Jeff Bashton: Chair
David Boden: Treasurer
I have been treasurer of the Association continuously since 1986. As well as maintaining and reporting on the accounts, I respond to messages left on our telephone enquiry line which are concerned with membership or payments.
For a few years I worked as RNIB’s Project Manager for digital media, and edited the Access IT magazine (An RNIB publication for those interested in IT) before becoming a trainer in adaptive technology for access to the internet. I am a sound engineer and musician and am keen to promote the accessibility of audio and music technology.
Dr. Mike Townsend
I am a strong advocate for access to technology for blind and partially sighted people working with Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft.
I have been a member of the organisation approximately 25 years after I started using technology for work. I have been employed as a social worker for 14 years and then worked in middle-management within the Probation Service for 22 years.
For 7 years, I was seconded to the National Offender Management Service in the capacity of Assistive Technology coordinator, providing national technological support for Probation staff to enable them to do their work. I was also Co-Chair of the National Disabled Staff Network.
For the last 13 years, I have been a founder member and Chair of a user led organisation that provides peer technological support for visually impaired people in West Yorkshire, allowing people to continue doing whatever they want to do despite their sight loss.
My motivation for becoming a trustee of TAVIP is to assist in the process of skilling up visually impaired people in the use of technology as they can benefit disproportionately from its use on a daily basis. I also firmly believe in the principles of inclusive design from inception in the development of products, services and environments so that they can be used at the same time and without any additional cost whatever a person’s requirements. The focus of digitally skilling up visually impaired people alongside ensuring that products, services and environments are inclusively designed, will be essential for maximising our independence.
I came to computers kicking and screaming, as it were, in the 1980s, but I quickly realised just what a powerful tool they could be for blind and partially sighted people. As someone in the older age bracket, I’m keen to help others to enjoy the benefits technology can bring, particularly if they’re as apprehensive as I once was. Younger people generally have their tech taped, but they still need all the encouragement we can give them to be successful in the workplace and in life. I’ve done a variety of jobs for the charity Torch Trust, including braille transcription, running the helpdesk and producing a weekly radio programme. Now that I have a bit more time, I’m pleased to give it to TAVIP.
Technology has always played a major role in my life. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, there was little technology to help blind and partially sighted people. I remember buying my first book at RNIB in London and my family were amazed at the number of volumes. I used the Perkins Brailler, Talking Book player and cassette players extensively for school and university work.
I was amazed to see the first talking calculator in the late 70s. I became an Optacon user (a device that converts print letters into vibrating shapes) which helped me read for many years.
Technology helps me in every part of my life from looking up information, choosing what to listen to, shopping and getting around.
I have worked in the access technology sector for over 30 years. My first job was running a reading service in a library using the original Kurzweil Reading machine. This was the size of a washing machine and then cost around £30.000. Now you can do the same with a smartphone.
I worked for 25 years in RNIB’s technical team providing information and support for individuals and organisations looking for advice on what products were available. In 2019 I got my dream job working in RNIB’s library team. In the last three years we have launched the Reading Services online site and the Alexa RNIB Talking Books skill. I am an avid reader and also use other services to obtain books. I’ve gone from just about being able to carry one book around London to having thousands of audio and electronic Braille books on my smart device. Where will tech take us next?
I also enjoy travelling and in my younger days active sports including Sailing And Skiing. I don’t let my blindness stop me and enjoy new challenges.
I am looking forward to working with TAVIP colleagues to promote the organisation in the coming years.