Before the summer Zubayr came in to do a placement with KVIN as part of his Kirklees College studies.
Here is a diary of his experience with KVIN, explaining what he did and all the things he learnt.
Work Placement at Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN) by Zubayr Bhatti
Week 1: Wednesday 10th of April
I started my work placement today. I felt very nervous however, I needn’t have worried as I was warmly welcomed into the team. I was introduced to all the people and volunteers that work there. I was even offered a cup of tea to help me settle in. Claire the volunteer coordinator told me about the organisation and what it offers. I was then given an induction of the building and shown the fire escape, kitchen and the toilet facilities.
Also it was a delight to meet David’s guide dog Reg.
Already looking forward to going back next week.
Week 2: Wednesday 1st May
I was really looking forward to going back to do my placement with KVIN. I had a cup of tea which made me feel at ease. I also had a session with David on phones and the relevant apps that I could benefit from which are detailed below.
- Soundscape is a free GPS App and is mainly used for guidance. It is excellent for locating places such as shops, markets, bus stops etc. However, Soundscape works better on bone conductor headphones, as they are stereophonic which basically means points of interests coming in on each side. Soundscape is good as you are able to share your location with friends and family members and is suitable for IOS devices.
- Bus Checker This App is just like a timetable and very similar to Google Maps. It gives you arrival/departure times alongside directions and different routes to take. It is audio so is able to tell you each stop if necessary. You can share your locations and is suitable for both android and IOS devices.
- Train time is very similar to the bus checker app however with this App it is a good way to get live service updates when checking train times and is suitable for both android and IOS devices.
- RNIB Overdrive is just like an audio library where you can borrow up to 6 books at a time. There are many different genres and is available in large print and Braille.
- Seeing AI is a free App that scans barcodes, and it can identify colours, products, people, gender and even their emotions. It can scan and read documents in any text and written form. It can be held over objects however, it is not always accurate if not scanned in the right place.
Brilliant, I can’t wait to try some of them when I get the opportunity. Before I left I made sure that I washed and dried the cups for everyone. I am so looking forward to coming back for another day’s hard work.
Week 3: Wednesday 8th of May
I started by looking at the Cobalt magazine, Cobalt is a company that sells a wide range of products that are used in the home that are for the people with a visual impairment. I then had another session with David on how to use JAWS with the internet. I learnt lots of interesting things about Freedom scientific who provide a software called JAWS, which visual impaired people can use without looking at the screen when they are using a computer. JAWS is a software that allows people with a visual impairment or who are blind to use a computer independently. It includes many different features, one of these I particularly liked was the text to speech output, in other words it will speak whilst you are typing, this enables you to identify what you are putting, or where you have made a mistake. Looking forward to trying this out on my own laptop at college.
Week 4: Wednesday 15th of May
I started my day at KVIN with a cup of tea and a chat with Claire who told me about a course she was attending which was about living with sight loss. I also found out that there was another course that was free and was running on the 8th and the 15th of August in Halifax. This might be interesting for people who want to find out more information. Claire also told me about a service called My Guide which is organised by the charity who work with Guide Dogs. They are volunteers who are trained and who are prepared to give some time to guide people to social events, or gatherings like an afternoon out, helping them with their shopping and taking them to unfamiliar places that they want to go. It sounds very interesting and I might like to find out more about this.
I had a session with another volunteer called John who showed me the CCTV monitor, electronic handheld magnifiers and how to access e-books. I found this useful as it has been a long while since I have read print.
I found both sessions really interesting and useful and would recommend people to ring up KVIN and arrange an appointment with John or David if you are interested in learning more about technology and how you can access it.
Week 5: Wednesday 12th June
Today we worked with John, he talked to us about the uses of Amazon Alexa. This is a hands free voice controlled device which can be used anywhere in the home. When you first purchase it you download the Alexa App and turn on the device and the Alexa greets you. You then work through the App setting up your Amazon account. It runs off the Wifi available. The functions include accessing a large library of Amazon music (purchased separately at a low cost per month), general knowledge, linking it to Philips smart light bulbs, powering up smart boards and reminders for dates and times.
The device allows you to contact other uses of an Echo device and pass on messages. I am really interested in buying one and using it to ask it questions to find out lots of different things. It can also tell jokes although not very good ones.
Week 6: Wednesday 19th June
Today i was greeted by Claire and we had a cup of tea, I helped make refreshments for the KVIN volunteers. Claire talked about a service called My Guide which she had mentioned a few weeks ago briefly. Towards the end of the morning we chatted with John who is a member of the team about what had found out From Claire. I think this sounds like an excellent service for people who are at risk of being isolated and losing even more confidence getting out and about. Overall I had a good morning and feel part of the team.
Week 7: Wednesday 26th June
When I arrived at KVIN I was welcomed by Christine and David, I made Christine a cup of tea with the help of my VI support Sarah. Christine set me a task to write directions to help people find their way to the office from the Train station;
When leaving the entrance from the train station I place the cane in front of me so I am able to locate the steps onto the pavement. There is a ramp if you are not comfortable with the stairs. You can identify the steps by the way the cane dips down .At the bottom of the ramp or the bottom of the stairs, you turn right and make your way forward to the cobbled road, I feel a bit anxious on the cobbled road as my cane can snag on the cobbles. As I approach the crossing I have to rely on hearing and instinct, as the road is busy with taxis coming and going. However, in an ideal world the taxi drivers should be aware of my cane, but this is not always the case. Once I think it is safe to cross I do so keeping to the left in touching distance of the wall up St. Georges Street. I know when I arrive at the end of the road as the wall starts to bear to the left. I turn right to cross over onto Kirkgate , making sure there is no traffic when I cross, again relying on my hearing and instincts. I keep to the right and continue forward and again when my cane reaches the end of the wall. It is here I know to turn right and continue forward up to Brian Jackson House. I have arrived at my destination and managed to avoid any obstacles at the same time, thanks to the use of my cane.
After finishing my detailed account of my journey I went into town with Sarah my V.I.Support, where we got beverages for the KVIN team, such as Yorkshire tea and sugar. On my journey into town I was stopped by a lady who was where she could get support for her who had just recently lost his eyesight and I explained to her about KVIN and the great things they do to help people and its location. Overall I had a thoroughly good day and have enjoyed my work placement and it has been an amazing experience.