Tag Archive for Mac

Learning to forget to look…., Not ready for that yet!

Although I am registered as ‘blind’ I do have some sight, all be it distance vision that doesn’t even get me the top line on the eye chart and central vision with a peripheral of less than 10%, a figure that has recently reduced by 17%…. Feel free to do the math on that! To me it means just one thing

“my remaining sight is deteriating and quicker that I really would like”

Making the most of my remaining sight is key, and by actually using my eyes I am causing no harm, nor am I strengthening them. The deterioration of my retina is uncontrolled and unmapped.

So, by now you may feel confused by the title of this latest blog, well let me explain. As my sight has deteriorated, my eye’s and the period for which I can use them to concentrate on anything has reduced dramatically. In theory anyway, I say this, because I can still spend hours watching a really good film, of which without the aid of audio descript I miss a large percentage of it.

But for this I suffer.

As my eyes tire from the concentration, they in fact become dry, and difficult to close without seeing vivid flashing images on my eyelids.

As I said above, having missed a large percentage of a film, I now rely fully on Audio Descript and do not strain or even try to see what is actually happening on the screen. This has given me back my love of the cinema in recent months, so that is a bonus!

But there is one part of my life that I can’t stop over concentrating on and overworking my eyes, that is my phone, my laptop and my iPad. All of which have fabulous built in accessible software, after all Steve Jobs insisted that technology was assessable to all, not as an after thought, but as part of its design, hence why all my tech is Apple…. That and the fact that originally my training before my sight loss was in Design and if it was design, it HAD TO BE Apple.

Anywho, I digress. I have dragon and Siri that enable me to speak to my tech for it to then type my words. I have magnification, I even have voice over. And yes for you techno-phobes, it even works on touch screen. Even more so since the IOS 7 update!

But the thing is….

I have SOME vision and I can’t help but use it.

I can touch type and thankfully have been able to do this from a very young age (I think I was about 8) so I don’t have to look at the keyboard or technically the screen either, but I do like to proof read what I have written, especially when it comes to emails, letters and more recently college assignments.

It is a college assignment that has in fact lead me to write about this. You see, it is currently 4.15am on a Monday morning, having been working on my latest assignment that is due in at 9am THIS MORNING. I am now not able to sleep, even though it would be a really good idea if I could as I have a 4 hour lecture and a gym class later today too!

The question you are probably asking right now as you read that last paragraph, is what the….? Yes, I did leave this assignment a little later than others, but actually that isn’t the reason why I am up so late with it.

The REAL reason I was working on it so late, was because of my wish to see what I am doing and the light levels. You see even with the daylight lamp on, if it is too dark in the rest of the room, I struggle greatly to focus on all of my work, as the light level varies from that under the lamp to the rest of the room.

With the darker evenings (which in fact cause the darker days) I am able to sit down with a suitable light that illuminates the whole room at about 6pm.

This is slap bang in the middle of feeding time at my zoo, then comes baths, books and cuddles before bed for my 2 little monsters. So that 6pm soon becomes 8pm and I’m sure you can see where I am going from here?

I have tried and tested myself with this, so that I can understand what I can do without suffering and what I can’t achieve without the suffering.

The short answer is not much.

Once I hit 2.5 – 3 hours thats it, I can look at spending at least that again letting my eyes settle down. The good news is that if I extend that to 5 hours, that doesn’t increase the ‘down time’ that I need.

So, to save my sanity, especially in the winter months I need to start to stop looking.

But its hard, emotionally more than anything….. The reason is because, one day I wont ACTUALLY be able to see it, so while I can why shouldn’t I?

If your sight were or if your sight is deteriating would you want to stop seeing all the things you can see now knowing that in the future you will have no choice but not to see them?

This is a tricky argument that I have had with a few people, you see the one point I struggle with is that apart from the lack of sleep, I am not causing myself any harm, I am certainly not causing my eye’s damage.

This I have checked, double checked and yes, you got it TRIPLE CHECKED!!

Looking towards the future

Part of me as a person, is someone who works and earns my own money. Being on benefits for me is a failure of my ability to do this.

I am currently in a position that I am reliant on the help that they offer. I am home looking after my two children, now on my own after my relationship broke down earlier this year.

But I want to do more……

It is not that I do not love being at home, or that I don’t love my children, but I need more. I have a strong work ethic and I want to be able to support my children more and allow them to have nicer things.

My career before my sight started to deteriorate was in design, a career that yes I could have continued with with the correct support, but one that I felt that my heart had fallen out of.

I have also worked within administration and with charities that deal with sight loss. But although I ave an eye condition and I enjoy the volunteer roles that I have with Open Sight and Guide dogs, my sight is just part of me.

So time to look to the future and to see what I can do for my next career.

Last year I started this ball rolling by doing a taster course in counselling. I fell in love with it as a subject and as a possible career move. And despite my initial concerns my sight loss has no affect on me being able to support others. It just means that I need to do things in a slightly different way.

This year I have been working towards my ABC certificate in counselling. Class makes up just 4 hours with 8 hours at home, however for me this is more like 12.

Studying and all that comes with it has been a learning curve in more ways that just the subject! I have learnt a lot about how and when I can use my eye’s and sight to get the most out of them, without creating negativities for myself.

An example of this, is using the computer. As I have said before, I am a Mac user and as such, have a MacBook Pro and iPad. Both of which offer fabulous accessibility as standard. (maybe thats another blog in the making!) But when I can use my Macs is becoming limited.

If I want to be able to close my eyes and wind them down to sleep, I must not be using them after 9pm in the evening. Even with the speech software, I still try to use my remaining sight, its a natural reflex. If I have reading to do, this must be done even earlier in the evening or preferably during the day.

So, study is nothing like the all-night, stopping only to use the loo sessions that I had when at university just 10 years ago. Which is a real marker for me of the deterioration that has occurred.

So, my work is done with an hour here, an hour there and also a stopwatch. Because as with most people when I am deep into something, time can run away with me and with my eye’s I do not feel the affects immediately, but it is often a few hours after.

But this has not put me off.

Just this week, went in the application for the DipHe in Counselling. Its a whole day at Eastleigh with 2 1/2 days of home study. The ‘perk’ of this course is that I can apply for assistance in the form of a scribe for the time in college. I can also apply for a grant to help me to upgrade my Mac, to a larger screen as my existing mac is becoming a struggle. Its not going to be easy. This I am in no doubt about, but this is where I want to be.

So, as I can no longer do late night studying, I will have to give VERY early mornings a trial instead.

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