180,000 blind and partially sighted people find it hard to go out alone – whether that be socially or to work. PAB wants to reduce the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, rebuilding confidence and getting people out of their homes and back into the community. We believe that by educating and informing people who have not experienced sight loss, we will increase awareness and make going out alone easier for thousands of people.
One important part of the work we do is through our training and awareness programs. They are free and can take place at a location which is convenient for you, or at the PAB offices.
Blind and Partially sighted people
The ‘MyGuide’ scheme is a nationwide sighted guide scheme (run in partnership with Guide Dogs) using a team of specially trained volunteers to help people with sight loss get out of their homes and into the community. The aims of this scheme are to reduce the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, and help to rebuild confidence and regain independence. We train our members on how to be guided by someone, how to communicate their needs to the person guiding them and how to overcome difficulties they may face.
Volunteers and Family Members
We offer full training and awareness courses to all of our volunteers because it is important to us that they feel supported and are confident in dealing with blind and partially sighted people in different environments.
Through the ‘My Guide’ training scheme, we can train our volunteers to a national standard of guiding using a mix of techniques to help them understand what life could be like for a blind or visually impaired person and how best to help them. This is usually done over two half days and is free, fun and interesting.
The scheme is also open to friends and family members of blind and partially sighted people who can often unexpectedly become sighted guides with no experience, knowledge or understanding of how scary different environments can be with restricted or no sight. Changes in pavement height or under foot surface can be very off putting and effect the confidence of the person being guided. We like to reverse the roles at our training days so that everyone can feel firsthand how intimidating it can be out in a buy public area.
We have special glasses that simulate different eye conditions, videos, quizzes and lots of practical experiences that are fun to do but make the guides more empathic to the person they are guiding.
Business or work place
In Report number 202 published by the Department for Work and Pensions, 92% of UK employers believe that it is either “difficult” or “impossible” to employ someone with impaired vision. Lack of knowledge of can lead to widespread discrimination. Our training aims to highlight the capabilities of blind and partially sighted people, some of the equipment which enables them to work alongside sighted employees and small changes your business can make it easier for blind and partially sighted people.
If your business, organisation, or work place is visited by blind or partially sighted people, we can provide staff with training and awareness courses in the work place such as our recent training of the Eye Clinic staff, who were often not aware of the needs of our members when attending an appointment.
We aim to ensure staff in any service or retail establishment understand that people with sight loss are able to lead a rich and fulfilling life providing prejudices and discrimination of others do not overwhelm them.
Living with sight loss talks
The PAB’s Living with sight loss programme aims to educate and inform about living with a sight condition. It covers the difficulties blind and partially sighted have to overcome in their everyday lives, to everything that can be achieved. People may not realise they have had contact with someone who has sight loss and are simply not aware of the issues faced and how they might be able to make a difference.
The PAB aims to change this by providing firsthand accounts by our members through talks and question and answer sessions. The talks are tailored for the audience – from young children to teenagers and adults. They usually last for around an hour (including question and answer sessions) and a typical talk might include national and local sight loss statistics, personal accounts of life with sight loss from the speaker, demonstrations of some of the aids and equipment available, equipment such as adapted glasses that simulate the different types of sight loss that the audience can try, and a question and answer session where we are happy to answer any questions. We can also talk about ways you can get involved with the PAB or just how to become more aware of people with sight loss. Here is what Liz Ebbage (PAB volunteer) had to say at one of her annual visits to Peterborough High School :
“The visit was really successful and all the kids enjoyed finding out about our lives. The teacher was great and had been doing lots of pre-work on what life might be like for people with sight loss, looking at people like Helen Keller who was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. All the children had been asked to think about what it would be like for them to lose their sight and what would they would still like to do and achieve. They were particularly interested in how we knew where we were and how we got to different places or ate dinner. There were plenty of amusing questions too like what car do we drive! We also showed them some of the equipment that is available like the liquid level indicator, board games and Braille books that they all enjoyed looking at. I volunteered to give these talks as I think it is important for people to be aware of what other people are coping with and going through” Liz Ebbage
If your family, community group, organisation, business or school would like a visit from one of our members, or would like to receive training and a better understanding on life with sight loss, please contact the office.