A graphic of a woman guiding a sight impaired man down some stairs

New e-learning course enhances skills when assisting people with sight loss

A new e-learning course to develop knowledge, skills and confidence when assisting people with a visual impairment has been launched by award-winning social businessman and Nystagmus Network trustee, Dan Williams of Visualise Training and Consultancy.

Visual Impairment Awareness for All’ is ideal for anyone who regularly interacts with people living with visual impairment as it focuses on the practical and emotional effects and provides solutions to everyday challenges.

It covers identifying sight loss, eye conditions and their effects, emotional impacts, accessibility, assistive technologies, communication, mobility and sighted guiding techniques.

Having lived with a visual impairment from childhood, Dan fully appreciates the challenges and thanks to his lived and professional experiences, he understands what assistance is needed and has designed the courses accordingly.

He says, “There are so many aspects to living with a visual impairment, so I wanted to develop a course that will raise awareness and provide the knowledge and skills needed by everyone who regularly engages with people who have a visual impairment.

For example, there is often a fear of offending someone by offering assistance and not knowing how to guide, so we provide the skills and confidence needed to overcome this.”

The course is ideal for family members and friends and can be used as an induction or refresher course for businesses and organisations as part of their CPD portfolio.

The cost is £30 per learner and it can be completed online from any location.

Click here to find out more and enrol

For enquiries, please email [email protected]

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

‘Rip Off Britain’ air Dan’s story of Uber refusals

A man from Cardiff is taking Uber to court over claims they refused to pick him up with his guide dog on more than 100 occasions.

Cardiff-based entrepreneur, Dan Williams is bringing a case against the company after he claims they regularly refuse to pick him up with his dog, Zodiac.

Dan, who is registered blind as he is gradually losing his sight due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, claims over the past two years he has regularly been turned down for journeys.

He said it often causes him to miss or be late for appointments and has affected his business reputation.

Dan said: “A regular scenario is that I book an Uber ride and on arrival, the driver either spots me and Zodiac and drives off or pulls up and refuses to allow us into their car.

“I always remain calm and professional and explain that it is illegal under UK law as a guide dog is classed as a mobility aid, just like a wheelchair.

“I then started to message drivers to inform them that I have a guide dog which resulted in cancellations and would often message two or three drivers before one would actually accept the job.”

During a two-week period, Dan said he had ordered 10 Ubers and was refused access six times, leaving him feeling “mentally drained, exhausted angry [and] frustrated”.

He often travels to carry out training for organisations and workplace assessments for employees with sight loss through his social enterprise, Visualise Training and Consultancy.

Dan said he decided to take legal action to stop similar incidents happening to other blind or partially sighted people and says he has also considered giving up Zodiac.

Dan said: “Having Zodiac has transformed my life over the past two years and he’s become my best friend, but at times like these I really start to wonder if I should hand him back to Guide Dogs and revert to using a white cane to avoid all the anxiety and inconvenience caused by Uber drivers.”

Specialist disability discrimination lawyer Chris Fry, of Fry Law, is handling Dan’s case.

He said: “I’m very hopeful that together, we can make a positive impact on the taxi sector as a whole that will benefit the 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK.

“We think that Uber hanging its drivers out to dry shows an abrogation of responsibility. They are the service provider and are therefore responsible for providing an Equality Act compliant service.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission are supporting the claim.

A commission spokesperson said: “Transport operators have clear responsibilities in law to help disabled people travel freely, but often they are failing to meet them.

“We are funding Mr Williams’ case and others, to encourage improvements to the transport industry’s policies and practice so that the needs of disabled and older people are key considerations in the current and future design of public transport.

“Disabled people and older passengers must be able to enjoy public transport just like everybody else.”

Proceedings were issued in the County Court at the end of April and Dan’s counsel is waiting to receive the sealed documents back.

They intend to apply to the court to stay the case (suspend the case partially or fully) pending the outcome of a separate Supreme Court case, which they anticipate will be by the end of the year.

The Supreme Court is due to hear a case in July surrounding the status of Uber’s drivers, with the firm arguing they are self-employed.

In an email sent to Dan on May 11, an Uber spokeswoman said: “It is totally unacceptable for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog and we investigate every report.

“Licensed private hire drivers must carry service animals in their vehicle. We highlight this obligation to all drivers before they start using the Uber app and often send reminders.

“Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the app.”

Uber have been approached several times by WalesOnline for a comment.

Article source: Wales Online

Dan’s story was highlighted in the BBC consumer programme, Rip Off Britain. You can watch the episode using the link below.

Watch Rip Off Britain on BBC i-player here

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

Happy Anniversary, Visualise!

Dan Williams takes a look back over the past 6 years and how his business has evolved.

I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since I founded Visualise and as with all new ventures, it’s been a rollercoaster but my positivity and love for what I do has kept me moving forward.

When I was at school I never thought that I’d amount to anything because of my sight loss and the bullying didn’t help either, but I now realise I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it, just in a different way to most people.

The challenges I overcame made me stronger each time and gave me the confidence to keep developing new ideas; if something didn’t work, I’d learn from it, adapt and try again.

Visualise Training and Consultancy is now a successful social business which empowers all types of organisations to be visual impairment confident and improve the lives of thousands of people throughout the UK living with blindness or partial sight.

My message to anyone facing barriers is to give things a try as the chances are that you’ll achieve your aims, perhaps not first time, but with determination and hard work, you can get there if you believe in yourself and keep pushing forward.

The following BBC video was made just after I set up the business and I hope it inspires you to keep striving for whatever is your passion.

Here’s the link 

Keep positive and stay safe,


Dan Williams became a trustee of the Nystagmus Network earlier this year.

Trustees standing together.

Daniel joins the Nystagmus Network

The Nystagmus Network has appointed Daniel Williams, sight loss campaigner and founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy, to its committee of Trustees.

Chair of the charity’s trustees, Tim Cuddeford said: “We are delighted to welcome Daniel to the committee as he brings a comprehensive overview of the sight loss and optical sectors and first-hand knowledge of the challenges living with a visual impairment can bring. As a well-connected young entrepreneur with a strong social media presence, he will also help us to raise the profile of the Nystagmus Network and the support services we offer.”

Daniel said: “I feel honoured to be part of a small charity that has the potential to support so many people with nystagmus. My younger brother was diagnosed with the condition at the age of one and, as an advocate for the sight loss sector, this appointment will help towards my aim of making the world more inclusive for people with visual impairments through increased opportunities and personal development.”

To find out more about Daniel’s visual impairment training and consultancy services, please visit Visualise Training and Consultancy

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

Is it time to review partially sighted or blind certification?

GUEST POST: Founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy and Seeing Beyond the Eyes CET roadshow lead, Daniel Williams has retinitis pigmentosa. In this article, he asks if it is time for a change when it comes to Certification of Vision Impairment (CVI).

Whilst recognition that you have low vision is an advantage, when it becomes a label on a numbered scale, the effectiveness of the certification process is questionable. The other troubling issue is how unfair the system can be by denying patients with VI many crucial benefits and concessions.

To see or not to see…

Certification by an ophthalmologist gives you formal recognition of being vision impaired and opens the door to referrals for social care assessment and many other concessions including financial assistance. You will be registered as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind).

At present, to get the coveted award, known as The Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) you need to stumble into one of the following categories:

Sight impaired (partially sighted)

Your sight must fall into one of the following categories, while wearing any glasses or contact lenses that you may need:

  • Visual acuity of 3 / 60 to 6 / 60 with a full field of vision.
  • Visual acuity of up to 6 / 24 with a moderate reduction of field of vision or with a central part of vision that is cloudy or blurry.
  • Visual acuity of 6 / 18 or even better if a large part of your field of vision, for example a whole half of your vision, is missing or a lot of your peripheral vision is missing.

Severely sight impaired (blind)

Your sight must fall into one of the following categories, while wearing any glasses or contact lenses that you may need:

  • Visual acuity of less than 3 / 60 with a full visual field.
  • Visual acuity between 3 / 60 and 6 / 60 with a severe reduction of field of vision, such as tunnel vision.
  • Visual acuity of 6 / 60 or above but with a very reduced field of vision, especially if a lot of sight is missing in the lower part of the field.

…that is the question

This is where things can become tricky for certain eye conditions – you may find yourself stumbling into things on a daily basis, but, unfortunately, not falling into the above categories which still causes immense problems and visual difficulty for the patient.

The criteria, based on the keenness of your central vision – or acuity -judgesthe level of detail you can see, for which you will be asked to read down the eye chart. It also concentrates on your field of vision, which is determined by how much you can see around the edges of your central vision, whilst you look straight ahead.After assessment of the results, your eligibility is decided – win or lose.

Some patients really struggle to see, which adversely impacts their lives yet they will not meet the criteria.

Let’s be clear

A good illustration of this is a patient who has nystagmus. In addition to uncontrolled and repetitive rapid eye movement, they may struggle with sensitivity to various light conditions but have overall good acuity yet still fail to meet the criteria.

Another example of this may be a patient who has early onset retinitis pigmentosa with very good visual acuity and field. They will struggle emotionally with a diagnosis of a degenerative condition, they may struggle in the dark, to cook, clean and get out and about. So why can’t they be certified?

Theseare only two examples. Many people struggle with their vision, at whatever level, but do not get the tick in the right box to receive the support, advice and recognition they need to cope with their loss of sight.As a result, many patients slip through the system and end up alone and vulnerable.

So, has the time come to reorganise and update this system to embrace a more holistic approach to measurement of sight loss, without the charts and numbers focusing on functional vision?

In other words, if someone is struggling to see properly, does it really matter if they meet a set of pre-determined figures?Some eye conditions, even with a relatively high acuity of 50%, leave patients battling to complete everyday tasks. They may also be living in fear of becoming blind or of coping with future degeneration.

The people who are in between who can’t drive and likely can’t read standard sized fonts even with glasses are unlikely to receive any form of disability benefit despite being very much at a visual disadvantage. They fall in no man’s land and are just as likely to need help, especially if they lose their driving licence or job as a result of sight loss.

Sue Ricketts, Executive Information and Development Manager with Nystagmus Network highlights the problem: “So many people with nystagmus fall between two stools; they can’t see well enough to drive, but they can’t get certification on visual acuity alone so can’t access concessionary fares on public transport. If they don’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments, there’s no help there for transport costs, taxi fares etc. either.”

Boxed in      

What is the advantage of fitting people into a box? If you have a problem with your vision, you need to be referred to resources where help, advice and support is freely available.

The challenge appears to be how an individual can be assessed in terms of how their life is impacted by visual problems and how best to ensure limited resources are distributed fairly to give anyone who would benefit, access to the right technology and support.

At present the main focus for certification seems to be Visual Acuity (too often Snellen) which is a very limited tool – great for measuring and in the correction of  refractive error but a poor indicator of useful acuity in the real world. Driving standards recognise that using Snellen acuity is a poor indicator of safe driving vision but they haven’t been able to come up with an alternative. 

So yes, an alternative method for assessing functional vision is certainly needed in my opinion and would make a wonderful PhD project for multi discipline studies. There is work going on in Wales to look at optometrists providing CVI but the criteria are still specific and defined by law at present so a cogent argument to alter the law would be an interesting exercise but that is a long-term project and may or may not be successful.

We need the certification system in place for statistics, planning services and registration to social services. Also, certification provides the only ongoing statistics on blind and partially sighted people in England and Wales. The CVI statistics provide the basis for the government Public Health Indicators so losing them would lose a direct line to pressure government to commission and provide services. 

Receiving certification can be life changing as it significantly improves lives, yet ophthalmologists admit it can be difficult to ascertain if it is appropriate to certify a patient, especially if they have a long-term condition. This surely illustrates the need for a more consistent approach and to question why some patients are declined.

Rehabilitation for blind and partially sighted people should be provided irrespective of a person’s eligible needs so immaterial of Certification or Registration. RNIB’s description of the Care act is useful here: https://www.rnib.org.uk/nb-online/understanding-care-act Our Seeing Beyond the Eyes project and the work done by RNIB and others regarding Eye Clinic Liaison Officers is a key component of this as signposting support is more likely to provide swift support than either certification or registration. The third sector obviously plays a key part in the support of people with sight loss whether or not they are certified or registered

I know of many patients who meet the criteria yet are not offered certification so does the system within ophthalmology need to be reviewed to address this? Optometrists also have a duty when they know their patient meets the criteria, but is not offered certification, to re-refer them for assessment.

Patients and eye care professionals, do you think changes are needed and if so, what and how?

To find out more or to comment on the above, email [email protected]

Seeing Beyond the Eyes project wins Vision UK John Thompson Award for Excellence in Services, Support and Care 2019

The Nystagmus Network is delighted to share news of the success of Visualise Training’s Seeing Beyond the Eyes Project. Visualise Training’s, Founder, Daniel Williams, was our keynote speaker at Open Day 2019.

Vision UK, the umbrella organisation which leads collaboration with partners across the eye health and sight loss sector recognised the ground-breaking work being done by the Seeing Beyond the Eyes team recently at their joint conference between the RSM GP with Primary Health Care Section, Vision UK and in association with the RSM Ophthalmology Section and Digital Health Section.  

The team faced stiff competition from 5 other nominees in their category so were delighted when it was announced that they’d been awarded The Vision UK John Thompson Award for Excellence in Services, Support and Care 2019, one of the new thematic awards at this year’s event.

The team’s achievements in bringing the optical and sight loss support sectors together to benefit patients with visual impairments has been impressive since the project’s launch in May 2018. 60 interactive Continuing Education and Training (CET) workshops have been delivered throughout England and Scotland empowering over 4,500 optometrists and dispensing opticians to better support their patients living with sight loss and forge closer links with local and national support services. Feedback from delegates has been excellent and referrals are increasing.

Project lead and founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy Daniel Williams stated “We are delighted to win such a prestigious award but it is vital that we continue our education programme as there is still so much more to be done to ensure patients receive signposting and referrals for support as soon as they get a suspected and life changing diagnosis.

It is estimated that over 50% of sight loss is preventable, but it is still increasing so engagement between the optical and sight loss support sectors is more important than ever to help minimise the financial and emotional impacts for patients. Therefore, we are determined to reach all 21,000 UK optical clinicians but need help from the optical and sight loss sectors in terms of funding, venues and resources to achieve this so please contact me if you can assist.”

To find out more about the Seeing Beyond the Eyes project and book your free workshop place, visit  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/visualise-training-and-consultancy-17222888162 or email [email protected]

The picture shows the Seeing Beyond the Eyes team. L-R Peter Black, Gill Perry, Daniel Williams, Jayshree Vasani

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

“I’m struggling to see at work”

A guest post from our Open Day 2019 keynote speaker, Daniel Williams, founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy:

Losing eyesight is both challenging and difficult, scary and disconcerting. Having to change the way you do things, adapting to new challenges and learn new skills can be exhausting. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of eyesight deterioration is the uncertainty around employment. Sometimes it may be hard to tell somebody at work about your sight loss for fear of losing your job and you may struggle with tasks and suffer from eye strain or headaches because you are trying so hard to cope. Or, you could be afraid to tell your manager in case they think that you can no longer carry out your daily tasks as efficiently as you used to and this may lead to unemployment and all the uncertainty and ambiguity this may bring.

Let’s think about the common symptoms of sight loss, and how experiencing these symptoms may make you feel:

  • You may find the computer screen difficult to see
  • You may experience eye fatigue or pain
  • You may struggle to recognise colleagues
  • You may be struggling to get around
  • The lighting may be giving you discomfort
  • You may be getting tired
  • You may be finding print difficult to read
  • You may be getting constant headaches
  • You may think you are being clumsy
  • You may not be able to see your keyboard clearly

Experiencing just one of these symptoms may make you feel worried, uncomfortable or anxious. If not checked, in time, these feelings may escalate and cause you to struggle in both your work life and private life. But it is important to understand that help is available and that you don’t have to be totally blind to get help. In fact, the vast majority of visually impaired people in full-time employment have partial or useful vision. Don’t give up your job, just because you’ve lost your vision.

The Equality ACT 2010 protects you against disability discrimination. Your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Visualise Training and Consultancy can carry out a work-based assessment to assess your needs and not only give you and your employer ideas on how to make your work life easier, but they will also write a full report, detailing any special equipment or alterations that can be made.

Let’s take a look at the four most common problems that may occur in the workplace for people who are losing or have lost some of their eyesight. Alongside the problem, we’ll look at possible solutions.

“I can’t see my computer screen very well any more…”

This is a common issue that can be tackled in a number of ways. You can use a bigger screen, use an anti-glare filter on your screen or change the colour scheme and text size within Windows. Failing this, a special screen magnifying programme can be used to enlarge what’s on the screen and change the colours and contrast. In some cases, a special piece of screen reading software such as Jaws or NVDA can be used. This will read-out what you type and tell you what is on the screen. Some people may use a mixture of screen reading software and screen magnification software, others may exclusively use screen reading software.

“I’m finding print difficult to read…”

A hand-held magnifier can be used to enlarge print, but technology can also be used. A CCTV/ video magnifier  can make reading easier, as can coloured filters and smart phone apps such as KNFB Reader and SeeingAI. Sometimes, scanning a document and reading it on a screen suits some people, as does experimenting with different lighting. In cases where the print is too challenging for technology to tackle, Access To Work may pay for a PA or Support Worker to help you read documents.

“I suffer from headaches and eye strain…”

If you try to exceed the limit of your vision it can be very tiring. Sometimes, headaches and eye fatigue can be environmental, caused by bright, fluorescent overhead lighting or poor task lighting. Often, tweaks to the environment and regular breaks can help prevent discomfort. Also, a good quality, consistent light source can make a lot of difference.

“My sighted colleagues don’t know how to support me in the best way”

Remember your colleagues may not have ever worked with someone with reduced vision. So be loud and proud, tell them what you need and how best to communicate with you. They may also benefit from visual impairment awareness training to understand how best to support employees with sight loss.

“I can no longer drive…”

Losing your driving license because of sight loss is very common and very worrying. However, there are ways to tackle the problem. Discounted rail and bus travel can be acquired with disability passes, making travel to work on public transport cheaper. However, if you have to travel to appointments within your role, or if using public transport is impractical, Access To Work may pay for taxis. This makes life a great deal easier and eliminates some stress.

These problems and more can cause high levels of discomfort, stress and anxiety. It is important to remember that help is available, and that communication is often the key to starting the journey to positivity and a sense of equilibrium. Don’t suffer in silence. The Equality Act 2010 is on your side:

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society

It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.”

To book a workplace assessment, please visit Visualise Training and Consultancy.

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

Referrals change lives

In a recent article published by Vision UK, Founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy, Daniel Williams, discusses the importance of referring patients from the hospital eye clinic or High Street optician’s on to local or national services offering condition specific support and information.

It’s time for your regular appointment at your local high street optician. Each year you receive a reminder letter and you go along feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy the rest of your day after your appointment is over. Thousands of people do this every day and many thousands do come away feeling happy and relieved and go on to shop or see a friend, putting the appointment behind them for another six or twelve months.

But what about those who come away feeling worried?

Read the rest of the article, here.

Meet Daniel at Open Day 2019.

Daniel’s a man on a mission

Man on a Mission with Low Vision, visually impaired entrepreneur Daniel Williams is working to raise awareness of the value to business of meeting the needs of visually impaired customers and employees.

Founder of Visualise Training, Daniel is working hard to convince the business world one company at a time.

Members of the Nystagmus Network will have the opportunity to meet Daniel at Open Day 2019 in Cardiff and hear him speak about his career, his passion for the rights of everyone with low vision, and living with sight loss himself.

Read Daniel’s latest article ‘The Business Case for Low Vision’, published by Visionary, here.

Dan Williams crouches beside his guide dog, Zodiac.

Introducing Daniel

Daniel Williams is our keynote speaker at Open Day 2019.

Daniel is the founder of Visualise Training and Consultancy, a company which delivers sight loss awareness to employers.

Daniel, who is gradually losing his own sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, says:
“I am passionate about disability rights and making mainstream services accessible to all, enabling people with disabilities to be as independent as possible. I want to facilitate the social change that will eradicate the shameful employment gap between people with disabilities and the wider population, and I believe Visualise represents one important step in that change.”

Meet Daniel at Open Day.

Priority booking for members only free places opens soon. Any remaining tickets will go on general sale in the run up to our event.