Visual Impairment Awareness and Sighted Guiding Training
An overview of invaluable Move the Masses volunteer training.
We had two training sessions in November 2021 led by Vicky from MySight York. Both sessions were interactive with discussions and practical activities. On both occasions Vicky was accompanied by visually impaired colleagues who gave valuable insights into life with limited vision.
Visual Impairment Awareness
We all arrived at the training venue, The Hut, on a dark November evening and settled in with warm drinks and mince pies.
After an introduction to our friendly trainers, Vicky and Christian, the session began with us guessing the contents of sealed pouches by feeling them. It was a great way to break-the-ice and it got everyone chatting.
Vicky went on to discuss facts and figures about the amount of people living with visual impairments in York. We were amazed to hear the high numbers of individuals affected by sight issues in our own community.
When Vicky and Christian explained about the different types of visual impairments we all tried glasses on which mimicked each condition’s visual experience – it was fascinating to gain an insight into what the world might look like to different individuals.
Christian, who is visually impaired himself, took us through a day in his life. He used various props and showed us the tools he uses to navigate daily tasks. Hearing from someone with lived-experience of a visual impairment added depth to the session and Christian was happy to answer all our questions.
The session ended with Vicky explaining how the braille alphabet works and we had a look through some wonderful braille books for children.
We were given MySight packs which had our names on the front in braille. They contained information on the conditions we’d discussed and the tools we’d seen demonstrated, a braille alphabet and the latest MySight newsletter.
Two weeks later we were back at The Hut for another fantastic training session. This time Vicky was accompanied by Imy and her guide dog, Sam. Imy told us about guide dogs, what their role is and the practicalities of working with one.
Vicky took us through the basics of sighted guiding, which she and Imy demonstrated. This went from greeting someone, through to walking, hazards to be aware of and guiding to objects, such as a chair or a hot drink.
We then paired up and had a chance to both guide and be guided whilst navigating various obstacles – narrow gaps, doors, slopes, steps and low-hanging branches. When being guided we either shut our eyes or chose glasses which mimicked particular visual impairments.
We also discussed audio description and how it is used generally in everyday situations as well as in places such as theatres. The session came to a close with us describing textured pictures to each other.