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HumansWMP Wayne Thompson, IT & Digital Delivery Manager

I am a keen archer, I started when I registered as blind back in 2003 as it is a sport that can be adapted for people who are visually impaired. My daughter has also taken up the sport and is an absolute natural.

I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called Choroideremia at the age of 17 after a routine eye test. It affects the light sensitive cells and the blood vessels in the eye. The first thing I lost was my night vision. My peripheral vision also deteriorated and I really began to notice that in my twenties. I have very little vision remaining, (about four per cent), and I use it as best I can.

Wayne Thompson and his guide dog Milton
Wayne Thompson and his guide dog Milton

I don’t mind people asking about my disability. It creates awareness and understanding. It is nice when people offer assistance whether it be at the train station or in a shop and whether I accept it or not, I am always grateful.

WMP proudly displays the Disability Confident badge on the website. As a disabled person, I was a little sceptical of this scheme. However, from the outset, it was clear to me that WMP didn’t see my disability as a barrier to doing my job.

I use Dolphin software at work which is a screen reader and magnifier and this helps greatly. One in four visually impaired people are not in employment but with the right support from employers, a visual impairment is not a barrier to having a job.

I have had Milton, my guide dog, for about 18 months. Being partnered with a guide dog is absolutely life changing. Working with him has given me a massive sense of independence.

The rule is, if his harness is on, then he is working and mustn’t be distracted. If people constantly try to fuss him while he is working then he could get distracted and I am likely to get hurt.

His role is to manoeuvre me around any objects that are in our way. He will stop at kerbs and the only time he will disobey me is if I tell him to cross the road and there is a car or tram coming and he will stay still. Once we leave New Street, I let Milton choose which way he wants to walk to the office. There are numerous different ways and we rarely walk the same way two days in a row.

Milton, being as handsome as he is, is quite a draw for people, and naturally they want to come and say hello. But it is OK to say hello to me too.

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