Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Wheelie Bin - a poem by Carol

CarolIt isn’t just one, they all get in the way
It was always on a college day
When Anna and I walked there and back
Anna thought she might get the sack
Some were easy to get around
And Anna had the gaps to find
Sometimes we ended up a bit on the road
Mum would often give us a ride
She knew how difficult it could get for us
When we got around the bins
Anna and I would sigh
They were moved all over by the time we returned
Mine would have disappeared
It would be in the neighbours' garden
And with their own
Probably thought as I couldn't see
So I wouldn’t moan
So Fridays weren't great
Thanks to those wheeley bins
They may get rid of the rubbish
But on Fridays they made me want to sin

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Adventures of a blind person - June

JuneI of course don’t know what it’s like to be blind as I am only partially sighted. But even then you have to learn to adjust. It can still be frustrating.

Since I was 14 I had to wear glasses for being short-sighted. I had to wear them all the time. I loved to read, and I needed them for that. I struggled a bit when I went swimming and of course for my music and words at my choir.

This lasted until the day before I was 59 when I went to have my eyes tested for some new glasses. They found something not right which led to months of tests at the hospital until I was finally diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I’ve had laser treatment and injections and am on a load of tablets every day. I also have to put eye drops in at night. Unless I have any problems I only have to go for a check-up every six months. I just have glasses and a magnifying glass now for reading with. I struggle with bright sunlight and the dark and don’t go out much on my own, never at night.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Life After Sight Loss - a poem by Carol

I've never had any sight
So I can’t say what's wrong or right
When I was little I pretended a lot
I wanted to be just like the other lot
I tried not to show my pain
It was hard then to accept my fate
Sometimes alone I would cry
In their own way my family would try
Eventually I coped pretty well
Being total wasn't the same
A little sight made such a difference
Even if it was a pittance
Magnifiers and strange looking things
For us totals anything that talks or sings
To be like the others I craved so much
Anything around me I loved to touch
Now I am used to being like this
For me with no sight
There's nothing to miss

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Buying a new phone - Amy

One day you hear about a new phone that you love the sound of. It has all these amazing apps and features and you can't wait to get one. You save up, and eventually you have enough money to buy it. You go into town one day and buy it. As soon as you get home you set it up and start playing with it. Easy right? Not so easy when you've got a sight problem.

Here's how it really goes...

You don't want a new phone because there's a cool, new one out. You want a new phone because you need one, so that everybody knows you are safe when you are out on your own. You hear about all these new gadgets and phones, but none of them really matter because you probably can't see them or read them properly anyway.

One day you decide you need a new phone and you go to the phone shop. You need a phone shop where you can actually play on the phones, not just look at a dead one hung on a wall.

When you're looking through the phones they all look the same these days, they are all just a screen. You find a screen you like the look of and you start to play around on it. The first place you go to is the settings icon, and then accessibility. That's if you can read the phone to get that far. My Mum had to do that bit for me and change the colours so that I could read it.

I looked through all the accessibility options, the font type, the font size, the colours and themes you could change the phone to, to make sure I can actually read it. People with worse sight than me would find out what speaking options there are, if your phone will read the text to you, and if you can give verbal instructions to your phone.

You're not going to waste your money on a phone if you don't know you can actually use it. These are the things it doesn't tell you on the phone description or specifications. These are the things partially sighted and blind people need to know. Then you might move onto all the fancy things. The things that some sighted people take for granted.

You also need to be able to get to the phone shop in the first place. This brings on a whole new challenge...

Help with smartphones and tablets

A note from SRSB

If you are reading this and understand some of the comments that Amy has made, please note that we have been holding regular O2 Guru Days and there is another coming up on 28 March 2017 at SRSB.

We also hold ongoing Online Today courses with the next one happening on 27 February 2017 at SRSB.

Both of these courses are designed to help you with exactly these sort of issues. If you are interested in either, please contact us on 0114 272 2757 to book your place.

The blog is back!

It's amazing how time flies, and we didn't realise quite how long it has been since our last blog post!

We're delighted therefore that we have a new volunteer on board to get the blog back on track. Our client Amy will be writing her own blog posts and talking to other clients about their experiences of living with visual impairment. These are then passed to Anne, another volunteer, who uploads the posts for us.

You can read Amy's first post here.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Blindfolded walk - Stephen

Stephen with his guide
Stephen is not visually impaired, but we thought that this story was appropriate to share on the Blindlife Blog because he discusses in a very articulate way the challenges that he experienced whilst taking part in a blindfolded walk.

I spent six weeks as part of my medical course at an eye hospital, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) in Kathmandu, Nepal. After having an unforgettable experience, I was inspired to raise money for one of TIO's partner organisations, The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), to give something back.

So I did an eight hour blindfolded walk for over 10km in May 2014 through the Peak District (walking from Totley to Grindleford and taking the train back to Sheffield).

It went extremely well - better than I could have hoped.

We had a stream of challenges which had me doing things like taking a selfie, salsa dancing, walking with my shoelaces tied together, giving someone a piggy-back, climbing stairs without guides, buying a water bottle etc.

I was personally just imagining a simple trek up Fulwood and then back, but the person who planned the trek route, Sultana, brought me through various types of terrain. It kept things interesting and made it a real challenge as we traversed muddy parts, steep slopes, rocky roads etc.

Although this was definitely challenging and I had to be constantly focused on my every step, the most unsettling part of the walks were always when I was told I was in an enclosed social setting (i.e. cafe and train back to Sheffield). The reason for this was that visual input determined a huge proportion of my communication/social skills, from eye contact to body language. So, it was odd not knowing if I was facing someone when talking to them or not being able to pick up social cues.

Being blindfolded also heightened all my other senses. When you don’t have any concrete visual input, a lot of your interpretation of reality is up to your imagination. I exaggerated the sound of a small waterfall into the massive ones I encountered during my time in Nepal. I was able to identify my guides by the shape of their shoulders/arms and I became hyper-aware of the nuances of touch, like when someone was showing worry, care, humour and etc.

When we stopped to eat, I wasn't sure what I was eating beforehand and I distinctly remember being incredibly satisfied by a croissant filled with egg salad, as the texture/tastes were a wonderful surprise.

From the guide's point of view, it was clear that leading someone who is blind/visually impaired is difficult. I needed them to speak to me constantly about my surroundings and the instructions had to be clear and concise. I can imagine that guiding can be exhausting, especially in the uneven terrain we walked through when every little change in the ground is of concern.

All in all though, it was a fun day and a great learning experience for everyone. The weather co-operated, my friends/guides were extremely supportive/trustworthy and we all had a good laugh.

I'd like to thank my donors, blindfolded talent video submitters, challenge proposers, the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind for their handcrafted blindfold, the Himalayan Cataract Project for their support/encouragement and my supportive friends/guides (Sultana, Mohammed, Pei Jean and Karen).

Friday, 16 May 2014

My first six months using a guide cane - Graham

Having nearly done myself a mischief a few times stepping off buses and trains in the last year or two, it became apparent to me that the time had come. I realised that I might be ready and possibly overdue applying for a guide cane from the Sensory Impairment Team at Howden House.

I had already tried using a symbol cane, a flimsy white wand, the purpose of which is just to let others know you have a sight issue, but it never really cut the mustard and I felt a bit self-conscious just carrying it limply in front of me.

A guide cane however, is a different kettle of fish. bigger and more solid. It's not quite as business like as a long cane with a ball on the end, but I didn't need this level of help. I still have some sight and don't really need to sweep as I walk about, but for steps, kerbs and difficult lighting conditions, the guide cane seemed to be the right 'weapon of choice' for me.

Following a short bit of training, I was away.

Using the cane seemed very natural and easy for me to use and I don't go anywhere without it now. As well as solving my 'getting off trains and buses' problems, because of the size, it is a much more effective symbol cane and for the first time I am aware that people are giving me space on pavements and I get served in pubs much more quickly. I was surprised however, to find that I still get 'chugged' outside the bus station and on Fargate, just as often as before and beggars also seem to find the cane invisible. I don't get asked to do market research any more though. It seems that blind/sight impaired people's opinions are not relevant to big companies? I think it is more likely that the researchers just don't know what to do when confronted with someone who seems sight impaired?

On the downside, using a guide cane does mess about with your self-image and self-confidence. I am naturally a very confident person, but whilst using a cane, I feel more disabled in a strange kind of way and don't feel as confident as I used to. I feel more disabled than I did before and my partner seems to relate to me whilst using my cane in a different way, as if I am more in need of basic help. I think she is more self-conscious about it than me. I have noticed that she never asks me to put the bins out. She just does it, in spite of me offering and I haven't been asked to wash the car since getting the cane, in spite of still being fit.

I was talking to a fellow sight impaired person a week ago or so and they said they wouldn't use a cane as it is a negative badge that makes others have pre-conceptions about you before they meet you. I can see their point, but the safety benefits and the fact that that I don't have to wash the car any more make it, as badges go, one of the best I have had to wear!