Author Archives: DQ

Accessible Medicine Information Service

Accessible Medicine leaflet information in your preferred format
  Did you know RNIB has a service called X-PIL, it is an automated system,
which allows you to listen to Patient Information Leaflets over the
telephone, and should you wish, also order a copy in either Braille, large
print or audio CD format.  They can also be viewed on the internet at
How do I use the X-PIL service?
Via the telephone
You, or your pharmacist, simply need to call RNIB’s Medicine Information
Line on 0800 198 5000 and say the P L (Product Licence) number from the
leaflet of the medication concerned.
The P L is usually an eight or nine digit number and it might have P L or E
U in front of it.  It may appear at the top or the bottom of the leaflet.
  RNIB’s Medicine Information Line is free to use and can be accessed 24
hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can opt to either listen to the leaflet
information, and/or order a copy in your preferred format to be sent to your
  If the leaflet you request is available, you should receive a copy in your
chosen format in just a few days.  If there is a problem accessing the PIL
via the phone service you will be put through to RNIB’s Disability Access
Services team (only available during normal office hours), who will
endeavour to help.
Via the X-PIL website
Alternatively, if you have internet access you can visit the X-PIL website where you can view the leaflet information
online.  You can also do a search by product name, which will provide you
with the P L number.

OBsticles On Our Street Survey

Wheelie bins? Overhanging branches? Cars parked on the pavement? Outdoor café tables and chairs? What street obstacles stop you when you are out and about? We need your help for a new survey we are conducting to find out more about the problems encountered on the street by people who are blind and partially sighted.
Our survey  only takes a few minutes to complete and will help us with our Streets Ahead campaign, which seeks to combat barriers to mobility on our streets. Maybe it is a poorly positioned bench, or maybe you are concerned about changes to the layout of your local high street? We need your help to shape our Streets Ahead campaign and ensure streets are kept clear and safe.
The deadline for this survey is Sunday 28 July so please do take just a few minutes to let us know what obstacles really bug you on the streets

Telesopic Lens May Aid Sight For Those With AMD

An international team of researchers have created the first telescopic contact lens; a contact lens that, when it’s equipped, gives you the power to zoom your vision almost three times. Yes, this is the first ever example of a bionic eye that effectively gives you Superman-like eagle-eye vision.
As you can see in the photo above, the telescopic contact lens has two very distinct regions. The center of the lens allows light to pass straight through, providing normal vision. The outside edge, however, acts as a telescope capable of magnifying your sight by 2.8x. This is about the same as looking through a 100mm lens on a DSLR. For comparison, a pair of bird-watching binoculars might have a magnification of 15x. The examples shown in the image below give you a good idea of what a 2.8x optical zoom would look like in real life.
The main breakthrough is that this telescopic contact lens is just 1.17mm thick, allowing it to be comfortably worn. Other attempts at granting telescopic vision have included: a 4.4mm-thick contact lens (too thick for real-world use), telescopic spectacles (cumbersome and ugly), and most recently a telescopic lens implanted into the eye itself. The latter is currently the best option currently available, but it requires surgery and the image quality isn’t excellent.
To create a 1.17mm-thick telescope, the researchers — led by Joseph Ford of UCSD and Eric Tremblay of EPFL — had to be rather creative. The light that will be magnified enters the edge of the contact lens, is bounced around four times inside the lens using patterned aluminium mirrors, and then beamed to the edge of the retina at the back of your eyeball. The mirrors magnify the image 2.8 times, but also correct for chromatic aberration, resulting in a surprisingly high fidelity image. To switch between normal and telescopic vision, the central (normal, unmagnified) region of the contact lens has a polarizing filter in front of it — and then the wearer equips a pair of 3D TV spectacles. By switching the polarizing state of the spectacles (a pair of active, liquid crystal Samsung 3D specs in this case), the user can choose between normal and magnified vision.
In case you were wondering, these solutions all primarily exist for one reason: To help restore sight to people with age-related macular degeneration. AMD damages the high-resolution fovea at the center of the retina, but generally the low-resolution outer region (perifovea) still works. Without the fovea, people with AMD can’t make out fine details, such as type on a page. These telescopic spectacles, lenses, and implants focus light onto this outer region, giving people with AMD the ability to make out these details.
The current telescopic contact lens is made out of PMMA, a gas-impermeable polymer that old, uncomfortable contact lenses used to be made of. To bring their lens to market, the researchers will need to switch over to rigid gas permeable (RGP) polymers, which modern, comfortable contact lenses are made from. While these telescopic lenses are obviously intended for people who suffer from AMD, there’s nothing to prevent a healthy person from wearing them and achieving better-than-human (superhuman?) vision.

Audio Described Ballet Performance & Tour

Northern Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at West Yorkshire Playhouse


Northern Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Fri 6 – Sat 14 September. With an unparalleled reputation for telling stories through dance, Northern Ballet brings this classic work to life through Dior inspired costumes and stylish sets, whilst David Nixon’s choreography brings out the comedy, romance and entanglements of this enchanting story.


There will be an audio described matinee performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday 14 September at 2pm. Northern Ballet is dedicated to creating opportunities for visually impaired audiences to engage with dance and we have devised our own unique program of activities that support the audio described performance.  On Saturday the performance includes the option to take part in an insight workshop from 11 – 12.15pm which introduces the shapes and quality of the movement from the production with the aid of Company dancers. From 12.45 – 1.15pm there will be a touch tour of the set, props and costumes from the production.


Ticket prices range from £15 – 35. Companion tickets are FREE when booking for the audio description. To book tickets, please call the theatre Box Office on: 0113 213 7700 or by Minicom 0113 213 7299


Please make sure you inform the box office that you are booking for an audio described performance and let them know if you wish to attend the touch tour and workshop as it is useful for us to have an idea of how many people to expect and also of any access needs you may have.


If you would like any more information regarding Northern Ballet’s productions and accessible performances or would like to join our mailing list please contact the Northern Ballet Learning department on 0113 220 8000


Online At Home June Promotion

Get Online At Home is a national project offering very cheap computers and broadband deals. The  aim is tohelp more people get on the internet.
There is a special promotion in June 2013. Registered charities and people on eligible benefits can get a desktop PC for just £24 or a laptop for £74, with a broadband deal at £2.99 per month. People who are not on eligible benefits pay a bit more: £74  for a PC and £104 for a laptop – still cheap.
Full the full details visit:
Special offer – Get Online at Home
This particular deal is only available until the end of June 2013
– the scheme will continue after that but equipment prices will rise by £75.

Are you entitled to the cheaper price?
You must be a registered UK charity or receive at least one of these benefits to qualify for the cheaper price:
•Housing Benefit
•Income Support
•Jobseeker’s allowance
•Pension credit
•Disability Living Allowance
•Attendance Allowance / Constant Attendance Allowance
•Carer’s Allowance
•Incapacity Benefit / Employment and Support Allowance
•Disability element of Working Tax Credit

New Virus May Make Gene Therapy More Effective

Researchers have engineered a new adeno-associated virus that could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.

This diagram shows an adeno-associated virus. Prof Schaffer and colleagues changed ten amino acids in one of its coat proteins, shown in orange, to get it to pass through retinal cells to the target photoreceptors (University of California, Berkeley)
Over the last six years, several teams of scientists have successfully treated people with a rare inherited eye disease by injecting a virus with a normal gene directly into the retina of an eye with a defective gene. Despite the invasive process, the virus with the normal gene was not capable of reaching all the retinal cells that need fixing.
“Sticking a needle through the retina and injecting the engineered virus behind the retina is a risky surgical procedure,” explained Prof David Schaffer of the University of California, Berkeley, senior author of a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“But doctors have no choice because none of the gene delivery viruses can travel all the way through the back of the eye to reach the photoreceptors – the light sensitive cells that need the therapeutic gene.”
Prof Schaffer generated around 100 million variants of adeno-associated virus – each carrying slightly different proteins on its coat – from which he and his colleagues selected five that were effective in penetrating the retina.
They then used the best of these, labeled 7m8, to transport genes to cure two types of hereditary blindness for which there are mouse models: X-linked retinoschisis, which strikes only boys and makes their retinas look like Swiss cheese; and Leber’s congenital amaurosis. In each case, when injected into the vitreous humor, the engineered virus delivered the corrective gene to all areas of the retina and restored retinal cells nearly to normal.

To evolve the adeno-associated virus best suited for gene therapy, the researchers created more than 100 million engineered adeno-associated viruses, left, and injected them into the gel-like center of the eye. Those able to penetrate the many cell layers of the retina are used to shuttle a corrective gene into cells with a defective gene. To reach these cells, in particular the light-sensitive photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium – RPE – cells, the virus must pass through multiple cell layers, right (University of California, Berkeley)
“Building upon 14 years of research, we have now created a virus that you just inject into the liquid vitreous humor inside the eye and it delivers genes to a very difficult-to-reach population of delicate cells in a way that is surgically non-invasive and safe. It’s a 15-minute procedure, and you can likely go home that day.”
The engineered adeno-associated virus works far better than current therapies in rodent models of two human degenerative eye diseases, and can penetrate photoreceptor cells in the eyes of monkeys.
“The team is now collaborating with physicians to identify the patients most likely to benefit from this gene-delivery technique and, after some preclinical development, hope soon to head into clinical trials,” Prof Schaffer said.


Summary Of KVISupport

The Kirklees Visual Impairment Network can provide demonstrations, experience and support in the use of the following and related technology.  We welcome anyone to call and see us and join us if they want to know how technology can maintain independence and improve quality of life for blind, partially sighted and print disabled people.

Computer training and support using;Screen Reader software;

Jaws For Windows

Window Eyes


System Access


Magnification Programs;

FS Magic


System Access

Windows Magnification

Apple Operating System on;

Apple Mac Pro’s


Ipad Mini



Accessible Phones



Nokial Symbian


Reading Equipment

RNIB Talking Book

Plextalk Pocket

Milestone 311 & 312


Victor Stream

Kindle Keyboard and Kindle App

Other MP3 and reading equipment



Trekker Breeze

(we run a project to train and support people in the use of this equipment and have a number of units for people to use)

IPhone & Android Apps

Google Maprs

IOS Maps


Sendero Look Around





Scanning Software


Open Book

Scan & Read

Image To Text

Text Detective

We also can demonstrate a wide range of apps that have been decided particularly for blind and partially sighted people including a range of magnifications ap[plications, internet radio, colour detection and book, newspaper and magazine apps.

Better Lighting Lowers Risk Of Falls

Better Lighting Makes the ‘Impossible’ Possible for People with Sight Loss, says new report by Thomas Pocklington Trust, Seen on Vision 2020 website, 10 Jun 2013
When better lighting was installed in the homes of older people, the ‘impossible’ became ‘possible’, according to a new study by the sight loss charity, Thomas Pocklington Trust (1). Participants in the study found their lives transformed when, despite their sight loss, the new lighting enabled them to carry out activities they had previously given up. The study is one of two reported in a paper, “Improving Lighting, Improving Lives” (2), published today.
The second project investigated the cost-savings that might be made if improved lighting reduced the incidence of falls. With one week to go until Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week (3), this study exposes a substantial lack of data on falls and lighting and calls for more research to establish the wider value of improving older people’s lighting.
“Our research into lighting continues to show dramatic improvements for older people’s independence and quality of life,” says Sarah Buchanan, Research Director, Thomas Pocklington Trust. “But we believe the costs of care and support, particularly following falls, might also be cut if older people’s lighting was improved. Our initial work shows that more research is needed to prove the wider value of better lighting.”
In “Improving Lighting, Improving Lives”, Pocklington reports on two studies. One study gathered the personal experiences of older people living with new lighting adaptations (4). The other set out to explore whether such adaptations could save taxpayers money by reducing the number of falls (5).
In the first study, participants reported that daily tasks were easier with the new lighting and that things they previously couldn’t do were now “do-able”. Their feelings of self-worth grew as they responded to brighter homes and increased mobility and independence. They also felt safer with the new lighting.
Their comments included: “I couldn’t read unless there was bright sunlight”; “I used to have to shave by the bedroom window. Now I can have a wet shave in the bathroom”; “I can make a sandwich without cutting my fingers”; “It’s marvellous. I thought the place was dirty before. Now I show off the room”; “I can recognise who is in the mirror.”
After further follow-up interviews, the study concluded that, as people age and their sight deteriorates, their lighting needs to be continually re-evaluated.
The second study, by Anna Clarke (University of Cambridge), set out to investigate the cost benefits of installing better lighting, particularly in relation to the reduction of falls. It found that currently available data contains too many uncertainties and assumptions to make the calculation.
Data on key points, including the number of falls due to sight loss and the true costs to the NHS and other services of caring for people after falls, are likely to be underestimated. There is also uncertainty over the impact of better lighting on the reduction of falls.
If the value of lighting adaptations is to be translated into monetary terms there is, says the study, a need to refine the uncertainties. For example, it calls for up-to-date costings to be gathered, e.g. estimates of costs per fall to the NHS and social services, including after-care and incidents where people do not require hospital attention but require ongoing healthcare. The study also calls for research into the impact of various forms of lighting on reducing falls.
Says Sarah Buchanan: “With more people wanting to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, there is a real need for houses to be adapted to support independence. Older people’s lighting needs to be routinely reviewed and updated, and evidence gathered to reveal its true value in terms of cutting costs, especially in relation to reducing falls.”
For more information please contact Thomas Pockington Trust:
Tel: 020 8995 0880, email:

Potential New Treatment For AMD

Cholesterol linked to sight loss

EYE drops that control cholesterol levels could be used to treat the UK’s
biggest cause of blindness.

Scientists have discovered a link between high cholesterol in immune system
cells and age-related macular degeneration.

The cholesterol builds up in macrophages – white blood cells – causing
abnormal blood vessel growth.

Researchers found that in tests on mice they could slow or even halt this
key cause of AMD with simple eye drops containing cholesterol-regulating

The breakthrough gives hope to millions of people suffering from inherited
and age-related blindness.

Dr Rajendra Apte, who led the study at Washington University School of
Medicine in the US, said it might be possible to adapt the method to treat
other illnesses. The findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.