T.M., a charming, 79 year-old gentleman, was first diagnosed with sight loss in 2014. Prior to his sight loss, T.M. had been a very active person, enjoying participating in local social clubs and activities, playing music – including the ukulele – singing and dancing. His hobbies included photography and making models – T.M. possessing a fine collection of models including traction engines and a collection of fighter aircraft from the Second World War.
In 2014, T.M. was diagnosed as having glaucoma, experiencing sight loss in his right eye. His sight loss was compounded by operations to reduce the pressure in his eye. T.M. underwent further surgery on his sight during 2018 and subsequently began to lose sight in his left eye in 2019. Sight loss reduced T.M.’s ability to enjoy his hobbies and reluctantly he was forced to give up many of his social activities, his photography and model-making, leading to loneliness, isolation and a great sense of loss.
Struggling to come to terms with this, T.M. was referred to Middlesex Association for the Blind (MAB) and began receiving one-to-one counselling from Raheel, our trained counsellor. T.M. was struggling to manage everyday activities around the home and felt increasingly isolated. Unable to face the challenges of dealing with his sight loss, he began to experience suicidal thoughts. Alongside counselling support, MAB provided support through our Harrow Support Worker, Alison. With this support in place and with the support of friends, T.M. was able to begin to accept his sight loss and was able to start to move on, commencing I.T. training with MAB.
T.M. was trained to use Guide Connect computer software. Guide Connect uses a simple menu structure for navigating and selecting different activities, such as writing letters and documents, sending and receiving emails or browsing the internet. The program provides speech feedback which means it is not necessary to see the screen and hence offers a simple way, for people that would find the Windows desktop challenging, to use a computer.
T.M. has moved beyond his original training and is now experiencing the joys of online radio and podcasts. T.M. is keen to maximise the benefit from Guide Connect’s features, using its scan and read function to read his mail. Being able to use a computer is giving him back some independence, helping him to feel in control again and putting him in touch with people, freeing him from some of the social isolation that he was experiencing. MAB have been able to provide further training and support as required to help him. T.M. says that being able to use a computer has given him back “his sanity”. T.M. is still learning to live with sight loss, yet the support he has received from MAB and the ability to use technology are helping him to overcome the frustrations and challenges presented to him and he now has grounds to feel much more optimistic about life than he felt 12 months previously.