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Do visually impaired people have to be tidy?

How the RNIB plans to offer more games in its shop, what it takes for one single mum to keep her home tidy, and how audio-described theatre reveals more than what's onstage.

Joy Addo, sole parent to a three-year-old, shares tips on keeping her home tidy.

Dave Williams of the RNIB says they have plans to increase the number of games available in its catalogue. And VocalEyes trustee Joanna Wood, tells the story of how going to a described theatre performance, revealed more to her than what was happening on-stage.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

Available now

19 minutes

VocalEyes

VocalEyes is a charity supporting blind and partially sighted people to access arts and heritage.
Email enquiries@vocaleyes.co.uk or call 020 7375 1043.

In Touch Transcript: 04-06-19

Downloaded from www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT.  BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.


IN TOUCH – Do Visually Impaired People Have To Be Tidy?

TX: 04.06.2019  2040 -2100

PRESENTER:           PETER WHITE

PRODUCER:             LEE KUMUTAT


 Peter White

Good Evening.  Tonight the joy of tidiness!  Is good organisation the key to a happy life if you're visually impaired?  And the discovery that something, which gave joy when you could see hasn't been lost after all.

 

But first, where have all the board games gone?  Last week, we examined why despite a flood of them hitting the main stream market, most were inaccessible to blind players, even though there are plenty of ways available to adapt them.   Well one question we couldn't answer last week was why the RNIB traditionally the source of a range of adapted games is offering fewer than in years gone by.  No one was available to talk to us then, they are this week!  Dave Williams is a former reporter for 'In Touch' who now works for the RNIB as a senior product developer. 

 

So Dave first of all, why is the RNIB producing and distributing fewer games than it did?

 

Dave Williams

RNIB has run up against a couple of challenges in this area not least of which was one of our key suppliers retired suddenly, leaving us with some gaps in the range.  And I think it's also fair to say that producing bespoke board games is quite expensive for such a small market, but we have some games out there that with testers.  We're working with suppliers from around the world, and we are also reaching out to the industry and would like to work with anybody who's interested in producing inclusive games.  I think that more broadly speaking, the vibe that we're looking to create is one of inclusion, so we want games that sighted and blind children can play together with each other and with parents and we need to work really closely with industry to make that happen.

 

Peter White

But whether there those kinds or the more traditional kind, couldn't they be made in-house rather than having to depend on outside producers and suppliers?

 

Dave Williams

Well we heard last week from one of your contributors that there was a set of cards from the US costing $65.  And RNIB does subsidise quite heavily.  Many of products including playing cards, but obviously people expect to be able to buy board games at a similar price to the mainstream market.

 

Peter White

But isn't that why they should be made in-house, because you could surely keep the cost down?

 

Dave Williams

Well that's very expensive to do obviously, man hours, materials, tooling.  All that stuff costs money.  And I think if you can get the industry more involved, then actually we can distribute that cost more widely. 

 

Peter White

So is that actually the problem in a way that the issue of cost as set against demand is proving too expensive?

 

Dave Williams

That is one of the challenges certainly.  And we need to find more creative ways of doing things and we heard last week from a family, who were using a pen friend to label up 'Junior Monopoly' and also, using the tactile dice that RNIB supply.  We've introduced some new games recently as well 'Connect 4' and another game, so we are adding products to the range and we do want to develop more in the future.

 

Peter White

To what extent do you think it is the RNIB's responsibility to push the industry to make a more widely available games' more accessible.

 

Dave Williams

Absolutely it is.  And that is something that that RNIB campaigns for.  We don't think its RNIBs job to produce all of these games, but certainly to work with industry, share expertise, show industry that it doesn't have to be hugely expensive to change the colours or to add some tactile to games to make sure that those games are inclusive.  I think when you get a product like the 'Rubik Cube', they've made a 'Touch Rubik Cube' and that sells for around the same price as the regular 'Rubik Cube', because obviously they have a different scale don't they!

 

Peter White

But you are still committed to producing more games?

 


 

Dave Williams

Yes certainly!  And we are working with 'APH' and other organisations from overseas to evaluate their games.

 

Peter White

We should say 'APH' American Printing House' if that's right.

 

Dave Williams

That's that's right yeah!  And as you know as a blind dad, this is something that I think is very important, board games for me and my family. And we love to spend time with our 10yr old.

 

Peter White

Just finally, you mentioned your son.  Your wife is blind as you are, so what kind of games do you play?

 

Dave Williams

Well we've played 'Monopoly', we play 'Chess'.  We keep a chess set in the pub, so when we pop down to the pub, we get the tactile chess set out of the cupboard and I can have a pint and a game of chess with my lad.

 

Peter White

In the pub!

 

Dave Williams

Yes!

 

Peter White

He doesn't drink does he?

 

Dave Williams

No he doesn't!

 

Peter White

Not yet!

 

Dave Williams

Appletiser!

 

Peter White

Yeah of course!  Dave Williams thanks very much.

 

Now I reckon that blind people are more likely to know where the car keys or where someone else has put their specs down, if only because we have to be organised to survive, a glance round the room isn't an option.  It's something that interests our reporter Lucy Edwards and Lucy's with me, you want to know more about the ways we keep our life's in order!

 

Lucy Edwards

I do Peter, because do blind people all have to be completely organised?  Now after watching tidying up with Marie Condo, which was a hit earlier this year.  And it's all about Marie, we follow her and she goes into her clients houses, she steps back, tells people to look at their goods in their house all of their items and says "Does that give you joy?"  And I stepped back too and thought 'How do I organise, how do the blind organise?" cos I am very aware that organisation is very key for me, but it might not be to other blind people, students in digs for instance, is it important for them to tidy?

 

Peter White

So where are you going first?

 

Lucy Edwards

First, I am visiting Joy Addo.  She's 24 she's a single mum to her 3yr old girl 'Janelle'.  She lives in a one bedroom flat in London, what sparks joy for Joy?  So I'm just walking into Joy's door.  Let's have a knock!

 

Joy Addo

Hi!

 

Lucy Edwards

Hello Joy!  How are you?

 

Joy Addo

Hello! Welcome come in!

 

Lucy Edwards

Thank you so much!  So Joy, could you describe your space for me?

 

Joy Addo

Yes!  So right now, we are in the hallway.  I have a picture of Bob Marley on the wall.  I love Bob Marley and I have a picture of Marilyn Monroe.  If we keep going straight on the left, I have the shoe cupboard, try and keep all our shoes away.  On the wall, I have pictures because on our left, I have a wine fridge and this is what I like to call my fake bar.  I have a sign that flashes, it says 'Bar' on it.  And I'm Joy, I'm 24 and I'm a single mum.

 

Lucy Edwards

Has your sight-loss made it harder for you tidy?

 

Joy Addo

It's different!  Where the majority of people would do things by seeing that something's dirty, I go a lot by smells and and the feel of things.  But actually, I think that cleaning isn't that difficult when you can't see, because I just feel like you just need to know that you need to clean everything all the time. 

 

Janelle Addo

I'm taking my shoes off and putting my trainers in my drawer.

 

Lucy Edwards

You're putting your trainers next to your door.

 

Janelle Addo

In here!

 

Lucy Edwards

Okay, why?

 

Janelle Addo

And I...

 

Lucy Edwards

Why are you putting them there?

 

Janelle Addo

Cos I need to put them in there!

 

Lucy Edwards

Okay. 

 

Joy Addo

Where does your scooter go Janelle?

 

Janelle Addo

By the door!

 

Joy Addo

Your scooter goes by the door!

 

Janelle Addo

Yeah.

 

Joy Addo

And what happens, Janelle what happens if your scooter goes here, what does mummy do?

 

Janelle Addo

Yeah!

 

Joy Addo

If you leave your scooter here, what does mummy do?

 

Janelle Addo

Trip over!

 

Joy Addo

Everything has a place and I try and keep it there and she's slowly learning that as well.

 

Lucy Edwards

Do you think she knows that you're blind and you have sight problems, or do you think it's just a case of routine?

 

Joy Addo

I explain it to her, so I'll say to her, she will sometimes try and show me a toy and I'll be like come closer mummy can't see it!  And then she knows that mummy always holds it to know

 

Lucy Edwards

Has the routine with both of you got better as she's got older, because she understands more?

 

Joy Addo

Definitely!  As she's got bigger, she now can understand that she needs to put things away.  When she was younger, it was a lot harder because obviously they'll be toys everywhere and she's too young to know to put them away.  But now, as soon as like she started to understand things I will encourage her to do it, because I like to feel happy and safe in my own home and having a child isn't going to stop me doing that.

 

We're in the living room, we have three sofas.  Two three seaters and a single chair, which was supposed to be my chair, but it's too far away from the TV so I never sit there.  We have Janelle's highchair in the living room.

 

Lucy Edwards

Ah okay!

 

Joy Addo

I like to have a plug-in air freshener that smells like fresh cut roses.  I feel like it makes it a bit cleaner.

 

Lucy Edwards

Do you ever worry about your flat if it's untidy?

 

Joy Addo

I don't think I worry about it.  I do feel like people probably judge me more if my flat was untidy and I had a child they'll think 'Oh she's blind, she can't clean'.  And I think that might be another reason why I like to keep it extra clean, just to show people 'No I I really can and I will'.

 

Lucy Edwards

How would you go about tidying the bathroom?

 

Joy Addo

So I'm going up to the toilet and I have my bleach on the windowsill cos it's higher up, so Janelle can't get it.  So I'll put bleach in there first and be careful not to splash it!  My mum always says that!  But next, I'll put some limescale remover, cos this makes the inside really white and clean so I put that around it.  At first, I didn't really know when things were not totally clean if like the toilet, because it's hard to see that kind of thing like you know at the bottom of the toilet, the water can be a different colour. And so my mum will point things out like that and then she'll recommend things to buy to use to do it and she'll literally show me how to do it.  And then from once I know it once, I was sort of doing it.

 

Lucy Edwards

Perfect.

 

Joy Addo

Just in here on the left just just here is where my TV is and it's on a chest of drawers, which is Janelle's chest of drawers.  So in the top drawer, I have her vest there all white actually.  Then I'll have like her socks and sometimes I find it really hard, all kids' socks are colourful but they have some kind of pattern on them, so I sometimes have to get like my mum or my friend to help me pair up her socks.  Sometimes I find myself buying a lot of children's socks, so all the ones that are not paired are in a bag and then I literally give that to my mum every so often and be like "Here mum, pair some socks up, have fun".  In the second drawer with her tops, I just like to have Janelle in bright colours just so that when we're out and about I can spot her a bit easier.  If she's all in dark, I'll pick-up the wrong child so that's it for the drawers.  How I hoover, yeah I generally don't like hoovering.  I hoover only like when Janelle's made a big mess and I know I need to hoover.  I have help once a week, I have a cleaner.  Well she's a carer and she does like the mopping for me, but during the week everything else I have to still keep up.  But the hoovering is the one thing I actually let slip sometimes just INAUD again one sec!  What I usually do with the hoover is I will take my socks off, so I can feel any crumbs and stuff on the floor.  So I'll hoover everywhere, but sometimes you can feel it on the bottom of your feet as well, so I'll  know if I missed a bit so I'm just going to turn it on and I just like hoover everywhere in every direction.  So I'll take you over to my bed.  I'll show you how I match everything, so Janelle's got a single bed and I've got a double bed and I like things to be the same, so I'll buy a single and a double of each bedspread.  And what I'll do is I'll wash them altogether and then my mum taught me another trick, fold up your sheet, your duvet cover and one pillowcase and then put them all in another pillowcase, so when you take it out the drawer you know you've got a full set.

 

Peter White

So that's Joy Addo's home.  Lucy Edwards reporting and Lucy's with me in the studio.  What kinds of people do you really want to hear from, because this isn't a one off, we're looking at how lots of people do this kind of thing?

 

Lucy Edwards

We are! And I think next, I would love to talk to students in student digs and maybe even a teacher in a classroom.  How do they organise their work life with a roomful of children?  That will be really interesting!

 

Peter White

Lucy Edwards thanks very much indeed.  And we'll give you details of how to get in touch with us at the end of the programme.

 

Now before losing her sight, a trip to theatre was one of Joanna Wood's greatest pleasures.  After losing most of her vision, she found that going to see a play described by a professional audio describer gave her back some of that joy.  In fact, it's giving her even more as she's written a blog on how it restored her sense of who she really is and she's committed to the extent that she's a trustee now of 'VocalEyes' the audio description charity.  Actually, she's in our Brighton Studio.  Joanna first of all what struck you most about the way you were being seen by people?  What was different about that after you'd lost your vision?

 

Joanna Wood

I started losing my sight 5yrs ago when I was 28, but I wasn't visibly visually impaired until 2yrs after that when I'd lost most of my sight and when I started wearing large dark sunglasses and using a long cane.  I became much more visible than I'd ever been in my life, but completely invisible because it was painfully apparent that all anybody saw was their perception of what a blind or partially sighted person was.  So someone looking at me had reactions of pity of well intentioned aspirations on my behalf that I should be doing the Paralympics, but nobody saw someone who was academic, who was sporty despite the Paralympic reference and who just was wanting to get on with living their life as they had done before.

 

Peter White

And you had been all of those things hadn't you, you'd been sporty, you had been academic?

 

Joanna Wood

I had yes, all of those were very much parts of my life.  And it's a very strange sensation to go from invisibly just getting on with your life to suddenly being hyper visible, but completely prevented from getting on with almost any aspect of what felt like normal life before.

 

Peter White

Now I mentioned audio description.  There was a revelatory moment for you, tell us what happened?

 

Joanna Wood

My sister in 2016, so this is 2yrs after my sight first starts going and a year after I've had the significant sight-loss.  And she gives me an amazing Christmas present, which is a trip with her to Shakespeare's grave in London to see an audio described performance of Othello.  And it's the perfect gift, because as you've said, I'm a complete theatre nut.  I love going to the theatre, I love Shakespeare in particular.  And what's funny is if you'd asked me on that day in April 2017, when we're travelling up to London for the performance.  I would have told you that I was back to myself.  I at this point had been in work for 6 months after 2yrs of unemployment.  I was commuting independently both to work and up and down to London using my long cane and I was back at the gym.  But from the first moment we went into 'The Globe', it was really clear that this was going to be a very different day, because the first thing we noticed was just the complete normality.  So I entered a space that was at once totally accessible to me, but not at all about sight impairment.  And the person behind all of this is the phenomenal David Bowood who's the Access Manager at 'The Globe'.  And he along with the vocalised describers who were Alison and Willie that day, took us into 'The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse' which is the indoor playhouse at 'The Globe' to explore the set props and costumes on the touch tour.  And we were joined by four members of the company, who spent 45 minutes with us talking about their characters, the production, the props and the costumes.  For two reasons, the touch tour is so important to me.  Firstly, at a practical level, it allows me to map out the space, the set and to really bank all of that information, so that when I listen to the description in the performance.  I'm able to raise all those images in my head and it really helps make the description a full experience of the play, but also let's be honest its the human encounters on those touch tours that certainly for me have made such a difference.  So before I'd even been to the performance, I'd been totally changed, something really profound had happened and I left the playhouse a different person.

 

Peter White

I'm intrigued though why it's had such an effect?

 

Joanna Wood

What happened that day was that for the first time in 2yrs since losing my sight, I was treated like a human like a full person outside of immediate circle.  And the reason that was so powerful for me, was that until that moment of seeing myself through their eyes I hadn't realised that I'd stopped seeing myself as that whole person.  And that the 2yrs of economic desperation, the unemployment and the complete reduction of my life down to the barest elements had just worn me down.  And I'd stopped asking more of myself and more of life than simply muting those basic needs of a job, any job and housing, feeding and clothing myself.  So for me being seen as myself, my full self by someone who didn't know me was transformative but it was more than that, it was redemptive and I've never looked back from that first moment.

 

Peter White

Now for you it was theatre, do you think people could find this kind of thing somewhere else, somewhere they were made to feel comfortable?

 

Joanna Wood

Absolutely!  I'm sure listeners will have had probably the same experiences of being seen in sporting events, whether that's taking part or going as a spectator or almost anything that's aimed at them specifically.

 

Peter White

Joanna Wood thank you very much indeed. 

 

And tell us if you've had a Joanna effect moment and tell us what caused it?  You can email us at intouch@bbc.co.uk, you can call and leave a message on 0161 836 1338 thirteen, thirty-eight, or you can go to our website at bbc.co.uk/intouch and subscribe to the In Touch Podcast.

 

That's it from me Peter White, Producer Lee Kumutat and the Team, goodbye!

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