Roger shares the views of one of our newer members

Staff colleagues reckon I’ve struck lucky with my Blog this time and, to a certain extent, they are right. But it’s for a very good reason, in that I am passing on the views of one of our newer members, Andrew, who lives in Tower Hamlets. What’s great about this is that Andrew read the Blog, thought there was something missing, and has taken the trouble to make contact, asking us to rectify the matter. So, if like Andrew, you want to communicate something, please feel free to leave a comment, or drop us an Email at enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk.

Very topically, after the Blog from our new Assistive Technology Adviser last week, Andrew has some comments regarding Sight village that took place recently in London. He says: “I did not go to Sight Village with the intention of writing about it, but because I am a user of VI (Vision Impaired) products myself and so wanted to know about the latest tech and other supporting groups. However, reading the ELVis site for the first time, I did not see this event mentioned and so thought an overview could be helpful for others. By the time you read this, it will have passed for another year, as it has been held at the start of November at Kensington Town Hall for some years, but it will return next year on 1 and 2 November.

Sight Village is London’s largest gathering of providers of services for the VI community and the crowd attending mostly carry a white stick or have a guide dog. I learned about everything from a weekly run in Mile End Park on Saturday mornings, where Vision Impaired people are welcome, (visit www.parkrun.org.uk for a park run near you) to a camera that clips onto the frame of your glasses and tells you who you are looking at or reads out what you point at, such as a menu or a newspaper.

The designer of the World’s most popular white canes explained to me that in America they do not recognise the short guide cane that some of us use here, so we should take a long cane if travelling abroad. He has developed a series of long telescopic canes that are lightweight and space saving. One cane he specially made for Stevie Wonder and covered it in gold. Currently he is researching distributors in the UK, albeit these canes are preferred in other countries to the heavy folding canes available here.

I also gathered that, driven by the demand from young users, more reading devices will be developed to work with Mac laptops next year. The myriad of CCTV reading machines, OCR word recognition cameras that attach to laptops and hand held devices were so numerous, I was exhausted trying to differentiate the features of them all. However, whether we pay for our aids ourselves, via an Access to Work grant, or with student funding, the choice of supporting equipment is wide, so it is worth investing the time to determine the appropriate device for your precise needs.”

Thanks Andrew and we will ensure Sight Village is featured on the ELVis Website next year when details are available.

CEO of ELVis discusses the topic of employment for Vision Impaired People

Hello to all our wonderful readers

First of all, a warm welcome to our new platform.

2 recent events have made me think that employment for blind and partially sighted people should be the topic of the Blog this week.

The first of these was that I have just been involved in the recruitment of a new member of staff for ELVis. We received 52 applications, and although about 40 of them were discarded immediately because the applicant hadn’t submitted the required information, or clearly hadn’t properly read the job description, it does show that, whatever the Government statistics, there are still plenty of people out there looking for a job. Or, does it indicate, with my more cynical hat on, that job hunters have to prove that they have applied for a certain number of jobs to maintain support or benefits and, with the ease of applying online these days, this is relatively simple to do, even if the applications aren’t appropriate.

Of more relevance though was the second event, which was the output from an employment session run by a colleague of mine at a recent RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) fighting blindness weekend. Just a few or the work related problems raised were:

  • Where do I get information about training and re-skilling?
  • Feeling hopeless during interviews when trying to convince employers that you are just as capable as the next person.
  • Government schemes to get people into work are often not accessible to people with a disability.
  • I don’t know how my employer will react when I tell them about my deteriorating sight.
  • There is little information to support employers
  • One bad experience can put off employers from then taking on another person with a disability.
  • Access to work support is getting more and more difficult to obtain and the support is often of poor quality.

This is only a flavour of the discussion, which also included looking at solutions. But it does show that with 70% of Vision Impaired people of working age not in employment (and that’s the best estimate), that there is an undoubted need for the sight loss sector to provide collaborative advice and support. I am absolutely not promoting positive discrimination, but assistance with obtaining and maintaining a job will clearly help reduce the startling statistic of blind and partially sighted people who are currently unemployed.

I am sure we will return to this topic in a future Blog!