Before having her now two-year-old daughter, Sadhbh, Jade McCormack worried she wouldn’t be able to tell if her child was unwell or off form.
The Balbriggan-based mum-of-one has been visually impaired since birth, due to optic nerve damage. “I've some bit of vision, mainly shadows, the odd colour – it wouldn’t be enough to read a full page of print.”
But she needn’t have worried. “Maternal instinct kicks in and you just know. You don’t need to see her colour or her features. You just know,” she says, recalling how last March she suspected her little girl had a stomach bug. “She had it for a week. First I thought it was her teeth but after two days I rang my GP. He said to bring her in. And I was right – it was just a stomach bug.”
Jade, 30, says during pregnancy she took confidence from the thought that she’d helped her mum look after her youngest sister – almost 15 now – as a baby. “So I thought having my own wouldn’t be that much different.”
With Sadhbh’s dad also blind, another worry for Jade was whether her daughter would be born visually impaired too. Instead, says Jade, Sadhbh “can see a needle in a haystack”. And when the little girl wants to show Jade something, she places her mum’s hand on the object.
When Sadhbh was three months old, Jade got invaluable help around mobility training from National Council of the Blind Ireland (NCBI). Used to carrying her baby in a sling when at home, she wished she could do the same when she went outside and so be able to use her cane. “I was struggling to get out and about. I’ve enough sight to be able to see in front of me and I knew having her in a sling would be so much easier than trying to push a buggy.
“NCBI provided me with a mobility instructor – Chantelle Smith. I bought a sturdier sling that could be used outside, and Chantelle taught me tips and tricks for how to carry Sadhbh safely and be able to use my cane.”
- This month, NCBI is inviting people to participate in their Move Into The Light event, which runs over 30 days in March. Participants are asked to complete 30 minutes of exercise over the course of each day, whether walking, running, cycling or swimming, whatever your preferred exercise.
- Sign up for Move Into The Light fundraiser on exa.mn/Move-into-the-light, email email@example.com. It helps provide vital services/supports to 55,000 people across Ireland who are living with sight loss.
Rehabilitation training, for example, independent living skills and mobility training, and availability of low vision solutions such as magnifiers or other aids.
Assistive technology advice; training to learn how to access all accessibility features in mainstream technology; latest gadgets and apps designed to assist people living with sight loss.
Advice/info on statutory entitlements, eye conditions, the support available.
Emotional support/counselling for people struggling to come to terms with sight loss.
Library offering extensive range of digital, large print, Braille and audio books.