My name is Alistair Ford. I have been a member of Sight Support Derbyshire since 2006 when I was diagnosed with Cone Dystrophy which is a genetic eye disorder that affects the cones in the back of both eyes causing my eyes to be extremely sensitive to light and loss of central vision. There are a lot of things I have had to give up doing because of my sight loss such as driving, going into buildings with bright lights and even going out on my own. But one thing I still enjoy doing is my hobby of photography. Although I had to sell my Digital SLR camera gear because I couldn’t see through the viewfinder anymore, I have found new ways to take photographs and videos and edit them using different types of cameras. My current favourite is to use my Android Smartphone and Tablet which both have large screens on them that make great viewfinders. And I have recently set up a Facebook page where I share my photos from our favourite Greek island of Zakynthos.
I have got involved with the North East Derbyshire Project blog so I can share with you my experiences of living with sight loss and to pass on a few tips and advice which I hope will help others.
Travelling On the Bus
I don’t travel on the bus very often because my eyes are very sensitive to the strip lighting they have on most buses which causes me to go dizzy and sometimes pass out. But I have found that the Red Arrow buses are more like a coach and have different lighting, which is much better for me to travel on. My journey is from Alfreton to the Chesterfield Sight Support Office on St Margaret’s Drive.
If you are registered as blind or partially sighted you can apply for a Gold Card (via Derbyshire County Council) which entitles you to free off-peak bus travel. And I used my card to travel to Chesterfield for the North East Derbyshire Project open day.
It’s a good idea to check the bus times before you leave home as the timetables on the bus stops are very hard to see. I used the Google Maps app on my Android Smartphone (see screenshot on left). The phone uses GPS so it knows my current location so all I have to do is enter the destination I want to travel to, which was Chesterfield. I can enter it by typing or by voice. Then I set the mode of transport to bus and a list of bus times will appear along with a map showing walking directions to the bus stop and the route the bus will take. When I set off walking to the bus stop the directions are read out to me by the phone just like a car SatNav does.
Once on the Red Arrow bus a voice on the bus speakers tells you which stop will be coming up next so you don’t miss where to get off.
When I arrived in Chesterfield I then had to find the Sight Support Derbyshire Office and that’s where the Google Maps app comes in again. I searched in Google Maps for Sight Support and it was located by a pin on the map. Tapping the pin brings up a screen with information including the address, phone number, photos of the building and the directions to get you there. So I had no problem finding the office (see screenshot pictured on the right).
The search also works for many other local businesses and places you might need to find like shops, restaurants and bars so it makes for a great way to help you find your way around town and find new places to visit.
Until next time
Alistair Ford – Guest Blogger