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					Hello and welcome to the Action for Blind People podcast. I’m Thea Rippon
and today we are meeting Heather Milandre Street who is from Deerham in
Norfolk.

She is a teacher and has macular degeneration. Heather tells us a little bit
about how her eye condition has affected her, and how she has learnt to adapt
to the challenges she faces.

This part of my life has all been very recent, it is even more recently that I
discovered that I was losing my sight. I’ve always been very short sighted, I
thought I was getting more short sighted.

And it wasn’t until Action got involved that I realised that I’d got macular
degeneration disease and in fact I needed some help and they supported me in
that transition.

I realised that I was making mistakes filling in forms, I’d go out to reach for
something and then realise I couldn’t quite see it. You don’t realise you are
losing your sight until you can’t do something, something simple. I had a black
kettle and I began not to be able to put it on its black base because I couldn’t
work out where it was.

Action for Blind I think is one of life’s best kept secrets. I rejected altogether
that I was going to lose my sight. I didn’t want to lose my independence and I
felt that I would stand out and people would point at me and stuff like that.

It’s very hard, it’s knowing now that I can’t trust my sight. It’s wondering if I filled
this in right, have I done that? It’s having to ask people to make things bigger.
It’s your pride. On the other hand I have met people who are just incredibly kind
and very, very nice and take absolutely not a bit of notice and just slip things in
if I need it.

I think Fiona and Ian and Action, Fiona has been particularly kind. She just
chatters away to me, it took her a long time to get me to have a white cane.
And it took her even longer to tell me, you know, “Use the orange paint. You
know, so what, so if you can’t see where the edge of the kettle is, does it
matter? Just put some orange paint on it then you can.” And suddenly it’s
normal to have orange paint in my house. It’s no longer a visual proof that I
can’t see as well.

All I’ve got to do is accommodate it. I wear glasses, why shouldn’t I have orange
paint? Why shouldn’t I have the magnifier they gave me, or the white cane.
The white cane’s great for snooker, by the way, in case anyone wants to use it.
Pots the black perfectly.

Action made me realise that it’s not some huge disabling disease I’ve got. All I
need to do is think what I’m doing. Brighter colours, bigger things and a bit of
orange paint.

But Action held it together for me when I wasn’t and walked with me when I felt
really alone. And I want other people to hear about Action, to know about
Action and to know it doesn’t matter, it’s all right. It feels bad now, at the end of
the day, if you rely on people who know what they are doing like Action, it’s all
right. It is, it’s all right.

If you would like to hear more of our podcasts, please download them from the
Action for Blind People website at www.actionforblindpeople.org.uk and thank
you for listening.