On Monday 17th June, Pat Alexander (who is visually impaired) came in to talk to 5G about being blind and using a Guide Dog. Pat brought her Guide Dog in with her, called Pearl. Pearl is a black Lab Retriever and she has been guiding Pat for many years now. It was very interesting talking to Pat as we found out that she has had six guide dogs over the years.
Pat lives in Bristol and for many years worked for the Nat West Bank. As a child Pat was sent away to a school for the blind, there she learned how to read braille. She said being sent away at a young age was tough for her, but she believed it made her grow up and become self-reliant. Pat is a fiercely independent woman and this year took part in a trip to Malawi with the Samaritans Purse Christmas Shoebox appeal. She does not let her disability hold her back from what she wants to achieve. This is such an important message for us all!
Pat uses a Mac computer, because it comes with software that will read her emails to her. This software comes free on all Apple products, but is very expensive on other types of computers. This is why Pat is a great advocate of Apple products.
Pat explained that having a Guide Dog is a huge help to her, however, Guide Dogs can only do so much. Therefore Pat needs to rely on friends and the general public to support her in her everyday life. She explained, one of the hardest parts of being blind is navigating the physical world. Therefore it can be incredibly challenging when visiting a new environment, where are the: doors, stairs, furniture, etc.
The Guide Dog charity is amazing and currently, there are around 5000 Guide Dogs living and supporting a person, who is blind or visually impaired in the UK. The lifetime cost of a Guide Dog is £55, 000. The charity not only trains new Guide Dogs, it supports people and families in other ways too. They also campaign for the rights of those with visual impairments and invest in eye disease research.
Miss Gurney & 5G