What to do When You’re Being Ignored

I have two questions I’d like to ask vision impaired people – are you fine with someone talking on your behalf? And do you think it’s acceptable for others to talk to your sighted guide and not to you directly?

My view is that when somebody speaks for you it can be quite demoralising and it can leave you feeling worthless, frustrated and hurt.

Recently, I’ve been situations where I’ve met people who would talk to my sighted guide instead of talking to me.  For example, whilst attending my hospital appointments, there were doctors, consultants, surgeons and nurses who would talk to my husband all the time.  It got to a point where I felt very upset and annoyed.  It forced me to speak up and ask them to speak to me directly because, after all, I am the patient! And my husband isn’t with me all the time. However, despite being seen regularly at the hospital, I still have to remind them that I’ve only lost my sight and not my ability to communicate!

Another question I’d like to ask is – should we be more forgiving when it comes to family?  I think in some ways our families should be more supportive and inform others that you, as a vision impaired individual, are capable of speaking for yourself and it is important you’re spoken to face-to-face.  The same applies to work colleagues, support workers, friends or anyone who has a habit of speaking on your behalf.

It’s commonplace that when we lose our sight, we also lose our confidence and independence.  And, to an extent, our voices disappear as we struggle to inform others of how we’re feeling and explain what’s going on, whilst trying to make sense of the situation ourselves.  So next time anyone talks to your guide, kindly let them know that it is better if they spoke to you instead of your guide.  In fact, talking with others is very important for visually impaired people as it helps us to recognise voices so we can remember who the person is.

Furthermore, if you’re going to initiate the conversation, then asking your guide to point you in the right direction and letting you know when you’re in front of the other person will help you start the conversation.  Sometimes, VI people need some assistance from their guide to face the person being spoken to and being told when the person has left the conversation.  There have been many times when I’ve been left to talk to myself- how embarrassing!

So the next time you are in a position where others are continuously talking on your behalf, then let them know how it makes you feel and explain some of the tips I’ve mentioned on how they can support you to maintain your independence.

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Bhavini (left) with her support worker Kam (right).

Written by Bhavini Makwana

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A Great Start to Look Who’s Walking Team’s 50k Peak District Challenge in 2018

A belated Happy New Year to you all!  My first blog entry of 2018 is about the timed 12-hour Bronze 50k Peak District Challenge, which ELVis and Metro Blind Sport Charity will be undertaking in partnership in September, around the same time as National Eye Health Week 2018.  What was I thinking when I agreed to this?  Oh wait, I clearly wasn’t thinking before I signed my life away to walking! I don’t sleep walk, but who knows what may happen by September…

However, I am very excited to tell you that we are the first joint vision impaired and sighted group to take part in the Peak District Challenge.  The aim of the project is to create awareness about walking opportunities for blind and partially sighted people, starting in East London with the view to expanding further afield.  We want more people to see that being blind or partially sighted shouldn’t be a barrier to taking part in low impact exercise such as walking.

We will be doing a 50k loop of the Peak District National Park starting and finishing in the small town of Hathersage on the edge of the National Park.  The Bronze Challenge has a total ascent of 1200m and at its highest point reaches 464m.  To ensure we are all prepared for the challenge, we’ll be attending Walking for Health Walks and the Rambling Association walks throughout the year, which will help increase fitness levels, but also provide opportunities to network and introduce the long term goal of the project- getting blind and partially sighted people walking and enjoying local parks and commons.

Our first walk was on 8th January with the Walking for Health group in Havering.  We managed 5k (3miles) in 58 minutes.  So a good start to the training schedule!  My sighted guide Ian Francis from Metro Blind Sport did a great job in guiding me, and most importantly ensured we beat our fellow Look Who’s Walking team members Bhavini Makwana and Saul Wynne to complete the walk first!

I’m hopeful that we can reach our fundraising target of £5,000 and possibly exceed it.  If you would like to get us started towards the first £100, please visit and donate at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=PDC2018

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Photo of the Look Who’s Walking! Group – Ian, Masuma, Bhavini and Saul.

Written by Masuma Ali

Christine’s Delicious Sticky Apple and Almond Cake

Hello friends,

It’s Christine here! So it’s a New Year and I thought I’d share another recipe with you all. This delicious dessert really goes down well with friends and family.

Sticky Apple and Almond Cake

Ingredients:

250g Self Raising Flour

175g Caster Sugar

175g Butter – melted

3tbsp Honey

2 Medium Eggs

1tsp Almond Extract

250g Cooking Apples – peeled and cored

40g Flaked Almonds

Icing Sugar.

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C, 140°C Fan or Gas mark 3. Grease a 20 cm cake tin.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, butter, honey, eggs and almond extract in a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Put half the cake mix in the prepared tin and spread evenly over the base.
  5. Slice the apples and arrange over the cake mix.
  6. Cover with the remaining cake mix and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden and springs back to the touch.
  8. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar.
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Photo of a baked sticky apple and almond cake. 

HOPE YOU ENJOY BAKING THIS CAKE ☺

Written by Christine Edmead

What We’re Looking Forward to in 2018

For our very first blog post of the New Year, we would like to share our aspirations and resolutions for 2018.

Masuma, ELVis CEO: “I’m not one for New Year resolutions as I don’t believe in setting myself up for a fall at the start of the year.  If the plan was to be healthy, it wouldn’t have lasted long as I would’ve broke that on Tuesday 2nd Jan with a chocolate doughnut!  However, I’ll be burning that doughnut off with plenty of walking as my challenge for the year with team Look Who’s Walking is to be the first VI group to complete the Peak District 50K challenge in 12 hours in September.  Watch this space for further updates.”

Nicola, ELVis Service Development & Delivery Manager: “People often talk about how others will complain about people behind their backs, but I find that we often compliment people behind their backs, too.  For example, when telling my family about my day I might mention how much I appreciated a work colleague’s advice, or I might talk to one of my friends about how smart I think our mutual friend is.  But if the person we’re talking about isn’t there, they’re never going to know that I think that about them, and I think that can be a shame.  Therefore, my new year’s resolution for 2018 is to go out of my way to compliment someone at least once a day, because everyone can do with a little pick-me-up sometimes :)”

Bhavini, ELVis Activities Coordinator: “2017 was a great year where I developed new skills, met really great people, enhanced on aspirations and tried a lot of new things I thought were impossible to do as VI person.  ELVis provided a wide range of fantastic activities and speaker last year, and this year will be no different.  I will be working towards in making events and activities enjoyable for all our members and provide guest speakers on really useful matters that are important to VI people.  So make sure you’ve signed up to our newsletters and keep updated on what will be going on.”

Ray, ELVis Communications Coordinator: “I’ve been working for ELVis for nearly a year now and it’s been really great so far working for such a fantastic team.  I’ve loved meeting all the service users and look forward to meeting many more in the coming year.  Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep updated on all our upcoming activities and events across East London.”

Christine, ELVis Administrator & Information Officer: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  At this time of the year everyone is thinking about the past year and what New Year’s resolutions they will be making and nine times out of ten breaking.  I have decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year in order for me not to break them.”

Graham, ELVis Assistive Technology Adviser: “I have never really been one for New Year’s resolution, but the New Year is a good time for those interested in technology to look to the future.  Artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to be big this year.  It’s already featured in high profile bits of technology for visually impaired people including the Seeing AI app from Microsoft which for the first time allowed vision Impaired people to read handwritten text at a truly affordable price of 0 providing you have an IPhone.  At the other end of the scale we have Orcam.  At over £2200 for the basic model it’s not cheap but look out for smart glasses that can be used in conjunction with apps on smartphones for various purposes.  We will see big price reductions in this field I am sure.”

From everyone at East London Vision we hope you have your best year yet!  If you have a New Year’s resolutions or an aspiration for 2018 let us know in the comment section below!

Written by the ELVis team