Future Vision Visionary Winner 2021

Future Vision wins National Award

We are pleased to announce that we are joint winners of a national award for Future Vision, a project to bring Virtual Technology Events to people living with sight loss

Future Vision is a collaboration between seven local independent sight loss charities (Sight Advice South Lakes – Cumbria, My Sight Notts – Nottingham, Support 4 Sight – West & South Essex, Sight Concern Worcestershire – Worcestershire, Sutton Vision – London Borough of Sutton, Kirklees Visual Impairment Network – Huddersfield West Yorkshire). Each charity takes turns hosting a monthly event on a technology-related topic. The one-hour sessions delivered online via the video conferencing platform Zoom comprise a guest speaker followed by a question-and-answer session.

The Rainbow Award, awarded by Visionary, a national organisation representing local sight loss charities, “highlights the organisations and individuals who have been a Rainbow in the pandemic, through being open and generous; sharing knowledge, challenges, their staff and practical information and examples of what has worked for them.”

Visionary described the future vision project as “The Living Well and Future Vision sessions are an excellent example of collaborative working and enhancing the benefits for blind and partially sighted people in your local communities.” The RNIB who sponsored the award said, “These regular informative sessions called “Living Well” and “Future Vision” have provided a much-needed engagement, stimulation and support during very challenging times. It is a fantastic example of how organisations, by working together, have been able to share resources to create and build something great.”

Antony Horner, ICT Manager at sight airedale, said, “It’s fantastic that we’ve won this award and that other organisations see the value in what we’ve achieved. The beauty of Future Vision is the regularity of the sessions and the variety of topics we’ve been able to cover. This has only been possible through our collaboration with our partner organisations.

Future Vision Technology events take place on the fourth Thursday of each month starting at 10am. For the Zoom link please contact antony@sightairedale.org.uk

Retinitis Pigmentosa

What do blind people see? – Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa describes a group of conditions that affect the retina. Retinitis Pigmentosa is a progressive condition and usually presents in childhood. However, in some cases may not appear until the 30s or 40s. In the early stages, the patient may notice that it takes longer for their eyes to adjust to poor light, such as outdoors at dusk or in a dimly lit room. Known as night blindness.

Patients will also experience a gradual reduction in their peripheral vision. Central vision may be affected first in some cases. Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic condition and results in the degeneration of the photoreceptor cells (light-sensitive cells) in the retina resulting in loss of vision and, in severe cases, blindness.

Why HTML Headings are important for accessibility

Having correctly structured HTML headings in documents is essential for helping people using accessibility technologies find their way around your webpage. But what are headings, and why are they so important.

Video explaining HTML Headings

What are HTML Headings

HTML has six heading levels labelled <h1>..<h6> with <h1> being the most important heading and <h6> being the least important.

The <h1> heading is only used once per page and represents the main heading of the page. The remaining levels can be used as many times as needed but must be used in order.

How to write Headings in HTML

The code for HTML headings is as follows:-

<h1>Main Heading Text</h1>
	<h2>Section Heading Text</h2>
		<h3>Subheading Text</h3>

Why you should use headings

When a sighted person looks at a webpage, they use factors such as the size, colours, fonts and position of the text to get clues to how the page is structured.

In this example, the main heading <h1> is the largest, centred and bold. In addition, the section headings <h2> are bold and have an underline, and the subheadings <h3> for each section are bold.

Shows headings, wth colour coded equivilent HTML headings

This is what the HTML code looks like for the heading structure in this document.

<h1>Maine Coon</h1>
        <h3>Cat Shows</h3>

When a person uses a screen reader, they have access to none of these navigational clues. Screen readers read text on the screen; they have no way of knowing what is and is not important. So we have to tell them the structure of the document, one of the ways of doing this is by using HTML headings. The screen reader user can then use navigation tools built into their screen reader to move around the page more efficiently.

Using headings correctly will also help search engines to know what is important on the page. There are several tutorials available on YouTube about headings and search engine optimisation.

Common mistakes with headings

Using formatted text instead of headings

Slide showing document with what appear to be headings, and how a screen reader would see teh same document.

In this example, the document on the left appears to use headings; however, the text has been formatted to look like headings. This means to a screen reader, it has no structural information and looks like a mass of text on the right.

Using headings for things that arn’t headings

Shows a H2 Heading being used to make the first paragraph of a document large and bold.

It’s quite common on web pages for the first paragraph of an article to be in a larger font, and bolder than the rest of the body text. However, in this case, <h2> level heading has been used to achieve this. If you need to format a paragraph, then this should be done with the stylesheet for the web page

Using Headings out of Order

Example showing tree diagramme of heading out of order.

The headings should be in a hierarchical order but in this case, we can see that <h4> comes after <h1>, we’ve got <h2>, but then <h3> is missing.

Ways to check your headings

What do blind people see? - Macular Degeneration

What do Blind People See? – Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 or over. AMD Occurs when the Macular, the part of the eye responsible for central vision stops working. This usually happens gradually over time.

Video Simulation of Macular Degeneration

Watch this video for an artistic impression of how Macular Degeneration may progress over time


Symptoms of Macular Degeneration include:-

  • Straight lines such as door frames and lampposts may appear distorted or bent
  • Vision may become blurry or develop gaps
  • Objects in front of you may change shape, size, colour or seem to move or disappear
  • Dark spots, such as a smudge on glasses, could appear in the centre of your vision
  • Colours can fade
  • You may find bright light glaring and uncomfortable
  • You may find it difficult to adapt from dark to light environment
  • Words might disappear when you are reading

Types of AMD

There are two types of Macular Degeneration, Wet MD and Dry MD. Dry MD causes a gradual deterioration in vision over several years as the cells of the Macular naturally die off but are not replaced. Around 15% of people with Dry MD will go on to develop Wet MD.

In Wet MD abnormal blood vessels grow into the macular and cause scarring. Wet MD can cause a sudden deterioration in vision if these vessels bleed. However, it can be treated if caught quickly.

MD only affects the central vision, so patients will still be able to see using their peripheral or side vision

Visual Hallucinations

Visual Hallucinations in people with sight loss – Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a condition where people with sight loss experience visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not there). In this article, we attempt to answer some questions about this condition.

Talk by Judith Potts of Esme’s Umbrella about Charles Bonnet Syndrome

What sort of Hallucinations do people with sight loss get?

  • People may see patterns, colours, shapes (simple hallucinations) or distorted faces, objects, animals, landscapes, people in period costume (complex hallucinations).
  • Hallucinations are often vivid and can be seen in greater detail than the person can see in real life.
  • The hallucinations may be frightening or benign.
  • The hallucinations are always visual, they don’t involve taste, touch, smell or hearing things.
  • People are usually aware that what they are seeing is not real or learn to recognise them as not real, they do not develop delusions.
  • Charles Bonnet syndrome isn’t a mental illness

Who gets Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

  • Usually occurs in people with more than 60% sight loss.
  • Can occur at any age
  • According to the Macular Society up to half of people with Macular Degeneration experience visual hallucinations (Macular Society, n.d.).

What causes Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

  • Normally when the eyes are open the brain is constantly receiving visual signals.
  • Different parts of the brain are responsible for seeing different types of things, such as colour, faces etc.
  • When a person experiences sight loss, these signals are lost or disrupted.
  • The brain cells responsible for vision suddenly don’t have enough to do, so start firing spontaneously.
  • People will experience hallucinations depending on what these areas are responsible for seeing.
  • The brain gradually gets used to this reduced visual stimulus, so the hallucinations gradually reduce overtime.
  • However, another deterioration vision may cause the Hallucinations to return
  • Infection such as urine or chest infections may also cause the Hallucinations to return.

How do you diagnose Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

  • There is no one test to diagnose Charles Bonnet Syndrome
  • A diagnosis is made by talking to the patient and ruling out other medical conditions that could be causing Visual Hallucinations
  • “If a person has vision loss and they’re experiencing simple or complex hallucinations and don’t have signs of dementia or mental illness, they probably have Charles Bonnet syndrome”. (NHS, 2018)

How do you treat Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

  • There is currently no cure for Charles Bonnet Syndrome
  • Gaining reassurance that the Hallucinations are caused by sight loss and not a mental illness can help people cope better.
  • Talking about CBS with family/friends, GP or Ophthalmologists can help.
  • CBS isn’t a mental illness but professionals working in mental health have experience in helping people cope with hallucinations.
  • Esme’s Umbrella recommends the following self-help techniques (Potts, n.d.)
    • if sitting, try standing up and walking round the room. If standing, try sitting.
    • Walk into another room or another part of the room.
    • Turn your head slowly to one side and then the other. Dip your head to each shoulder in turn.
    • Stare straight at the hallucination.
    • Change whatever it is you are doing at that moment – turn off/turn on the television/radio/music.
    • Other strategies target the brain regions involved in hallucinations. These include:
    • Changing light level in the room. It might be the dim light that is causing the hallucinations. If so, turn on a brighter light – or vice versa.
    • Blink your eyes once or twice.
    • A specific eye-movement exercise. When the hallucination starts, look from left to right about once every second for 15 seconds without moving your head. If the hallucination continues, have a rest for a few seconds and then repeat the eye movements. You may need four or five repeats of the eye movements to have an effect but there is no point in continuing beyond this if there is no benefit.
    • Shine a torch upwards in front of the eyes – NOT INTO THE EYES – and the light stimulates the cone cells, so the brain switches off the hallucination.
  • Some medications used to treat Epilepsy, Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease have been effective for some people, but these may also come with serious side effects.

Further Reading

Blind Persons TV Licence Concession

Blind Persons TV Licence Concession

As of the 1 August 2020, the BBC scrapped free TV licences for the over 75s unless they receive pension credit. However, you may be able to apply for the Blind Persons TV Licence Concession.

What reductions are available?

You can get a Free TV licence if:-

  • You are over 75 and get pension credit
  • You are over 75, and regardless of if you get pension credit you live in a care home that has an ARC (Accommodation for Residential Care Licence), you need to speak to the care home administrator to see if this applies to you.

You can get a 50% reduction in the cost of a TV Licence if

  • You or someone you live with is Blind/Severely sight impaired regardless of their age.

You don’t need a TV licence if:-

  • You receive TV signals by a digital receiver that can only play sound and not display a picture.

Blind Persons TV Licence Concession

You are eligible for a 50% reduction in the cost of your TV Licence, If you or someone you live with is registered Blind or Severely Sight Impaired. For a Colour TV that’s £78.75 and for a Black and White TV it is £26.50 (as 5 August 2020).

How to apply

To apply for the Blind Persons TV Licence concession you can contact TV Licensing on 0300 790 6130 or visit their website at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/for-your-home/blindseverely-sight-impaired-aud5

When you first apply for the Blind person concession, you will need to provide proof that you are Blind or Severely Sight Impaired, this can be either a copy of:-

  • Your CVI (Certificate of Visual Impairment) or BD8 Certificate
  • A certificate or document issued by a Local Authority that shows you are registered as blind (severely sight impaired)
  • certificate from an Ophthalmologist (eye surgeon), stating that you are blind (severely sight impaired

Sight airedale is unable to provide you with proof of your visual impairment. Your GP (they may charge for this) or Hospital should be able to provide you with evidence of your visual status.

If the Blind Person is not the licence payer.

If the Blind person is not the licence payer, you will need to transfer the TV licence into their name, assuming they are over 18 for more information on how to do this visit the TV Licensing website or call them on 0300 790 6130. You will need to have your current TV licence number available.

How to get a refund

If you are currently paying for a full TV licence, you can apply for a refund from the date that you became registered Blind or April 2000 which is when the scheme started. You will need to be able to show that you were registered blind at the time you purchased the licence.

Turn on AmazonSmile in the Amazon App

Turn on Amazon Smile in the Amazon app.

You can now support sight airedale through amazon smile by using the amazon app on your iPhone or android phone. 

  1. Load the Amazon shopping app
  2. Choose the main menu
  3. Choose settings
  4. Choose Amazon smile
  5. Follow the on-screen prompts

If you’re not already giving to us via amazon.smile visit https://www.smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1080245-0 When you shop at smile.amazon.co.uk 0.5% of your purchase will go to support sight airedale. If you forget, Amazon will remind you.

Covid-19 Scams

Don’t fall for Covid-19 Scams

Trading standards have launched the Friends Against Scams scheme to raise awareness of Covid-19 scams. You can learn more by visiting Beware Of COVID-19 Scams.

Be aware of people offering or selling

  • Virus Testing Kits – These are only offered by the NHS
  • Vaccines or miracle cures – there is currently no vaccine or cure
  • Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus such as anti-bacterial products
  • Shopping or medication collection services
  • Home cleaning services.
Our Covid-19 Update

Covid-19 Update

We hope you are all staying safe during this time, we’re both working from home, so the office is closed to callers, but we are still answering the phones. Our helpline hours remain the same from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm Monday to Thursday.

Continue reading “Covid-19 Update”