Betsy is one of our clients, but also one of our many colourful and inspirational characters!
She has a strong message for other VIPs (Visually Impaired People) based on her experience of gradually losing her sight through a degenerative eye condition. Betsy says that her education in the USA (where she originates from) provided her with a good grounding in terms of confidence, and believes that this confidence has been critical.
She attended a Quaker boarding school, where her academic and athletic potential were noticed and she is grateful for the supportive environment that she studied in. She went on to achieve a Sociology degree at Columbia University.
Betsy began her career as a dictaphone typist for ‘LightHouse’ which is a similar organisation to RNIB in the USA and when she moved to England, she spent some time working for the NHS Training Department at Lodge Moor Hospital.
She first became involved with SRSB when she accompanied a lady who attended our centre, and Betsy has gone on to become a very active client at SRSB. She worked to establish the user led rambling group, of which she was previously Chairman, she takes part in the Culture Club trips, uses the Equipment Centre, the Talking Books and the Talking News services, as well as being a regular at the Café (where she loves the coffee!). She also speaks very highly of the support that she has received from SRSB in difficult times and has become a very valuable volunteer for our organisation.
Her message to other VIPs is that confidence is critical, you must believe yourself, your abilities and your potential. Because her sight loss has been gradual she says that she uses her past experiences (as well as a heightening of other senses) to help her to deal with her surroundings, but points out that you should supplement your life with the facilities that are available to help you, such as the services at SRSB. She was resistant to using a cane to begin with, but now calls it a ‘weapon of life’! which she relies on more and more. She finds that it is a way of informing people of her sight loss and produces a difference in their attitudes.
Also crucial, is being able to cope with situations with a sense of humour and helping to educate others of the abilities of visually impaired people.