Tribute to My Dear Friend and Colleague Roger Clifton

I first met Roger Clifton when I was volunteering at Beyond Barriers Vision Impaired Group in Tower Hamlets, and the first impression I got was he’s a great guy.

Later I was lucky enough to be asked by Roger to attend an interview at East London Vision (ELVis). And as luck would have it, I was offered a job at East London Vision working with Roger Clifton who was the CEO at the time.

I worked with Roger for over two years. He was so encouraging, had great enthusiasm and was so passionate. It was a joy and a privilege to work with him. I remember him being a very positive person, and all the service users were fond of him. He was a very charismatic man.

Roger was not only my work colleague but he was a great friend. What a sad day when he was took away from us. Roger will be missed but he will be forever in our hearts.

Roger Clifton

Photo of Roger Clifton looking very smart in his suit.

Written by Christine Edmead

Advertisements

Why the Snapchat Spectacles Are No Ordinary Pair of Sunglasses

You’ve probably have heard of Google Glasses, but have you heard of the Snapchat Spectacles? If you’re familiar with social media then you’ve probably come across Snapchat which is a popular social media platform (which can only be accessed on smart devices) that allows users to share messages, photos and videos with other users.

Aesthetically, the Snapchat Spectacles look pretty cool, but don’t let its appearance fool you as they are unlike any ordinary pair of sunglasses! You can use these sunglasses to record videos to share on Snapchat. All you have to do is connect them with the Snapchat app via Bluetooth on initial set up. So whenever you record your videos (by pressing the top right-hand button) they will automatically download on to the app when your sunglasses and smart devices are connected via Bluetooth. Then, you can start sharing the videos.

As I own a pair of these glasses (which cost me £130) I’m probably being really bias by saying they’re amazing. Not only do they protect your eyes from sun damage (UV protection), but they can also take away the hassle from having to open the camera app on your smart device and pressing record. This is great when you’re taking part in on-the-go activities like canoeing, riding a rollercoaster or when you’re hot air balloon. However, there have been concerns which have been raised about these glasses in public including invading the privacy of others. There are many places where wearing these glasses would be inappropriate like in public toilets and changing rooms.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a pair of glasses which record long videos then the Snapchat sunglasses are probably not for you as they only record 10 second videos. However, you can stitch them together to create a longer video. You can also download the videos on to your smart device like a phone or tablet and start sharing them on other social media sites like Instagram.

Let me know what you think of the Snapchat Spectacles– are they’re a good thing, and would you consider buying one? If you have one let me know what your experience is like using them by leaving a comment below.

31714544314_b9da5f9a91_b

Photo of a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in its yellow case.

Written by Ray Calamaan

Service User Daniel Develops His Confidence Attending East London Vision Events

My name is Daniel and I’m 36 years old. In my blog article I will be speaking about my memorable moments attending East London Vision events this year.

I attend the Beyond Sight Loss Group in Tower Hamlets. I have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, night blindness and tunnel vision. My eye conditions affect me mostly during the evening so that’s when I need my white cane the most!

Coming along to ELVis events enables me to socialise and make new friends. The activities I’ve been along to include a visit to Clacton-on-Sea, a boat trip to Richmond Park and a quiz night in Newham. I enjoyed all the events, although I especially liked the quiz night because it was diverse. There was lots of delicious food to eat, games to play, karaoke and a raffle- which I won a prize from!

All the events I’ve attended with ELVis were accessible. I travelled by minibus to Clacton-on-Sea with the Beyond Sight Loss Group. And there were many volunteers assisting us on the day which was great! They demonstrated a lot of care and understanding towards all the clients. They even joined us on the rides.

I had a nice time getting to know Sandy and her husband, who are both ELVis volunteers. They’re both personable and have a great sense of humour. I enjoyed our conversations. Moreover, Bhavini Makwana who organised the trip came along. Her friendly personality made me feel very welcome, and I felt very glad I attended the trip.

It is very rewarding to come along to ELVis events. Not all places are accessible, and going out with ELVis challenges these barriers. I can now clearly see that my disability shouldn’t stop me from having a good time.

IMG_0675
Daniel (middle) with other ELVis members posing for a group photo during a trip to Clacton-On-Sea.

If you would like to know more about East London Vision, and for regular updates on events and activities for vision impaired people living in East London, please visit www.eastlondonvision.org.uk.

Alternatively, you can contact Nicola on 07914770909 or email Nicola@eastlondonvision.org.uk for more details.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my article. Thank you!

Written by Daniel Worrington

Free Upgrade to Windows 10 for those with Assistive Technology Ends 31 December 2017

Hi all. A bit of a technical blog this time round, but this could affect many PC users.

At the end of July 2016, the offer of a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10 was withdrawn for most users, though the offer for those using assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnifiers was extended. This extended offer is now coming to an end as of 31 December 2017.

I strongly suggest that anyone using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 should upgrade their version of Windows before the end of December. Those using Windows 7 may not want to upgrade, though- particularly if they have old devices which may not work with Windows 10.  If you use Office 2003 or older, then I would also suggest that you do not upgrade to Windows 10.

I am very happy to discuss upgrading to Windows 10 and any implications it may have for you. If you live in the East London area then I can also arrange to visit you and help you carry out the upgrade if this is the most appropriate step for you, and of course this service is absolutely free of charge!

You can reach me by calling my mobile which is 07779 441000 or calling East London Vision on 0203 697 6464, or contacting me by email at graham@eastlondonvision.org.uk.

The information confirming the end of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer is tricky to find so I have included a link to the relevant Microsoft blog post at the end of this article.

The post also discusses some interesting Microsoft accessibility improvements in the latest version of Windows 10. The most interesting of these for many readers will probably be the colour filter, which will allow you to quickly set colour choices that will then apply to all programs on your PC.

For info on the end of the assistive technology free upgrade offer visit: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/accessibility/2017/10/17/windows-10-accessibility-update/

Written by Graham Page

Why Braille is Still Relevant in the Digital Age

For those of you who aren’t aware, last week was National Braille Week, so now is as good an opportunity as ever to talk about why this form of communication continues to be so important in the VI world.

Most people know that Braille was invented by Louis Braille, a nineteenth-century Frenchman who accidentally blinded himself while playing with tools in his father’s workshop at the age of three. But did you know that he had come up with the now-familiar six-dots system by the age of just 15, and published his findings when he was 20? However, scepticism of the system meant that Braille wasn’t on the curriculum even at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, where Louis was a professor.  It took until two years after his death for Braille to be implemented there, after continual demands from blind pupils.

Today, Braille is used by over 150 million people across the world.  However, in an age in which digital technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and voiceover and voice-activated devices are becoming more common and readily available, many people no longer consider Braille to be as essential for communication.  However, whilst it is certainly true that voice-activated products can be extremely useful for a VIP, this does not eliminate the importance of Braille.  Being a fully-sighted person myself, I once asked the opinion of a VIP how they felt about Braille being considered less important nowadays.  He responded, “Imagine if someone said to you that you were no longer allowed to read or write text, and the only way you could receive or impart information was aurally.  It would have a huge impact on your life.”  And he’s right- being able to read and write Braille opens up many more opportunities for VIPs than they would have otherwise.  Braille is important to help improve people’s literacy rates, which in turn aids people in the workplace.  And with its incorporation with recent developments in technology, such as portable Braille Notetakers and Braille attachments to smart devices, people who are Braille-literate are easily able to read and write wherever they go.  Modern technology is therefore making Braille more accessible, rather than making it obsolete, and is a great tool in helping VIPs to become more independent.  As Helen Keller said, “We, the blind, are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg.”

To find out more about Braille and National Braille Week, click here: https://www.royalblind.org/national-braille-week

For more information on how technology is helping to enhance the use of Braille, click here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/feb/14/technology-brings-braille-back-apple

If you’re interested in learning Braille and would like more information, you can call Abiola on 07983 552855 (classes run every Friday 11am to 12pm at Dagenham Library), or email redbridge@hearingloss.org.uk (Redbridge residents only, classes normally run on Tuesday mornings).

Written by Nicola Stokes

 

 

Bhavini’s Employment Journey

Can a blind or partially sighted person be employed? Can they have a desirable career?  Can they work in jobs they’re absolutely passionate about? The answer is yes to ALL!

As a severely sight impaired person, when I applied for the position of activities co-ordinator everything inside me lit up because I knew I was the right person for the role. The job combined both of my passions; supporting vision impaired people and organising events, activities and meetings to improve social inclusion for VI people. So when I received the phone call that I got the job, I literally cried. I was thrilled, proud and happy. Then it dawned on me- “Oh my god, I’ve got a job! How will I manage? I know I can do it, but how?”

I was told about a government scheme called Access to Work (ATW). The scheme assesses you in regards to the support you require to carry out your job. Once my support was in place I was able to settle into my new role. I was also eligible for a support worker for sighted assistance.

The ideal support worker should be able to empower you to carry out your role professionally. Instead of talking on your behalf, support workers should introduce you and take you to the person you need to speak to. Moreover, they must understand your role so they can relay information to you that may be essential for you to carry out your duties. In my case, when carrying out risk assessments for activities and outings, my support worker would highlight certain risk factors that I will ask them to look out for. And they would also inform me of possible hazards which I cannot physically see myself. Having the right support worker gives me the extra help I need to carry out my role to the best of my ability.

If you’re passionate about getting in to a specific career then don’t let your vision impairment hold you back. Support is out there to help you every step of the way. After being unemployed for 10 years, I thought I’d never work again, but the support from Martin Sigworth at Thomas Pocklington’s Employment Service helped me to prepare for my interview.

To conclude, here at East London Vision over half the team are registered blind or have a visual impairment, and most of us have a support worker. Unfortunately, I recently had to say goodbye to Shivani, who was an excellent support worker. However, on the positive side, I’m on the hunt for someone new to work alongside myself and ELVis CEO Masuma Ali. To find out more about this role, please email Bhavini@eastlondonvision.org.uk

 

014fd59c-c053-486d-8388-f67fc33f9a5f
Photo of Bhavini (right) with her support worker Shivani (left).

Written by Bhavini Makwana

Christine’s Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

The weather has not been very nice of late; mainly windy and rain. The evenings are now drawing in, and what I like to do when I get home from work is snuggle up with a nice hot cup of tea and a delicious slice of cake.

One of my favourite slices is carrot cake, so I thought I would share with you the easy-to-follow recipe I use.

Carrot Cake

275g Self Raising Flour

300g Caster Sugar

2tsp Baking Powder

3tsp Ground Cinnamon

2tsp Ground Ginger

275g Carrots – grated

4 Eggs – beaten

1tsp Vanilla Extract

Icing

175g Cream Cheese

50g Butter

100g Icing Sugar

1tsp Vanilla Extract

150ml Sunflower Oil

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 160 C Fan or Gas Mark 4. Line 2 x 20 cm round cake tins with baking parchment.

2. Add in a bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger. Then add the oil, grated carrots, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.

3. Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and firm to the touch.

4. To make the icing beat together all the ingredients until smooth. Divide between the 2 cakes and spread evenly.

5. Finally sandwich the cakes together.

Vegan_Carrot_Cake_9_x_13_Inch_(4147980655)
Photo of a delicious slice of carrot cake.

HAPPY BAKING!

Written by Christine Edmead