In September we were lucky enough to have a visit from Hassan at Merton Vision, he came to give staff and volunteers an insight into what it is like to be visually impaired. He also shared some do’s and don’ts for people for how they should and shouldn’t speak to or treat a visually impaired person.
We were first asked to think about terminology we all use on a daily basis, for example is it ok to say ‘See you tomorrow’ or ‘Did you watch….’ to a person with sight loss?
There are many causes and reasons that a person might be diagnosed with visual impairment, it doesn’t always mean that they are without any vision. In fact, only 4% of people with a visual impairment have no sight at all.
We also got the chance to experience what it might be like to live with a visual impairment using simulator spectacles, these are specially designed to illustrate the common effects of Visual impairment. These spectacles give you an insight into living with a visual impairment. No two people are the same so its impossible to know exactly what it is like for everyone.
We then took it in turns to wear a blindfold and be guided around the building in the way that a visually impaired person would be. This gave us a small insight into what daily life is like when you have limited vision.
We were shown a number of different aids that are available to help people with sight problems be as independent as they can, whether they’re making a cup of tea or commuting to work, these included two different white sticks, one for if you are out alone and another if you are out with a seeing guide.
We were also told about ‘Be My Eyes’ its an app that visually impaired people can use when they need help with simple everyday tasks that become much more challenging when you have a visual impairment. Its a video call where a sighted person can give help and support to someone in need. This could be from knowing what colour an item of clothing is or to help find directions in an unknown place. Its all free and confidential.
Everyone taking part was given the opportunity to ask Hasan questions about problems people with visual impairment can face and about various support services that can be found locally and we even discussed how people with visual impairments are using social media platforms such as TikTok to give people an insight into their lives and how they deal with everyday tasks.
Overall, the staff and volunteers who took part in the session found it informative and they gained a new understanding of how different (but not necessarily difficult) everyday life can be for someone living with visual impairment.
We’re really pleased that Hassan was able to visit and run the workshop and we’d like to say thank you to him and our own Ann Brassington for setting up the visit!