“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” – Mark Twain

 “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” – Mark Twain

This is the quote that sits above me on the noticeboard. It is one the welfare rights team here at Deafblind Scotland embody.

Working in any Welfare Rights team can see you assisting those with complex needs, from different backgrounds to ensure they are given fair representation that is all the more complex when those who need support have a hearing and sight impairment.

Many people living with sight or hearing loss do not have the means in which to research what benefits would they could be eligible for. Even if they did have this information, making a phone call or filling in a form would be very challenging or impossible. We feel that with the correct support those with dual sensory loss can flourish and feel confident to seek advice on welfare rights and even challenge decisions.

We assist those in their preferred communication whether that is speech/hearing, British sign language, Deafblind manual, Deafblind hands-on signing and so on. Those who seek help may be deafblind or may have been assessed for a visual impairment. We understand people with a visual impairment can also struggle to access benefits. We can offer communication support such as large print, braille or moon (a system of raised shapes, which can help blind people, of any age, to read by touch). It is imperative that the service user understands what we are applying for on their behalf and that they are happy for us to do so.

We make home visits which service users prefer as they do not have to organise a guide or transport and endure the stress and anxiety that comes with an unknown journey. Our job is to assist them in their welfare rights and treat them as an individual and put the control in their hands where at some points in their life they feel this has been taken away from them. This could be something as simple as reading and interpreting letters for them or attending appeal hearings with them.

We work in partnership with other mainstream organisations and also take welfare rights referrals from them

As a charity Deafblind Scotland have around 750 members with about 95 accessing the guide service. They are guided and given communication support to get to medical appointments, go shopping, go to the bank, socialise at clubs or whatever else the service user would like. The service user builds up a partnership with the guides and from these visits guides have referred members to Welfare Rights. Service users know that the Welfare Rights team have the same understanding of their various health conditions or communication needs. This puts them at ease and feel more comfortable accessing the service.  Different services may not be able to easily explain what they need, understand the communication they need and most importantly deserve to have.

We have received positive feedback from service users such as; “Just to say thanks so much for all your recent help, advice & support with the PIP process. I really have appreciated this so much as I know I really couldn’t have managed this without your involvement. It’s a really stressful process to go through and you really helped in easing a lot of the stress and pressure for me”. “It’s really wonderful that Deafblind have received the financial funding to start and hopefully continue this vital service and support for the most ‘vulnerable’ members in the community.” Messages like this spur us on and let us know that the assistance we are giving is person-centred.

Deafblind Scotland’s Welfare Rights team has been supporting those with dual sensory loss and visually impaired adults since August 2014 and has raised more than £800,000 for those we have assisted.

Tell the King – James McMahon

Tell the King

A subtle hint of jealousy is coming through your eyes
The sparks will fly, the flames will rise, your tenderness is my surprise.

Hold me,
You may mould me,
But don’t control me like the rest.
Repair me,
And spare me
As I prepare to leave the nest.

You conjure up your nasty tricks from the safety of our distance.
D-day comes, your heart attack, you’re overcome with no resistance.

Free me,
Will you release me?
I’ve got something more to give.
Save me,
Have you forgave me?
Tell the King I’ve gotta live.

Lost are years of journey’s missed – paths never chosen.
My body’s changed, my accents gone – my mind at times feels frozen.

Hear me,
Harmonies with me,
I’m gonna find this voice,
Show me,
How you rock & roll with me,
With any kinda noise.


‘Tell the King’ was an entrant to the Poetry category of the 2016 Creative Competition. We asked entrants to tell us what a fairer and healthier Scotland looks like to them by entering into our Poetry, Short Story, Film, Photography and Arts & Crafts categories.

I can do Ballet like you (and many other things!)

This week’s blog was an entry to the Short Story category of our 2016 Creative Competition where we asked entrants to tell us ‘What does a fairer Scotland mean to you?’. In ‘I can do Ballet like you (and many other things!)’, Diane Cowan tells us about her love for Ballet, Pilates and writing.
Read More “I can do Ballet like you (and many other things!)”

Citizen Voices – What is the impact of using them? by Sophie Dishman

This year’s Creative Competition theme is ‘Voices of the Experts’ as we ask our entrants to tell us of their experiences, and what a healthier and fairer Scotland looks like to them. In this blog post, Sophie Dishman talks of the importance of citizens using their voice to improve health and social care and the impact it can have.

Read More “Citizen Voices – What is the impact of using them? by Sophie Dishman”

Purple Poncho Players steal the show at the ALLIANCE Annual Conference 2016

A welcome alternative from a full day’s powerpoint marathon, kudos goes to the ALLIANCE for mixing up the usual conference format and opening the show with some hard-hitting drama.  With no disrespect meant to the various other conference presenters, I would hasten a guess that it’s the opening performance by the Purple Poncho Players that will stick in the minds of most delegates as they reflect on the day. Read More “Purple Poncho Players steal the show at the ALLIANCE Annual Conference 2016”

2MExperts Workshop Overview – Medicines; levelling the playing field

One delegate at the 2 Million Expert Voices conference expressed her frustration with the communications skills of clinicians:

“If you don’t know what’s wrong with you it is hard to find out from doctors and surgeons. They have a language all of their own. They went to medical school for seven years to learn this language. To have any idea what they are saying I would have to spend a week with a pile of medical dictionaries. They need to tell me in my language not theirs.” Read More “2MExperts Workshop Overview – Medicines; levelling the playing field”

Academy Secret Bloggers

The Health and Social Care Academy aims to bring to the fore the voices of people with lived experience of accessing health and social care services and others who are involved with or interested in the field, to drive transformational change and spread innovative ideas.

To support this, the Academy is recruiting ‘Secret Bloggers’. We want you to share your views and experiences honestly and anonymously, without restriction or fear of repercussions, regardless of how controversial or challenging your opinions are. These will be shared with a wide audience through the  Academy’s blog and social media channels to provoke conversation and debate on the future of health and social care.

If you would like to be involved, or to find out more, please email academy@alliance-scotland.org.uk

National Conversation on a Healthier Scotland – Midlothian

Cafe Connect host the National Conversation for a Healthier Scotland

Tuesday 26 January 2.30pm – 4pm (tea, coffee and chat from 2pm)
@ Dalkeith Older People’s Welfare Hall, St Andrew’s Street, Dalkeith

Forward MID and The ALLIANCE would like to invite you to come to Cafe Connect and join in with a Conversation Café hosted in partnership with the Health and Social Care Academy.

The conversation café is an opportunity for citizens to engage with each other and share their views on:

  • What is needed to help you live well in the future?
  • What support do we need in Scotland to live healthier lives?

The café will provide an opportunity for conversations around health and wellbeing and the future of health and social care in Scotland.

The ALLIANCE is working with Scottish Government to ensure that all voices are heard, especially seldom heard voices and those of people with lived experience. Your views matter and are important to this national conversation.

Café Connect is a vibrant community café run by Forward Mid. It gives disabled people a chance to meet up to talk and listen. Café Connect is a great place to find out useful information about a whole range of relevant supports and services; Welfare Reform, Access Issues, Self- Directed Support; a friendly gathering where everyone is welcome; a place where you can listen in, share your story, or just turn up for a coffee, tea and cake on the house!

Please help us share details of this event.  If you are interested in attending, contact us by calling 0141 404 0231, emailing Laura.McCulloch@alliance-scotland.org.uk or just turn up on the day, everyone is very welcome.

Palliative Care: from acute to the community

On Monday 18th January, the Academy hosted the next event in our Integration Series. This event, hosted in partnership with Marie Curie, focussed on the theme of palliative care. The presentations and panel discussions covered service development in an integrated setting, the difference good palliative care can make and the Scottish Government’s recently published Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care.

We asked delegates to share with us some of their questions and reflections about the future of palliative care in an integrated setting and these were their thoughts.

Read More “Palliative Care: from acute to the community”

The Heart of the Matter

Christy Ringrose, a student at the University of the West of Scotland and some of her classmates have taken inspiration from the Dementia Carer Voices Campaign and produced an album of songs from the pledges made to the campaign so far. Christy shares her blog now with the Academy.

Since the moment I met Tommy Whitelaw from Dementia Carer Voices on the train, I felt like he genuinely cared about ME, and was interested in who I am. This is caring. It makes you feel special and valued. Everyone should feel like this, whether they are losing themselves in an illness, or using all of their time caring for others.

Read More “The Heart of the Matter”