Tom's technology story

Tom Maley, aged 76 has no functional vision and worked as a computer programmer for over 10 years. When he left the industry he quickly lost these skills and in his retirement he came to My Sight Notts to learn how to use the latest technology so that he could make the most of his new-found leisure time.

Read Tom's inspiring technology story to learn more about how we make a difference to local lives. 

Early life

“I became totally blind in early childhood due to retinal blastoma, an aggressive brain tumour that affects the optic nerves, which meant that both my eyes were removed when I was three-years old.

From the age of 5 I learned to read and write Braille at the local special school in Scotland. I learned coping strategies from an early age, but that doesn’t mean my life with sight loss has been free from challenges and frustrations!

Long and distinguished career

“After finishing my degree at Edinburgh University I took the Certificate of Education at Cambridge, before going out to East Africa to help develop an education system for visually impaired children for the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.

On my return to the UK I taught for four years before working as a computer programmer for a leading utility company. After 10 years I joined RNIB as Braille Editor. In the RNIB reorganisation of the late ‘80’s I left London and taught for a time at the new Vocational College in Loughborough and, as RNIB Employment Manager, in Birmingham.  

Lost IT skills

Despite having worked in IT for many years, once I moved on I quickly lost the skills I’d developed and of course technology changes so fast, that I began to fall behind.

Books are my life and I struggled to read on-line library catalogue

“I’m an avid reader, my books are my life and when I found myself struggling to read RNIB’s newly revised online library catalogue, I decided to seek help. Initially I contacted RNIB but they were unable to provide a local service and so I turned to local charity, My Sight Notts.

Learning new skills is immensely liberating

“Alan, the IT Officer at My Sight Notts is a fabulous teacher! With his help I’ve learned to access RNIB’s book catalogue and I can now use it independently, which has been immensely liberating. He’s also taught me how to use BBC iPlayer so that I can revisit all the radio programmes that I’ve missed.

My current goal is to learn to use Google Translate

“My current goal is to master Google Translate, because braille dictionaries are complicated beasts. My next challenge will be to find a great dictionary app for my iPhone and to get to grips with Wikipedia and Google searching.

Freedom to set own technology learning goals

“I have nothing but praise for My Sight Nottinghamshire and its IT service. The IT Officer is visually impaired himself, which makes him a brilliantly intuitive teacher of others with vision impairments. His positive, can do attitude leaves you in no doubt that if at first you don’t succeed, just keep going until you do! His informal approach to learning means I’m free to set my own technology goals. I can learn what will make a difference to my life rather than sitting through a structured course, teaching me what I’m not interested in learning.

Technology has huge benefits for blind people

“Technology has enormous benefits for visually impaired people, both in terms of making some of the challenges of daily life without sight easier and also helping people to get more out of their leisure time. A person-centred technology service like that offered by My Sight Notts should be available to every visually impaired person who would benefit.”


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