LOCHGELLY man Stuart Beveridge explained to Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing how important technology is in helping young blind people.

Ms Ewing paid a visit to seescape, formerly the Fife Society for the Blind, which was registered 150 years ago to find out how the organisation is providing a much needed service for those with sight impairment.

Stuart, a former pupil at Lochgelly High School, has not let him being blind stand in the way of becoming a very good IT expert and he works with seescape on taking this message to young people at schools in Fife who have sight impairment.

Ms Ewing said: “I was delighted to visit seescape and to have the opportunity to hear from Stuart Beveridge about the work they do in schools to promote technology that can make such a difference to the lives of young people who are blind or otherwise suffer from significant sight impairment.

"Stuart is a tech expert and gives up a lot of his time to ensure that folk know what gadgets and programs there are out there that can make a difference for those who are blind or otherwise sight impaired".

The MSP added: “It was extremely interesting to hear about the Apple app that is in all smart phones that allows touch screen voice response, so young people with visual impairments are not excluded from what their peer group are doing.

“But I was particularly struck by the JAWS technology which allows all major functions of the Microsoft Windows operating system to be controlled with keyboard shortcuts and spoken feedback.

“This technology would allow young people to participate in their lessons alongside everyone else in the class room. The problem, of course, is that it costs about £700 plus with ongoing maintenance costs.

“I have, however, written to the Director of Education in Fife to ask what efforts they can make to make this software available to every blind young person at school in Fife. In 21st century Scotland we should be able to give this opportunity to those children it would benefit".

Ms Ewing concluded: “seescape provides a wide number of services including support to help boost independence.

"Also on site is an optician, Eyecare - Scotland’s first charity optician providing free NHS eye tests, as well as frames, filters and hands-free magnification. They are open 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, with some Saturday clinics as well.

“Also at the site is RNIB Pathway Services Fife which is a separate organisation and provides a range of specialist services for adults and children who have a learning disability and confirmed or suspected sight problems.

“seescape are also involved in a lot of outreach activity across Fife including ‘Social-Eyes’ at the Maxwell Centre, in Cowdenbeath, fortnightly on a Wednesday 2-4pm.

“Finally, whilst Seescape have some 70 volunteers across Fife, they are always on lookout for more and I would urge anyone who thinks they can be of assistance to get in touch.”