An update from Graham Page (Assistive Technology Advisor)

It’s been very busy since I last wrote a blog entry.  Nicola is our newest member of staff so welcome to her. I am no longer the new boy!

I have worked with some rehabilitation officers who have introduced me to service users of theirs. I have attended user group meetings in 5 boroughs and I have attended strategy consultation meetings in 3 boroughs. This has lead to me visiting approximately 15 clients as well as making follow up visits. I know that rehab officers are planning plenty for me to do in the new year and their referrals are much appreciated.

 

I have been working closely with the RNIB Online project which has already referred a few clients and again this is much appreciated.

Plans for working with local libraries to make services accessible and encourage local people to use them are also progressing well. I will be working closely with Redbridge Libraries in the new year to provide various kinds of technology training.

 

I have been interviewed by InfoSound magazine and prepared publicity leaflets which have already been emailed to various people.

 

The world of Information technology and the accessibility of new technology is changing at a fast pace. Keeping up with the latest challenges and innovations is challenging yet extremely rewarding and I very much look forward to working with both technology users or potential users and technology providers next year.

 

For now I wish all who read this a relaxing fun Christmas and a happy and positive new year!

 

Graham:)

An introduction from Nicola, the new Service Development and Delivery Officer at ELVis

photoHi everybody! I’m Nicola, the new Service Development and Delivery Officer here at ELVis. Being the new kid in the ELVis team, I thought that I’d spend my first blog post introducing myself and talking a bit about my first impressions of the role that I’ve found myself in.

I studied History at Durham University, where I spent some interesting (and some not so interesting) times learning about anything from Cold War politics to Robin Hood. I had a particular interest in international history though, so took any opportunity I could to do modules on places that we don’t tend to learn about in standard history lessons, such as China and Sudan.

As well as History, my other big interest is travelling. Before going to university, I took a gap year and spent a couple of months working in France and then did some backpacking and volunteering in southern Africa (including a month helping out on a boat which sends tourists out to cage dive with great white sharks). After I’d graduated, I decided that I wasn’t ready to settle down into the nine to five quite yet, so I alternated backpacking trips with spending a few months at home to earn money in preparation for the next trip! I travelled round South East Asia, India and Latin America, and finally I went to China to spend a year there teaching English. I had some amazing times and my confidence and independence really grew as a result.

When I came back from China, I decided that now was the time to stay at home on a less temporary basis so I started looking for jobs, and here I am! The third sector has always been the only area that I’ve ever had much of an interest in working in, and before coming to ELVis I had completed a couple of voluntary internships. The first of these was during one of my university summer holidays when I spent two months in Ghana working for a human rights organisation, and then after uni I spent a few months working in London with a charity called Ace Africa, which helps to alleviate poverty in rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Human rights is an area that I am extremely interested in, and as part of ELVis I am able to assist people who may have had fewer opportunities to fully participate in society in the way that they want to, and that is something that is very important to me.

I had never worked in the VI sector before I started with ELVis, and being fully-sighted myself I have to admit that as such I was not aware of a lot of the issues that VIPs can face. Before, I may have seen a sign written in Braille, or seen a guide dog in training, but other than that the VI world was largely invisible to me. Or rather, my eyes were closed to what was there. Since starting working with ELVis, I have come to see that this lack of awareness from sighted people quite often leads to a lack of opportunities for VIPs. It means that sighted employers are less sure about the provisions necessary for VI employees, or that there are very few sports or arts clubs which are accessible for VI participants.

A large part of my role here at ELVis is helping to run the local societies, and I have come to see how important it is for VIPs to have these opportunities to engage socially, both to be able to spend time with each other but also to be able to interact within the wider community. Not only will this lead to a growth in confidence for the VIPs, but seeing more VIPs in the public domain will also show fully sighted people just how much they are capable of.

In our society, where often it is actually the sighted people who are blind to the VI world, we can hope that with time and education and further exposure to VI life, attitudes will shift so that people will start to focus on what VIPs can do and not what they can’t.  People will be more confident interacting with each other and sighted people will be more welcoming of VI participation. In this way, I hope, that we will one day see that whether in the VI world or in wider society, VIPs will have the same opportunities as everybody else, and sighted people will feel as confident interacting with VIPs as VIPs are with them.

The London Vision Impairment Forum

The London Vision Impairment Forum

 

As well as managing the Vision Strategy Groups in east London, with my other hat on I manage the London Vision Impairment Forum…. so I thought it might be timely to focus on the Forum in this blog.

 

The London VI Forum was born in 2008 out of a desire to link the sight loss charities and local societies across London, and to provide a platform where issues could be discussed and best practice shared.

 

One of the major pieces of work the LVIF undertook in its early days was ‘A Vision for London’: a comprehensive mapping of organisations and services available to vision impaired people across London.

 

The Forum is a flexible and fluid network of representatives of VI organisations and sensory teams across greater London and surrounding areas. It currently has 75 member organisations.

 

It meets quarterly, where a varied range of speakers are invited to address pertinent issues and introduce activities & services of interest – this year the session on the Care Act proved very popular, as did discussions on tactile paving…

 

The Planning Group also meets quarterly to coordinate campaigns, partnerships and Forum meeting topics.

 

The LVIF produces a fortnightly E-Bulletin. Distributed to around 200 members, and cascaded to a further 2000 people across greater London, this much appreciated bulletin contains items of news and events of interest across greater London.

 

Whilst the forum meetings themselves are only open to representatives of organisations, the fortnightly bulletins are freely available to one and all via the LVIF website: http://lvif.co.uk/category/news-bulletins/

 

If you have any items of interest for inclusion in the bulletin please email them to me at

sharon.schaffer@lvif.co.uk

 

Have a wonderful week:)

Sharon

Chris’s update

Some exciting news we have had a new addition to the ELVis Team who started

with us on 11th November.   So let us welcome Nicola Stokes our Service

Development and Delivery Officer.

 

ActivEyes Redbridge held their Vision Strategy service user Consultation on 25 November, which was well attended.  Great discussions took place and presentations from a variety of speakers covering benefits, employment and Vision Redbridge regarding the Leisure Strategy. This was followed by a finger buffet (which everyone enjoyed) and socialising.  A really great time was had by all.

 

I know everyone is getting ready for Christmas and it seems to be upon us all of a sudden, but we say that every year.  Most of the Peer Support Groups are preparing for their Christmas activities.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.