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On 1 March, we held our annual Low Vision day for the Part V optometry students to increase their knowledge and awareness of the difficulties people with reduced vision and vision impairments face in their everyday lives. Volunteers Michael Lloyd, Trevor Pumbly, Camille Guy and Susan Grimsdell captivated the students sharing their experiences of vision loss. Katie Webber (a counsellor from the Blind Foundation) described how optometrists can improve their communication with people who have visual impairments or reduced vision. Samantha Simkin, PHD candidate and Optometrist for Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ)) explained the services that BLENNZ offers.

Students got hands-on experience during a workshop – run by Adaptive Technology instructors from the Blind Foundation – where they learnt about how iPads, cell phones and computers can be adapted to make them more accessible for people with visual impairments. The students also accepted the challenge of being blindfolded and guided up and down stairs, and learning how to sit in a chair correctly with reduced vision.  Volunteers with low vision and visual impairments kindly gave their time to participate in vision checking such as having measurements made of their central and peripheral vision. The students learnt a great deal from the volunteers sharing their experiences and answering questions on daily tasks such as reading, cooking food and walking around.

The School would like to thank everyone involved, especially those who travelled to Auckland, and for the support from the Blind Foundation and BLENNZ. Also thanks to Macular Degeneration, Retina NZ, and volunteers who gave their time to talk to the students and participate in vision testing. Another Low Vision day is being held in March 2019 and we’ll be seeking volunteers with low vision and vision impairments to participate. We would be delighted to hear from anyone interested. Please contact Michelle O’Hanlon.