Tag Archives: blindness

Cyprus with Seable and VICTA

For this week’s blog, we are sharing a blog by Elin, a young visually impaired blogger who had been on holiday with Seable to Cyprus. Below is Elin’s experience.

 

Cyprus with Seable and VICTA

 

I was recently lucky enough to spend the week in Cyprus on a trip organised by VICTA Children and Seable Holidays. Along with nine other visually impaired people and four sighted guides, I spent a week making the most of everything Cyprus has to offer; from sun bathing to pottery making we did it all!

 

The trip

 

Though it could appear daunting to go on holiday with a group of people you may never have even met before, I can say from personal experience that VICTA and Seable are so welcoming and friendly that the atmosphere of their trips are great from the get go. The ethos of VICTA trips is to encourage as much independence as possible, so while sighted volunteers are on hand to guide where needed, they also encourage us to help ourselves and each other as much as possible.

 

Upon arriving in sunny Cyprus after a stress free flight, we made our way to the hotel and spent the rest of that day orienting ourselves around the building, our rooms and most importantly the pool, before having dinner at a local restaurant.

 

Our first full day in Cyprus was our chance to try some arts and crafts. We visited a local centre where we learned from local artists all about glass making, tapestry, mosaics and much more. We also were able to try our hands at a bit of pottery and magnet making ourselves. Personally, the pottery instructor told me that he’d never met anybody as terrible at pottery as me, so I won’t be taking up that career any time soon but I’m glad to say that others in the group had better luck. We finished off the day with an afternoon on the beach and more wonderful food.

 

The next day was all about Paphos, as we explored the archaeological park in the morning and roamed the harbor in the afternoon. This was personally one of my favourite days of the trip as I was just blown away learning about the history of the ancient ruins and local mythology. The House of Dionysus, one of the ruins we visited, was extremely accessible having braille information and small scale tactile representations of the mosaics. That evening myself and a few others decided to sample the local delicacy of maze, which consists of lots of small dishes being brought out to share among the table. The food was stunning, though I think we were all more than full by the end. I believe we got up to ten courses all in all!

 

The following morning we waved goodbye to Paphos and made our way to Troodos where we’d spend the rest of the week,not forgetting to stop for a wine tasting on the way. The afternoon was spent hiking on Troodos mountain lead by a local guide. The weather was fantastic and the nature beautiful, the views weren’t half bad either so I’m told 😉

 

For our last full day in Cyprus we visited a local botanical garden, a sweets factory and rose factory. The botanical gardens were again beautiful, full of all sorts of fantastic wildlife. The sweets shop was a sweet-tooth heaven; jams, marmalade and sweets of all kind, all home made and made from local produce. And of course the rose factory was fascinating. Not only did it smell beautiful, but the owner who came to speak with us about her business was obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about her work and was extremely accommodating in letting us feel and sample all of the different products they produce. I just couldn’t resist spending my remaining euros in their gift shop and I got some lovely suveneers.

 

All in all it was a very relaxed trip, full of fun and laughter. I can definitely say that I’ve come away from the week with great memories and really good friends. I would absolutely recommend VICTA and Seable to anyone for their services, information about which I’ll post below.

 

Who are VICTA and Seable?

 

VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Taking Action) are a national charity serving visually impaired children and young adults and their families. They organise residential weekends and international trips throughout the year that are intended to raise the independence and confidence of young VI people. I’ve been attending VICTA events since I was around 15 and have made countless friends and made fantastic memories through the experiences I’ve had with them. They plan activities for a range of age-groups, from family weekends for young children and their families to international trips for 18 to 30 years old like the one I attended to Cyprus. Check out their website for more information: http://www.victa.org.uk

 

Seable is an award winning social enterprise organising accessible and active holidays for individuals, couples, families and small groups. They can arrange trips to a number of locations including Sicily, Slovenia and Roam and will tailor your holiday to your spesific access needs. They are an invaluable service for those of us who have disabilities but who also want to see the world by going on fun, interactive and relaxed trips where your disability won’t stop you from doing anything. So far I’ve attended two Seable trips including the recent one to Cyprus, but fully intend to go on many more and would recommend anyone who likes to travel and who has a disability to consider them before booking your next holiday because I promise you won’t regret it. Click on the link below to check out their website: http://www.seable.co.uk

By Elin

https://seemyway.org/

You can get in touch with Elin @ williamselin5@gmail.com. When emailing, please put ‘See My Way’ in the subject line which will help her respond to you sooner.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

For this week’s blog, we have asked VICTA to tell us about their latest trip with SEABLE, when we explored the REAL Cyprus. Here’s the account of their experience:

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

 

For VICTA’s first international trip of 2017 we travelled to the beautiful island of Cyprus.  This was a dual location trip, with the first half spent on the coast in Paphos and the second half in the Troodos mountain range.

 

After a very early morning and a long day travelling, our group were thrilled to spend a relaxing afternoon by the pool in the sun. This was a great chance for the group to carry on getting to know each other, and catch up with old friends. In the evening we went out for a traditional meze style dinner. We were able to sample all the classic Cypriot dishes, including halloumi, lamb stews and moussaka.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Trying our hands at traditional pottery making

 

 

For our first full day in Cyprus, we visited ‘The Place’, a traditional Cypriot art and craft workshop. Here, we are able to meet some local crafters and have a look at what they produce. One item of particular interest was a traditional weaving loom. Participants were able to feel the thread and the shape and size of the loom, to get an idea of how weaved items are created.

 

After exploring the workshop, we were able to have a go at making our own mosaic fridge magnets. This was a really fun activity and resulted in a very personal memento of the trip. Then it was time to meet the potter’s wheel! This was a first for most of the group, and resulted in a lot of laughter and some very nice looking pots. The afternoon provided more opportunities for leisurely Cypriot gastronomic delights, and soaking up the lovely Mediterranean sunshine.

 

For our last day in Paphos we visited the Paphos Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spent several hours exploring the site, learning about the Roman Mosaics and remains of Roman Villas. One member of the group even did a short performance for us in the ancient Odeon! After a delicious lunch (seafood of course), we enjoyed a wonder around the old harbour and had a chance to do some souvenir shopping.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Paphos Archaeological Park

 

On Saturday we set off for Troodos, calling in at a winery, where it would have been rude to turn down the complimentary Commandaria tasting. After lunch, we went for an energetic hike through the beautiful Troodos mountain range, experiencing new sights, smells and sounds.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Hiking high in the Troodos Mountains

 

The following morning we set off to Troodos Botanical Gardens to learn more about the geographical significance of the area. There were plenty more plants to feel and smell, and it made for an interesting comparison to botanic gardens in the UK. In the afternoon we visited a rose factory, and discovered more uses for rose oil than we could have ever imagined! This of course led on to another retail therapy opportunity.

 

All too soon the trip was over and it was time to go home. For half of the group this was their first VICTA international, and for one of those it was his first time ever on an aeroplane! It was great to explore this fabulous country together, and to witness old connections being strengthened, and new friendships being created. Not long until we get to do it all over again in Sicily!

 

By Felicity Poulton
Lead Activities Coordinator VICTA

 

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

 

When Seable took on Thailand – Accessible Holidays for Blind and Visually Impaired – Part 3

Seable has been on an incredibly exciting mission for the last 3 weeks to our new destination; Thailand.

The team from Seable that went on this journey was myself Emma, Holiday Tailoress and CEO Damiano La Rocca.  We set out on this trip with one mission…..TO COME BACK WITH AN EXCITING ACCESSIBLE HOLIDAY THAT WE CAN OFFER TO THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED.  I, myself could not wait to get started and show all that we had to offer upon our return.

So here is the third and final part of our trip to Thailand:

 

Day 8

 

After making eggs for breakfast we said our goodbyes to the owners who had made us feel so welcome and started the 3-half hour journey back to Chiang Mai. On the way, we stopped for food at a village restaurant and had local Thai dishes and watched the storm that was happening outside.  It was a great day for ravelling as it rained all day. We eventually arrived at our destination and had the afternoon free to explore the city of Chiang Mai.  It was a massive city with lots to explore including a blind Thai massage place.  This of course was something that we had to go to and it was brilliant.

 

 

Day 9

 

Picked up at 6.30am we went in a mini bus with the company Dumbo and we drove for 1 hour up into the mountains of Chiang Mai to see elephants.  It was my most favourite part of the trip, they were free and happy and it was an absolute privilege to get to be near such fantastic creatures.  It is something that we would absolutely love for our clients to experience. We did half a day trip, which we felt was more than enough time to get to see the elephants and they also provided a yummy lunch before they drove us back to our accommodation.

 

After packing up and freshening up we made our way to Chiang Mai train station and said bye to Jimi who was a brilliant tour guide.  He was so knowledgeable and attentive during the whole trip. We then boarded the overnight train back to Bangkok.

 

 

Day 10

 

Arriving early in the morning we were met by a member of Nutty adventures team who took us to the Hotel De’Moc which was a lovely surprise.  We had a free day to rest and then get ready to meet everybody to start the Southern part of the trip.

 

So, we spent the day resting by the beautiful hotel pool, getting excited to meet the group later that evening. We met them all at 6pm and they took us for a lovely local meal that evening and it was a great way for us all to get to know each other.  We all went to bed very excited knowing that the next day we get to explore southern Thailand.

 

 

Overall I think that Northern Thailand was fantastic with so much to offer to everybody.  It is very accessible in many ways and I can’t wait to bring clients to Thailand.  It was a trip of a lifetime and one that I believe many would find it hard to beat.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

When Seable took on Thailand – Accessible Holidays for Blind and Visually Impaired – Part 2

Seable has been on an incredibly exciting mission for the last 3 weeks to our new destination; Thailand.

The team from Seable that went on this journey was myself Emma, Holiday Tailoress and CEO Damiano La Rocca.  We set out on this trip with one mission…..TO COME BACK WITH AN EXCITING ACCESSIBLE HOLIDAY THAT WE CAN OFFER TO THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED.  I, myself could not wait to get started and show all that we had to offer upon our return.

So here is the second part of our trip to Thailand:

Day 4

 

We woke at 6am to go a see a celebration with the monks in the local temple.  This was a very spiritual experience and something that I felt very lucky to be part of. We then went back to the home stay to have breakfast. After breakfast, we got picked up outside the house by a longtail boat and went on a boat cruise to the Island City of Ayutthaya.  The boat was great to feel the breeze and splashes of water on such a hot day and to also get to see the different houses all along the riverside.  After 30-minute boat trip we arrive at our day room, dropped our bags off and headed out on a cycling tour of the Historical Park.  Trust me when I say I was slightly anxious about cycling in 35 degrees but I am so glad that I did it.  It was such a great way to get to visit all the sights around the city.

 

 

After freshening up back in the day room and picked up our bags we headed to the train station-picking up food from the street stalls on the way-we waited for our overnight train to Chiang Mai.  This is where Nun said her goodbyes and saw us off on the train for our 13-hour journey.  She was a fantastic tour guide with great knowledge of the city and we thoroughly enjoyed having her as our tour guide.

 

I have never been on an overnight train before and was unsure as to what to expect but it over exceeded my expectations.  It was new and very clean, with surprisingly comfy beds. I had a great night’s sleep.

 

 

Day 5

 

Arriving in Chiang Mai at half 7 in the morning we were greeted by our next tour guide Jimi.  He then drove us for 3 and half hours to Chiang Khum, stopping on the way to visit local sites.  We went to Amphoe Wang Nuea waterfall and the local hot springs, Mae Kahjan Geyser.  When we arrived at Chiang Khum, went to the local guesthouse where we would be staying that evening, dropped our bags off and headed out to go and visit the local temple and experience the ‘Tai Lue’ culture and way of life.

 

That evening we went to a local’s home and had a traditional ‘kantok’ dinner which is a traditional northern dinner at Baan Tha Sop Van.

 

 

Day 6

 

We woke at 6am and walked into the local village to go and see how the villages work in the morning.  We got to help a woman make her local rice crackers, which I thoroughly enjoyed-albeit I was not very good at it but she was so friendly and smiled through the whole experience. We then walked through the rest of the little village and visited a small local market where we tried sticky rice that had been cooked in bamboo and was Damiano’s favourite from then on.

 

Back at the local guesthouse we had a ‘American breakfast’ and then went back to the house where we had the meal the evening before.  She had invited us back as she asked if she could dress us up in traditional clothing for the ‘Tai Lue’ culture.  This will be something that I will never forget-we were dresses up in the beautiful clothing and I also got some fantastic jewellery place d on me, which was very exciting.  Many locals were there and it then felt like a photo shoot, with us standing, sitting to then us sitting on the bed to being in the kitchen pretending to cook dinner.  Not only was it something that was a once in a life time experience but it was funny.  I felt incredibly lucky to be stood there and with the opportunity we were given.

 

Once we were changed we went downstairs of this wonderful home and they did weaving to make clothing and bags plus much more.  So we got the chance to see how they made the clothes that we had the opportunity to try on.

 

 

Saying good bye to the wonderful people we got in the car and drove up into the mountains to go and visit the Buddha images carved into the cliffs at a cave temple.  This was fantastic and would be brilliant for our clients as it was all touchable and very tactile.

 

We drove to our next home for the evening in Baan Dok Bua, which was a very modern homestay owned by a doctor and a nurse from the local hospital.  They were wonderful friendly people who made us feel right at home.  We quickly got freshened up and changed ready to go on a sunset Gondola cruise on Payao Lake.

 

 

Day 7

 

We woke early for a walk around the local village and we saw a 500 year old tree, which is very special to the village.  After our walk we had breakfast and then set off for a tractor tour of the community and it was a great way for us to see how the village has come to win national awards for the best self-sufficient village economy.  It was clear to see why, from the farmer fields, a family that produced gas from the rice shells and basket weaving.  With the tractor, they then took us up into the mountain and we went on a jungle walk.  The noises from all the insects was incredibly loud.  With hundreds of insects all around, it was a moment where you must take a minute to realise where you are and take it all in.  It was so dense and green and I loved every second.  It would also be such an amazing thing or our clients as the noises of the jungle were just incredible.

 

We had a picnic in the forest which was made by one of the locals for us and we instantly added it onto the list of things for our clients to do.  Fantastic. We then slowly made our way back to the homestay where we cooked dinner together with the owners.  She gave us a basket and some scissors and took her into her garden, where we picked some vegetables and used then in our dinner.  It was so fresh and tasty and amazing to see how they are so self-sufficient.  We had and early night as the next day we were to make our way back to Chiang Mai.

 

 

To be continued…..

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

How To Prepare Your Home After A Visual Impairment Diagnosis

After a visual impairment diagnosis, it’s important to think about how it will affect your daily life and all the changes that will need to be made to your living space. It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you sit down and make out a list of your daily activities, you’ll be able to see easily which changes need to be made and start working out a budget for any modifications.

 

Here are some of the best tips to help get you started.

 

Use color

Home_visual_impairment_diagnosis

Painting the railings a color that contrasts with the wall will be helpful.

 

If you have stairs in your home, it will be important to modify them in a simple way to make them a little safer to navigate. For instance, painting the railings a color that contrasts with the wall will be helpful, as well marking the edges of the individual steps with brightly colored tape. You might also consider installing small, battery-operated lights on the facing of each stair step–think of the ones in movie theaters–to help you find them easily in the dark.

 

Change up the lighting

 

Home_after_visual_impairment_diagnosis

Use sheer curtains or light-filtering mini blinds if you want a little privacy.

 

 

Lighting is very important for individuals with a vision impairment. Natural light typically works best, so make good use of the windows in your home. Use sheer curtains or light-filtering mini blinds if you want a little privacy. It’s also a good idea to make sure there are floor lamps and desk lamps near your workspaces or the most used areas of your home, and add lighting to stairways, hallways, the pantry, and closets. Banish those shadows, which can be tricky to navigate.

 

Get organized

 

Home_after_visual_impairment_diagnosis

Paint light switch plates a dark color if you have white walls.

 

It’s imperative to get organized. Cabinets, drawers, and closets should be neat, with a place for everything. You can get sliding racks and shelving to make it easier to find items in the back; place like items with each other and consider using a braille label maker to mark the shelves. Keep cleaning supplies well away from any food items, and, if possible, refrain from storing items on high shelves so you won’t have to use a step stool.

You can use texture and contrasting colors to make important things easier to find; for instance, it might be useful to paint light switch plates a dark color if you have white walls; white tape on black stove controls will help you easily see the settings when cooking.

 

Make safety a priority

 

Home_after_visual_impairment_diagnosis

Furnitures without sharp edges are great protection to people living in the house.

 

If you live alone, safety should be high up on your list of priorities. Keep a fire extinguisher in each room, and make sure all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries.

Clear any clutter from your home and make sure walkways, hallways, and main living areas are easy to walk through, with no obstructions such as large pieces of furniture. Throw rugs aren’t advisable, but if you do have them, make sure they’re tacked down to the floor beneath to prevent trip hazards.

 

Consider a service dog

 

Home_after_visual_impairment_diagnosis

Service dogs are wonderful companions.

 

Service dogs are wonderful companions and can be trained for a number of tasks, including keeping you safe on walks and being helpful around the house. It’s not cheap to train a dog for this service, however, so you need to be absolutely sure you’re ready for the commitment before making the decision to acquire one.

 

Originally published by Zoomax on http://www.zoomax.co/low-vision-information/Prepare-Home-After-Visual-Impairment-Diagnosis.html Special thanks for you!

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

10 of the best apps for people with disabilities – on Android

We all have our challenges in life – physical, mental and emotional. Some are bigger, some are smaller, and some need more assistance than others to overcome. These ten apps use modern technology to enrich the lives of people with disabilities – allowing everyone to be able to use your smartphone the same way as everybody else. Today we’ll discuss some of the best disabled apps and accessibility apps for Android.

 

Assistive-Touch-Accessible-App

Assistive Touch

[Price: Free / $0.99] Assistive Touch is an app that gives you virtual buttons. These virtual buttons allow you to navigate your device without having to touch it. It comes with a virtual home button, volume buttons, back button, take screenshots and more. It’s made for those who are physically disabled. Unfortunately, it has a variety of useless features as well, such as RAM cleaning, boosting, and other features. We highly recommend you don’t use those.

 

Commandr-App-Accessible

Commandr

[Price: Free] Google Now is already a very powerful tool. You can use it to send texts without typing anything, open apps, search the web, and call people. With Commandr, you can expand the usability of Google Now to include things like turning on a flashlight (if your device has an LED flash), toggling various functions (e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi), and even add your own custom commands using Tasker. Being able to automate many tasks via voice commands has the potential to help those with physical disabilities get around their device more easily and with less frustration. Note, you will need Google Now on your device for this to work. It’s one of the better disabled apps on Android.

 

 

Google-Talkback-App-Accessible

Google TalkBack

[Price: Free] Google Talkback is an accessibility feature that is built into Android to help those who are visually impaired. Once activated using the Accessibility option in the Settings menu, Google Talkback will help the visually impaired interact with their devices. It’s pretty based compared to most disabled apps and accessibility apps. It adds things like vibration, spoken, and audible feedback. The idea is to help you understand what’s happening on your device better. It’s not the end-all-be-all of solutions. However, it is pre-installed on your device so you might as well try it!

 

Google-Translate-App-Accessible

Google Translate

[Price: Free] Google Translate is a very powerful app. However, most would think that it’s only good for travelers going to distance countries. You can do a lot more with a little creativity. Perhaps its best featured for the disabled is its ability to listen to spoken word and put it into text. This can be a great way for deaf people to communicate with those who don’t know ASL. It’s not as targeted as other disabled apps and accessibility apps. It’s still a good option, though.

 

Help-Talk-App-Accessible

HelpTalk

[Price: Free] HelpTalk is an app that can help assist in communication. It’s designed for those who are unable to communicate orally or through written word. It features a basic default profile that has a list of basic sentences and phrases. You can also create your own profile with whatever phrases you want. It uses a TTS engine for the speech and it is available in 12 languages. You can even use it to configure an emergency phone number, an emergency message, and an SOS button that will text a certain number if someone needs help. It’s one of the better disabled apps that we’ve found.

 

IFTTT-App-Accessible

IFTTT

[Price: Free] IFTTT stands for “if this, then that”. It’s an app that helps you set up automated actions. It can be used for a variety of things, including reading your text messages out loud, turning off your lights (if you have the right equipment), and all kinds of other stuff. With a bit of investment, you can make most of your house compatible with IFTTT which can make life a whole lot easier. However, it does take some work. The app is completely free. You can also find recipes for IFTTT with a simple Google Search.

 

JABtalk-App-Accessible

JABtalk

[Price: Free] JABtalk is an app designed to help non-verbal adults and kids communicate. With it you can build sentences from words, organize words into user-defined categories, import pictures and audio, and it even has text-to-speech capabilities. There’s also a backup feature  With it, you can make sure to transfer your settings to a new device.. It essentially turns any Android device into an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device. It’s also completely free. It’s one of the lesser-known disabled apps. The only downside is that it has a few bugs here and there.

 

 

NotNav-App-Accessible

NotNav

[Price: Free / $31.27] NotNav GPS Accessibility is an app that was reportedly made by blind people, for blind people. It is a simple GPS navigation app that helps those walking around while blind. It will continually announce things like the nearest street address, your compass heading, nearby crosswalks and roads, and any other waypoint that you define. It’s a pretty solid and simple app. You can buy the full version for $31.27. The full version includes turn-by-turn directions as well. It’s about as good as it gets in this space.

 

Tecla-App-Accessible

Tecla Access

[Price: Free] Tecla Access is another accessibility app. It works kind of like a keyboard except you can use it all over the device to do all sorts of things. Most device functions and applications should be accessible. It’ll take you a few minutes to set up as well. There are also some bugs that can be annoying. Be sure to watch out for those. However, it’s still pretty good.

 

 

Voice-Access-App-Accessible

Voice Control

[Price: Free] Voice Access is an app by Google. It’s for those who have physical disabilities. It utilizes the power of Google’s Voice Search to help you control your device. You can say things like “go back” or “go home” to navigate your phone. Additional commands includes “scroll down”, “click next”, and you can type with it. The app is in beta so there will almost certainly be bugs and issues that you’ll face. However, Google should make it better. Keep an eye out!

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

 

Trip to Iceland for Visually Impaired

Holidays for partially sighted and blind travellers.

We have just returned from one of the best trip of the year and possibly in the history of Seable.

Let’s hear it from the participants:

Stacey: I had such an amazing time in Iceland. Did amazing things, saw amazing sights and met amazing people! Thanks for making a great time lovelies ❤️.

Warren: Last week I had an absolutely fantastic time in Iceland, a really beautiful, unique and strange country, on a Victa Milton Keynes trip with a group of people who gelled fantastically well, it was a pleasure spending the week with them. I have had so many unforgettable experience is, being absolutely drenched and freezing cold on Europe’s largest glacier, on a day when most other ttreks were cancelled, visiting some spectacular scenery and landscapes such as going behind a waterfall, visiting what must be the worlds largest warm, outdoor bath, the blue lagoon, smelling lots of smelly sulphur pits, seeing some active geysers, going to The worlds largest penis museum that did not disappoint me and much more. I was lucky enough to try some unique food, the fermented shark tasted like blue cheese but 100 times more intense, puffin, reindeer burger and much more. It is definitely a country I want to go back to and I went with a group of people I want to keep in touch with

Lucy: My Icelandic adventure with the most amazing people! Can’t thank Victa Milton Keynes and Seable Disabled Holidays enough for this amazing trip! Will never forget some of the beautiful things i’ve seen!

Rachel: Iceland was amazing with the best people <3

Alex: I’m jotting this down in the car on the way back at the airport. It’s been an amazing week in Iceland and seems a shame be over. We’ve seen some of the most amazing sights, and experienced unbelievable adventures. But the thing that’s made this trip is the group we were with. I was asked the other day is it hard to volunteer and when your out with people like this never!
Thank you for having me and letting me join in the fun!

Some shots of the trip:
29

tactile map of iceland

tactile map of iceland

Bionic Eyes – a Solution to Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Sufferers of age-related macular degeneration were given new hope last month after 80-year old pensioner Ray Flynn, an AMD sufferer, was able to see clearly for the first time in eight years after being fitted with a bionic eye. Mr Flynn had dry age-related macular degeneration, which had led to the total loss of his central vision. He was unable to make out the faces of his loved ones, and had had to give- up gardening, as well as going to see his beloved Manchester United play. His new eye was fitted during a four-hour procedure at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

This was the first time a bionic eye had been implanted in a patient with age-related macular degeneration, a condition which affects 500,000 people in the UK. The eye, known as the Argus II implant and manufactured by the US firm Second Sight, had previously been used to restore vision to patients who were blind as a result of the condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. The eye works via a camera attached to glasses worn by the patient. This visual feed is then converted into electrical pulses, and transmitted wirelessly to a retinal implant inside the bionic eye. This implant then stimulates the remaining undamaged cells in the patient’s retina, which send the information to the brain, where it is interpreted as vision. This serves to restore the central vision that age-related macular degeneration sufferers often lose.

Bionic eye for age-related macular degeneration

Ray Flynn’s bionic eye – Image courtesy of Sky News

Sky News reported:

“Now Mr Flynn will be able to read recipes without a magnifying glass, recognise the faces of his family and friends and, while wearing the special glasses, he will even be able to see with his eyes shut.

Mr Flynn had the system turned on for the first time on 1 July and says that, while he is slowly getting used to how it works, it is already improving his life.

“Before, when I was looking at a plant in the garden, it was like a honeycomb in the centre of my eye. That has now disappeared: I can now walk round the garden and see things.

“It has definitely improved my vision but I haven’t been out and about on a bus yet. I don’t think I will for a little while.”

His brother Pete, 77, said they were looking forward to the beginning of the Premier League season with the new sight aid.”

You can read the rest of the article here: http://news.sky.com/story/1523111/world-first-bionic-eye-gives-hope-to-millions

Living with Age-Related Macular Degeneration: 7 Tips

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common eye condition and the leading cause of vision impairment in the UK, affecting up to 500,000 people. The condition is most common in people over 50, and it is estimated that one in every 10 people over 65 have some degree of AMD.

AMD causes damage to the macula, the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision. As a result, a blurred area at the centre of vision is a common symptom. Over time, this blurred area may grow larger, and objects may not appear as bright as they used to be. This can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to recognise faces, drive, read, write, cook and do chores around the house.

Image courtesy of University of Washington

Image courtesy of University of Washington

Currently, no medical or surgical cure exists for age-related macular degeneration. Coping with the vision loss can be a painful process, as everyday tasks become difficult to do. However, although you may not be able to restore your vision, plenty of services, tools and techniques are available to empower you to make the most of what you have. AMD does not mean you will no longer be able to enjoy the company of friends and family, or carry out projects, or indulge in your hobbies: plenty of sufferers continue to lead active, independent, and fulfilling lives. Here are 7 tips and recommended adjustments for making the most out of your vision.

1. Draw support from groups and professionals around you.

Research has shown that people with age-related macular degeneration who participate in support groups or self-help programmes do much better than those who simply go it alone. Visit a specialist in low vision, who can give you devices and learning skills to help you with everyday tasks. Your GP or optometrist should be able to refer you to one. Here are some good questions to ask your eye specialist:

  • – How can I continue my normal, daily routine?
  • – Are there any resources or special devices to help me with everyday tasks?
  • – What training and services are available to help me around and outside the house?

You could also ask them to refer you to a professional counselor, or support group. Alternatively, if you live in England, you can also use this online search from the NHS to find visual impairment services near you. You may find it encouraging to find others with the same situation, to voice your feelings, share useful information, and gain emotional support. Finally, stay engaged with family and friends: not only do they form a support network, they are also important for your general wellbeing. A common frustration of AMD sufferers is the inability to recognise other people: if so, tell people you know to say hi and tell you their name when they meet you, so that you can recognise them.

2. Make use of the range of low vision aids available.

There are plenty of aids and electronic systems available for the visually impaired. Some of these include:

  • • Reading glasses with high-powered lenses
  • • Handheld magnifiers
  • • Computers with large-print and speech-output systems
  • • Large-print reading materials
  • • Talking watches, clocks, and calculators
  • • Computer aids and other technologies, such as CCTV magnifier, which uses a camera and television to enlarge printed text

Not every aid works for everyone, so ask your eye specialist and use your own experience to figure out which ones best suit you.

You may also wish to develop a technique known as “eccentric viewing”: this involves identifying an are of your retina that retains reasonable functionality, and is as close to the central part of the macula as possible in order to maximise detail, and learning to use this effectively. Click here to find out more about eccentric viewing.

3. Adjust your environment at home accordingly.

It’s a good idea to change up your environment at home to make things comfortable and safe for yourself from day to day. Here are some suggestions for improvements:

  • • Use brighter lighting, including task lamps for reading and up-close activities, and additional lighting in dark hallways and stairways.
  • • Eliminate glare from windows and on your computer wherever possible.
  • • Learn how to be organised, so that everything has its place.
  • • Use contrasting colors to help you navigate your surroundings.
  • • Try to eliminate tripping hazards, such as rugs.

With time, you will create an environment which is organically suited to your needs.

4. Take good care of your general health and wellbeing, through diet and exercise.

Foods rich in antioxidants - Image courtesy of Maja's Diary

Foods rich in antioxidants – Image courtesy of Maja’s Diary

You may not be able to cure your AMD, but you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse.

Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are protective for AMD. They can be found in abundance in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and spring greens, and in fruits and vegetables with a bright colour like peppers, oranges and red grapes. Also eat plenty of fish, 2-3 times a week – fish such as salmon and sardines contain copious amounts of omega 3, a critical nutrient for the heart and eyes. Cut out saturated fats – research has shown that saturated fats contribute to AMD. You can find some healthy recipes at Eyefoods (click here), or order their book.

Depending on how developed your AMD is, and whether you are at high risk for developing advanced AMD, your doctor may also choose to prescribe you a supplement. In particular, a formulation created by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) of concentrated antioxidants and zinc has been shown to help people at high risk of developing advanced AMD keep their remaining vision.

Exercise regularly: aim for three days a week. This pumps up your cardiovascular system, and can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels – both factors which have been linked to AMD.

If you smoke, quit! There is a very strong link between smoking and AMD: smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop AMD. If you already have AMD, smoking can worsen it. Smoking decreases the level of antioxidants and increases the level of oxidants in your body, whilst reducing the amount of oxygen reaching your macula.

5. Take extra precautions when travelling, and do not be afraid to seek help.

Avoid driving in certain conditions: at night, in heavy traffic, or in bad weather. In fact, you may wish to suspend driving until you consult a specialist. You may find the book “Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide to Driving With Low Vision” by Eli and Doron Peli helpful: click here to view it on Amazon.

If you are uncomfortable travelling alone, then seek help – ask family members or friends, or contact your local council for a list of vans, shuttles and volunteer care networks. You may also wish to use public transportation, where there will be attendants who can provide help if needed.

If you’re on holiday, it’s a good idea to put a brightly coloured strap around your luggage for easy identification, and to ask hotel staff for a tour of your surroundings. If you’re travelling alone, try and arrange for someone to help you around: it can be difficult navigating a foreign destination with a visual impairment. Here at Seable we can provide a chaperone to accompany you for the entire length of your holiday, from airport pickup to the final dropoff.

6. Protect your eyes from the sun.

Make sure to protect your eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) light in sunshine. UV light is known to contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration. UV light can pass through clouds, making overcast days just as dangerous as sunny ones.

To protect your eyes, invest in some UV-blocking sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that screen 99-100% of ultraviolet A and B rays. There are sunglasses designed specifically for macular degeneration, which include side panels and a ridge at the top of the glasses so that all light is filtered. You could also have your regular glasses treated with a UV coating – a clear coating which will not interfere with your normal sight. If you aren’t sure about the quality of your UV protection, you can ask your optician to check.

7. Stay positive.

Last but not least, stay positive! Vision loss may cause feelings of loneliness, anxiety, helplessness and depression. Learn how to cope with these by visiting a counsellor or support group. Asking others for help does not mean you are not independent: rather, think of it as taking charge and making use of the resources and networks out there which are available to you. Do not define yourself by your eyes or your vision, and empower yourself to overcome your impairment. AMD does not mean you cannot continue to lead a fulfilling and enjoyable life. With some help from the team here at Seable, you can even go on holiday! Below you can watch our interview with Peter, an 81-year old veteran with AMD who travelled alone with us to Sicily and had the “best holiday of his life”.

Sources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Macular-degeneration/Pages/Introduction.aspx

https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts

http://www.mvrf.org/coping-with-macular-degeneration/tips-and-tricks-from-people-with-macular-degeneration/

http://www.eylea.us/index.php?id=40

TACTILE MUSEUM for visually impaired disabled visitors

Tactile Museum for visually impaired disabled visitors

Tactile Museum for visually impaired

TACTILE MUSEUM – Sicily is the home to one of the world’s best tactile museums specifically for the blind and visually impaired. Areas include a bar in the dark, a sensory garden and a showroom, all suitable for visually impaired disabled visitors. Sicilian artistic and cultural works including monuments, statues and religious artefacts. The tactile material displayed in the museum, means that blind people can experience the items for themselves. In the sensory garden all the smells and scents of Mediterranean plants and flowers are revealed.

Find more infos on our disabled holidays http://www.seable.co.uk/visually-impaired

 

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