Visit to Marion Richardson Primary School for Vision Impairment Awareness training

Hassan Khan from SELVis (South East London Vision) assisted us by delivering Vision Impairment (VI) Awareness and VI cricket to children from Marion Richardson Primary School in Limehouse on Friday, 23rd of June.

Hassan spent the day providing basic vision impairment awareness by:

  • Talking about terminology and wherever possible to use everyday language with vision impaired/disabled people
  • Demonstrating and passing around various equipment/objects such as the braille notetaker, bumpons, VI cricket balls, VI tennis balls, and simulation spectacles
  • Explained basic guiding tips
  • Showing the children a short video of England ODI captain Eoin Morgan training with the England blind cricket team
  • Speaking about his personal sight loss journey

The children then had the opportunity to practice some of what they had learnt by taking part in practical activities which included the following:

  • Simple ball exercise to demonstrate how important listening, hearing and communication is in any VI sport
  • Catching the ball on 1 bounce in a circle
  • Batting in pairs; 2 hits each whilst wearing tunnel vision glasses and the bowler blindfolded

Ms Khan said: “The children really enjoyed the VI cricket and I would like for Hassan to visit my class next year.”

The children also had the opportunity to ask questions, which ranged from “What inspires you?” to “If you could see what would you be?”

All the children that participated in the day received either an East London Vision pen or fridge magnet, which they were extremely thankful for.

Hassan said: “It’s always a pleasure visiting this wonderful school. It’s crucial for us to continue to visit schools such as Marion Richardson to raise awareness of vision impairments. I believe our workshops leave an everlasting impact on the children. An example of this is the children being aware of how to guide VI people and being aware of the things in their everyday environment such as the rotating cones on traffic lights.”

Thanks to Hassan for visiting the school and delivering an excellent awareness raising and educational day for the children at Marion Richardson Primary Sschool .

Written by Masuma Ali

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‘The Who’s Tommy’ musical experience

Hello lovely people,

Just wanted to say what a great time I had when I was guiding a member of the Beyond Sight Loss social group to the theatre.

The group went to see a rock musical called ‘The Who’s Tommy’ at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, east London.

Before the show began the group were given a touch tour where they met some of the performers, feel the props and see the stage up close. A lot of the members said having the touch tour was a fantastic idea and helped them visualise the story better when listening to the audio description of the show.

When the show started the fun began. I saw some of the people in the audience get up from their seats to dance, and others began singing along with the songs. Some of The Who songs featured in the show included ‘Tommy Can You Hear Me’, ‘I’m Free’, ‘See Me’, ‘Feel Me’, and ‘Pinball Wizard’ – all of which were my favourite songs to listen to when I was growing up.

Overall, the show was a memorable experience for all the members of Beyond Sight Loss. Everyone mentioned how energetic the ‘Tommy’ cast were, and that they would be recommending the show to family and friends. I must say that if you’re a fan of the music by The Who this musical is worth watching!

Finally, I would like to thank Ashrafia Choudhury, Chair of Beyond Sight Loss, for making this trip happen and for all the support and guidance that she does for the group.

For more information about ‘The Who’s Tommy’ please visit the following website link: http://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/tommy

Written by Christine Edmead

Living with Aniridia

What colour are your eyes? Are they blue, green, or brown? It’s something most of us take for granted. But for me it’s not that simple.

My name is Glen, I’m 33, and I have a rare condition called Aniridia. This means I was born without irises, so I don’t technically have an eye colour. Aniridia affects just 1 in 47,000 people, and to mark the first ever Aniridia Day on 21st June 2017, I’d like to tell you a bit about how it affects me.

The iris has an important job. It adjusts the size of the pupil to control how much light enters your eye; they will shrink in bright light to allow less light, and expand in the dark to allow in more light and help you see better.

Without an iris, my eyes are very sensitive to glare and brightness.  On cloudy days I wear sunglasses because there can be glare coming off from things like clouds, walls, and windows. And it gets worse if the sun reflects of rainwater or if I’m feeling tired or unwell.

Similarly, computer programs often have white backgrounds, which also cause glare. So I invert the colours to give me white text on a black background, which I find a lot more comfortable. I then flip it back to normal when looking at photos or videos, or else they look weird!

Additionally, I also have to be careful when I’m going into a dark room. I may have to hold on to another person or wait a few minutes until my eyes adjust to the level of light available in the room.

Living with aniridia hasn’t stopped me from living my life though. I’ve graduated from university and I’ve been working in my job for over 12 years. I also love travelling and socialising. Furthermore, since I moved to London last Christmas, I’m having a great time exploring the city and making new friends – including the very welcoming members of East London Vision, and I’m involved with Aniridia Network UK as well. So I’m happy and comfortable, and the future looks bright as long as I wear my shades!

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Photo of Glen and a tour guide at the Natural History Museum holding a piece of zebra fur, during a trip to the museum in April 2017.

You can find lots more about my visual impairment and the things I enjoy at the following links:

Blog – www.welleyenever.com

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv7AcWqn3r_HxQRAtxVe5Fg

Twitter – https://twitter.com/well_eye_never

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/welleyenever/

Thanks for reading!

Written by Glen Turner

Introducing our new ELVis Social Media Intern – Ray Calamaan

For those who haven’t met me yet, my name is Ray and I’m the new Social Media Intern at East London Vision.

I joined the ELVis team in April, and what can I say I’ve been enjoying every aspect of my role so far. I especially love getting the opportunity to go on exciting outings like to the Natural History Museum and taking part in white water rafting at the Lee Valley White Water Centre. However, my role is more than just attending events but promoting them through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to encourage service users to participate. I also collaborate with them to promote stories online which other ELVis members would like to hear about.

What initially interested me to join the ELVis team was my experience of training alongside visually impaired people. I’m partially sighted since the age of 22, and I attended the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) for three years as a client where I met other young people with different eye conditions. It was at the RSBC where I was able to learn about the individual challenges my peers faced which helped me develop a good understanding of how to support people living with sight loss.

I also have an interest in blogging and use social media on a daily basis. I write about my experiences taking part in free activities across London on my personal blog which you can visit by clicking here.

Being part of the ELVis team has been a very positive experience so far. ELVis Development and Service Manager, Nicola Stokes has supported me settle into my role, and I can’t think of a better person to do the job. I’ve even had the opportunity to attend the staff conference at the Thomas Pocklington Trust where I met staff from across the country, and enjoyed the perks of eating at a delicious buffet in a very classy hotel close to Euston in Central London.

Overall, I’ve had a very interesting couple of weeks at ELVis and I look forward to the upcoming months I have left as an intern. You never know I might even become a full-time member of staff at the end of it, which I would love to happen!

Also, a fun fact about me is I love cooking and dancing, so expect to see me at those activities in the near future 😉

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Photo of Ray and Nicola both smiling at the Thomas Pocklington Trust staff conference in April 2017.

Written by Ray Calamaan

 

The Amazon Echo Dot review

Every now and again, smart devices are introduced without needing modification for vision impaired people to use because they function by using other senses. An example of this is the smart speaker/voice assistant. Smart speakers are screenless and can only be activated by voice.

A smart speaker which I highly recommend using is the Amazon Echo Dot, which is a speaker with a microphone that connects to the Internet. You use your voice to speak to the device and Alexa, the voice assistant, will talk back to you.

The range of skills Alexa has includes:

  • Finding out the current time
  • Setting timers and alarms
  • Playing radio stations
  • Getting a local weather forecast
  • Controlling lights, mains plugs with timers and other smart home devices
  • Planning journeys on public transport
  • Playing audiobooks
  • Creating to do lists and calendars
  • And much more!

Before you can use the Echo Dot it requires setting up, which you will only ever need to do once. You will need a smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the internet in order to link the Echo Dot to your Amazon account. If you don’t have an Amazon account you will need to sign up on the Amazon website prior to setting up. After you’ve completed the setup process you’re ready to use the Echo Dot.

As a blind person the Echo Dot has been extremely useful in assisting me with my daily routine. I’m surprised at how much I use the device to perform the aforementioned skills, as it is a lot quicker to use voice commands than using my computer, even though I am a competent computer user.

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Photo of Graham, ELVis Technology Officer, with an Amazon Echo Dot.

The Echo Dot costs £50 on the Amazon UK website, although Amazon has regular sales so you can probably buy it for less.  It is also available as the Amazon Echo with a bigger speaker which costs £150. Moreover, Google has recently launched its own smart speaker called Google Home with voice control. Both products can be purchased online but are also available at retailers like PC World and John Lewis.

In conclusion, smart speakers are beneficial for vision impaired people, however I recommend that you research thoroughly which product is able to meet your needs before buying one.

Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the Amazon Echo which is definitely worth watching!

Written by Graham Page