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West Lothian Service: James shares his story

Visibility service user, James, wearing glare glasses and using a long cane

Service user James and his partner Sarah have lived and worked in Canada for the past 30 years. It had always been their intention to retire home to Scotland.

James suffered sudden and dramatic sight loss whilst they were still in Canada in 2019. The global pandemic and lockdown in Canada meant that James was unable to access services from the Canadian National Institute for Blind people.

Aware that they had to do something, James’ family purchased some aids and equipment and James tried to use his long cane as best he could. Without input from local services he understandably became frustrated. He was reluctant to leave the house, even with support, and was becoming depressed.

James and Sarah did retire back to West Lothian and in February 2021 James attended St John’s Eye department where he was registered Severely Sight Impaired. It was through the support we provide onsite at St John’s Hospital that James was first put in touch with Visibility Scotland.

James was provided with information on registration, local services and equipment which he could access for support. This was his first contact with a visual rehabilitation practitioner since losing his sight. A plan was put in place for James and he embarked on a series of training sessions with his partner in attendance.

James and Sarah are now learning effective guiding techniques, protection when navigating obstacles and, as James calls it, “proper” long cane training.

These sessions will continue throughout the summer of 2021. Both James and Sarah are delighted with the progress he is making and the improvements to his technique, skills and, as a result, his general disposition. After the first few sessions Sarah said “I am surprised about how much James has come on in three weeks, he is really enjoying learning and is keen to regain his independence. At the beginning, before we came back, he was understandably depressed but he now looks forward to his sessions with David from Visibility Scotland who has been great”.

James added “Having started training with David, I’m learning how to use my long cane properly and also navigate obstacles which therefore will lead to more independence for myself. We are in the process of mastering controlled crossings and uncontrolled crossings which will help with my everyday life. I know it’ll take time but practise will get me there. I’m grateful for the service Visibility Scotland have given me.”

Image of Natasha Johnston
Written by: Natasha Johnston

Posted on the: August 16, 2021
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