As our children grew up, it was wonderful to see the looks on their little faces as they opened their presents. All the excitement and anticipation that quickly turned into sheer joy and elation. Since I lost my sight eight years ago, I haven't had that same thrill with my grandchildren. While I try not be bitter about life, I do feel a little bit like I've been robbed of that pleasure.
I was three years old when British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee enabled the internet to be accessible to 'non-technical' people with the creation of the World Wide Web. I can't say the invention had much of an impact on me back when I was playing with trains or trying to eat snails. To be honest, as a three-year-old, I was oblivious to most things.
At the moment, if a vision impaired person wants to travel by tube, they have the option of seeking assistance from a member of staff, a service that works well for the most part. However, it is the prospect of being able to get from a to b independently and without need for advanced planning, that is so exciting for these youngsters.
For thousands of people living with sight loss, not being able to get online and access the huge range of benefits that comes with it, is a daily reality. Whilst we must respect the fact that some people simply do not want to be online, we know that four in five older blind people say their sight loss is the reason why they are not. It does not have to be this way.
In this modern day, society has been cultivated towards the productivity of the Internet and its many social media platforms. From Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with millions of people across the world accessing them on a daily basis it is no wonder that many are turning to the Internet to make new discoveries.
In January last year I noticed that I was having difficulties reading emails and was having to squint to read small text. This was unusual for me as I had perfect vision my whole life. I immediately went to an optician and expected to be given glasses, but instead I was rushed to hospital because it turned out that I had profound vision loss in one eye...
The current reality, though, is that all too often newly diagnosed people are left alone and vulnerable, without access to the support they so desperately need. Confirmation of sight loss is devastating news. And it often comes with no practical advice, counselling, support or guidance. This is a terrible predicament for anyone facing this appalling situation.
New research by national sight loss charity RNIB has revealed that 17,000 vision impaired people of working age look set to be displaced from their homes as a result of the Bedroom Tax. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, they will have to choose between relocating or losing a portion of their benefits (which will be on average £14 a week; a sizeable sum when you are already struggling to make ends meet).