Grant gives funding for specialist sight loss aids

Rio Tinto's Joanne Hannay (seated) and Northumberland County Blind Association's Fran Smith (left) and Lorraine Dryden.
Rio Tinto's Joanne Hannay (seated) and Northumberland County Blind Association's Fran Smith (left) and Lorraine Dryden.

A £25,000 package of specialist aids has been delivered to a sight loss charity.

Northumberland County Blind Association (NCBA), which has its HQ in Morpeth, has received the hi-tech equipment courtesy of Rio Tinto’s Lynemouth Legacy Fund.

The kit includes adapted IT equipment to enable people with sight loss to access emails, the Internet, social media and online support.

There are also talking scanners, which allow letters, books and other text to be read aloud, portable low vision assessment equipment, USB boom boxes for playing talking books and newspapers, a colour detector to help people match items of clothing, and a liquid level indicator, which warns when a vessel is almost full. Talking clocks and watches have also been purchased.

NCBA Chief Executive Lorraine Dryden said: “We support vision impaired people in leading independent lifestyles. There are estimated to be more than 9,000 people in Northumberland with sight loss. Also, with an increasingly ageing population and associated natural sight deterioration, demand for our services is on the increase.

“Thanks to Rio Tinto’s generosity, we are able to expand our level of provision, which will improve the quality of life for thousands of local people.”

The service offers information and advice, rehabilitation, assessments and transcription services. The Rio Tinto donation will equip clinics across Northumberland so that people can access support in their own community.

Rio Tinto Lynemouth Regional Economic Development Adviser Joanne Hannay said: “NCBA exists to help people help themselves and as sight loss is on the increase the association’s work becomes all the more important. The equipment and services provided by NCBA enable members to perform everyday tasks that those of us with full sight often take for granted. It’s a fabulous cause and one Rio Tinto is privileged to support.”

The fund was set up after the closure of the Lynemouth smelter in 2012.

To contact NCBA call 01670 514316.