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Congratulations to all our finalists!

RNIB See Differently 2024 logo and text saying 21 May 2024. Logo of supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery and awarded funds from Postcode Care Trust.

Meet the RNIB See Differently Awards Finalists.

This year we received hundreds of inspiring stories from individuals and organisations across the UK. After much deliberation three finalists were chosen for each category, and you can read about them below. The winners for each category will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 21 May 2024.

Campaigner of the Year sponsored by Microsoft

Rory McCartney

Rory McCartney is a campaigner living with sight loss in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He volunteers with RNIB as a Visual Awareness Facilitator, providing training to staff and students at North West Regional College as well as to local businesses. Rory has organised events to raise awareness of the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people, and in 2023 he got a motion passed by Derry City & Strabane District to make the city a more “visually aware space”. Rory is now working with local stakeholder to make Derry an even safer place for visually impaired people to live, work and visit.

Margaret Rees

Based in South Wales, Margaret Rees is a campaigner living with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). She has campaigned to improve the accessibility of health information, sharing her experience with the Welsh Government and taking part in patient panels and surveys. Margaret has also been featured on BBC Cymru, in both Welsh and English, highlighting the difficulties people like her experience when trying to access public transport. Margaret’s campaigning has helped secure commitments from both the Welsh Government and Cardiff City Council to improve the way they support blind and partially sighted people.

Choon Tan

Choon Tan is a campaigner for Glaucoma UK. He raises awareness of glaucoma and the importance of eye care among young people and those of East Asian heritage. Choon has shared his story across a range of media, including a radio broadcast which was heard by over 42,920,000 people across more than 170 national and regional radio stations. Choon was the ‘face’ of Glaucoma UK’s Glaucoma Awareness Week campaign in 2023, helping them raise over £20,000 – their most successful appeal to date. Choon won an award at the Diversity Power List 2023-24.

Eye Care Professional of the Year sponsored by Roche

Dr Zac Koshy

Dr Zachariah (Zac) Koshy is a consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon for Ayrshire & Arran Health Board and Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow. He helped establish the ECLO service in Ayrshire & Arran and champions a “one stop model for cataract surgery” to truncate the care journey for patients. He chaired the Healthcare Improvement Scotland's Working Group for standards in treatment of cataracts, which aims to improve the delivery of care. Zac has significant roles in training the next generation of ophthalmologists and also provides surgery and training in Ethiopia, Nepal and Belize.

Dr Jane Macnaughton

Dr Jane Macnaughton is a Specialist Optometrist at Leicester Royal Infirmary and a Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. She has played a key role in the development of low vision clinics across the UK and supports her NHS patients to live safe and independent lives. She helped create the first training course for ECLO’s and has written well-known textbooks for optometry students. At Angelia Ruskin University, Jane teaches 80 students a year. She recently gained a PhD in vision rehabilitation and is currently writing a book about a visually impaired dragon.

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith manages the Bradford Sensory Needs Service. Catherine oversees a large team, including five vision rehabilitation specialists, supporting them to provide needs assessments, one-to-one support and create non-statutory services to help visually impaired people live well. She has created an accessible grant scheme for peer support groups and is currently creating a grant scheme to enable people with sensory loss to purchase items such as household aids.

Best Content Creator of the Year supported by Netflix

Emily Davison

Emily Davison is a journalist and content creator, covering topics such as health and beauty, disability and accessibility. She also creates content relating to Septo-Optic Dysplasia and Optic Nerve Hyperplasia, both of which she lives with. Emily has thousands of followers across social media and has written for publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Guardian. She has also been featured on broadcast media including Channel 4. Emily receives positive feedback, with one follower stating that Emily’s content has “given her a new lease of life.”

Seren Jaye

Using the social media handle Otters Have Pockets, twenty-year-old Seren Jaye is a TikTok and Instagram influencer. She has over 740,000 followers on TikTok and around 27,000 Instagram followers. Seren uses social media to challenge misconceptions around sight loss. Her videos have encouraged blind and partially sighted people to take part in parkruns and sighted people to become guides. One of her videos received around 3,800,800 views. Seren has appeared in the media and hopes to become a children’s tv presenter.

Molly Watt

Molly Watt is a social media content creator living with Usher Syndrome. Using the handle mollywatttalks, Molly has over 40,000 followers across Facebook, X, Tiktok and Instagram. Molly’s content documents her life as a deafblind person and highlights the need for, and the benefits of, assistive technology. She uses her platform to tackle misconceptions about deafblindness. She has also given a TedX talk on the barriers faced by disabled people in the NHS and been retweeted by Apple’s Phil Schiller. Molly has appeared in the media numerous times.

Team of the Year sponsored by Meta

SeeAbility's Special Schools Eye Care Team

SeeAbility’s Special Schools Eye Care Team hold eye clinics in special schools across London. The team’s service was the first of its kind in the UK, and last year they performed 2,800 eye tests on children with additional needs. The team’s research and practice provided the proof of concept for the Government’s roll out of an eye care service for children at special schools across England.

Red Bee Media Audio Description Team

Red Bee Media’s Audio Description team provide audio description for live and pre-recorded television shows and content. In 2023 the team provided over 10,000 hours of pre-recorded content and live described every episode of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing as well as Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer telethon on November 3rd. They also began recruiting people with sight loss to the team. The team won an Entertainment Globalisation Award in 2023 for their audio description of the BBC’s Frozen Planet II.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Access Team

The Wolverhampton Wanderers Access Team supports visually impaired fans to enjoy football at home and away games. They take part in guided cane sessions, support guide dogs in navigating their stadium and have introduced braille and large print into their kiosks and Megastore. Created by the team, the club’s matchday audio description commentary packs and audio matchday programme enable fans to enjoy matches and feel “like part of the pack.” Wolverhampton Wanders partnered with RNIB on the See Sport Differently campaign. They also provide advice to other clubs seeking to improve accessibility.

Employer of the Year sponsored by T&Pm

Cadent Gas

Cadent Gas is the UK’s largest gas distribution network. Working in partnership with Blind in Business, Cadent has established a pathway into the gas industry for students and young people who are blind or partially sighted, which involves work experience placements, as well as coaching and mentoring. The partnership is now in its third year.
Working with a visually impaired gamer, Cadent has created a Minecraft game to build safer roadworks. One of the characters has sight loss. The company is working toward achieving RNIB’s Visibly Better Employer quality standard.

Tesco

Tesco achieved RNIB’s Visibly Better Employer quality standard in April 2022. Since then, they have seen an increase in the number of blind and partially sighted employees working across the business. The company helps colleagues thrive by providing specialist equipment such as tablets and tactile aids. Tesco has a Disability Network to help sighted colleagues understand the lived experience of their visually impaired colleagues, as well as a Diverse Talent Community to help blind and partially sighted employees “own their own careers.”

Unique Home Care NI 

Unique Home Care NI is a domiciliary care provider based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The company was nominated by Margaret Taggart, their only visually impaired employee. Unique made their interview process accessible and have tailored their training sessions to meet Margaret’s needs. By staying in regular contact with Margaret’s Employment Advisor, instigating regular catch-up meetings and adapting the way clients are assigned to carers, Unique have helped Margaret grow in confidence and thrive in her career.

Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Woods Valldata

Anna Cofone

In 2019 hairstylist Anna Cofone founded Hair & Care, an organisation which provides free monthly haircare workshops for blind and partially sighted women and girls. Anna has sought pro-bono support from large haircare brands so that workshop participants have the tools, such as hairdryers, they need. Since becoming a Community Interest Company, Hair & Care has secured several charitable donations. Hair & Care became an affiliate of the British Beauty Council in 2023. This year Anna sponsored an accessible event at London Fashion Week which included audio description. The event was covered by Vogue.

June Little

June Little is Chair of Trustees at the Cotswold Listener, a talking news provider serving Gloucestershire and the north Cotswolds, and a Talking News Federation (TNF) trustee. At the Cotswold Listener, June oversees a team of 60 volunteers who read and distribute the news 51 weeks of the year. She runs training workshops and acts as a mentor to volunteers at both the Cotswold Listener and the TNF. June organises TNF roadshows to bring together local talking news providers to share ideas and support one another. She is also a passionate advocate of talking news and regularly speaks at community events.

Suzie Simons

Suzie Simons is the founder and CEO of Eye Matter, a peer support organisation for blind and partially sighted people. She volunteers full time with Eye Matter, organising hundreds of online and in-person events each year, supporting members and raising awareness and funds for the organisation. In 2023 Suzie secured charitable status for Eye Matter. The charity helps to educate, empower and entertain its members.

Design for Everyone Award sponsored by Red Bee Media

Lincoln Jopp MC

A businessman and former member of the British Army, Lincoln Jopp MC co-hosted the BBC’s enhanced audio descriptive coverage of the coronation of his Majesty King Charles III. The hybrid coverage married live audio description with visuals as they are broadcast on screen. Lincoln undertook extensive preparation ahead of the day and engaged widely with blind and partially sighted people to understand their needs. Feedback from the coverage has been extremely positive.

Rebecca Atkinson for Mixmups

Created by Rebecca Atkinson, who has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Mixmups is a Channel 5 Milkshake! show for children. Two of the show’s main characters live with disabilities, including one, Pockets the Bear, who is visually impaired and uses a guide dog and cane. It was developed in conjunction with disabled children and seeks to normalise life with a disability. All 52 episodes are audio described by actor with sight loss. Mixmups is due to launch in Canada, Ireland and Australia in 2024. It has been featured in The Guardian and on BBC News.

Dr Nicolas Bonne for Tactile Universe

Based at The University of Portsmouth, Tactile Universe is a public engagement project that seeks to make astronomy accessible to visually impaired children. Led by Dr Nicolas Bonne, who was born with a visual impairment, the Tactile Universe team has developed tactile models which enable students to feel how galaxies develop. They take their models and accompanying resources into schools where they hold workshops for visually impaired students and their sighted classmates. The team also trains other organisations to deliver workshops within their own communities. Tactile Universe has been featured in the BBC’s Sky at Night programme.