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Talking Transitions

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Change can be hard on anyone, but particularly so when you are blind or vision impaired. Getting used to new surroundings, new technology or new family circumstances, brings additional challenges. We brought a panel together to discuss different situations they have encountered and how they dealt with transitions in their lives.

School to college / university

Matthew Horspool, AT expert, founder of The Braillists Foundation

I did all of primary and most of secondary in a blind school. It was a small day school in Bermingham with very small classes. My first experience in mainstream was GSCE French and I found it liberating. The pace was faster and I could make different friends because the classes were bigger. However, I found that I didn’t have the social skills to keep up so when I went to the Royal National College for the Blind, I really focused on that.

All the way through blind school, I had to do everything by myself. There was such a focus on independence that when I went to university, I was too focused on rejecting help, when sometimes it would have been a good social opportunity had I accepted.

Deteriorating vision

Jan Bloem, International Sales Manager, Vispero

When I started to lose my eyesight, I wasn’t aware of any assistive technology. I made the room as dark as possible and increased the brightness of my screen as much as possible. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t read the characters anymore.

Then I found the IBM screen reader. I transitioned from not being able to use a computer to total freedom – I could do anything.

David Nason, Accessibility Compliance Lead, Sky

My big transition was very gradual sight loss. I went to a mainstream school and as I got older, I found things more difficult. I couldn’t use computers without assistive technology. That transition – understanding it and coming to terms with it – was huge. I spent a year at the National Council for the Blind’s training centre and that was a game changer for me. I was able to embrace it. Up to that point, I had tried to hide and deny my disability.

Parenthood

Jade McCormack, full time parent

I’m a full-time mammy to a two year old. She totally changed my life and still is. I found that a lot of people were giving me advice that was feared to sighted people, like making a bottle. I can’t see the lines on the bottle to fill up the water. Thankfully there’s a machine that will do that for me! I certainly got some strange comments as a new parent – people wondered how I’d feed the baby and why I was carrying her in a bag (a sling!) or how I could use the cane with her in a sling. But we found our own way through and we still are.

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