AN Ardrossan charity recently arranged for their volunteers to have training sessions to experience what it would be like living with impaired vision.

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety volunteers were shown how to tactile sign – a form of sign language using touch for those people who are deaf and blind.

They were asked to wear vision impairment simulation goggles before being given a set of everyday tasks aimed at highlighting how mentally and physically challenging a day in the life of a blind person can be.

Registered blind David Black provided tactile signing training which he uses daily in his job as cook at The Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Falkirk while the charity’s Visual Impairment Coordinator, Norma Baillie, and Dr Hazel McFarlane provided the awareness training. Using simulation goggles, the pair demonstrated how different levels of blindness may affect a person.

They then asked volunteers to think about how being visually impaired would affect their everyday lives, from catching a bus to grocery shopping.

Purses were passed around the room to the volunteers who then had to count out the correct change – an easy task if you are sighted but a nightmare if your vision is restricted.

The volunteers were then guided into the charity’s main hall where Tai Chi instructor Mhairi McGowan took them through a series of moves which they had to perform based solely on Mhairi’s verbal instructions.

Alan said: “It was frightening to realise how disorientating and demoralising losing your vision can be. Having to rely solely on verbal commands, I ended up doing completely the wrong moves and when it came to counting money for a bus fare, it took me over 10 minutes to count out the correct change.”

Norma Baillie, founderof Prioriteyes, a company that provides specialist rehabilitation and support for people throughout the UK who have low or no vision, added: “A key point of the session was the importance of good communication and clear verbal instruction.”

For more information on the free classes, please contact the charity on 07900 950599 to book your place.