Krister Inde is the author of 'See Bad Feel Good'. The author, himself affected at a young age by a rare macular disease, studied and worked as a therapist for low vision patients in Sweden.
The book is an incredible journey from seeing well to seeing poorly – and from seeing poorly to feeling good.
Krister Inde tries to help those affected, with sight loss, in coping with their psychological and practical problems. The book is very personal and gives his personal reactions to the reader as if the reader is someone with whom he is able to share an intimate friendship. At Focus Birmingham we are delighted that you are now able to click here to download and read this book.
Please do share your thoughts with us on the book as we would be delighted to hear from you. As part of our partnership work Focus Birmingham were delighted to be a part of the Tempus Project, which you can read more about below.
Focus Birmingham are part of the European Commission funded Tempus project.
Andrew Miller, lead optometrist for Focus Birmingham, leads a team of professionals delivering reablement services for visually impaired people in Birmingham. Below in his own words is his story as to how he and Focus Birmingham became part of this important and vital partnership called the TEMPUS Project.
One routine Friday at work an email arrived from Krister Inde entitled “Mission for Vision in Jordan”.
I had met Krister 12 months earlier when he gave an inspiring talk at a meeting hosted by the Macular Society to stimulate the development of visual training services in the UK. Krister is blind and has been teaching and delivering courses in visual training for many years. I can remember being enthused by his passionate and amusing speech, telling us of the services that had been developed in Sweden. We spoke briefly after his talk, but I remember our conversation been based more on the merits of Swedish football rather than visual impairment. However later I felt the need to write to Krister to tell him how inspirational his speech was.
Krister’s email told me about another project that he had been involved in for the last few years developing vision rehabilitation services in Jordan. His email explained that he wanted an optometrist to go and teach local Jordanian students the basics of low vision assessments.
A look at a map tells you that Jordan is boarded to the North by Syria, to the West by Israel & Palestine and to the East by Iraq. I am not a seasoned traveller and remember my initial thoughts of a project in the Middle East focused on worries about my own personal safety and wondering if Krister had any plans to run a similar course in the Bahamas!
After a short exchange of emails and a little persuasion, I found myself one month later on a plane travelling to Amman, the capital of Jordan.
On arriving in Jordan I discovered a country very dissimilar to the UK; the land is dry and arid, the houses uniformly white and the traffic is the most horrendous I have ever encountered. Road markings appear to be there as merely an option to be followed by the tourists or the ignorant. Despite these cosmetic differences I was greeted everywhere with nothing but kindness and friendship. With the greeting of “Welcome to Jordan” being repeated with great conviction and meaning at every turn.
The Vision Rehabilitation course is based at the German Jordanian University (GJU) in Amman. The course is led by a French Canadian, Dr Nathalie Busieres. There is an adage that says “the reasonable man looks at the world and sees how he can fit into it and the unreasonable man sees how the world can be made to fit around him. Therefore change is only ever made by unreasonable people”
The first time I went to Jordan the course was run from a small cramped office which was shared with the University’s Chemistry department. The office was teaming with books and files and had a constant stream of staff playing “musical chairs” in the limited space. I did however manage to clear a space and run a low vision assessment for a diabetic lady in the middle of the office. The space was made even more cramped by the watching students, family and a group of bemused chemists working in the adjoining laboratory. Despite the chaos, it was none the less rewarding for me and my service user when she delighted in reading her appointment letter with her new spectacle magnifiers.
Teaching programmes at GJU are divided into two courses; a diploma and a Masters programme. The diploma is aimed at improving the knowledge and practice of staff working with people with visual impairment and the Masters is aimed at optometrists and health professionals looking to establish low vision services. The Masters programme is taught in English with the Diploma programme being translated into Arabic as I teach. I am always struck by the enthusiasm of the students to learn. The only breaks in a 3 hour session are for prayer and very strong Arabic coffee.
Not content with developing the course and training program, Nathalie has also now arranged for a local building to be converted into a visual training centre. The centre opened in 2012 and has offices, two classrooms, a waiting area with CCTV and a teaching optometry room. The optometry room is equipped with a side room where fellow students and the patient’s family can watch the examinations. The centre now runs low vision clinics on two days a week and has recently seen its two hundredth patient.
The next phase of development is to extend the program to other students in the Palestinian West Bank and allow students to travel and learn from established services in the European Union. To finance this further development, funding has been agreed from the EU TEMPUS program. The TEMPUS programme has allowed us to form a consortium with other teaching organisations and charities across Europe. Through this it is hoped that Focus Birmingham will form stronger links with the partner organisations as well as sharing of good practice between the EU and the Middle East. This work will also allow us to develop a training resource and website for use in encouraging and establishing new low vision services in the Middle East and Africa.
I have now travelled to Jordan on three occasions to teach the students at GJU. I find that the more I go to teach, the more I learn. I have been lucky enough to travel and see Petra and Jerusalem as well as seeing the amazing views of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights at Um Qays. My Arabic is limited to a pitiful few words but I am still bowled over by the warmth and generosity of the people there. I am immensely proud to be part of Nathalie’s “flying faculty” and in the future I hope to continue my links with the department.
If you would like to learn more about the Tempus Project please visit the EU funded website www.visionme.org. Andrew Miller are currently working on an online course for professionals who are interested in developing their skills in managing low vision patients in the framework of an The course is divided into 7 modules, each one requires around 2 hours of study (videos, reading and assignments). You can watch part of one of the videos already by clicking here.