celebrity MasterChef debut on July 15th as the first ever blind contestant to take part on the BBC One cooking show.

Advertisement

The TV star has a genetic condition called retinas pigmentosa, which caused him to lose 95 per cent of his vision by the time he reached the age of 18.

Sarah Lambert, Head of Social Change at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), shares her view on his MasterChef appearance and why it’s vital for improving the representation of blind people.

She told RadioTimes.com: “The experiences and stories of blind and partially sighted people have very low exposure in popular culture, which is why we are delighted to see the inclusion of Amar Latif as a competitor in this year’s Celebrity MasterChef.

“Our research into the biggest barriers facing blind and partially sighted people found that a lack of understanding from others was the biggest challenge they faced.”

She continued: “Given that the vast majority of the general public do not have direct experience of the daily realities of living with sight loss, diverse representation in popular media would be a key way to address this lack of understanding. Without it, people either completely overlook the needs of blind and partially sighted people, or they develop unhelpful or even potentially harmful stereotypes of what people can and can’t achieve.”

Celebrity MasterChef Amar Latif
Celebrity MasterChef contestant Amar Latif (BBC)
BBC

Lambert added: “Our research found that high-profile role models like Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli, and Lord Blunkett had a significant impact on the public perception of what jobs blind and partially sighted people could do. Musician and politician were some of the only roles the general public could imagine a blind person doing. Yet, we know that there are very few jobs that people with sight loss can’t do, as long as the right adjustments are in place.

“We also know from our research that given the right information and exposure to the issue, it doesn’t take much for people to shift their understanding of sight loss. It is therefore crucial that we diversify the role models and real-life stories that are told through the media. We look forward to seeing Amar on Celebrity MasterChef.”

Advertisement

Celebrity MasterChef airs on BBC One Wednesday to Friday. To see what else is on, have a look at our TV Guide.