Training area: Visual Impairment Trainer
Tom was born totally blind in Manchester, in the North West of England, in April 1964. At the age of 3.5, Tom had an operation to remove the congenital cataract from his right eye which gave him a small amount of useful vision. Tom can remember waking up from that operation and being able to see for the first time.
Sadly for Tom, his first experience of eyesight wasn’t one of the great visual wonders of the world, but a hospital ward replete with patients and nurses.
Doctors decided not to remove the cataract from Tom’s left eye in case they upset the progress they had made on his right eye. As a result, Tom remains totally blind in his left eye.
Tom was educated at the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool and Worcester College for the Blind. Both schools were specialist residential schools and all of the pupils had some form of visual impairment. Initially, Tom was taught in Braille but as magnification improved and became more readily available, Tom transferred to print.
While at school, Tom obtained ten O levels and three A levels. He also took part in numerous extra-curricular activities including sport and drama.
After school, Tom obtained a 1st class honours degree in Psychology and has worked as a freelance BBC reporter, researcher and producer and as a media relations specialist for central and local government.
In 2016, Tom took voluntary redundancy from his post as media manager for Lancashire County Council and now works for the BBC as a producer and reporter, on a freelance basis, along with producing podcasts and running communications and diversity training courses.
Tom’s interests include music, drama, politics and sport – Tom is one of the founder members of FC United of Manchester.
Tom is also a keen independent traveller. He has visited over 30 countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico.
Tom says: “While being visually impaired provides me with numerous environmental and social challenges, I don’t allow my disability to prevent me from doing most of the things I want to do.
“There have been occasions however, especially when walking through the streets of Caracas in Venezuela, that I have wondered what on earth a visually impaired person is doing here on his own.
“Although I have travelled totally independently to a number of risky countries, especially in South and Central America, I have been fortunate so far and have survived unscathed; seeing a man walking alone with a white cane must be quite a temptation for pick-pockets and criminals.”
Tom added: “You only get one life and it isn’t a dress rehearsal. I firmly believe in making the most of it!”
Tom has what is nowadays described as a ‘portfolio career’. In addition to working as a radio journalist and podcaster, Tom also delivers disability and communications training to a wide range of groups. These include university students, business people, children and even people who have fallen foul of the law.
- Emphasise the statistics surrounding visual impairment.
- Discuss own visual impairments, and how they affect everyday life.
- Identify various traits linked to visual impairments.
- Demonstrate effective ways of accommodating and supporting people with visual impairments.
- Participants will have a better understanding of specific visual impairments.
- Participants will acquire skills to enable them to support people with a visual impairment.
- Create a more inclusive environment for staff, clients, volunteers, be actively removing barriers.
- PowerPoint presentation
- Real life scenarios
Duration: 1 hour
Group size: maximum 20