Sonia and I went to the hospital to give a presentation to fifty 4th year undergraduate medical students as part of their week that they spend in the eye unit. Our presentation responds to learning outcomes set by the Royal College of Ophthalmology – breaking bad news, empathy, the special needs of the visually impaired and the certificate of visual impairment.

Many of you who read my blog will know that I live with sight loss and have done since I was a baby so when Sonia asked the medical students if they could hear me talking and they nodded Sonia had to remind them all that as I couldn’t see them nodding they may need to think how to communicate with me – learning outcome 1 – special needs of the visually impaired. Sonia and I work a double act (not quite Ant and Dec!); she started off by passing around some simulation specs for the students to try on. This was to try and give them some experience of what someone with sight loss with different eye conditions may see like. She also showed them pictures and briefly explained the different conditions. I do remember saying something like “The glasses that you can just see light through, that’s what I can see.” I wonder what the faces of the students looked like when they tried on all the different glasses and then eventually the ones that represent what I can see.

We then asked if any of the students had any initial questions and one of them asked how I had become blind. I explained my diagnosis from my mum’s point of view. I hope that the emotion that my mum would have felt came across. We then moved on to how I cope with every day challenges – getting dressed (knowing what colour my clothes are); how I manage when cooking or travelling and what assistive technologies I use to support my daily life. Today I was sporting my latest technology accessory a new Braille Sense Polaris, a note taker that is fully compatible with tablet devices – great gadget to use when giving presentations.

The last points we touched on was how to call someone when you’re in a medical environment such as a clinic waiting room. How many times does someone call me and disappear – hello I can’t see you never mind follow! I hope the students benefited from our visit and learnt how they could best interact with someone who has sight loss.

This project is funded by Visionary UK as part of the Innovation and Development Fund.

@UHSFT   @RCOphth   @visionary_uk   @sightandsound   #wegotyourback

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