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
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
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
[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 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 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.
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.
Make Way For Munich: The Most Accessible City in Europe?
Now is the perfect time of year to take a European city break: the lull between Christmas and spring tends to be one of the quietest times for tourists to travel overseas, and the chilly weather is perfect for wrapping up warm, exploring those famous sites, and drinking hot chocolate on bustling promenades. Thinking of taking a last-minute city break this winter but unsure of where you want to go? You may be lured by the romance of Paris, but its old and dated metro system is an accessibility nightmare (the same can sadly be said for London’s underground) and the cobbled streets of Rome are a nightmare if you are travelling in a heavy electric wheelchair. That doesn’t mean that these cities aren’t accessible with a little planning, but they might not be the ideal first choice for a last minute break. For an easy and hassle free accessible break, why not discover accessible Munich? Its old world charm is coupled with the kind of German efficiency that makes accessible travel here a breeze:
Accessible Public Transport
Discover Munich’s accessible bus
Unlike most other European cities, most than 90% of the underground system in Munich is completely accessible, with access to the stations being entirely barrier free. Whilst the system isn’t extensive (comprising of two lines: the U Bahn (urban line) or S Bahn (suburban line) it goes to all of the major sites you would wish to visit and is a perfectly adequate and affordable way of getting around for a long weekend. If you wish to travel somewhere that is not accessible via the underground trains then the Munich public transport system also features buses and trams. All of the buses in the city are accessible via ramps to the rear doors. The tram system is currently undergoing a modernisation process, so not all of the trams are accessible, but approximately 50% of them are (so far) so if you need to get somewhere on a tram route then it is possible, if slightly inconvenient, to just wait until an accessible tram arrives. Getting around in Munich is perfectly possible then, but where should you be getting around to?
Interesting and Enjoyable Attractions
Augustiner – Keller. Discover Accessible Munich
Munich is an ancient city at the heart of Germany, and one with a rich history, meaning that there are plenty of tourist attractions worth visiting. The famous BMW museum and factory makes for a fascinating visit, and is proud to be fully accessible, as is the Olympic Park: host of the 1972 Olympic games which were sadly largely overshadowed by what is now known as the Munich Massacre. If you are interested in exploring the darker period of German history, under Nazi rule, then you can reach the Dachau concentration camp (the first camp the Nazi’s built) via accessible transportation, and the historic site is also largely accessible when you arrive. Less interested in history and more interested in fun? Munich is infamous for being home to over 400 different beerhalls, and the vast majority of these are proud to be fully accessible. For ease and convenience, why not try the Augustinekeller, which is situated right next door to the central station, and is fully accessible.
Perfectly Practical Considerations
Of course, disabled travellers also need to consider the practical aspects of their breaks, including the availability of decent healthcare, should something go wrong, and the accessibility of the airport. The healthcare in Germany is highly regarded as being amongst the best in the world, and whilst it is always recommended that you travel with your own health insurance (particularly when you have pre-existing conditions) our membership of the European Union (for as long as that lasts) means that with a valid E111 card, your treatment here is free. And as for the airport? Well it’s time to think of that clichéd German efficiency again, because Munich airport is fully accessible and boasts a wide array of excellent transport links into the city, making it easy for travellers with accessibility concerns to take a last minute trip without having to spend hours worrying about how they will get from A to B. So, Discover Accessible Munich! “This is an article sent in by Sally Dacre”
Summer’s almost over. We’ve drank the country’s Pimms supply dry, had some wonderful days out and are wishing we could get one last holiday in before the leaves start to fall and that long British winter sets in. For some families though the end of summer doesn’t just mean frantically getting in those last few nights in the beer garden, it also means ‘back to school’ is looming. This can be a stressful time for any parent, and for parents of disabled children there are always a few extra worries added on top:
“Will my child get the right support they need to learn?”
“Will the school be accessible?”
“Will other children understand their condition?”
Obviously this is a very important and large topic that needs a lot of consideration, but here are a few tips for parents of disabled children who are worried about them going back to school.
I’m sure as parents you’re all already over this so I won’t write too much, but it’s always important to research before your child begins at school. If your child has a physical disability then this can be things like how accessible is the school and what transport provisions they have in place for disabled children. If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), they will be entitled to extra educational support in schools. To learn more about that then the NHS has a good guide here and governmental guidelines for assistance for disabled children (it covers both physical and mental impairments) can be found here.
If your child is just starting school then just chat with them about it before they go. Explain what will happen, tell them about the fun you had at school to ease their nerves, remind them of how much they enjoy learning new things at home. When they start school ask them to tell you about their day and how they’re finding it all. Similarly try to have regular catch ups with teachers to see how your child is doing. Try to make a note of these chats so you can spot any patterns emerging. For example you may notice an unexplained change in your child’s mood consistently coincides with a certain class, and you may want to gently ask if there’s something wrong with that class that they haven’t been mentioning.
If your child is a bit older, say about to begin their GCSE’s or A Levels, then they probably have a stronger understanding of their needs and how their condition affects their school life. Try to have an open and honest discussion with them about this and the things that they, you and the school can all do moving forward. This may be difficult to engage (teenagers are famously always open for honest chats with their parents after all, they love them even more than memes), however it will also show that you trust your child, respect their opinion and want them to have more independence with their education. Hopefully this will give them more confidence and ownership of their learning, and it will ensure any issues with the schooling setup can be rectified early in the year.
Visit the school before the first day of term so your child can be comfortable about where they’re going for classes and get used to the environment. Encourage them to ask any questions that they may be worrying about in the new environment, for example even small worries like ‘what do I do if I need the bathroom during class?’ or ‘where can I go on break if I don’t want to go outside?’ can build anxiety. Encouraging your child to be curious before school starts can help them relax and take away some of the worry.
Start getting into the morning routine a week or two beforehand to get your child into the mindset. Maybe do a few practices of the school run and then go on to the park or to get a small treat, so that your child becomes comfortable with the school run and doesn’t immediately associate it with stress.
Improving technologies have opened up a whole host of new and accessible methods for learning, and these have been particularly useful for parents of disabled children. For example if your child struggles at taking notes in class (this could be for many reasons, such as struggling to concentrate on writing for long periods or maybe physically not being able to keep up), then you could get a voice recorder (you can pick one up for about £10 on Amazon). This way your child can record the teacher’s lesson (with their permission of course) and you can tell them not to worry too much over taking notes, and to just focus on listening, understanding and asking questions. Then after school you can both listen to the class and take notes together. This will also help you keep on top of any homework assignments.
Similarly if your child struggles with reading books (again this could be for a few different reasons, such as an attention issue or a visual impairment), then there are numerous other ways for them to learn. There are some great online resources, educational games, audio books and videos that you can use to help with homework. Obviously some of them do cost a bit of money, but there a lot of free documentaries and educational videos on YouTube that you can watch together. You could also use YouTube as a reward system. If they watch an educational video you picked then they get to pick their favourite funny video for you both to watch next.
Remember Attitudes Are Improving
Progress is most certainly being made and attitudes towards disabled children in school are improving. Just look at this story from a few weeks ago. A young autistic boy from Liverpool was sent a letter from a teacher at his school after his SAT results. The letter said, “I am writing to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs. A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.”
The teacher went on to list things that the exams didn’t measure, such as kindness, the ability to make friends and artistic talents. Instances like this show that attitudes to people with disabilities are improving and people are becoming more aware and understanding of the issues around disabilities.
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
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 usethis 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
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”.
They may look like they were designed in another galaxy, but the Multi Award winning Trekinetic K2 and its stable companion the powered GTE, are definitely at home on planet earth ! Offering you versatility, freedom, and comfort, these all terrain, eye catching, award winning, beautifully designed wheelchairs, break down disability boundaries, and give their owners and / or carer an unprecedented sense of safety, independence and confidence over cobble stones, forest tracks, uneven pavements, snow and sand, making them ideal for holidays of all types.
K2 in Lake District
With the 2 big wheels at the front, there are no castors to get stuck so you can view the world around you and not the pot holes on the ground.
Lightweight, liftable and easily disassembled, both the manual and the powered chairs are perfect for travelling. Most airlines are happy to transport them, and they will fit into almost any car, without the need for an adaptation or hoist, which means you can go out in any car or taxi. And if you’re using the GTE and run out of battery, the chair can easily be converted to manual.
The Trekinetic chairs are simply a better prospect, allowing you to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do; places you can go, rather than can’t go.
State of the Art and stylish, when you’re out in a Trekinetic, nobody looks the other way, and yet another barrier is broken down.
“When you read the list of activities on a Seable holiday, it sounds like the script of a James Bond film:
An accessible tour of Agrigento. Right: Scuba is a great activity for people with disability, as they find that the weightlessness in the water frees them up.
scuba diving, jet-skiing, ascending Mt Etna… The participants aren’t your average action heroes, however. Everyone on a Seable trip has some kind of disability, either physical or sensory. And they come to Sicily for a holiday where their disability takes a back seat to pleasure seeking. Peter Warren, 81, from the UK suffers from macular degeneration and only has about five per cent of his vision left. From a balcony in Sicily, he says he is “having the best holiday of my life”. It’s the first time he’s been able to travel alone since he started to lose his sight. He says: “This holiday certainly raised my self-esteem because I know I can travel abroad… and feel as though I’m on my own.”
Living with Disability, mentioned Seable Holidays in the first pages of the leading disability printed magazine. We are proud to be included:
It’s time to start dreaming and planning for your holiday abroad in 2014. We have some temping options, tailor-made for you.
Specialising in accessible sport and leisure activity holidays, Seable offer breaks with chances to learn new life skills. Its packages to the beautiful island of Sicily are tailor-made for individuals, couples, families or small groups.
Activities can be challenging. You could choose the 4×4 driving experience on Europe’s highest active volcano or you might prefer to learn scuba diving – the instructors are all experts in disabled diving. Past visitors have notched up two entries in the Guinness Book of Records. In 2009, they had the first paraplegic man to dive to 59m and in 2007, the first blind girl to reach 41m underwater!
Alternatively, you can try a sport of fishing with the local Sicilian fishermen using traditional techniques, or try your skills at Mediterranean olive oil making.
Living with Disability said:
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