Supporting Parents and Carers of children with a Visual Impairment
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LOOK News and Events:

‘News’

Somerset Clarks workers take on London Marathon for blind young people

April 19th, 2019 / View in own page?

Clarks Look Team with Hills in background
A group of four Clarks employees, based in the Clarks offices in Street, Somerset, are taking on the London marathon in April to raise funds for LOOK UK, a small UK charity supporting blind young people and their families to thrive.

Samantha Walkley ran the marathon for LOOK in 2018 and enjoyed running for the charity so much that she was inspired to return with her work colleagues.

“I was really inspired by the great work the charity does supporting blind young people. I also had great support during my marathon journey when I ran in 2018; the team kept in touch with regular phone calls and emails, which was wonderful. I think as soon as I crossed the finish line last year I put my name down to run again.”

LOOK was first set-up in 1991, by Jenifer and Gareth Bowen, along with Brian Mawby, Chair of Wales Council for the blind. Visually Impaired young people benefit from a free peer to peer mentoring programme, and can also attend well-being weekends, where young people can meet up and support one another through some of the challenges of living with sight loss.

Inspired by LOOK’s work, Samantha has convinced her colleagues at Clarks, Rob Elstob, Casper Byrne, Mel Friend, their former Clarks colleague Laura Thurlow, and Laura Escott who works at Babcock International, to run the marathon for LOOK this year. They have been working as a team to reach their fundraising targets of £1,500 each, putting on a range of events, from quiz nights to office bake sales.

“Getting prizes was straightforward. We sent out emails and used Facebook Messenger to explain what we were running for and a lot of companies donated prizes.” Samantha said.
“Yes, it’s really important to remember no prize is too small. “Casper added. “We got everything from a steam railway journey, to a voucher for a car MOT.”
The team will be joining 20 runners who are taking on the 26.2 miles for LOOK.

Director Charlotte Carson said:

“Our team of amazing London marathon runners are the beating heart of LOOK. Their dedication and fundraising efforts are vital to our work and help us continue giving visually impaired young people the support that they deserve. In 2018, we supported 165 young people and families and ran a range of events like our fashion event, family weekend and mentor training weekend. the funds our 2019 runners raise, will help us reach more young people and families.”

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LOOKFesst: A weekend of Family Fun

April 17th, 2019 / View in own page?

Look volunteers waving and smiling with Look banner in the sunshine
26-29 July, Kentchurch, Herefordshire.

Come to LOOKFest, an accessible festival for visually impaired young people and families!
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What’s on?

Take in a packed programme of live entertainment including music, a ceilidh,  comedy and dance from talented visually impaired performers. Get creative in our dance, music and craft workshops. Get hands-on with nature! turn your hand at den making, have lots of fun in our giant sand pit!

Workshops

Come to workshops in:

  • Circus skills
  • Fashion and beauty
  • self-advocacy and more!

The LOOKFest site

The LOOKFest site will be fully accessible with guide ropes, textured paths, audible cues and a tactile map.
Sighted guides will be on-hand.

How much do tickets cost

Your ticket gives you access to the whole festival, and includes one catered meal at lunchtimes throughout the weekend. There will be options to buy your own breakfast and dinner from vendors on site.

  • Adults (18+) £55
  • Children (3 – 17) £35
  • Children aged 2 and under go FREE

Accommodation

Pitch your own tent (£10.00 per tent)
You can also opt to glamp in our fully-furnished glamping tents.

  • 6 beds £65
  • 4 beds £55.00

Book today by visiting http:///www.lookfest.org

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In conversation with Cambridge Immunology student Aure Aflalo

March 8th, 2019 / View in own page?

A headshot of a young woman smiling.

For International Women’s Day, our Marketing and Comms Officer Kevin Satizabal, talks to 22-year-old Cambridge graduate student and LOOK mentor Aure Aflalo. Aure talks about her masters in Immunology and what it takes to prepare for a career in science as a visually impaired woman.

What first got you interested in science?

“I’ve always been a curious person, and as I grew up, I realised that understanding how humans work is what drives me. Being able to understand the immune system is really amazing but being able to apply that knowledge to help people is even better. For example, as part of my masters I’m working on how we can ‘hack’ the immune system in order to kill cancer cells, so this work can really make a difference.”

What’s it been like studying Immunology as a visually impaired student?

“As I’ve been going through university, I’ve had the occasional lecturer who forgets to send work to me in advance, but on the whole I’ve had a very positive experience as a student, and I have a group of very supportive friends. When applying for internships, I have faced labs making excuses for not asking me to work for them after they heard I was visually impaired. At first, I always tried to disclose my visual impairment during interview, but now I’ve decided that I’ll disclose on the first day. Before I wasn’t aware of what I could and couldn’t do. Now I’ve had more experience and I know there is a lot that I can achieve with minimal adaptions on the labs side.”

How do you get around some of the more visual aspects of working in a lab?

“I really struggle looking down microscopes, which is not very practical when you have to do that every day, when you’re handling cells. I use a microscope which has a screen attached to it and that means I can get closer without having the actual eye piece. I also have a pair of glasses, where one lens has been replaced by a monocular, so one eye looks through a magnifier and this is completely hands free. That really helps because instead of getting closer to see items, I can work at distance, which is important when you have to work in sterile conditions.”

What’s it been like mentoring at LOOK?

“It’s been really good. My mentee is really interested in science and he has been asking me questions about what it’s like to work in science as a visually impaired person. I would have loved to have been able to ask these questions of someone when I was doing my A levels. Knowing and understanding some of the challenges he may face and being able to do something about preparing my mentee or even preventing some of the challenges is great.”

What would you say to any visually impaired people who are thinking of a career in science?

“I would say try and talk to other visually impaired people who are working in science.
I would also say never give up without having tried.
In science, things sometimes don’t work, and it’s not because you’re VI. However, sometimes things don’t work, and it is because you’re VI. That doesn’t mean you can’t do that task again, it just means you have to find a way to adapt and ask for support from your colleagues.”

If you’re visually impaired and aged 11-29, visit our Mentoring Project page to find out more about our free peer to peer mentoring programme.

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World Book day: Ways to access books when you’re visually impaired

March 7th, 2019 / View in own page?

Photo is taken at an angle, from the top of a page. A white page of Braille text is present, with shadowing indicating the tactility of the page. Two hands are on the bottom of the page, coming in from the right of the image, in the action of reading.

On World Book Day, LOOK’s Project Assistant Sam, blogs about what first got him into reading books and shares some great ways to access books when you’re visually impaired.

Growing up as a visually impaired child, to start with, books didn’t factor in my life, braille was for school and lessons and not for fun. But then, things changed.
I discovered a world of fairy-tales, adventures, traveling, myths and more.
Braille, cassettes, oh, yes, still used those then. Those were my main sources of acquiring books. And since then, my world of books has expanded at an explosive rate.
These are some of the ways you can crack open a book be it digital or physical to plunge into a world of wonder, imagination and adventure.

Accessing World Book Day Titles

If you want to access any of the world book day titles you can easily order them in braille, large print, audio and Digital from the RNIB.

I checked out some of the titles and I’ll admit I wanted to read all of them.
You can also contact Guide Dog’s CustomEyes service for large print books.
But of course, if you do like stories you won’t have to restrict it to just world book day. There is a plethora of ways to access books you like and the authors you love.

RNIB talking book service

When you sign up to this free service, you can get your hands-on thousands of books, fiction and none fiction in audio, digital, braille and large print.
If you are too cool for school and you’d rather use an app, download the overdrive library app.
Using your smartphone, you can borrow some of the latest books read by both volunteers and professional readers.
If the overdrive app is not for you, Easyreader, an app developed by dolphin is another way to access RNIB’s overdrive catalogue for free.

Calibre Audio Library

You can also subscribe to Calibre Audio Library for a one-off fee of either £35 or £20 you can access their titles either via the post, or through their accessible app.

Project Gutenberg

If your tastes range more in the classics, Project Gutenberg offers over 58,000 free eBooks. You can take your pick of among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. With a braille display, or braille note, those books are literally at your fingertips.

LibriVox

LibriVox is another way to access over 50 thousand books in the public domain, read by volunteers. You can either download books on their website or through their app.

Try your local Library

Also, don’t forget to contact your local library and find out about their digital download and audio book service.

Audible

Last but not least, Audible. With hundreds of thousands of audiobooks podcasts and more and with hundreds of books added to the list every month, it’ll take you a very long time to burn through their extensive list. Read by professional narrators you can access their audiobooks through the audible app, download them on your computer, or listen to them online.
Audible is a payed subscription, monthly or yearly, you can pick the one that fits your reading habits best.
They also offer a 30-day free trial just in case you are not sure and if you don’t like your audiobook, you can return it and use your credit to download another.
Some of the audible titles are available for free on the RNIB Overdrive App, for example The Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry, so it’s worth checking before you use your precious credit.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favourite authors.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Happy reading.
And happy world book day!

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Easy 30-minute Pancake Recipe

March 5th, 2019 / View in own page?

stack of pancakes on a white background - sitting on a white plate - a few bananas are on top with a drizzle of syrup
Who says blind people can’t make pancakes? As it’s pancake day, here’s an easy recipe that you can try out when you settle down to have some pancakes with the family tonight!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves 8 pancakes

Ingredients

  • One cup of plain flower
  • One cup of milk
  • Two eggs
  • Butter for oiling the pan
  • Pancake toppings: Maple syrup, lemon juice and sugar etc.

Utensils

  • Mixing bowl
  • Wisk
  • Measuring cup
  • A small frying pan
  • Spatula or fish slice.

Method

  1. Fill one mug of flower and one mug of milk and put the mixture into your mixing bowl.
  2. Crack the two eggs into the mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture together, until it’s smooth and free of lumps.
  3. Greece your frying pan with the butter, making sure all of the bottom of the pan is covered. Stuck-on pancakes won’t make anyone happy!
  4. Put the pan on the hob to heat up.
  5. When the oil is sizzling, fill your measuring cup with some of the pancake mixture and put it into the pan.
  6. After 1 or 2 minutes, the mixture should harden and take a nice round shape, filling the pan. Slowly place your spatula underneath and turn the pancake over. Yep, sorry, no flipping, (safer that way) but who cares? It’s all about the eating, right?
  7. Give it another minute, making sure the pancake isn’t sticking and then take it out of the pan with your spatula and put it on to your plate.
  8. Let the pancake cool and then pour on your lemon juice and sugar, (my favourite) or whatever topping you wish.
  9. Fold your pancake and you’re ready to eat!

Happy pancake day and happy eating!

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Blind Man Running: Richard Wheatley’s Marathon Journey

February 6th, 2019 / View in own page?

Meet Richard Wheatley, blind comedian and physicist who is taking on the 26.2 mile long London marathon for LOOK. This is the first in a series of blogs Richard is writing all about his marathon journey.

 

My name is Richard Wheatley, Britain’s funniest blind physicist turned award winning radio news reader and stand-up comedian with a blue Peter Badge… well definitely top three.

Since graduating from my Physics degree a couple of years ago I have been on a journey, a long journey that I don’t have space for here but it involves 8 different countries, learning to say thank you in 9 different languages and an uncountable number of moments that can only be described as “the blind literally leading the blind”. All these adventures came from just one simple principle, never say no to an adventure.

One adventure was to go to a nerdy comedy show after which I talked to the comedians. From that I signed up to a comedy course which inspired me to perform my first stand-up gig in October 2017. Friends from that course suggested we take a show to Edinburgh together before they dropped out leaving me the adventure of my first solo show. After a month at the Edinburgh Fringe I knew comedy was my life’s ambition.

I tell you this so that you understand that when an old school friend texted me to ask if I wanted to run the London marathon for Look there was only one answer I could give.

Well, okay, actually there was a thought process:

There’s no way I can run a marathon,

There’s no way I can say no to the opportunity of running the marathon,

It’s a big commitment with all the training,

I am literally walking in to the gym as I read the text so I’m already halfway to the commitment.

As a result, I made the mistake of saying yes and now I am doomed to running in the wind and the rain as I train in January for the April marathon.

On the other hand, there are reasons that this isn’t a mistake, reasons that the charity Look are worth the pain and hard work, reasons that I sincerely hope will make the lives of young blind people better as I inhale rain and feel the puddles seep through my trainers.

A large number of my friends from school are now part of the mentoring program, volunteering to support younger blind students, or working to coordinate networking events that will directly benefit them in ways that are inspiring in themselves. In fact, it’s because Look supports young Blind people and employ young blind people who know young blind people that I am running the marathon. Look is an important part of the development of the VI community.

One difficulty as a blind runner is, well, running. The difficulty is running outside independently, never knowing quite when a casual dog walker may loom out of nowhere, meaning I have to be prepared to stop or swerve at any moment. The best solution is to find someone willing to not only train with me in the park regularly but to actually run 26 miles at my pace while giving directions such as “left turn”, “lamppost on the right”, “please stop singing”. Such a person is surprisingly hard to find, however I think I have found my man.

But finding a guide is not the end of the challenge, I have not been running long distances for very long, only after signing up for the marathon did I achieve 10 KM on a treadmill in the gym, but I have almost never run long distances outside. I am used to the ground whizzing backwards as I run on a treadmill but somehow that doesn’t quite translate in to pavement jogging as new aches and pains open throughout my body. Having built up my stamina in the gym I now have to do it all over again on tracks and paths.

This is the first post I am writing on my journey to the London marathon, if you have enjoyed reading it then please lookout for the next instalment. If you have not enjoyed reading it then sorry, I promise the next post will be better.

If you would like to sponsor me to run the marathon then please follow this link.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-portal/fundraiserPage?pageId=1001133#stickyAnchor

If you are interested in seeing me perform stand-up comedy then you can:

Every Thursday night I compare Funny Box Live at the Tankard, Walworth road, SW17 1JL.

My solo show, Richard Wheatley Is Blindingly Obvious debuts on the Leicester comedy festival on Sunday 10 February and tickets are available through this link.

http://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/richard-wheatley-is-blindingly-obvious/

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