Millions of people are blind, and this includes people who have visual impairments and children. It can be for reasons from genetic blindness to macular degeneration to accidents. Here are some useful resources, beyond the big charities. Also see on how to care for our carers.
Ask your GP for a Certificate of Vision Impairment. This entitled you to a bus pass and Blind Person’s Allowance. If you send letters, Articles for the Blind sends all post for free. Get free directory enquiries (& priority repair). Blind Veterans offers free help and support.
Simple Inventions to Help Blind People
- Ramble Tag is a simple stylish lightweight harness that is wrapped around the arm of a guide, and fastened with adjustable Velcro straps. Invented by a blind man and launched by his neighbour guide, the padded comfortable handle is ideal for dog walks (the idea came from a ‘disobedient dog’ who kept pulling them in different directions, and separating them!) There are other versions for running and children, and a compact version. Designed with great care (it went through 50 prototypes), it respects physical boundaries yet changes lives. Available with worldwide delivery and free returns within 14 days, it’s used in many airports and train stations, as well as theatres, council buildings, stadiums, hospitals and the Tate Gallery.
- Remap is an army of volunteer ‘tinkerers’ (one invented a headset to let a blind boy ‘watch’ football). Another made a set of guide rails for a blind bowling team (to stop them wandering into the wrong lane).
- WeWALK is a ‘white cane’ to detect obstacles & approaching buses. Smart Stick was invented by a 9-year old!
Holidays with Sighted Travellers
TravelEyes pairs blind people who would like to go on a break with a sighted traveller (who gets 50% discount and relatives can come along). Founder Amar Latif lost 95% of his sight by age 18, and founded the company after being rejected as a solo traveller, by many tourism companies.
Free Radio Loans for Blind People
Most libraries offer large-print & audio books. And British Wireless for the Blind Fund sells digital radios, on free loan to people on low incomes. The Relish Radio blends a retro style with modern pre-set channels and DAB radio, large letters and buttons and a USB port for your own playlist.
Technology to Help Vision Loss
- Be My Eyes is a free app invented by a Danish craftsman where volunteers can read instructions/recipes, distinguish colours etc.
- Envision Glasses were developed with Google Glass, and kind of work like the app above, reading out things for you to independently use cookery books etc. They use artificial intelligence to ‘read’ what you see. It can also read books, describe scenery and use face recognition technology. You can request a free demo, then ask the NHS to fund it for you.
- OrCam MyEye is similar, and more easy to buy privately. It can read text, identify faces and colours, identify products and recognise money and barcodes. The advanced optical sensor captures an image of your surroundings, and communicates the information audibly – all offline so with no data privacy concerns.
- For computers, Moon & Elia Frames are easier to learn than Braille. NV Access is a screen reader by and for blind people and Access to Work offers grants for Braille keyboards etc.
- My Vision is a site with medically-reviewed articles on all things related to vision and eye health, by a group of expert ophthalmologists and optometrists, to provide trusted information that is accurate and up-to-date. The site also has an internet accessibility guide which covers tips for easier browsing and how to make the internet more accessible.