SVI Newsletter issue 7 by tyndale


									              Sandwell Visually Impaired
                 Newsletter Issue 7
                  Winter 2007–2008
A happy new year to all our readers.

In this bumper issue
A sad farewell
SVI switches on
Help with your rubbish
Theatreland beckons
Focus face-lift
Annual forum
Meet the SVI team
Dial a ride
Where am I?
Accessible health info
Don’t miss that bus
Newsletter round-up

Welcome to this Winter edition of our newsletter. It’s the fourth that’s
being sent to all the people registered with sight loss in Sandwell.
We hope you enjoy it.

SVI welcomes Val and Martine
Val and Martine were newly elected to our management committee at
the AGM. We are delighted to have them on board.

Val, visually impaired since November 95, is married with 2 teenage
children. She worked in European transport and accounts and is

currently studying towards the European Computer Driving Licence.
Val is committed to helping improve services delivered to all people
with sight loss, and we are delighted to welcome Val as our Group

Martine, visually impaired since birth, is used to the frustrations of
fighting for support. She has worked in the health, catering and retail
sectors and retrained to become a qualified Rehabilitation worker.
Now caring for her husband, Martine has energy left to fight for better
services for all of us.
Welcome, Martine.

A sad farewell
On the 26 November, we said our sad farewells to Dr Roy Green
(1937 – 2007), a member of the SVI management committee, who
died suddenly on the 8 November.

Roy was a tireless champion for equality for disabled people.
Recognition of his work attracted over 100 people to his humanist
celebration of his life, including Sandwell’s Deputy Mayor Cllr Mrs
Margaret James.

Even those who did not know him will feel his loss; he was a real
charmer, much loved and will be sadly missed. There’s a fuller
obituary and appreciation on our website;

SVI switches on
Last September, Anna from the RNIB gave a talk to over 50 SVI
members about the analogue to digital radio and TV switchover. It’s
planned for 2011 in Sandwell.

Digital transmission will give you better sound and picture quality and
more radio and TV channels to choose from. Most importantly for
many of us it allows for audio description of TV programmes. These
are already available on digital broadcasters Sky (satellite), Virgin
(cable) and Freeview (terrestrial).

If you have a visual impairment help is at hand to help you meet the
estimated cost of £40.

More info from Digital UK on 0800 519 2021, RNIB on 0207 391 2398,
or email

Our open members meetings are quarterly, and we meet all travel
costs. If you would like to be invited, join SVI, a membership form is

Don’t struggle with your rubbish
If you have difficulty coping with any of the refuse collection services
the Council manages (for instance the green wheelie bins), you can
ask for an assisted service to help you. Operatives will collect the bin
from its point of storage and return it there when emptied. It’s worth
registering with the Sandwell Council’s Contact Centre for this help.
Call 0845 359 7501 for more info, or email:

Are you unhappy with the present service? For instance are emptied
bins left in the middle of the public footpath? If so, we at SVI would
like to hear from you. Use the preaddressed envelope enclosed. It’s
our job to look out for you; no names will be disclosed.

Theatreland beckons
Yes, it beckons with some fab productions at many of the region’s
venues. Programmes are in full swing. Here’s some useful info.

The following theatres have audio described performances (you need
to book the headphones) and touch tours of the set prior to the action.
They also offer the generous concession of free entry for your PA or
guide, so it’s 2 for 1 or half price!

The Rep: 0121 236 4455
The Hippodrome: 0121 689 3042
The Crescent: 0121 643 5858
The Grand: 01902 429212

It’s worth giving them all a ring to explore their exciting offerings; the
Rep will send theirs out in large print. Go on, you deserve it!

Focus face-lift
New products to help people with sight loss and hearing impairment
are now available in the newly refurbished Birmingham Focus Centre
in Harborne.

Pay a visit to Woodville Road and get advice on your own needs.
More info on 0121 478 5217 or

Annual Forum October 2007
Our annual forum was a great success again this year, with more than
100 delegates attending and enjoying themselves.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Margaret James opened the event, which
included the following SVI member speakers.

Ian Reynolds, a blind art teacher, fascinated us with his insights into
textural qualities and less defined and merging paint boundaries.
Helen inspired us with her singing prowess and accounts of
performing in choral concerts.
Bernard gave us a moving account of living a full life whilst coping with
impaired vision.

Sandra gave an informed outline of our Business Plan for moving SVI
Saeed launched our website, with a thoughtful insight into its initial
and future development. It’s at;

Thanks for your support; it’s much valued as are the glowing
compliments we have received. We're promising another great day at
next year's forum.

Meet the SVI team
Raring to go, your committee, aged from the vigorous 30s to the
experience packed 60s, with a wide range of talents and abilities have
got the borough covered! Here they are;

Val (Treasurer), Bernard (Membership Secretary), Sandra — West
Stephen (Vice Chair) and Jean — Oldbury
Graham (Chair) — Smethwick
Mary, Len and Martine Rowley Regis
Stuart — Bearwood
Barbara — Wednesbury
Helen (Assistant Secretary) and Saeed — Cradley Heath
Mary (Secretary) —Tipton
We want to help you; let us know what we can do. We promise to do
our best to meet your need.

In the large print version of the newsletter there is a page of
photographs of several of our committee members at the annual

Dial a Ride
Have you thought of using Ring and Ride (R&R) to go places?
They’ve just gained funds to secure and improve the service for the

next 5 years. Last year they helped 60 thousand people travel on 2
million journeys and they are planning to help a lot more in the future.

There’s no age limit, mobility difficulty is the passport. You need to
register with them on 0121 505 7316 five days before your first
planned journey. After this they will send you an information pack
(available in large print, tape or disc) which lets you know about travel
pre-booking and local centre phone numbers with their operating
times. These vary across the 8 towns of Sandwell. In Smethwick this
is between 1.45pm and 4.15pm, 7 days a week.

It’s preferable to pre-book 2 days in advance of your local journey to
avoid disappointment. For cross boundary travel, booking 3 days in
advance is allowed and telephones operate between 6am and 10pm
for this service. You can travel as often as you like subject to the
ability of R&R to cope. Demand often outstrips supply even though
they have 300 vehicles in the West Midlands.

Each service has 4 pre-booking forms which allow you to arrange up
to 8 journeys in each 6 month period. This builds in a bit more
certainty to that special trip.

Guides are presently charged at the applicable bus rate but R&R are
seeking equal treatment to that of the 'qualifying user' who travels free
if they have a West Midlands travel pass. So if you can’t put your
skates on, dial a well deserved ride!

Where am I?
Find out for free!
An audio 'Wayfinder' system was launched in the Birmingham City
centre in April 2006. This scheme relies on several strategically
placed speech terminals, being activated by a 'trigger fob' as they
approach the sensors. There's one outside the main M&S shop in
High Street, Birmingham. The fobs, which you carry, are the size of a

matchbox. Devised with user involvement, the sensors indicate
location and give simple directions.

Trigger fobs originally cost £25, but now they are free from
Birmingham Focus on 0121 478 5204.
Have any of our readers used this service? If so, please share your
experience with us.

Don’t miss that bus
Just apply for the new Bus Hailer. It’s free from Birmingham Focus,
Woodville Road, Harborne, 0121 478 5222, local travel centres or
Centro, 0121 214 7125, or email

The hailer is a weather proofed A5 flip pad which enables you to
select the number bus you want, which the bus driver can look out for
and stop for you.

Accessible information at your local hospital
Patient Information Centres in both the City and Rowley Regis
Hospitals now provide information in large print, Braille and audio, and
will try to meet other info access needs upon request.

City hospital has a health exchange on-line kiosk with info on health
matters and local support organisations. Their website is browsealoud enabled. Besides allowing for
magnification, this reads out all website content and allows this to be
saved as an MP3 audio file so you can download and listen to it off-
line. For more information email

Newsletter round-up
Great news — You’ve done us proud again. Our last newsletter
gained SVI another 50 members which means that we’ve now got

300+, or 20% of the 1,700 people registered with sight loss in
Sandwell. We’re delighted with this progress but we need to attract
more, for it's your support that gives us the strength to seek a much
needed service improvement.

Newsletter evaluation
Please spare the time to complete the evaluation form enclosed.
There’s also a membership form. Please include the envelope in
which you received this newsletter. This will allow us to be sure who is
returning the forms. If you need help to complete these, please phone
Bernard on 0121 525 2119.

SVI membership
This is the fourth and final newsletter we are funded to send to
everyone. If you join SVI we will continue to send you the newsletter
after this funding ends. We will also invite you to quarterly meetings,
with your travel costs met. If in doubt fill in the enclosed membership
form and return it to us. Your membership adds weight to the cause; a
better service for us all! This newsletter and the new website are good
examples of what we can do, and more helpful activities are planned.

Are we meeting your needs? The editor would love to hear from you.
Contact details below. Or pop your questions in the enclosed

Our purpose
To seek to improve the quality of life enjoyed by all people with sight
loss living or working in Sandwell;
     By consulting with people employed to help us, like council staff,
      to gain an improved service that meets our needs.
     By enriching our lives by raising awareness of social care needs
      and actively working to meet these.
If you join SVI you add strength to the campaign to really make a
difference for all of us.

Remember….This is the last SVI newsletter you will receive if you
are not a member of SVI. Join today!

Visit our website

This issue — thanks to:
The editorial team, Sandwell MBC Adult & Community Services, and
Reach Printing, Tipton.
Editor: Graham Tel: 0121 565 2875; Email:


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