Online workshop delivered to optometry students at the University of Manchester

In September last year we were asked by The University of Manchester to deliver a workshop for the European Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ESLRR). We were able to share details of our Knowledge Village resources, as well as sharing some of the top apps we recommend for people living with sight loss.
We were delighted when one of the professors asked us to deliver another workshop for their optometry students on the technology that exists to support visually impaired people - and despite the Covid-19 lockdown, we arranged to deliver an online workshop using the Zoom platform!

Introduction to the workshop

Dr Ana Hernandez Trillo (pictured) is a Senior Lecturer in Optometry at The University of Manchester. She wanted Mark, from our Digital Team, to deliver a workshop to her third year Optometry students about the type of technology available for people living with a visual impairment.

Planning the workshop

In the early planning stages, Ana and Mark chatted through the structure of the session, topics and length and Mark went away to work on the workshop elements. One thing that Ana was very keen to be included was not just specialist technology available to visually impaired people, but also the everyday problems people face and the mainstream products and general work-arounds too.  Mark thought it was a good idea to allow the students to ask questions before the workshop, so that he could have the answers ready and/or incorporate them into the agreed elements.

Mark has written the following account of the workshop and what he included in the content.

University lecturer
Workshop screenshot

The 'Beyond Optics' workshop

The 90-minute session had a very informal delivery (main reason is because my delivery is very informal! Trying to be somebody else just doesn’t work for me, I remember an ex-boss of mine say to me ‘Mark, just be yourself, you’ll find delivering presentations much easier’… but I digress!)


The session was very well attended, not just by students, but also learned lecturers and practicing optometrists from The University of Manchester and the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Here is the structure of the session (which I pretty much stuck too – did go off on a tangent a few of times, due to the fantastic questions coming from the group!)

Session structure

  • Overview of Electronica: Smartphones & Tablets / Computers / Electronic Magnifiers / Smart Readers / Wearables / Applications
  • ‘Accidentally’ accessible products for people with sight loss: Tile / Pingit / One Cup Kettles / Bone Conducting Headphones / Elastic Bands / Afro Comb
  • The Role of Charities: National and Local Offers
  • Henshaws Knowledge Village: Your on-going, informal CPD

Technology discussion

I had lots of specialist gear with me, including new to the market products from Optelec, Enhanced Vision and OrCam, plus loved devices from the likes of Synapptic, In Your Pocket and OxSight.

We also chatted about everyday problems people face, together with everyday solutions like smartphones, apps, and solutions like Tile, Pingit and even kitchen products that can promote independence in the kitchen.

Click on the links above to watch videos about some of these products to find out more!

Workshop tech demo

Workshop questions from the students

The students asked some fantastic questions, some of which are below.  If you want to know the answers, give me a nudge by email 🙂

  1. What proportion of referrals are from the community? (i.e. instead of referring patients to low vision services at the hospital).
  2. How does Henshaws approach patients who may be resistant to not only electronic aids, but also low vision services in general? Some patients feel that they are beyond help – how does Henshaws overcome this?
  3. What does Mark think is the best way for someone working in a regular practice to help Low Vision patients?
  4. What prospects are there for any community provision of Low Vision services in England?
  5. Are these devices available via social services or do they need to be privately purchased by patient?
  6. What does Mark see as the big changes that might/will come into Low Vision in the near future?
Workshop demo

Interested in attending a similar workshop?

So, to summarise, I’m grateful for the opportunity to deliver to the experts in eye care and would love the opportunity to do more! The students and staff enjoyed the session and all went away with more knowledge. We have already been asked back next year and (…drum roll!) the session will incorporate CET points too – result!

If you fancy something similar, then let us know. We have expert staff and provide expert information, advice, support and learning to people living with sight loss, and their friends, families and professionals attached to them.  Get in touch on 0300 222 5555 or drop us an email to

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