The power of recorded thought

30 Nov 2016

Emotive film, Notes on Blindness is up for a total of six awards at this year’s British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), taking place December 4, including Best British Film, Best Documentary and Best Director.

Notes on Blindness, first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and documents the life of Australian John Hull, a visually impaired academic. In 1983, John started keeping an audio diary, recording what it was like to live with sight loss. For John, understanding blindness was a coping strategy, he knew he needed to understand sight loss in order to live with it.

Stories such as John’s help raise awareness of those living with sight loss and break down barriers, encouraging people to connect with and discuss topics around visual impairment.

People cope with sight loss inGuide Dog Owner Mandy And Guide Dog Fable Standing By The Waterside many different ways, like John, 44-year-old Mandy Pike from Southampton has experienced the same benefits of recording her thoughts and feelings. Her story is about her partnership with guide dog, Fable.

Mandy has ocular-cutaneous albinism, a condition she’s had since birth which means she has no pigment in her hair, skin and eyes, leaving her partially sighted. She’s been informed that she has a two-dimensional view of the world, making it hard to judge speed and depth. Mandy’s condition is also made worse by light, hugely impacting her mobility.

When Mandy felt her condition was starting to affect her independence she turned towards Guide Dogs for support and before long was matched with black labrador, retriever cross, Fable. Their partnership started in July 2015, that same month Mandy uploaded her first blog post: “Training with guide dog, Fable”.

Mandy recalls: “I’ve never been a writer and starting a blog was something I’d never really considered - it wasn’t until my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor and a colleague at work both mentioned blogging that I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t consider myself a creative person so I was worried I’d struggle to think up content but the words just flowed out of me.

To start with the blog was just a way of documenting mine and Fable’s journey but before long it became so much more. Having time to write down my thoughts became therapeutic - I started to realise the importance of taking time out to reflect on both the highs and lows. I found myself concentrating on the positives more than the negatives and appreciating how far Fable and I had come and all that we’d achieved together. I started looking back at old posts I’d written to remind myself that we’d overcome hurdles in the past, so there was no reason we couldn’t do the same again. The blog was almost like a rock for me, especially during our early days together.”

Fable and Mandy have now been team ‘Mable’ for over a year, with the last blog entry loaded July 2016. When asked if she has any intention of posting again, Mandy confirmed:

“I could never say never. The blog has been a great help but the closer Fable and I have become the less I’ve relied on it. I suppose you could say I’ve outgrown it. That’s not to say there won’t be a time when I will once again turn towards the comfort and support I’ve found in blogging.”

If you’re interested in reading Mandy’s blog, please visit: 

If you too have a unique way of recording life with sight loss, please contact our Communications Team as they’d love to speak with you to find out more about your story,