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News & Views from ameside Issue No. 15


ssociation Winter 2009

1 A newsletter for visually impaired people

Note from the Editor Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to one and all! Welcome to our Christmas edition of the newsletter! Inside you will find news on what is going on locally, a pull out section stuffed with ideas for Christmas presents and information on useful organisations. Our Editor in a First though I should tell you about the sad news from TBA‘s offices; Tracy Hankinson, our festive Mood!

Project Admin for over 7 years, is leaving us for bigger and better things! She has got a job as a PA at a large company based in Manchester. She has been running the office so well here that we are sure to miss her and be lost without her! We wish her every success in the future, and hope she will stay in touch to let us know how well she‘s kicked her new office into action! If you would like to wish her well and tell her what a good job she has been doing these last 7 years, then feel free to give us a ring and we will pass on the messages at the office Christmas Do! (As always, our contact details are on the back page). Again, Congratulations Tracy! P.S. Keep an eye out for Monty our Christmassy mouse hiding throughout the newsletter!

Cover: Walter Scott on Trailblazers Christmas trip see page 12 . Editorial Team: Editor Vicky Kay Layout/design Tracy Hankinson Reporters

Vicky Kay, Philip Singleton, Glenis Lee 2

Audio Magazines Dukinfield Library holds various magazines in audio format. Some of these include: The Citizen, BBC Gardeners World, BBC Wildlife, Good Housekeeping, PRIMA, Readers Digest, Which, Woman and Home, Woman‘s Own, Wisden Cricketer, World Soccer, Classic FM Monthly, and The Garden. They hold the latest 3 issues for all of these magazines. For more information please contact Dukinfield Library on 0161 330 3257. Hospital stories We are currently collecting stories from people who have a visual impairment about their good and bad experiences of visiting the local hospitals. If you feel you were treated particularly well or particularly badly, then we would like to hear from you. Please could you either write, email or phone in (contact details on back page) and let us know where you were treated, what your sight condition is, and the details of your experience. These stories will be collected together and all personal details taken out, making them confidential. We are hoping to share the results with the local hospitals, so we need as many responses as possible! Insight Radio The RNIB have their own Radio Station called Insight Radio, which broadcasts items of interest to the Vision Impaired community. It can be received on Sky Channel 0188 or on Freesat Channel 777 using your television. If you don‘t have Sky or Freesat capability then you could pick it up on the Internet by searching for the Insight Radio website. Give it a try and let us know if you have any comments or feedback about the station. Written by Philip Singleton, Project Manager. 3

Who wants to go see a flick at the pictures?! Most cinemas now show some of their screenings with the option of Audio Description. An audio described (AD) film is much the same as a normal film, only you wear headphones from which you can hear a description of what is going on on-screen when none of the characters are talking. This may describe actions or expressions, when people enter or exit, and many other things that you may normally miss out on if you are visually impaired (or just have really bad seats!). Local cinemas with this facility include Ashton-under-Lyne‘s Cineworld, Manchester‘s Filmworks (an Odeon cinema) and the Trafford Centre‘s Odeon. Unfortunately, the service is not currently available on all films at all showings, and therefore you would need to check first what films are currently available with AD, and at which show times this is available. However, from talking to Cineworld in Ashton, we are hoping that if there is more demand for this service, it is more likely the amount of choice for what to watch and when will increase in the future. To find out what cinema showings are currently available with AD in your area, you can ring an organisation called ‘Your Local Cinema’ on 0845 056 9824 (local rate), who will ask where you live, and then give details of any local screenings with AD. 4

Cineworld in Ashton say that you do not necessarily need to book in advance for an AD showing unless it is a new or popular film, however you will need to let the booking staff know so that they can go and get the headsets. They will also need to take some personal details for the loan of the headset. If you think you may enjoy going to the cinema regularly, and are registered blind; are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; or are in receipt of Attendance Allowance, then it may be worthwhile applying for a Cinema Exhibitors Association Card. This card entitles the holder to one free ticket for a person accompanying them to any cinema, is valid for one year, and costs £5.50. TBA currently holds copies of the application form if you are interested in applying (contact details on back page). Get involved in shaping your health system! You are invited to a consultation event on the draft of the new ‗Single Equality Scheme‘ (SES). This will be run by Tameside and Glossop Primary Health Trust on Monday 11th January at Dukinfield Town Hall from 2pm till 4pm, and also on Thursday 14th January at Bradbury Community House in Glossop, from 2pm till 4pm. You can attend either event. The Single Equality Scheme is all about making services equal to everyone, regardless of age, gender, disability, race, religion or belief. They want people‘s views on how to make information, services and premises more inclusive for patients, partners and staff. The event will be held in groups to cover the different equality target groups. Those attending can have travel expenses reimbursed or have transport arranged for them. If you are interested in attending then please contact Joynal Miah on 0161 304 5849, and let him know which group you are interested in joining and if you require Transport. 5

Have you ever had problems accessing goods and services? Leonard Cheshire Disability is carrying out research into disabled people‘s experiences of accessing goods and services. They would like to talk to disabled people who have faced problems - this might have been when visiting a local shop, bank or post office, for example, or when using public transport. They would also be particularly interested to hear from people who have taken, or have considered taking, legal action against a service provider. Participants will be asked a series of questions about their experiences. The interview should take 15-25 minutes to complete and people will receive £5 for their time. They are looking to conduct around 20 interviews so numbers are limited. If you would like to express an interest in taking part please contact Eleanor Gore by email to or telephone 020 3242 0373.

Free Christmas Meal! The Church of the Nazarene on Stamford Street Central is providing a free 1950s themed Christmas to people who may otherwise not have anything to do on Christmas day. Transport can be arranged, and the day includes a carol service in the morning, tea and coffee, quizzes, a traditional Christmas meal, games and music. The event finishes at 4pm, but you don‘t have to stay till then if you don‘t want to. For more info contact Carl McCann on 07979 904044. 6

Christmas Wish List If your friends and family are struggling for ideas for Christmas presents this year, then why not ‗accidentally‘ leave this pull out section around for them to have a browse at! The Big Print 3D puzzle calendar 2010 is raising funds for RNIB Rushton School and Children‘s Home. Each month the calendar doubles as a 3-dimentional quick crossword, and every day you are given a new clue to slot into the grid provided; some easy clues and some hard! You can buy it from the RNIB (contact details on p10), and costs £6.99 if registered blind and £8.04 if not. The RNIB also do a range of calendars, diaries, address books and organisers in Braille and large print formats. It may be worth speaking to them about exactly what might be right for you (contact details on p10). Like films? DVD‘s with the audio description (AD) function available are often a pain to find in the shops because the information indicating this is always printed so small on the back of the packaging. However, if you or your loved ones have internet access, you can now easily find what is available and even buy online by visiting After navigating to the DVD section of the website, if you scroll down the ‗browse‘ column on the left and look under ‗browse by format‘ you will be able to click on the ―DVDs with audio description‖ button, which will then show you all the DVDs they stock with AD available. While writing this the website showed 579 results with AD, including TV dramas like new Doctor Who and Lewis series; classic dramas like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice; comedy such as The Boat That Rocked and Marley & Me; action-thrillers like the new 007 film Quantum of Solace and Die Hard 4.0; and classic oldies like Mary Poppins and The Alamo. Now you just have to hint at what films you like!

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Large Print Scrabble may just be the perfect present for someone who enjoys a good game or two at Christmas, but struggles to see the characters. This game uses 16 and 24point fonts, making it easier to see than standard board games. It is available from RNIB (contact details on p10) and costs £21.27 if registered blind and £24.46 if not. Want a new watch for Christmas? Why not check out what talking and tactile watches the RNIB and Cobolt have to offer? The RNIB produce a watches and clocks catalogue that you can order over the phone (contact details on p10), and Cobolt can be contacted on 01493 700172. Both product providers also have shops on the Internet; you can check them out at and Audio books are becoming popular presents these days, and are easily available on the high street at places like WH Smiths or on the internet. There are a vast number of titles available, so I would recommend if you are thinking about buying for someone, do some investigating! What have they listened to/read already? Is there any book they‘ve always wanted to read or that they only got half way through before their eyesight became too bad? Maybe the types of TV programmes they like will give you a clue?! Bit of a gadget fiend? Or do you need an accessible way of labelling objects or storing information? Well the RNIB‘s ‗Pen Friend‘ may just be up your street! To use the gadget, hold the ‗nib‘ to a special compatible label and record an audio message on the pen, then every time you hold the ‗pen‘ to that label it will play that recording. Each label can trigger a different recording. The ‗pen‘ has up to 70 hours recording memory and comes with 127 labels of varying sizes. Additional labels only cost £9.99 for a pack of 380.The pen friend is available from RNIB (contact details on p10) at £54.99 if registered blind, and £63.24 if not. 8

Can I Have...? Love music and own a computer? Well then maybe the new Apple iPod Shuffle with talking menus is what you should be asking Santa for this Christmas? This is a portable device for listening to music. Previously known for being one of the smallest mp3 players on the market, it now has a great little function for being able to recognise what you are listening to and navigating through your music collection. This function, called ‗VoiceOver‘, speaks aloud the name of what you are listening to, and even tells you when the battery is running low! An iPod with 4GB of memory can hold up to 1,000 songs, so you could technically hold your whole music collection on an mp3 player the size of your front door key! To get your music onto the mp3 player you will however need a computer and preferably access to the Internet. The Internet is useful so you can easily get the free software called iTunes that organises the music on your computer for you before putting it on the iPod. It is also useful while putting music onto your computer from your CD collection, as the software will use the internet to automatically find out the details for each CD (such as album title, artist name, song title, etc) rather than having to type all the info in by hand. The iTunes software seems to be compatible with computer magnification software such as supernova and zoom text, however it is unknown how well it would work with software such as Guide. An iPod shuffle with 2GB memory (which can hold up to 500 songs) costs £45 from the Apple store, however the 4GB iPod shuffle costs £59, but can hold up to 1,000 songs. The iPod Shuffle is available in a range of shops, including catalogue stores, large supermarkets and obviously the Apple Store. 9

Stocking fillers… The Braille slide puzzle is a great stocking filler for those who read Braille or are learning. The puzzle comprises of 15 tiles, each displaying a letter in Braille. When the tactile letters are finally slid into the correct order, the phrase ―make word play fun‖ can be read. Printed on the back is the Braille alphabet for reference for those still learning it or those who just want to ‗have a go‘. Priced at 59p if registered blind or 68p if not, this product can be bought from the RNIB (Contact details below). This Magnified compact mirror is ideal for those who love a bit of gliz and glam! Inlaid with Swarovski crystals on the lid, this stunning black compact has a true image mirror on one side and a seven times magnification mirror on the other. It is 8cm in diameter, and costs £12.24 from the RNIB. For any of the RNIB products, you can order over the phone by ringing their shop on 0845 702 3153, or on their online shop at People who also have a hearing impairment can order products via their minicom number on 0845 758 5691. You can also ask for them to deliver their catalogues to you so you can find out what other products you may find useful. These catalogues are available in large print, Braille and audio formats. If you have any difficulties — give us a call.

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Well done, Alan!

Volunteer Alan Johnson graduated with a 2:1 in Law in July and has now started training for the Bar. Alan joined T.B.A. in December 2008 because ―I‘m fascinated by how people live with vision impairments and I wanted to challenge any perceptions I had.‖ He is now a befriender to a blind gentleman who he visits once a week – despite many other demands on his time including studying, football and his fiancée! Alan also acts as an advocate for vision impaired service users; helping them put forward wishes/concerns/ideas to outside organisations. As voice is vital to both Barristers and radio personalities, Alan was the obvious choice to become Tameside Radio‘s Reporter for TBA. He was trained during the summer and is now fully equipped to make announcements and promote events for TBA by recording voice clips and sending them to be broadcast on Tameside Radio 103.6FM. So, listen out for Alan! Glenis Lee, Development Worker. Do you know anyone who would like to volunteer with us? We need people with cars for transport assignments and volunteers who are able to perform basic odd jobs. (contact details on back page). 11

Walking on water at Christmas time! The walking group, known as ―Trailblazers‖ had a wellearned break this month; instead of Trailblazers take a well earned rest! going for a walk around a local park, we took a trip on the ‗Community Spirit‘ Canal Boat! This was our Christmas meet, so we couldn‘t resist having a few mince pies, cake and biscuits; all washed down with a nice hot brew! The crew kept us entertained with weird and wonderful tails, and steered us up to the new mooring sight at Denton to see what we thought of it. The transport money was donated to their cause, as they are a charity. We would like to say a big thank you to all the crew! Bible for DAISY readers The complete edition of The Holy Bible is now available on DAISY CD, priced at £15.99. This was a collaborative effort between the Torch Trust, a Christian organisation for people with sight loss, and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). DAISY is the most advanced and flexible audio format there is, meaning that you can quickly access any verse, add bookmarks to favourite passages, and it will remember where you are up to on a CD, even if you take the CD out and play another. DAISY CDs can hold a whole audio book on a single CD. However, you need a DAISY CD player to be able to hear these recordings (for example the RNIB Talking Book Player). There are over 16,000 audio books of various genres available from RNIB in Daisy format. For more information or to buy any of these products, contact RNIB on 0845 702 3153. 12

RNIB Talking Book Service funding withdrawn. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council have decided to withdraw funding for local users of this popular service. We were very concerned to learn of this service reduction by Social Services which came suddenly out the blue and without consultation. If you already have an RNIB player with the subscription paid by Tameside Council, then this will continue to be paid as long as you need it. However no-one will be able to take out a new subscription to the service through TMBC. The annual cost of a subscription is about £75 per person. This covers the loan of a light weight, portable player and its support and maintenance by the RNIB (staff and local volunteers). The player plays DAISY format audio books, MP3 format CD‘s and music CD‘s in a very interactive manner. The service also includes a continuous supply of audio books, novels, factual books, text books etc in high quality audio and the player offers control over the sound with volume, tone and speed controls. Although there are other ways of accessing audio format books, the RNIB service is a highly valued service and offers the most flexible way of listening to audio material with its inherent navigation through chapters and paragraphs etc. If you would like to make your views known to the council about this withdrawal of service provision and the benefits of the RNIB service, we suggest you contact your councillor or contact us at the address on the back of the newsletter. By Philip Singleton, Project Manager. 13

Harley Hatters ride out with Tameside Blind Association

Some of the Hatters with TBA members. Visually impaired members of TBA enjoyed the thrill of riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorbike last September. The Stockport based Harley Hatters Motorbike club took nine members with varying degrees of vision impairment out for half an hours ride to Marsden and back, stopping at a pub just outside Marsden for refreshments. The riders, aged between 25 and 77 years of age, all really enjoyed the trip, claiming they enjoyed feeling the sun on their faces and breeze in their hair. Mrs Margaret McEwan, aged 77, said, ―I nearly cancelled the trip out but my grandson said I should go as it‘s a once in a lifetime experience. I‘m glad I did as I really enjoyed it and would love to do it again!‖ ‗Stormin‘ Norman Lee from the Harley Hatters and Vicky Kay from TBA organised the event and were very pleased it went down so well. In fact they are now planning for it to be a regular event on their calendars; considering there were more people who would have liked to come but couldn‘t make it. One of the more ‗senior‘ riders exclaimed ―I never thought at my age and with my poor sight I‘d ever be wearing leathers and riding a super bike!‖ 14

Vicky said, ―Its great to see people with a vision impairment not letting it stop them from being adventurous. We at TBA feel that it is important to support people with visual impairments in whatever they may want to do, whether it is furthering in education or riding a motorbike for the 1st time! This was a great experience and I hope that many more members and bikers will take part in the following ride next September‖. TBA would like to thank all the bikers who came out for the afternoon, and also Paul Cavanagh and Martin Hall for lending some of their spare helmets and jackets, without which the event could not have taken place. This trip out has certainly lit a flame of adventure for some of TBA‘s riders; Walter Scott, aged 77 and a new member of TBA, asked, after being told that there were Para-gliders off the cliffs above the pub, ―So is that what we‘re doing next then?‖

Who are Tameside Patrollers? Tameside Patrollers are a team of uniformed Council Officers that work hand in hand with Greater Manchester Police. They are often seen as the ‗eyes and ears‘ on the street. Each area of Tameside has its own team of Patrollers, who work from 8am till 10pm from Monday to Saturday. Their range of responsibilities include monitoring the neighbourhood CCTV network, working in partnership with social landlords and taking part in multi-agency operations to tackle anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, burglary and robbery. They also deal with dog fouling, ‗litter louts‘, fly posting and abandoned vehicles. Their office phone number is 0161 342 3010, and is manned Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, however an answer machine is available out of office hours. 15

Please remember Tameside Blind Association when you make your will. This local charity works for all visually impaired people in Tameside - serving the Community for 30 years. 3/4 Wellington Parade, Dukinfield SK16 4LE 0161 330 7778 Charity No: 504063

Community Support Project Holiday Opening Hours Over the Christmas period the office will be closed from lunchtime on Thursday 24th December. The office will be open again as normal at 9.30 on Monday 4th January. If however you need to leave a message, the answer machine will be running throughout this period, and will be checked first thing on 4th January. Pssst - Did you find all 7 Monty’s?

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3/4 Wellington Parade, Dukinfield, Cheshire. SK16 4LE

Tel: 0161 343 4090 / 6903 Printed by


Registered Charity No. 504063

PD Print, Hyde


News & Views 15  
News & Views 15  

Newsletter from Tameside Blind Association. Issue Winter 2009.