This #WorldSightDay, Gemma, NMITE’s Receptionist and Office Administrator has spoken candidly about her own Visual Impairment, and the impact clever engineering has had on adapting the everyday items many of us take for granted – but could our world be more accessible?
“My name is Gemma, I am a wife, a mum to a handsome 15-year-old and I work full time as NMITE’s Receptionist and Office Administrator.
Whenever I talk about myself, these are the things I usually describe. I never think about saying ‘oh and I have a Visual Impairment’ because it’s not something I often think about – it’s just who I am!
But yes, I am registered blind, my Visual Impairment is called Retinitis Pigmentosa. I was born with this eye condition. Basically, it is a degenerative disease of the eye, which may eventually lead to total blindness.
Being Visually Impaired doesn’t stop me living my life the way I want – it just means that I must adapt the way I do things. Obviously, I can’t drive, but that’s OK – I have my beautiful Guide Dog Ida to assist me in where I want to go. I put all my trust into her, she has given me back my confidence and independence. She also gives great cuddles. I can’t imagine being without her now.
In my day to day work life I use assistive technology on my PC, use a magnifier to read print on the go – or a CCTV to read larger documents. All my work colleagues are aware of my Visual Impairment and I would like to think they see me just as Gemma – and not ‘Gemma who is blind’. (A note from the team – we do!)
At home I use lots of talking kitchen equipment to assist me when I am cooking, and we treated ourselves to a huge TV – although I may have used my VI as an excuse to get this (there must be some perks right!) I also use the audible app to listen to books. I love reading, so this has been a brilliant asset for me where it would have been impossible to read the printed editions.
There is so much technology out there for people with sight loss, however, they tend to be priced out of people’s affordability, sometimes thousands of pounds for something that could really help someone with their day to day life. People just can’t afford it. I believe that everyone with sight loss should be able to take advantage of the technology that has the power to support them in their everyday lives – nothing should stop anyone living their best life. That is what I do, and will carry on doing, Visual Impairment or not.”
For more information on World Sight Day, head here.