A Voice that needs to be heard
Back in 2015, The RNIB published My Voice, a ground breaking project that provides a unique insight into the realities of life as a blind or partially sighted person.
Authored by John Slade and Rose Edwards, it’s the only survey of this detail available globally. The findings are based on telephone interviews with over 1,200 participants from across the UK.
Many people find that losing their sight is not a one-off event, it happens gradually and over time they can experience several deteriorations in their eyesight. This means they need ongoing support to learn and relearn how to adapt as their sight deteriorates, and this can last for a considerable time after initial certification and registration.
In undertaking My Voice, the authors were aware that not everyone who wanted to have their ‘voice heard’ as part of the survey could participate in a standard telephone interview. For example, those who also have hearing loss, those who live in care homes, those who care for friends and relatives with sight loss or other health needs and those who don’t speak English fluently were key groups the survey wanted to capture as the “forgotten voices” of sight loss. The survey was extremely successful in capturing those groups, which is why it’s such a powerful insight into the day to day realities of their lives.
A number of key themes emerged from the series of interviews, many focussed on the loss of social interaction and how initiatives aimed at increasing social interactions were valued by the visually impaired:-
People frequently valued opportunities for social contact and ways to enable these should be supported.
Activities that people enjoyed before their sight deteriorated are missed, and ways to enable people to maintain their involvement or find good replacements should be identified.
Sight loss services are encouraged to consider if they can better meet the needs of individuals with other health conditions and issues.
Both family and ‘paid for’ carers, together with formal support networks (supplying consistent care) are valued.
‘My Voice 2015: Capturing the voices of the ‘Hard to reach’’ reports on interviews with individuals who are in one, or more, of the above groups. Check out this clip introducing some of the issues highlighted.
Check out the full report here:-
Conspexit is currently prototyping and designing an application that will personally assist people with a visual impairment to gain greater independent mobility. We have found the ‘My Voice’ survey to be immensely valuable in understanding the specific needs of those who are living with sight loss.