HART councillors have been finding out what it is like living with a disability.

They took part in a special challenge day organised by Hart Access Group and Hart Voluntary Action as part of European Year of the Disabled and National Volunteers Week.

Councillors suddenly became deaf, blind or wheelchair-bound and were then asked to complete everyday tasks.

Hart Access Group chairman Ann Kern designed the wheelchair challenges, which involved getting around buildings using ramps and lifts.

Kevin Parrott from Deaf Plus South demonstrated a range of equipment that helps deaf people with sounds in the home, while Tom McInulty of Hampshire Association for the Care of the Blind challenged people to buy items from shops with their sight impaired by glasses or being completely blindfolded.

Lesley Pollard of Hart Voluntary Action took part in the blind challenge. "I wouldn't say I enjoyed the experience, but did find it very useful," she said.

"What a dreadful thing it is to lose your sight — you feel so isolated. The noise was frightening and the outside world seemed overwhelming."

Organisers said they were delighted with the turnout and the responses to the challenges.

Hart Access Group founder Roy Lavis said that by holding events like these the council could work around problems disabled people may encounter.

This is the second year the challenge has been held and feedback has already resulted in changes to the lift at Fleet Library.

Hart Access Group member Maureen Woolley asked people to use the disabled toilets in the area, the library and go around local shops so they could suggest improvements to the council.

MP for Fleet, James Arbuthnot, officially launched Disability Awareness Week in the Hart Shopping Centre on Saturday.

Displays were put up to attract new volunteers and raise the awareness of Hart Access Group.

Representatives from social services and the benefits agency attended to advise disabled people on their entitlements.

Accessible Boating were due to hold trips along the Basingstoke Canal yesterday (Thursday) and there is a free ramble around the disabled route of Fleet Pond today (Friday) leaving Chestnut Grove at 10am.

Future related events include a Lions Club fun day for people with disabilities at Calthorpe Park School in Fleet on June 22 from 11am to 4pm and a training seminar about disability at Hart Council's Fleet headquarters on July 16.