From failing having three degrees: why vision rehabilitation matters

2 September 2016

Vicky, one of our fantastic Volunteer Campaign Coordinators, shares her personal journey of living with sight loss. Vicky tells us just why vision rehabilitation support is so important and why everyone should get involved with this campaign.

Loss of vision can come as a shock to the system. You may mourn. You may feel isolated. The familiar may begin to feel strange. Those jobs that once felt simple now feel difficult. Simple things like making tea may feel difficult if not impossible. The outside world now feels like an obstacle course. You feel alone and vulnerable. The obstacles may seem insurmountable. The future may seem bleak.
Even those of us who were born with a visual impairment may encounter problems. Even if we’re used to our disability, growing up, you soon learn that this world is not made for you. Educational establishments can’t cope with your unique needs. Mainstream appliances are made with other people in mind. Pavements are a mine field. Buildings are inaccessible. The world can seem complicated, unfriendly and, in certain cases, dangerous. It often feels that you are completely alone.
That's how I felt when I left school. While I loved to read and loved ideas, my grades didn't reflect what I was capable of. My sight problem, and the lack of fine motor control that came with it, made writing with a pen or pencil difficult. Exams were a nightmare, leaving me with painful hand cramps and nightmarish migraines. On top of this, my inability to see depth meant that I often didn't see random steps and bumps in the road or pavement. So, I endured many falls and accidents, going out on my own became a traumatic experience. This limited my social life. I mean, who wants to take their mom on a date? 
Then, on leaving school, I was finally offered help. The job centre passed my details on to my local council. The vision support team offered me white cane training and gave me my first cane. This improved my mobility. They, also, convinced me to carry on in education. They helped me, through The Disabled Student’s Allowance, to buy my first computer, stopping the need to hand write assignments. My grades went from a fail to A's within a term. I now have three degrees, and the confidence that comes from a good education, and all because I was offered help at the right time. 
We all need help at some time in our lives. That help becomes doubly important when you either have a visual impairment from birth or lose your sight later in life. As society gets older, more and more people will suffer sight loss. More and more people will need help. It's essential that we see that it’s available.  
That is why I am supporting RNIB’s campaign, ‘See, plan and provide’. RNIB is calling on councils to make sure that everyone has access to vision rehabilitation support. They want everyone with a visual impairment to receive a specialist, face to face assessment within 28 days, and that any support starts within 12 weeks of initial contact. 
If you would like to support the campaign, then please take five minutes to take a really quick online action, and email your councillor. For further information about how to support the campaign and take this action please visit the See, plan and provide campaign webpage, or call 020 7391 2123. 
You never know when you or someone you love may need vision rehabilitation help.