Illuminating perspectives: takeaways from an RNIB presentation

Palak Kapadia, optometry student at Cardiff University and AOP student representative, shared learnings from an RNIB event

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Earlier this year I had the privilege of attending an engaging talk hosted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) at Cardiff University.

The session commenced with a warm welcome from the president of the Cardiff Optometry Society (OpSoc), followed by an introduction by the head of school, Professor John Wild, who shared insight from his PhD research delving into the adaptation of teenagers to visual impairment.

A highlight of the evening was an address by the Lord Mayor, Bablin Malik, a former Cardiff PhD graduate, whose visit underscored the integral role of educational institutions like Cardiff in serving, not only as centres of academic excellence, but also as pillars of support for the community.

The Mayor’s passionate advocacy for charities like UCAN Productions – a performance and creative arts charity for blind and partially sighted people – resonated deeply and emphasised the importance of active engagement in life-changing initiatives. 

Graduates of the Cardiff University optometry course, Huda and Alia Hathaf, shared their transformative journeys from volunteering to becoming integral members of the RNIB family.

Tricia Sail [winner of the BBC’s Race Around the World 2023] spoke about her experience of sight loss due to chromoretinopathy uveitis, which had a lasting impact, and subsequent empowerment through the support of RNIB.

Sail's triumphant story of winning Race Across the World was the highlight of the event. Her story really demonstrates the resilience and determination inherent in overcoming obstacles. Her partnership with RNIB post-victory exemplifies the organisation’s commitment to nurturing talent and fostering inclusivity.

We heard about the power of community engagement facilitated by RNIB, including an initiative to create a social group combating social isolation, and advocacy for accessible voting, along with RNIB support services, from audiobooks to support groups, catering to the diverse needs of those with visual impairments.

Following a brief pizza break, we heard more about further services, from assistive technology to educational support.

An interactive session then provided attendees with practical insight into guiding individuals with sight loss. Through specially designed glasses, the audience were also able to experience how different conditions affect vision.

As an aspiring optometrist preparing to embark on my pre-registration journey, this talk proved to be profoundly enlightening. It expanded my awareness of the services available to visually impaired individuals and inspired me to actively engage with RNIB’s efforts.

I am now equipped with the knowledge to guide individuals towards this invaluable community and have eagerly signed up to volunteer with RNIB.

The motivational and enthusiastic presentations delivered by the speakers underscored the importance of being surrounded by supportive individuals, and the transformative effect of community engagement.

The RNIB talk served as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of collective action in effecting meaningful change.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the OpSoc team at Cardiff for making the experience possible.