Monday, 11 April 2011


There has been a good deal of research about what most or many people carry around with them. Keys, money and the mobile phone come top of the list. But we blind people are expected to carry a reading aid, a GPS navigation system, a guide dog, a white cane, a computer and a braille display as well. And each bit of kit costs us an arm and a leg too. And if you have a bit of sight like me, well a magnifier comes in useful as well. . So to cut down the load and lighten the wallet as well, we have been working on creating a mobile app which already works pretty well on an Android phone and will sell for just a few quid. In the not too distant future, there will be an iPhone version too.

It tells you where you are and your direction whether you are still or walking. It reminds you of your nearest landmarks, (points of interest) but it is not about road names, house numbers and all the things that Google maps or the Sendero or TomTom systems give you already. Our map is designed to give you that precious personal meaningful information which you need as well as the mainstream stuff. So what happens?

On the first journey, you walk with a seeing mate. As you pass and agree meaningful landmarks, you speak them into your phone. Without pressing another button, you hear what you have recorded and that landmark is now in the system. We have odd things like ‘dog bin’ ‘Trevor’s Lane’ and ‘hump’ and we know what these words mean to us.
When you later pass by on the same route, your landmarks are spoken to you along with an indication of their direction and gestimated distance . At any time you can interrogate the clever little beast and it will tell you your first, second, third fourth or fifth nearest landmark, depending on which key you press.

The whole thing has been especially designed with big on-screen buttons and, if you have a little bit of sight, you can choose the colours .
Oh, and incidentally, it is a great little talking phone anyway with the same clear buttons, easy use and a bit of easy texting thrown in too.

We enjoy what we do at but if you want to know more detail about this smart phone venture, well, you will just have to wait a month or two until it is ready for trial and release. In time, we will add lots more easy to use features so that in the end you and me might just be carrying around one smart phone with many low cost functions.

VI young People Creating Their Own Websites

‘Have Your Say’
Multi- Media (Web Aware) Training Weekend
provided by and LOOK
19th 20th 21st March 2011

So many times, you find yourself with a crowd of young people who inspire you. Just so this last weekend when I found myself amongst ten people with severely damaged sight but mighty brains and personalities. With funding from BBC Children In Need, and masses of planning and organisation from the LOOK team, and the fabulous services and environment of the Think Tank, Birmingham Science Museum, We all came together to focus on providing these young people with the tools to create high quality audio, create a basic website and get their voices heard over the internet. And all in two days!!! Impossible? Well yes but we did mighty well.
First, they were introduced to the idea of putting their own stuff up there on the web. Without actually doing it, they were shown the steps to create their pics, docs or audio files and put them altogether in a folder. A special piece of software had been created for them by Granite 5, a Cambridge-based web company dedicated to accessibility and inclusion. This eGenius software makes sure that everything goes in the right place and looks good even when a blind person creates the webpage and it all works well with screenreader assistive software.
After coffee, their attention switched to interviewing techniques, using digital recorders and, on the following day, real live creation of what they wanted to say amongst the Think Tank environment and its many interesting exhibits and demonstrations. The final session was a bit of a rush but, at the end, each young person had received his or her Press Pass, a certificate and a hand creating in the five websites that were up and running. I might guess that we all went home with a bit of a headache and a little confusion but everyone took away a sense of excitement, achievement and, to be practical, a copy of the instructions an tutorials covering the weekend’s activities on their laptops, or in braille or big print.
We were all proud to be part of the small beginnings of what could develop into a great adventure for each participant. It is so vital that these young people are ahead of the game in the digital age – and they are.

We are grateful for the project being part funded by Children in Need. The Parenting Fund for children in Nofolk have agreed to fund the proportion allocated for Norfolk children. The total cost of the project £8,387.91. Please find below the outline of spend for the Children in Need proportion and receipts are available for inspection if required, of course.

Receipts for Expenses
Equipment for 7 people 1,260.00
Proportion of evening meal 12 people 201.34
Contribution for travel 10 people 241.30
Contribution to stay for 11 people 894.43
Materials for people for 10 people 94.69
Cost of web license proportion 8 people 400.00
Cost of training proportion 8 people (Include internal LOOK training at £150
And Screenreader training at £150) 520.00
Cost of training room proportion 8 people 896.00
Sub Total 4,507.76

LOOK have provided the following services in addition to all of the above.
Prep Time Contribution: 2 workers. First worker 42hours, Second worker 25hours £683.30
LOOK Staff Delivery Time contribution (plus overnight support) £822.96
Sub Total £1,506.26

Total £6,014.02

Vicky Smith, Youth Development Officer, LOOK & Roger Wilson-Hinds Director,