Newsletter Archive

Dear Member

Welcome to the Society’s SPRING NEWSLETTER


COFFEE MORNINGS – Don’t forget our wonderful Coffee Mornings! Where else would you get news, views, intelligent conversation as well as first class beverages and biscuits and all for a 50p donation? As always every 2nd and 4th Thursday in the month from 10.00am – noon (ish).  This year, the Macular Support Group will be included and will hopefully come along once a month on the 4th Thursday. Guest speakers will be invited throughout the course of the year to liven us up – they may just get a word in edgeways! Watch this space!

 TALKING NEWSPAPER – Let us know if you would like to be included in the weekly distribution – the word is spreading!

Who would like more excitement? How do you like the sound of a Talking Magazine? Well – as of the end of March, a compendium of magazine articles will be included within your distribution of your Talking Newspaper and will be issued at the end of each month. How’s about that then?


Home Instead – is a local Senior Care company who offer a full care service to match the needs of the individual. They offer Companionship Services, Home Help Services and Personal Care Services.

Telephone: 01254 471992 if you would like more details.


The Macular Society produces their own newsletter and the latest edition includes updates on two of their exciting research projects working towards future treatments to repair the damaged macula. If anyone would like to be included in their circulation then ring: 01264 321 964 or email:

Low Vision Clinic (Royal Blackburn Hospital) – The good news is that from the beginning of March this year, Jenny Roscoe is now covering the desk at the Low Vision Clinic. As Monday is a particular busy day, the Consultants requested that the day be covered and Jenny has stepped up to the mark.


Manchester Royal Eye Hospital – is 200 years old in 2014 and a Conference is scheduled for 24th – 27th June 2014. The conference will present all fields of speciality expertise in MREH ophthalmology, in particular those in which there is clinical research leadership. There will be around 350 delegates in attendance and it will be interesting to learn their findings and the latest developments.

Enhanced Vision Europe Ltd – have come up with a brand new Pebble, for a brand New Year. It is a low vision aid and is described as the only Hand-Held Magnifier you will ever need. It is compact, ultra-portable and very light in weight. It is a fabulous piece of kit and as such isn’t cheap! We have one on loan here at the Society and we hope to include a demonstration by their Representative (who unfortunately comes from Yorkshire!) of just what this little gadget can do and that demonstration is pencilled in for our coffee morning – 27th March.

Nystagmus – The Wobbly Wednesday held late 2013, which was the first ever nystagmus awareness day to be held, was very successful and reached thousands of people Across the UK and beyond. The event is scheduled for 5th November again this year and Nystagmus Network hope it will go with a BANG!!! More information to follow nearer the due date. Nystagmus Network has its own web site: – for further information of their activities.

Nystagmus Network is the leading source of support, information and advice for people affected by the complex eye condition – Nystagmus. Their open day is Saturday 28th June 2014 at the Mercure Leicester Grand Hotel, Granby St, Leicester (10.00am – 4.00pm) if anyone is interested. There is an interesting programme of events and various speakers in attendance.

MP’s are supporting a campaign for better understanding and awareness of Nystagmus which is an eye condition characterised by involuntary eye movements. The MP’s present in the House of Commons at the session in January expressed surprise at the current lack of awareness of the condition. Nystagmus affects one in 1000 people and the challenge of having “wobbly eyes” makes every-day life difficult in terms of education, employment and social situations. MP’s will be contacting local GP’s, clinical commissioning groups and specialist teachers of the visually impaired. They hope to find out what information Nystagmus patients receive at the point of diagnosis and what tests are carried out.

Calibre Audio Library – is an easy way of listening to audio books without having to pay an annual subscription. A one-off payment of £35 enables you to enjoy free books for life from their extensive collection of 7000 digital titles. These are available on USB sticks, CD’s and via streaming (via website on a laptop, smartphone or tablet). Up to 3 USB sticks or 8 CD’s may be borrowed at any one time. Calibre offers a free 12 week trial period for any-one thinking about using this facility or who is unsure if they will like listening to audio books. Telephone: 01296 432339 or email:

Infosound – is a UK-wide registered charity, based in Brighton, that produces free information in audio for vision-impaired people, on subjects that directly affect living with sight loss. They are non-commercial, non-political and editorially impartial. Their core aim is to share information, knowledge, experience and opinion. They do have, amongst other things, an Audio Message board that gives blind and partially sighted people the opportunity to share comments, opinions, tips and experiences about living with sight loss, by simply phoning in a message for others to hear. Sounds good! Tel: 03000 111 555 or email:

Listening Books – is a charity that is passionate about making books accessible to everyone and offers an easy-to-use audiobook library service to anyone who struggles to read due to a visual or physical impairment. It is a national organisation with a membership of approximately 33,000 across the UK and provides a wealth of fiction and non-fiction titles for all. If you or someone you know would be interested then ring: 020 7407 9417 or email:

National Eye Health Week 2014Save the Date! – The dates for this year have now been confirmed. The Week will run Monday 22nd

September – Sunday 28th September 2014.
‘Understanding Sight Loss’ series of information leafletsRNIB now have translations of the ‘Understanding Sight Loss’ series of information leaflets available in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Welsh. These provide detailed information on common eye conditions including treatments and available support and are jointly produced by RNIB and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Leaflets are available as downloadable PDF documents or as spoken-word audio files in WAV format, which can be easily downloaded or streamed directly via the RNIB website.
Intelligent Spectacles – A scientist who has invented a pair of intelligent spectacles that can help the blind to “see” with simple visual images and descriptions of nearby signs and objects has won a major scientific prize. Stephen Hicks of the University of Oxford said that the £50,000 prize money will be used to develop the glasses further so that they become a cheap and effective way for partially-sighted people to navigate through public places. Computer-aided vision has in the past concentrated on the high-tech and expensive use of tiny silicon chips that can be implanted into the eye to provide a stronger visual signal to the light-sensitive cells of the retina. However, Dr Hicks’ device does not involve invasive medical procedures and can be worn on the nose like ordinary glasses, making it simpler, cheaper and safer than chip implants. The smart glasses use tiny cameras and software to recognise nearby objects and to project them in a simple and intuitive way onto the lenses of a pair of glasses, which act like personal movie screens to the partially sighted.
NEWS IN BRIEF – Affectionately known as “bits and bobs”

 Miriam Martin – has been selected to succeed Stephen Remington as Chief Executive of Action for Blind People (Action), formally taking up her new role on 01 April 2014.

Central Heating Controls  – Charities call for accessible designs and publish new guide to heating controls and saving energy. Many people with sight loss are unable to control their heating or cut their fuel bills because heating dials and switches are too difficult to use says new research released today by the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (Rica), and the sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust. In a new guide, ‘Choosing Central Heating Controls and Saving Energy’, researchers report a catalogue of design problems that make heating controls difficult to operate, and offer practical advice on choosing and using heating controls to stay warm and save energy:

Clocks and switches were difficult to see. • Instructions on digital screens were too small. • Markings on dials too faint. • Dials were hard to turn and tappets too stiff or fiddly to move easily. • Pointers were difficult to line up. • Audible signals such as beeps and clicks were often not loud enough to detect or there were no audible sounds at all.

For more information or in braille, readers should please contact: –

email: or telephone: 020 8995 0880.

Morrisons Pharmacy – International charity, Vision Aid Overseas (VAO), is delighted to announce the arrival of 25,000 new reading glasses at its Sussex head office, generously donated by Morrisons Pharmacy, part of Wm Morrisons, the fourth largest supermarket in the U.K. This is the biggest single glasses donation received by the development charity in its 29 year history, and the first time the retail giant has supported Vision Aid Overseas. The glasses will be provided to people in developing countries who need them for reading and close work due to their age. The ability to see close objects clearly enables many people to work for longer, earn more money for their families and escape disadvantage and poverty.

Twitter – Chicken Nugget – of all of the social media platforms, Twitter is perhaps the one most used by blind individuals, largely due to its text-based nature. A new Twitter client for Windows, Chicken Nugget, has emerged to provide a premium experience for both visual and nonvisual users alike. The tastily-named Chicken Nugget is a new Twitter client for Windows which actually includes two different interfaces. All keys are definable so if one conflicts with another application, that’s easily remedied.

Daft, Funny and Heartfelt Tales – Hanoria Baranovich of Bacup is hoping to compile a book based on blind or partially sighted peoples’ anecdotes. Do you have any little stories? If so – let Mike know then we can pass them on. Hanoria intends to ask some famous blind people, like David Blunkett for example. We are just asking our “infamous” people for their contributions! Just tell us your stories and we’ll type them out! Anne and Ernie’s “asking the traffic light in Blackpool for directions would be a good one.”

Ribble Valley Visually Impaired Group – which is based in Lowergate, Clitheroe, extends an open invitation to all visually impaired people and their carer’s. They are a self-help group who live in and around the Ribble Valley and were formed to meet the need for like-minded people to take a more active role in life and to participate in various social and physical activities. They meet every Monday evening and have an informal and relaxed gathering. If you would like attend – let our Society know.


COFFEE  MORNINGS and Macular Support Group (MSG)- next three months: –

10th April

24th April – (MSG) Guest speaker – Kamini Ghandi – British Red Cross

8th May

22nd May- (MSG)

12th June

26th June- (MSG) Guest Trade Demo – Ian Hughes – Associated Optical

10th July

24th July- (MSG) – Guest Speaker – Kamini Ghandi – British Red Cross


Torch Trust Holidayshave a couple of holiday breaks for people who have recently learned that they are losing their sight. The April break is 8th – 10th April 2014 at Gartmore House, Stirling, Scotland and the May event is 8th-10th May at the Bradbury Hotel, Sussex. The cost is £180 per person and includes all sessions, refreshments and full board. The events are hosted by Gail Millar, who is a qualified Eye Clinic Liaison Officer.

Greatdays Travel Group – have another Greatdays Music Hall scheduled for 18th May at the Dunkenhalgh and it is advertised as a Sunday Lunch or dinner show. Price from £26.00 per person. Any-one interested? Let us know.

The Lowry – has various Audio Described Performances available in 2014 – La Boheme (if you like a bit of the Opera) and War Horse later in the year – September. Just ask if you want more info or ring: 0843 208 6000.

Charity Will Week – 2ndJune – 6thJune by Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors. During this Charity Will week, Watson Ramsbottom is taking part on behalf of the Blackburn District Blind Society. They are offering to everyone the opportunity to make or update their Will with a professional solicitor, in return for a donation to the Blackburn District Blind Society. Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors have offices based at Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington and Great Harwood and they are offering to draw up basic Wills without charging their usual fee. In return for this service, they hope clients will donate the fee normally charged to our charity. This is the opportunity to give to charity, rather than paying a solicitor.

As a guide, the suggested amount is just £100 for a single Will, £150 for a pair of ‘matching’ Wills. Should you require more specific or detailed advice, they offer a free Wills and Estate Planning Report service for all of their clients. The report identifies both your intentions and the outcomes you wish to achieve on your death and sets out planning options to you free of charge and without obligation. Please contact Patrick Swanney on 01254 672222 or to arrange an appointment.

Galloways Society for the blind – has some exciting activities lined up for spring and summer. A Driving Day (yes – a Driving Day!) is planned for 28th April and 16th September at the Three Sisters Race Track in Wigan. All participants will be given the chance to drive in a dual controlled driving school car, be a passenger in a high powered sports car and ride pillion on a high powered motorcycle. £15.00 for the day and for all those thrills! Visits to Water Parks, Coniston, is also scheduled (14th -18th April and 21st – 25th July) for those who enjoy the Great Outdoors at only £106.00 per week with everything included. The September Driving Day was discussed at a February Coffee Morning and thoughts from the members present were possibly to arrange transport for persons interested in the event. This gives us time to obtain numbers of interested parties and to make suitable arrangements.  See Mike for more details.

Bargain BasementThe Society has a number of items that have kindly been donated to us. We plan to have a Spring Sale and display all our “goodies” for your perusal! This wonderful event is scheduled for Tuesday 15th April 2014 from 9.00am to 1.00pm. We will put prices on the bargains for guidance, but no reasonable offer will be refused! Do come along and have a browse. “One man’s (or woman’s) trash is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.


Many thanks to Anne Court for all of the beautiful knitted Octopus’s and other creatures she kindly produced and for fulfilling all her orders pre-Christmas. The Society received £42 in sales. Thank you so very much Anne. Hope you didn’t get “Knitters Elbow” as a result.

Thanks also to Lynn Williams whose delightful little tray of knitted Christmas puddings (with secret chocolate centres) graced our homes at Christmas time. £16.25 was donated to our Society. Thank you Lynn.

Thanks also to Melanie who attended our Coffee Morning late February, and who represented the British Red Cross. Melanie has left a number of Enrolment Forms for the Carers Emergency Card Service, which she explained to our gathering. Information is available too, regarding the British Red Cross Transport Support Service, which too was fully explained to those present .

The Coffee Morning attendees were very interested in the “light touch” hand and back massage, offered by the British Red Cross as part of their Therapeutic care. If you would like your stress lowering (and who wouldn’t?) then contact the British Red Cross (01772 707300) and if there is enough interest, they can make suitable appointments for all to attend at the chosen day and date, here at the Society (Independent Living Centre). Thank you Melanie and the British Red Cross.

Thank you to all who attended our late February Coffee Morning and for buying raffle tickets and cakes. Thanks to all who provided the wonderful array of prizes and congratulations to those who won a prize. Thanks to the “Bakers” too. We made £93.60 on the day, very well done. The Society has “rounded up”, out of the beverages bucket, the figure to a grand total of £100, which we will present to Hanif Patel at a later date. This should enable Hanif to purchase more Talking Watches for his next trip to our friends with sight problems faraway in India. Thank you!

Let us know if we can improve the content and the layout in any way. There is always a limited amount of space in which to present any news which we hope will be of interest to you but if you require any further details please do not hesitate to telephone the office or call in at any-time. If you intend to call in, please telephone 01254 269225 first.

The Society does not receive any Government or Council funding so is dependent on donations, collections and legacies and the essential work undertaken by our greatly valued volunteers in supporting local blind and visually impaired people. Donations are always welcome, large or small.

That completes newsletter issue number 11. The next newsletter will be at end of June 2014. Hope the summer will be a good one for us all to enjoy.

Thank you for your continued involvement and support. Have a nice Easter.

 Mike Latham (CEO)