RNIB and Guide Dogs NI are working together on Our Futures project which is designed and developed by and for young people aged eight to 25 with vision impairment.
Children and young people with vision impairment in Northern Ireland told us there is a lack of specialist support for them, particularly around life changes and barriers, such as using technology, finding a job and support with their mobility.
They also said that they struggle to participate in mainstream community activities; there are few opportunities and often a lack of confidence to self-advocate for service improvements.
‘Our Futures’ is an exciting opportunity for young people to develop new skills to help them meet their potential and create positive change in how they are included in services in our community.
Through the project, they will be supported through key transition stages in their lives and empowered to advocate for improvements in local services.
Freya, aged 10, who is registered severely sight impaired due to oculocutaneous albinism, said:
“I’d like to have some confidence speaking for myself. So I think it’s important to be part of this project. I think it’s important to be able to do things for myself like tying laces, being able to cook and cut things with a sharp knife, and making tea and coffee with my liquid level indicator! I’d also like to learn other new skills, such as using the computer and learning to dance.”
We want children and young people to:
- Achieve successful life transitions
- Be confident and resilient in living with their sight loss condition
- To feel included and able to participate in activities alongside their sighted peers
- Learn new skills needed to achieve what they want in life
- Know who to turn to if they require support.
How we can support you and your family:
- Help with assistive technology, education or finding employment
- Mobility and independent living skills – including support with self-care, cooking, managing money and support for employment
- Help to access youth clubs and other services in your local community through visual awareness training and support
- Shape and Share events – bringing children, young people and their families together to take part in a mixture of fun and learning opportunities
- Develop self-advocacy skills and raise awareness of sight loss – both on and offline.
Nathan, aged 18, living with nystagmus, said:
“A lot of young people feel as though they are limited or won't achieve the same as others and they need support, encouragement and understanding to develop the confidence they need, particularly as there’s a lot of misconceptions out there.”
For more information or to express interest in getting involved with the Our Futures project, please contact RNIB’s Children, Young People and Families team at [email protected] or call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.