Mr Thompson from North Wales Testimonial

Mr J.M.C Thompson Mold Flintshire North Wales What’s in a Name? About four years ago I was registered Seriously Sight Impaired/blind. The consultant of the Ophthalmology department at St Asaph notified my optometrist in Mold of my condition. It was not long before I had a phone call from Michelle Hale, the representative for the Welsh Assembly Low Vision organisation. Michelle gave me a thorough test for what sight I had and proceeded to check a couple of illuminated magnifiers for strength compatible for my acuity, one battery operated and the other with mains connection. Additional information and templates for signing and writing were also part of the parcel of goodies she was able to loan me. She also told me it would be possible to learn to touch-type on a special computer at the Vision Support Centre in Mold, giving me the telephone number where I could make enquiries. My impairment of vision is such that I was fortunate in that I am able to move about providing there are no obstacles and I am familiar with the surroundings. Apart from the disappointment of not being able to drive, my main disability is not having sufficient acuity of vision to read or write. The chance to overcome this problem by learning to touch-type seemed too good to miss. A phone call to Vision Support at Ty Blinwyddwen Social Services in Mold, an appointment was arranged for me to start a course to learn to tough-type using the Guide computer. My tutor was Bea Clarke and she soon made me feel at home, explaining that we would use a CD for a series of tests starting with the middle row of the keyboard, on which two rubber bumpon’s were stuck onto the “f” and “j” keys so that the left hand index finger was located on the “f” and the right on the “j”. Starting with memorising the positions of the letters on the middle row, the test progressed by commands from a women on the CD for a response to type in letters, using the appropriate finger. Mistakes were rapidly corrected by the women who had a sharp New York American accent. If, for instance, I incorrectly pressed the “s” key for the “a” key she would bark out “liddle finguure, liddle finguure”. At the end of a number of these exercises she would tell me, in what seemed to me to be a rather derisive tone of voice, that I had scored fifty out of one hundred points! The test progressed by spelling words and the using the top and lower rows of the keyboard, and within a few lessons I was sufficiently proficient, with the expert and patient instruction from Bea, to start to learn more about the workings of the Guide computer. During this time, I attended an RNIB seminar in Llandudno where I met an ex-Army sergeant who was completely blind. He told me that he had joined the St. Dunstan’s, a charity for sight impaired/blind ex-servicemen and women. He had benefited from help in obtaining a Guide computer and training in IT. Encouraged by this I applied for membership and was shortly visited by St. Dunstan’s Welfare Officer, Maggie Walton. Maggie arranged for me to attend a rehabilitation course at Sheffield which was run by T. Dunstan’s. They were impressed with the depth of knowledge I had acquired on the Guide computer, and invited me to attend a subsequent course for IT, resulting from which it was not long before, with the help of St. Dunstan’s, I acquired a Guide computer. Having one for myself at home it was “all systems go!” Recently, I had a short course at Gwersyllt tutored by Keith Brown in order to unravel some of the mysteries of using the internet with Guide. The Guide system, being voice operated, is not particularly compatible with the internet. As a result of all this invaluable help I have been able to write a short book on the first five years of my married life for my family. So, what is in a name? The organisation setting me so expertly on the road to compensating the disabilities of my loss of vision, Vision Support certainly lives up to expectations. The support given by the expert and friendly staff have been memorable, and I can recommend that anyone finding themselves with the onset of low vision to seek their assistance. Vision Support is a charitable organisation that relies on any assistance in the form of donations that students or other benefactors may be able to afford.

About 5 months ago I was unemployed along with lots of other people. I had the skills but not much experience. It was suggested to me to try some voluntary work - so I contacted Vision Support. The staff there were very helpful friendly and very supportive. They allowed me to help with their group computer training for the visually impaired as well as getting some experience in the field of Web design/developing which was what I was qualified to do. I helped out making some posters for them for distribution for awareness of Vision Support and I was also able to help out with the build of their new web site. All this experience helped me to fill a gap in my CV and it was down to voluntary work that helped me secure a fantastic new job 5 months ago - I am now working for a web studio in Chester and really enjoying my job. I am so grateful to all the friends I made at Vision Support and everything they have done for me and wish them all the best in the future. I would recommend voluntary work to anyone, the experience and self-confidence you get is invaluable!!