In July 2020, London Vision switched from providing in person existing Living Well with Sight Loss courses to an online only format. Renamed Managing Sight Loss, the London Vision team has now facilitated 75 sessions over the past year!
The sessions explained where to get help and advice, how to contact your local sensory team and how to explore simple solutions to everyday living with sight loss. The sessions also addressed the benefits of being registered as blind or partially sighted, introduced attendees to assistive technology and advised on how to get out and about with confidence.
From face to face to Zoom
The London Vision team facilitated the sessions through the Zoom platform. Using Zoom gave attendees the opportunity to join online via computer or smartphone, but also to join using a landline phone.
In the lead up to the sessions, London Vision produced guides for using Zoom, which were shared with attendees, and team members were on hand to help people join the sessions. The hands on support from the team meant that:
93.8% of Managing Sight Loss course attendees found it easy to join the sessions, with a further 6.2% joining with help from a partner.
The sessions attracted a range of attendees from varied sight loss backgrounds, but 75% of attendees were living with sight loss. 21.9% of attendees worked in the sight loss sector or with people who are blind or partially sighted, and 9.4% were friends or carers. The sessions welcomed family members and friends, and input from sight loss sector professionals was appreciated throughout the programme.
Initially the sessions covered many of the same topics in the Living Well with Sight Loss course, and were shaped around the following themes:
Registration: Your rights and the benefits
These sessions explained the who, why and what of being registered as severely sight impaired or sight impaired and explored the benefits and rights that this brings.
Getting out and about safely
This session explored techniques and tips for independent travel, with advice on where to get help with public transport, and an opportunity for attendees to share their own experiences and advice.
Life hacks: in the kitchen
These sessions looked blind hacks for cooking with confidence, touching on assistive tech for kitchen and simple adaptations.
Life hacks: for everyday living
These sessions looked at different techniques for living independently with sight loss – from filling a cup with water to cooking a roast dinner.
Sport, leisure and hobbies
An introduction to assistive technology
Led by Graham Page from Thomas Pocklington Trust’s technology team, these sessions explored how every day technologies can be made usable by people with sight loss.
Advanced assistive technology
TPT’s Graham Page was joined by Davinder Kullar from RNIB’s Technology for Life team for more advanced assistive technology sessions This session is for people who regularly use technology but want to trouble shoot a problem or ask how to complete a certain activity. If you’d like to come along, we’d like to have your questions in advance.
Feeling good, staying healthy
These sessions addressed simple techniques for living a healthy and relaxed life with sight loss.
In the first few months of programme delivery, the team facilitated 32 sessions, with 277 people attending, working out at an average of 8 attendees per session. Sessions were held in the afternoon and early evening, ensuring that there was a choice of times for people to attend.
Attendees said of these first sessions:
“All the courses were excellent, I learnt a lot and enjoyed hearing from other people with their questions. The sessions had a lovely atmosphere”
“It was a pleasure to attend the session and also hear from you. The session and all the information sent was fantastic, excellent”
New Managing Sight Loss sessions for 2021
After six months of successful sessions, the Managing Sight Loss team introduced new themes requested by attendees:
All things reading
Covering audiobooks, various technologies that assist with reading, and libraries such as the RNIB lending library.
Making the most of your vision
Delivered alongside the Macular Society, these sessions offered advice on low vision aids, and the range of different ways you can make the most of your remaining vision.
Exploring achievable life goals and how to stick to resolutions
This session explored the world of online shopping and using assistive technology to shop.
Beat the scammers – fraud and scam awareness
Much requested, this session was led by RNIB’s Marie Kehoe and addressed the common scams circulating and new ones that emerged out of the pandemic.
All things TV
Led by London Vision’s Renu Walia, All things TV looked at how to make the very best of your TV from sitting a little closer to using binoculars, audio description and voice guidance on smart TVs.
Shopping and dining out
As lockdown eased, the MSL team hosted a session with tips for dining out, and for making shopping easier.
In 2021, the team also created the Managing Sight Loss resources page, which collected together much of the content covered in the sessions. These pages are expanded versions of the notes sent out to attendees following sessions, and the information is freely available.
Most popular Managing Sight Loss sessions
The most popular sessions over the past year proved to be ones focussed on Assistive Technology. The introduction sessions helped attendees take their first steps in the world of assistive tech, and the advanced sessions provided a space for specific questions and exploring exciting new technologies.
The Managing Sight Loss team also established a regular drop in on a Friday lunchtime as a more informal way for attendees to share their tech knowledge and socialise. The introduction to assistive technology and advanced technology sessions had nearly 150 attendees taking part over the past year.
One off bespoke sessions proved very popular, with Shopping and Dining out, Beating the Scammers, and the All Things TV all attracting 18 attendees per session on average.
Some of the most successful sessions were also the ones held in conjunction with other sight loss organisations. The Managing Sight Loss team would like to thank the Macular Society, Metro Blind Sport, Vocaleyes and RNIB for all the assistance in making the programme varied and relevant for participants! Macular Society helped deliver the Making the Most of Your Vision sessions, Metro Blind Sport and Vocaleyes hosted the sports and leisure sessions, and RNIB’s Davinder Kullar, Paul Porter and Marie Kehoe contributed their considerable expertise to the reading, technology, and Beating the Scammers sessions.
We surveyed Managing Sight Loss course attendees, and 40.6% of respondents said they were extremely likely to use the tips, tricks and information shared in the sessions. A further 40.6% said they were very likely to use these tips.
100% of respondents felt they had the opportunity to contribute during the sessions, and that it was a safe and welcoming space to share experiences and knowledge. The sessions were:
“Really good, attendees were in similar situations and so were able to understand each other. Everyone was very supportive, and I gained a lot from the sessions”.
93.5% of respondents would recommend the sessions to others, underlining the usefulness of the content.
In fact, 56.3% of attendees rated the content of the course as excellent. 34.4% rated it as above average and only 9.4% rated the content as average. As one attendee said, the sessions were:
“Really good, [all] attendees were in similar situations and so were able to understand each other. Everyone was very supportive, and I gained a lot from the sessions”.
As a result of attending a session, 62.5% of respondents felt better connected, and 65.6% felt they knew where to go for help in the future for living with sight loss and 25% felt they had a better understanding of the rights and benefits to which they are entitled.
Since moving to online courses in July 2020, London Vision delivered 75 sessions, with more than 700 attendees. The team would like to thank Thomas Pocklington Trust for supporting the delivery of the sessions, and the National Lottery Community Fund for funding the programme in 2020.