Support for sight loss teacher

Lasswade High teacher Chris Turton
Lasswade High teacher Chris Turton

A teacher at Lasswade High is one of the subjects of a report that aims to dispel some of the myths about what people with sight loss can and cannot do.

Chris Turton has taught English at Lasswade since 2005 despite having the eye condition Stagardt’s macular dystrophy.

He explains in the report from sight loss charity RNIB Scotland: “It’s a genetic condition which I developed quite late in life. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 34, although I knew there was something wrong with my sight a long time before. I’d become a bit slower at reading, and I found I was tending to have mishaps when walking downstairs. I’d miss a step.”

The condition affects his central field of vision, the amount of detail he can see and his ability to discern contrast and colour.

But it’s not a barrier to work, he insists: “There’s nothing wrong with my brain or my work-ethic. I’ve had three days off sick since I started, so my condition hasn’t affected my diligence.

“My sight loss can make things difficult but rarely impossible.”

According to RNIB Scotland, however, too many employers still have misperceptions about what workers with sight loss.

To highlight these, it is launching its ‘This Is Working’ report. The report profiles nine men and women in Scotland, including Chris, who have careers despite their sight loss, including a university lecturer, administrator and civil engineer.

He says his school has always been very supportive: “I’ve also had two workplace assessments done by RNIB Scotland. And, of course, the Access to Work scheme has helped massively.

“Through this I got a handheld magnifier, a desktop magnifier, ZoomText software on my PC and a bigger keyboard layout. It takes away the responsibility for funding some things.”