Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sight Village 2011

QAC Sight Village is held annually and is a large exhibition of products and services for the visually impaired. I attended the Birmingham event, but it is also held in Manchester and London. This was my second time going, as I last went in 2009. There is a blog post about that buried in this blog somewhere with no useful label to locate it!

The first time I went I got a little bored, but this time, I wish I had more time to explore and absorb. The place was packed with people and Calvin successfully found every single Guide Dog in the building to greet, but I have to say, I didn’t come across a single friendly GDO, as they all seemed really narked by Calvin’s bright eyed, helicopter tail hello. I know Calvin is easily distracted, but surely he’s not the only Guide Dog to be attracted to other dogs in harness!

Anyway, here’s my opinion on some of the products and services I came across...

Vibrating Glasses:
I can’t remember the proper name of these glasses, but they are RNIB’s new favourite gadget to flog. The glasses are supposed to detect over head objects and should be used in conjunction with a cane or dog. Priced around £80 they are reasonable for a visually impaired product. However, they made me cringe, as they look like the stereotypical blacked out, dark glasses some visually impaired people choose to wear. The vibration on your face isn’t the most comfortable and whilst they vibrated I found I moved my face to avoid the object, but my body didn’t follow, so effectively I was still in danger. Testing them in such a busy environment probably wasn’t the best idea, but they don’t get my vote.

Ultra Cane:
All new and improved, oh and double the price too, now costing £635. The electronics have been moved to the inside of the cane for protection and any previous folding issues have been resolved. It practically appears to be like a normal white cane, but the handle is a little bulkier with two vibrating pods. The top pod is for over head objects and the bottom for obstacles directly in your path. I found that after a couple of minutes I was able to walk freely without bumping into anything by responding to the vibrations. It is much more specific and accurate than the glasses and less obvious that you are using specialist equipment. If I was still a cane user, I would look at investing in one. They can be loaned or paid for in instalments and even better come in pink, blue or yellow, as well as the traditional white. I love my pink cane!

Offer free audio books on a memory stick or mp3 cd. Previously, I paid for a Talking Books membership with RNIB to get some of my literature books for uni, but will no longer be doing this, as there is a free service.

Vision Hotels:
I’ve been to the ones in Bognor and Teignmouth. A group of us want to go to Bognor again, but the hotels are no longer just for the visually impaired and there seem to be less discounts too. I was trying to find out how we could get a good deal, but all they could offer was 10% off if you have a RNIB membership or if you book 3 months in advance. This would still cost quite a lot. Previously, we paid £99 for 3 nights half board. I find it strange that they are not encouraging the visually impaired to go.

Are a pretty good charity, I went to Berlin with them in 2006 on the International Computer Camp, which was a week of activities with other countries from mainly Europe. They had a kids zone and Calvin and I got our picture taken on a green screen. I wanted it to be him on his own, but he didn’t sit still. We chose a beach backdrop, which gets super imposed on afterwards. Check out Look’s Outlook Youth Project for people aged 9 to 25 years old, I keep meaning to get involved!

Guide Dogs:
I went to there stand, but nobody spoke to us, they all just stayed sitting at their table not doing a whole lot! I saw Delphie doing a demo in the sports arena, he was the dog I had a demo walk with two years ago. I watched the demo for a little while, thinking what a false advert that they were giving. The crowd were all commenting on how amazing Delphie was, but I was so tempted to try Calvin on the obstacle course and show more realistically what type of dog you’re likely to get! I’m not sure it’s very convincing when a sighted person is demonstrating too.

Overall, it is a great exhibition to attend, to get in the know. I’d definitely recommend it.


Jen said...

Sight village sounds really interesting, though not sure I'd ever make the trip from Ireland just to see it, unless I was going for something else. One of my friends is going this week.
The glasses sound a bit strange. Don't think I'd like them. I'd like to try the cane though. Hopefully the price will have come down a good bit in around 4 years time when OJ has to retire and I have to wait between dogs.

Maybe those people needed their dogs to concentrate in such a busy environment, so weren't happy about having them distracted by another dog. I think it depends very much on where you are and what your doing at that time, how you react to distraction.

Selina Litt said...

Yeah they did say they would go down in the future, but they need to claim back the 2 million investment in upgrading them. I entered a competition to win a free one, that would be nice!

I was just surprised at GDOs reactions really. They were very growly and barky. In a place like that I was willing to have more patience with Calvin, knowing it's just a dog instinct. Nobody was able to walk very fast through the crowd anyway and most people were just standing still. I found myself appologising for Calvin, as I was made to feel it was all his fault. I was just as naughty as Calvin though, getting a quick stroke of every dog we met, to see how big they were and what breed. Every dog we met was smaller than him, except for Delphie who is the same size. Calvin was really good by his standards, he didn't jump on any of the dogs or owners, until we met Jenny and Jaynie cos that was far too exciting for him.