Through My Eyes

Over the years of running my business I have met some lovely people who have delivered to me in person their media for transfer to digital, a London black cab driver who arrived in his cab of course with 50 LPs for transfer, a lady who arrived on foot with her shopping trolley with a box of audio cassettes a 78rpm collector who arrived by bus carrying his treasured 78rpm records in heavy duty carrier bags and a blind customer who travelled by train and taxi to hand deliver his LPs and singles for transfer to mention just a few.

People are curious creatures by nature and love to know things about other people not only how other live and behave; well we get much of that through reality TV these days gladly something I do not watch, probably as we do not have a TV in the house.

By curious I mean people make conversation by asking how do you manage to do the cleaning of a record or the recording when yu cannot see too much or how do you package up the media for posting out and what about the address labels?

Much of the answers to the above is fairly common across the board in the daily life of a person with severe sight loss it is a sort of ongoing period of learning and trial and error based on other blind persons experiences and for some attaining new skills from professional services such as RNIB (The royal National Institute For The Blind) www.rnib.org.uk and in my case I attended back in 1991 their college in Loughborough to do an I.t. course (Information Technology) which taught word Processing, Database & spreadsheets. fortunately for me I had also previously attended the RNIB Manor House Torquay Rehab centre for a 10 weeks stay where I was first introduced to things like touch typing, braille, long cane mobility and the gadgets and devices that could help with coping with sight loss.

Sadly Manor House Torquay set in a few acres of ground in Devon had to be closed due to the financial state of the RNIB after many years of helping hundreds of newly blind people make some sort of decisions on their future with sight loss.

For willing blind people we have some fantastic technology to get us through the day, I say willing as quite a few blind people will never adjust to using and depending on such technology but I think this is slowly changing as the younger generations of people with sight loss are having to grow up with this tech stuff, although more often than not it is the price tag that denotes whether or not you get it whether that be by private finances or government schemes for supporting people with disabilities in the workplace, primarily through ATW (Access to Work).

If you are disabled and self employed it is a much tougher route as you have to meet some fairly strict rules relating to business turnover and working hours to get approval for ATW. For many thousands of disabled people if it were not for ATW they would not be working so is a lifeline for them.

When it comes to physically getting around I was probably one of the most terrible long cane users out there but did survive this for about 5 years and then in 1992 I attended a talk by guide Dogs For The Blind www.guidedogs.org.uk and excuse the pun, never looked back?

I have had Guide Dogs for just over 26 years and my current dog Zag is part of my life taking me into town safely to either send out or collect packages on almost a daily basis and of course is a fantastic motivator as well in maintaining my personal independance, I have a truly caring wife Julie but would hate to burden her on a daily basis fetching and carrying for me so there fore I value being able to stand alone and if Julie goes to visit our daughter I can look after myself and Zag too!

My main computers have speech software called JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output (if you have a braille keyboard) for the most popular computer applications on your PC. For information on JAWS you can look at https://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS

By researching and some trial and error in my early days of www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk I had to source software that would be compatible to run with JAWS but sometimes call on other screen reader programs such as NVDA https://www.nvaccess.org/about-nvda/ which is an open source screen reader program. also my iPhone has some very useful apps to assist on a daily basis and with the IPhone with its accessability feature Voice Over turned on is a must for blind users as it can scan bar codes, documents have apps that can read LCD or LED screens and if all else fails there apps that by using the camera facility will allow you to summon sighted assistance in reading something, hence the need to embrace technology.

Aside from the technical computer software and programs much of the equipment used is good old fashioned analogue recording and playing gear, Revox B77 tape recorders, TEAC Cassette Decks, Rega Planar turntables and digital convertors from www.cedaraudio.co.uk

As one of my customers once said when you are working it must be like the flight deck of concorde! sitting amidst all that technical power and knowing how to fly it all helps of course.