Tag Archives: disability community

Travelling with a disability – Public Transports in the UK

Travelling with a disability is never an easy task. That’s why public transports should be on the forefront of helping out. Unfortunately it seems this is not always the case.

 

Southern Rail’s cuts

 

Southern Railway train-Travelling with a disability

Southern Railway train

 

This week we got very concerned upon hearing how train companies in the UK are scrapping help for disable people; especially Southern Rail, that is quietly cancelling ‘guaranteed assistance’ from 33 stations.

 

Transport for All, which campaigns on behalf of disabled passengers, said the company have scrapped their ‘turn up and go’ access at dozens of stations.

 

Before the change was announced, train maps specified the stations where those needing assistance could turn up and travel.

 

Now, the maps on the trains say that if such passengers do not book help in advance, ‘there might be a significant delay to your journey’.

 

A spokesman for Transport For All said: ‘Whether it’s assistance failing to turn up, inaccessible platforms or a lack of accessible facilities on trains, what is clear is that our railways are failing disabled and older passengers.

 

‘Now, to make matters worse Southern Rail have announced that they are withdrawing turn up and go assistance from 33 stations across their network.

 

‘This is clearly a huge backwards step for accessibility.’

 

On the other hand, a Southern spokesman said: ‘Passengers do not have to book assistance before travelling with us.

 

‘We only recommend this to ensure we have staff prepared with ramps or that alternative travel is in place if a station is not accessible. Our priority is to have an on-board supervisor on services which previously had a conductor.’

 

‘In the exceptional circumstances when this is not possible, we have a clear, robust process to ensure passengers with accessibility requirements are assisted to complete their journeys.’

 

Travelling with a Guide Dog on Public Transport

 

Patrick Robert, from Lambeth, is blind and uses his guide dog Rufus to travel around London

 

After hearing about these cuts by major Railways companies we scanned the web where we found some other very interesting first person accounts about difficulties of travelling on public transport, in this case we report an informative account on the difficulties of travelling with a guide dog from Patrick Robert, from Lambeth, who is blind and uses his guide dog Rufus to travel around London.

 

Travelling in London can be a real challenge for people with a visual impairment. Back in 2009 I registered as severely visually impaired (Blind). Since then I have had to adapt myself to the transport network and change my habits. Every time I travel around I’ve got the support from Rufus my guide dog.

 

This change in my life was not always easy. As a result I joined Transport for All in order to get advice and support when using the different public transport modes. “Lack of communications is one of the biggest challenges I face.

 

I often struggle on buses: when you’re speaking to a bus driver they don’t always verbally respond, but probably do a sign which I can’t see. I have had also some bad experience with bus drivers not stopping at the bus stop but a few meters away. Obviously if a bus driver does not stop in front of me, it makes it impossible for me to discuss with them and check the bus number.

 

On the Tube I had a lot of issues following the closure of ticket offices, making it harder for me to find staff to assist me. I need staff in order to travel safely and I need to find them as soon as possible to avoid being targeted by the general public.

 

 

Lack of communications is also an issue with taxis. Once I booked a taxi and told the operator that I was travelling with my guide dog and the driver should ring my doorbell when they arrive. I received a telephone call from the operator telling me that my taxi had arrived and was waiting outside for me. I reminded the operator of my earlier instructions and asked how I was supposed to identify the taxi outside?

 

Five minutes later my doorbell rang as I opened the door the driver was already heading back to his taxi.

 

Locking my front door, Rufus and I walked up to my front gate, only to hear the driver say he cannot take the dog. He proceeded to rant and rave about dogs not being allowed in his taxi. I told him I had advised the operator that I was travelling with a guide dog and he needs to have a go at them and in the meantime I need to get to this council meeting. I could hear him talking on his phone saying he was not prepared to take me. At this point it had started raining and I said to him he was breaking the law by refusing to take us.

 

That seemed to subdue him for he assisted me and Rufus into his cab and during the journey he kept apologising saying his custom and culture does not accept dogs and his company knew this. I told him it is against the law to refuse access to guide dog owners and their guide dog.

 

On another occasion I booked a minicab and told the operator that I was blind and the driver needs to come to my front door and ring my doorbell. The phone rang; it was the driver saying that he could not find my property. I gave him specific directions to my home from the location he described to me. Five minutes later, he rang back and asked me to come outside so he could see where my property was and I could see where he was?

 

I walked outside and waited about ten minutes and then went back in to find four messages on my answer machine from the driver saying he could not see me; he could only see a guy with a white stick, am I anywhere near him? I called him back and told him I was the guy with the white stick.”

 

The interview with Patrick Robert has been taken from the inews.co.uk (https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/travelling-disabled-person-taxi-drivers-try-refuse-take-guide-dog-i/)

 

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

 

World Down Syndrome Day

Today, March 21st, is the World Down Syndrome Day. A day all about recognising how unique those with the condition are. It is by recognising the contributions they can make to the world, and how much they can really achieve, that we can reduce the stigma surrounding disability.

 

 

Down Syndrome International encourages people across the globe to choose activities and events that will raise awareness of what Down Syndrome is, what it means to have the condition, and how people with Down Syndrome play a vital role in our lives.

 

By understanding the issues those with Down Syndrome face in everyday life, and recognising the steps people can take to help them realise their full potential, a real difference can be made to enrich the lives of those with the condition.

 

Today, as the  World Down Syndrome Day reached its 12th birthday, we hope where the voice of people with Down Syndrome, and those who work and live with them, will grows louder.

 

So, let’s celebrate this day with some amazing videos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Clickability, the Australian website giving people with disabilities a strong consumer voice

If you wanted to find out how good that shop is down the road, there’s a bunch of apps and websites that could help you out. But what about if you have a disability and you need to find out if they have the right facilities to suits you best?

 

People with disabilities living in Victoria and New South Wales (Australia) can now do it, and all thanks to Clickability.

Clickability is a new website funded by two Australian women in Melbourne, with the intent of helping people with disabilities find the help they need. How does it work? Simple, it’s an online directory that allows local disability care and support options to be listed, rated and reviewed.

 

Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk both come from a background as social workers (picture: thecusp.com.au)

 

Dubbed by some a “TripAdvisor for disability support services,” the concept developed by Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk is impressive. Their intent is to target anyone affected by a disability and empower them with a unique chance to be able to pick and choose what service really suits them, rather than having to adapt to whatever is on offer.

 

The source of this idea comes from Beecher and Jenna’s background as social workers. They came up with the idea while after noticing that they kept having to reach out to their professional networks or use Google to find support networks for clients.

 

“We were gatekeeping so much information, I was literally calling people I did my Masters with to ask about homelessness services, for example, or domestic violence services,” and also “We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well,” said Aviva.

In few words, Clickability places information on disability services all in one place.

 

 

A key point about the startup is that its mission aligns with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a significant social welfare project for people living with disabilities being rolled out by the Australian government.

Aviva added: ‘We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well.’

Under the NDIS, support services will have to see people with disabilities as customers, she explained.

 

As Aviva pointed out, people with disabilities on the NDIS are in many cases expected to make their own decisions about which support service to choose. “Government money used to go to service providers to distribute services, and it’s now going to individuals to purchase the services that suit themselves,” she explained.

 

 

“Likewise, consumers have to start thinking about themselves as customers. How do I assert my customer rights? How do I articulate what I need? How do I get what I need?”

 

 

Unfortunately, in her view, the information to back up that decision-making is just not there, and it’s certainly not the kind of relevant, reliable peer-generated information that exists in other industries. That’s where Clickability comes in.

 

 

 

To list and rate services is free on Clickability, but subscribers can reply to comments and personalise their page, among other features. The next step in Clickability’s development will be to make it easier to use for visually impaired and blind people.

 

“The big thing for us is how do we make this accessible for people with intellectual disabilities?” says Aviva. “We also collect [reviews] in-person sometimes at conferences and events from people with all sorts of different access needs. It’s really important to us to find a way that everyone can have a voice.”

 

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.

 

 

4 Tips for Modifying Your Home for a Person with a Visual Impairment

Modifying your home for a person with a visual impairment is not an easy task, you need to consider both exterior and interior modifications and accommodations. An accessible home is well lit, clutter free, well organized, and safe. We share four tips for modifying your home to make it as accessible as possible for a person with a visual impairment.

 

 1. Exterior Modifications when modifying your home

Redfin Property published a guide to home accommodations for persons with disabilities

 

This first tip will certainly help you modifying your home for a person with visual impairment. People with low and no vision need to be able to get in and out of your home easily and safely. Redfin’s article on making home accommodations for people with disabilities notes that exterior walkways should be free of tripping hazards such as overgrown vegetation and loose landscaping pavers. It’s even better if the walkways are made of smooth materials such as concrete. Sidewalk lights, outdoor floodlights, and entryway lights should illuminate all traffic areas and be bright without causing a glare or an issue for a light-sensitive person. One solution is to add motion-sensor lights that will turn on as soon as someone walks past so that the person with a visual impairment does not need to worry about finding a switch to turn on exterior lights.

If the entrance to the home includes steps, they should be well lit as well. Handrails should be installed on either side of the steps, and brightly colored tape strips or paint should signal the front edges of steps or stairways.

 

 2. Account for Glare

Install dimmer switches on overhead lights when you modify your home for a person with visual impairment

 

It’s quite common for people with visual impairment to be sensitive to light. Assisting Angels suggests on their website that making home modifications that reduce glare makes it easier for these people to see while inside the home. Install interior window treatments such as pull-down shades and drapes that limit sunlight from entering the home through the top of the window. One option is tinted Mylar shades that allow people to see outside but reduce window glare.

Because shiny surfaces reflect light and produce a glare, remove furniture and other items that have glossy surfaces from the home. Mirrors that reflect light and cause a glare should be covered with a scarf or placed elsewhere in the home. Floors, walls, tables, and countertops may have surfaces that cause a glare, so it is helpful to install dimmer switches on overhead lights and purchase lamps that dim to cut down on glare from these items. You also can cover windows that reflect off these surfaces, or you can place rugs on the floor and runners on countertops to reduce the glare they produce.

 

 3. Organize Closets

Locating clothing becomes less of a hassle if clothing is organized by item

 

People with low or no vision need to be able to locate their belongings efficiently. If areas of the home are cluttered and unorganized, it makes it virtually impossible for people with visual impairment to find what they seek. The Center for the Visually Impaired advises on its blog that one of the first areas of the home to organize are the closets. Locating clothing becomes less of a hassle if clothing is organized by item, with similar types of clothing hanging together or complete outfits hanging together. The goal is to organize the closet in such a way that makes it easy for the person with a visual impairment to find the clothing and accessories they want and ensure they can choose a matching outfit each day.

 

4. Keep Traffic Areas Open

Here the final tip to follow when modifying your home for a person with visual impairment. Decluttering the house is another one of the first steps you’ll want to take when preparing your home for a person with a visual impairment. When items are in their places, it is easier to navigate the home and locate things. While many people think about decluttering closets and drawers, it’s important to declutter main living areas and high-traffic areas in the home to prevent tripping and falling.

Don’t leave items in a place where someone can trip and fall or bump into them. Try to keep items in the same place when they are not in use, and avoid moving household items without informing the person with a visual impairment first.

Another task that will keep traffic areas open is to arrange furniture in such a way as to create a natural flow of foot traffic. Try making small groupings of furniture to promote conversations or placing large pieces of furniture against the walls to create traffic areas inside the home.

If you modify your home both on the inside and the outside, you will make a person with a visual impairment feel more comfortable. Exterior and interior modifications can help a person with a visual impairment feel more at ease and strive to be more independent.

“Article provided by Jackie Waters”

Life in a Wheelchair: Advice from wheelchair users

Life in a wheelchair

Life in a wheelchair is always an extremely difficult thing to come to terms with, both practically and mentally. People may become wheelchair users for all kinds of reasons: an accident, a long-term medical condition, a sudden illness. For everyone this happens to, the sudden and dramatic change in way of life can cause severe feelings of depression, anger and grief. This is a normal reaction: practically everyone who becomes disabled experiences this, but most of those people eventually come to terms with their loss and move forward, rediscovering and reinventing their lives, relationships and happiness. In this blogpost, we look at what wheelchair users from all different walks of life have to say about their own experiences, and what advice they would give to others who are adjusting to life in a wheelchair.

A Positive Attitude

First and foremost, the most important thing to hold on to as part of life in a wheelchair is a positive attitude. Many wheelchairs users stress the importance of a positive attitude as being key to overcoming the challenges in their daily lives. Virali Modi, writer, blogger, and the runner up of Miss Wheelchair India 2014, became a wheelchair user after contracting malaria at the age of 14. In an article for Slate, she writes:

“More than anything, I do believe that living life in a wheelchair is difficult but not impossible. A positive attitude and a smile through tough situations is needed and definitely encouraged. I believe that a handicapped or disabled person is not disabled or handicapped. Disabled or handicapped are sociopaths, psychopaths, murders, rapists, and/or people who lack sympathy, empathy, courage, love, sensitivity, and passion.”

Virali Modi - life in a wheelchair

Virali Modi – Image courtesy of Quora

The superb website Wheelchair LIFE, created and maintained by a wheelchair user, provides a comprehensive, free guide to many aspects of life in a wheelchair, from advice for the newly injured to tips for wheelchair veterans. The most important section on it, according to the writer himself, is his fantastic essay on positive attitude and its importance, which begins with this paragraph:

“The importance of a positive attitude – and its corresponding results – cannot be overstated. This section is first because taking control of your attitude is the most important thing you can do. Attitude is only thing over which we have total control.  We can choose to have a negative attitude or we can choose to have a positive attitude. We can choose to look at the bright side, or we can choose to look at negatives.”

You can read the rest of his essay here – it really drives home the critical importance of attitude for any newly disabled people out there.

Choosing and using a wheelchair

Of course, a central part of life in a wheelchair is using your actual wheelchair. Before you start using one, you need to select a wheelchair which is suited to your own needs and capabilities. Wheelchairs come in many different forms, shapes and sizes: manual, power; rigid, folding; solid back, sling back and so on. In fact, you might use a different wheelchair for different situations: one for everyday use; one for playing sports; one for outdoor adventures. Wheelchair professionals and doctors can help you identify your various needs, and come up with specific types of wheelchairs and accessories to meet those needs.

Penn Woodling, a 46-year old from Bedfordshire, was injured at the age of 17 after diving into an outdoor swimming pool and hitting his head at the bottom of the pool. He was later discovered to have broken his neck at the C5 level and told he would likely spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Nowadays he lives in Devon, and in between his hobbies of angling and amateur radio, he maintains his excellent website, Tetraplegic Living. The website contains many useful tips and assorted personal stories from his life in a wheelchair, from dietary advice to a guide on disabled driving. In this post he gives an account of his wheelchair history: the various electric wheelchairs he chose, their benefits, and drawbacks. It should give you a good idea of what kind of considerations to take into account when choosing a wheelchair, such as seating, reclining capabilities, manoeuvrability, leg support, and what kind of terrain it can handle.

After you’ve selected a wheelchair that suits your needs, you will need to learn to use it well. Of course, you will be taught how to do so as part of the rehabilitation process, but there are many additional skills and tricks you can learn which will enable you to lead a more independent life in a wheelchair. The charity Back Up aims to help those who have suffered spinal cord injuries, and offer courses to teach wheelchair skills to users, which you can find more about here.

Pete Donnelly, who has been a wheelchair user since the age of 19 after a motorcycling accident, works as a wheelchair skills adviser for Back Up. He has a video on the BBC News website where he demonstrates many of these skills, such as proper pushing technique, floor to chair transfer, and back wheel balancing (a very useful technique for going over obstacles such as curbs and steps). You can watch the video by clicking here.

Building healthy relationships

Another aspect of life in a wheelchair that users often emphasise is the social element. Family and friends will play a large part in your recovery, and are key to your everyday well being. Chris Malcolm, founder of the iPush foundation, became a C7 quadriplegic as a result of a car accident. In this article, he recounts the importance of his social network in adjusting to life in a wheelchair:

“‘I can honestly say that I was surrounded the best family and friends that anyone could have asked for. I was lucky that nothing really changed with my friendships. The people that were, and are, my good close friends remain my good close friends and the people that were just acquaintances remain acquaintances.’

Chris’ advice to the newly injured is simple—surround yourself with the people that are always helping you and visiting you when you’re in the hospital.”

Chris Malcolm - Life in a wheelchair

Chris and his daughter – Image courtesy of abilities.com

Chris’ disability has not stopped him from having a love life or family either: he met his wife Andee after the accident at a friend’s house, and now has a young daughter. He recounts how a month before he asked his wife to marry him, he went on a date with her, and was initially disappointed that she did not say anything about his new chair. When he asked her why, she responded: “I don’t think about you being in a wheelchair, so I didn’t notice.” Similarly, the aforementioned writer of WheelchairLife advises: “if, in your relationships, you don’t dwell on the fact that you’re in a wheelchair, it can become a non-issue. If you expect people to treat you the same way they would treat anyone else, and you act accordingly, the stigma goes away.” You can read his analysis of romantic and social dynamics here.

If you’re interested in reading more relationship advice from wheelchair users, Wheel:Life, an online community for wheelchair users, has published an ebook “Reconnecting: Relationship Advice from Wheelchair Users”, available on Amazon. The book contains stories and advice from users as they share their perspective on the social aspect of life in a wheelchair: friends, family and relationships.

What we do at Seable for wheelchair users

Life in a wheelchair will obviously be hugely different from whatever life you had before. However, different does not mean bad. Being disabled will inevitably bring new and difficult challenges, but you should not let that stop you from living a fulfilling life. As the writer of WheelchairLife writes: “Life doesn’t end because you’re in a wheelchair…it just changes”.

We apply that philosophy to just one more aspect of life in a wheelchair: holidaying. Holidays don’t have to end because you’re in a wheelchair, they just change. At Seable we offer a range of holiday packages for wheelchair users. To find out more about them and register your interest, click here, or get in touch with us here.

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

Newest Partner: "Disability Sanctuary"

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Disability Sanctuary – Peer Support

Peer support can be defined as help and support that people with lived experience of disability are able to give to one another.

Our Peer Support Network is distinct as it is being provided by people who have experience of disability for people who are disabled, suffering from a condition or their carers.

How can Peer Support help?

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Newest Partner: "Disability Sanctuary"

disability suppor

Disability Sanctuary – Peer Support

Peer support can be defined as help and support that people with lived experience of disability are able to give to one another.

Our Peer Support Network is distinct as it is being provided by people who have experience of disability for people who are disabled, suffering from a condition or their carers.

How can Peer Support help?

(more…)

10% discount for disabled students of University of Cambridge

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We are always looking for ways in which we can achieve maximum reach to ensure the entire disability community gets to benefit from our disabled access holidays that are designed to help visually impaired, partially sighted, handicapped, wheelchair users, and their friends and family to enjoy a more enhanced holiday experience that can help them learn new skills, boost their confidence, and enjoy social interaction all while enjoying a completely tailored, enabled and active holiday in the gorgeous island of Sicily, Italy. (more…)


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