I haven’t blogged for a while so I thought I’d write one about my most recent adventure to Andover with two colleagues.  We went on a two-day staff outing!

Mandy, Angela and I all met at work last Wednesday to begin our two-day training course.  We visited the head office of the Macular Society to attend Skills for Seeing training.

What is Skills for Seeing I hear you ask?  Skills for Seeing is making the most of your peripheral vision if you are living with central vision loss.  It is for people who have age related macular degeneration (AMD) in both eyes.

Those of us attending the course used simulation specs to get a feel for what central vision loss could feel like.  Using a variety of different charts and techniques the trainer asked questions to the person wearing simi specs to determine which part of the eye (left/right/top/bottom) was best to see out of.  Once this was determined it was then explained how to move the bad bit of vision out of the way to make the field of vision as good as it could be.  This is called eccentric viewing.  Sounds simple but from what I witnessed it was quite tricky.  People who have lived with AMD for a length of time will probably have their own way of making the most of their residual vision.

As well as the techniques to teach eccentric viewing we learnt that good lighting is key to using what remaining vision someone has.  We also learnt what steady eye strategy is.  This is where you focus your better eye on a point, in the text or thing you are trying to look at and keeping your head and eye still you move the text almost like you are scrolling the text.  If done correctly this should help when reading.

As I am completely blind I have no practical knowledge of how people see.  This only really became apparent to me while on the course.   I didn’t realise that the training would use so much printed information.  This was my fault though because I forgot to ask for copies of the handouts in an alternative format.  One of the trainers came up with a brilliant idea of sourcing a tactile copy of the diagrams so that when I am delivering the Skills for Seeing training to a service user I can follow what they are describing, therefore giving me a better idea of what they can see.

I am looking forward to putting into practice what we learnt and as with most other training, I’ll only get better at it once I’ve had a go at delivering the training with real people.  Practice makes perfect!

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