Julie Duffy is the Visual Impairment Officer for Portsmouth Library Service, part of Portsmouth City Council (and works closely with the Sensory Impairment and Deaf Services team). Julie runs the visually impaired phone advice line and provides help and guidance on any aspect of vision impairment. Julie has been at Portsmouth CC since 2001 and is completely blind. Many of the people Julie advises are elderly, new to sight loss and nervous of technology. Julie is thrilled to be able to confidently recommend a simple computer solution for email, internet and typing documents.
We are delighted to have another guest blog, this time by Roger Wilson-Hinds, founder of the Georgiephone app. Roger, who has been blind since birth, describes what he sees and suggests simple ways to maximise minimal vision.
Roger says “what I see depends as much on my brain as my eye defect. My brain constantly makes the best guess about what I see. The smallest visual clue can be enough for me to guess or know what I am looking at. I get tired looking – it’s hard work with so few clues and so much effort. And I get tired quickly when trying to sort the detail, especially with reading print and close work”.
We have an informative Guest Blog today by Naomi Dainty, Marketing Manager of Deafblind UK. Naomi writes:
A lady once came up to our stand at a low vision event. She had sight impairments and was wearing two hearing aids, indicating to that she was hard of hearing. She saw that we were representing Deafblind UK and said to me “wouldn’t it be awful to be deafblind, those poor people!” What she didn’t realise was that she herself was actually one of nearly 400,000 deafblind people in the UK.
Which products and services?
The new directive sets out the common standards that need to be achieved, and outlines what needs to become more accessible, such as ticketing machines, ATMs, PCS, smartphones, banking services, eReaders and eBooks, eCommerce services and transport services.
According to the RNIB "Every day 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK. As of 2015, more than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives, such as not being able to drive".
Clearly, as we get older, one of the main conditions that can affect us is problems with eye health. Sight loss can be frightening and depressing, particularly if combined with other age-related health conditions. In addition, seniors can find their social circle shrinking, meaning loneliness can compound the physical problems and mental health issues.
Sight loss affects people of all ages, but as we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss. Almost 1.5 million people aged 65-84, and a further 580,000 aged 85 and over, are living with sight loss in the UK.
Assistive technology is one crucial way for older people to stay living well, safely and happily at home, yet they can be nervous to try new technology and quick to give up if it seems challenging to use.