After losing her sight five years ago, Janiece Wallace has had the unimaginable challenge of learning how to navigate Sheffield as a blind person.
Everyday tasks such as crossing the road and accessing public transport have become barriers she has had to overcome.
Walking through Sheffield city centre, Mrs Wallace told us of some of the difficulties and shared the measures that have been put in place to help people with sight issues.
Mrs Wallace makes use of tactiles, ridged paving which can be picked up by her white stick and alert her to things such as crossing points and tram stops.
“Nobody knows about it, I didn’t know what it was for before,” she said of the tactiles.
Mrs Wallace can also make use of aids on everyday objects in public, such as a small cone underneath the boxes at pedestrian crossings. When the traffic light goes red, the cone starts spinning, which she can feel to know it’s safe to cross.
A recent addition are speakers at bus stops, which let blind people know that a bus is coming.
“I think that they’re great,” Mrs Wallace said.
“Most bus drivers are trained to stop when they see you with a white cane. But sometimes if no one else is at the bus stop, because you don’t put your hand out, the driver might just go straight past you.
“So it’s good to know that, if I’m getting on an 82 bus, I know it’s coming in two minutes!”
Video created by Rachel Flynn.
Mrs Wallace is a member of the Access Liaison Group, part of Disability Sheffield, which is consulted by the council when major changes take place in the city.
However, she has still faced difficulties making her way around the city.
Mrs Wallace recalled a time when she was on a tram and asked a young boy if she could have his seat in the disabled area.
A man then stood up and started shouting at her.
“He started hurling abuse at me, saying ‘you can see, you looked at me, I know you can see’.”
Thankfully, these incidents are uncommon. When they do happen, Mrs Wallace said: “I can deal with them myself. I’m not scared of anybody.”
But she admitted that there are regular problems, especially when walking down the street.
“People on their phones, people on bicycles, people on e-scooters.
“I had an incident once where I was standing at the tram stop at Shalesmoor and somebody went past me on an e-scooter.
“I jumped because I didn’t hear it coming and fell off the platform onto the track. Luckily for me, nothing was coming!”
In these cases, Mrs Wallace said awareness is the main problem. E-scooters are legal to own, but should not be used on roads and streets in Sheffield.
As for cyclists, she said: “Ring your bell!
“If you ring a bell, I’ll just stop so you can get past me. If I want to get past somebody I’ll just say, ‘excuse me’.
“Have a bit of decency so people know you’re coming.”
Despite these problems, Mrs Wallace said there is support for the visually impaired in Sheffield.
When she lost her sight, she was directed by the Royal Hallamshire Hospital to the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB), who got her back on her feet.
She said: “I went from having a job where I went to work every day, driving a car every day, to not being able to switch on a computer or use my phone, because I just didn’t know how to do these things with a visual impairment.
“SRSB were the ones that saved the day.”
Jane Peach is the Marketing Manager at SRSB. She said their role is to make sure blind people are not held back by their condition.
“We help them to achieve whatever they wish to do and whatever they aspire to be,” Ms Peach said.
The charity offers a range of services, including emotional and mental health support and activities for the blind.
“They support us, they organise fabulous activities,” Mrs Wallace said. “There’s horse riding, shooting, swimming, cycling. Loads and loads of different activities.
“I actually run the tennis club.”
The club uses ‘sound balls’, bigger than normal tennis balls which make a noise to help those playing to locate it.
She said: “With anything in life, things just need to be slightly adapted.
“It’s a great little social as well, we all sit in the clubhouse and have a cup of tea and catch up. We’ve all become great friends in the last year or so.”
Mrs Wallace’s club is also heading to Newcastle this weekend for a tournament.
On the whole, she is optimistic: “I’ve realised that life isn’t over, you can do the things you’ve done before, just a bit differently.”