Gene Therapy could treat Blindness

Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind.

Read more on this story from the BBC website.

Corporate Partnerships

Corporate Partnerships

As a local organisation working across the county of Oxfordshire, there are many ways that we can support companies who are kind enough to raise money for us.

We can assist with volunteering opportunities for staff and the provision of places for local sponsorship events and activities.

If you work for an Oxfordshire based company why not consider making us your Charity of the Year?

We are also keen to offer local companies the opportunity to participate in visual-impairment awareness training so we can all offer a better service to the people in our communities who are blind and partially-sighted.

For more information please call 01865 725595 or email

Oxford Bus CompanyWaitrose Community Matters

Newsletter Page 7

[audio:|titles=[ Newsletter Page 7 ]

Summary of OAB Services

OAB works, in collaboration with the Visual Impairment Team of Social & Community Services, the Oxford Eye Hospital, the Sensory Services Team of the

Education Department and the other agencies and groups in Oxfordshire, to support sight impaired people and their carers in Oxfordshire.

In summary we provide:

–  Advice and Information – on any matter relating to sight impairment.

 Emotional Support and Professional Counselling to sight impaired people who are distressed with the situation in which they find themselves.

–  Specialist Equipment Demonstration – an opportunity to try out a wide range of specialist equipment, which may help a person to live a more independent life.

–  Free 2nd hand equipment provision – we are often able to provide free of charge, electronically tested equipment which has been donated to us, to people who would otherwise not be able to afford to purchase the equipment.

–  Sight Advisory Service at the Eye Hospital information and signposting to sight impaired patients who are attending appointments at the Ophthalmology Department of the John Radcliffe Hospital. 12

Home Visiting – home visits, by trained volunteers, to offer practical support to people in and around Oxford, Kidlington and Abingdon.

Social Groups – a chance to meet other people with similar difficulties.

Technology – information and training sessions in using computers, tablets, smartphones and other technologies, for sight impaired people.

Radio/CD/Cassette Players – provision of sets to people who meet the criteria of the Wireless for the Blind Fund.

Practical Sessions – Opportunities for groups to try out specialist equipment with guidance on retaining independence and cooking for fun sessions.

Children, Young People and Families – individual information and activity programme.

Newsletter – of useful information in large print and listening versions.

Training – for organisations whose staff would benefit from being skilled in assisting a sight impaired person.

Website – of useful information:

Facebook – Please follow us on Facebook:

Fundraising – of course all of these services have a cost. If you would like to donate to one or all of these services, or assist us with fundraising, please do give us a call. We do not receive any grants from the government or the national charities for sight impairment.

Newsletter Page 4

[audio:|titles=[ Newsletter Page 4 ]

Blind Ice Hockey

A relatively new sport in the blind sports arena, Blind Ice Hockey is only played in Canada and the USA. The sport differs from Ice Hockey as all participants have some degree of visual impairment and it is played non-contact, with different sized goals and a metal puck that makes a lot of noise, making it easier to track.

OAB’s own, Nathan Tree, will be going to the Canadian and USA national tournaments later this year and is the first and only European player to participate.

Nathan says “It is a great opportunity to continue to play a sport I have played all my life and I am so happy I get the chance to do so”. Nathan will be away for 2 weeks starting in March to go and play.

Wish him luck!


Get fit and fundraise for OAB!

Are you, or anyone you know looking for a fitness challenge in 2018?

Would you like to join our Bike Oxford team on a single or tandem cycle?

Or could you take on the huge challenge that is Rough Runner in the beautiful Great Tew Park? (travellator image below being one of the activities).

Please consider helping us, to ensure that we are represented at important local events and to raise much needed funds for our free of charge services.

We are looking for participants to join our Bike Oxford and Rough Runner teams over the weekend of the 19 and 20 May. We can support you with finding partners or guides, organising your race entry, setting up an online fundraising page and anything else you may need.


[audio:|titles=[ Volunteering with OAB ]

Volunteer with OABOAB has over 100 volunteers, who are vital to our work.  They help in the office, send out our newsletter, run our groups and staff the OAB Sight Desk at the Oxford Eye Hospital.  Many are part of the Volunteer Home Visiting Scheme, giving around an hour a week to visit a visually impaired person at home.

There is no ‘typical’ OAB volunteer.  Some are in their teens (18+), others retired years ago.  Some have personal experience of visual impairment, most have none.  But between them, their contribution enables us to offer an array of services that would be impossible without their help.

The organisation is committed to good practice in all aspects of our involvement with volunteers.  Volunteers are given clear role descriptions and appropriate training.  They are covered by our insurance policy and their out-of-pocket expenses are reimbursed. Each volunteer has a named member of staff who is responsible for their work and for ensuring that their experience of volunteering is as positive as possible.  Through volunteering with OAB, you can help to make a real difference to people’s lives.  Below you will find more information on some of the specific roles carried out by our volunteers.

Home Visiting Scheme 

Many of OAB’s volunteers are Home Visitors.  This scheme partners a volunteer with a visually-impaired person who they visit at home, to spend some social time together and to help with everyday tasks that become difficult with impaired sight.  Depending on the individual’s needs, this may include dealing with correspondence and personal finance. Some volunteers go out with the person they visit, perhaps to the local park or shops. Others help with things like writing cards, wrapping presents or sorting a CD collection, while for some people, a visitor for a chat and a cup of tea is a weekly pleasure and can help to relieve social isolation.

Key facts:

  • Volunteer Home Visitors need to be literate and numerate.  Most important, you should be patient, reliable and honest.
  • Most volunteers visit once a week for about an hour.
  • All volunteers are police checked and OAB will take up two references.
  • At the moment, this scheme operates in Oxford, Abingdon and Kidlington.

Please email our Volunteering Coordinator, at for an information pack.

Group Volunteer: OXVIC

OXVIC is OAB’s social group in Oxford.  About 20, mostly elderly, people get together for a chat and an afternoon tea.  There may be activities such as a crossword, and recent meetings have included a talk from the Guide Dogs Association about training a puppy, and a visit from a raconteur who played, sang and told stories.  The group is run by volunteers, who set up the room, serve refreshments, help members in and out of the building, and run the activities.

Key facts:

  • We are looking for people who are friendly, sociable and patient. You also need to be reliable and honest.
  • The group meets twice a month on Tuesday afternoons.
  • The group meets at our Bradbury Lodge premises.
  • All volunteers are police checked and OAB will take up two references.

Please email our Volunteering Coordinator at for more information.

Other volunteering roles

In addition to the volunteering opportunities described on this page, volunteers work with OAB in: administrative support at OAB’s offices; helping with tasks such as sending out newsletters; supporting social groups in various towns throughout the County; managing collecting boxes around the county; staffing the OAB Sight Desk at the Oxford Eye Hospital and fundraising.  Please keep an eye on these pages if you are interested.

We also have a team of volunteers who are highly computer-literate and provide an IT support service to visually-impaired people at home.  If you are suitably qualified and would like to know more, please email  our Volunteering Coordinator at or call 01865 725595.

Eye Hospital – Sight Advisory Desk

[audio:|titles=[ Eye Hospital – Sight Advisory Desk ]

Patients attending the Oxford Eye Hospital face either initial or progressive diagnosis about their level of vision; sometimes they must face very bad news.

Losing your sight is a very real form of bereavement.  The process of being diagnosed as sight impaired or severely sight impaired leaves many people distressed and very anxious about what the future holds.

To support people through this initial crisis we run a Sight Advisory Desk at the hospital itself.  Working within the outpatients department, we are perfectly placed to provide on-the-spot help and advice.  With over 50,000 patient attendances every year, we reach a large number of visually impaired people, just when they need us most.

The desk is managed by Judith Wood, a qualified counsellor with over 35 years experience as a nurse (with personal experience of sight loss), assisted by a number of volunteers.  Our dedicated team can provide you with help in the following areas:

  • Basic counselling and reassurance.
  • Demonstration of daily living aids.
  • Products for visually impaired people that are on display.
  • Information on benefits and social services.
  • Referral to OAB’s support services.
  • A listening ear and a practical head!

The desk can be found in the waiting area of the Ophthalmology department (i.e. the Oxford Eye Hospital in the West Wing of the John Radcliffe).  It is open from Tuesday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.  You can also contact staff at the desk on 01865 231598.

People living in the west of the county who are referred (due to location) to the Eye Hospital at Swindon have access to a similar advisory desk operated by our Wiltshire colleagues.  However, all the services of OAB are still available to you, even if your treatment is carried out in Swindon.

Counselling and Emotional Support

[audio:|titles=[ Counselling and Emotional Support ]

Being told that you have a visual impairment can be devastating.  Losing your sight is a very real bereavement.

We run a Sight Advisory Desk at the Oxford Eye Hospital within the outpatients department, where we are perfectly placed to provide on-the-spot help and advice.

From our offices we also run a telephone based counselling and emotional support scheme to help people come to terms with their visual impairment.

The service is provided by OAB’s Senior Sight Advisor, Judith Wood.  Judith is a qualified counsellor and nurse who’s own experience of visual impairment is one of the many things that help her to empathise with her clients.

A face-to-face version of this service is now available in the Campoli Centre at Bradbury Lodge where both the person with a visual impairment and their carer can be seen in privacy.

If you would like to see our qualified counsellor, please telephone for an appointment on 01865 725595.

The Campoli Centre

[audio:|titles=[ The Campoli Centre ]

In 2009 we received planning permission for a major extension to our premises and it was fully commissioned in Spring 2012. This new extension provides us with:Our Patron with Colin Dexter OBE at The Campoli Centre

– A significantly extended resource centre where we can show people a greater range of daily living aids.

  •  – A designated area with a range of optical, electronic and CCTV magnifiers along with a suite of computers where we can demonstrate a range of accessibility options and help people decide what will suit their needs.

– The ability to provide IT training, helping people to continue to use their computers when their sight fails, and other relevant training to outside bodies.

– A demonstration kitchen with a range of gadgets and aids that can help people stay independent in the kitchen, and where we can provide training in kitchen skills.

– Improved office accommodation including a large meeting room and training area which is available to OAB local groups and also to other organisations providing support to visually impaired people.The Campoli Centre Kitchen

– A private room for the provision of individual counselling services to individuals and their carers who are experiencing emotional difficulties related to their sight loss.

– A fully accessible reception area and toilet facilities, plus facilities for assistance dogs.

These improved and enlarged premises will vastly increase our ability to help the visually impaired people of Oxfordshire.

The Centre is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.  Please call 01865 725595 to make an appointment to visit.

Read about the opening of The Campoli Centre.

Our History

[audio:|titles=[ Our History ]

Here we chart our journey from our humble beginnings in 1877 right through to the present day with our recently opened annexe to Bradbury Lodge. We hope you find it of interest.


Foundation of “Oxfordshire Association for the Home Teaching of the Blind”. The group’s aims were to provide instruction in reading and writing, and to assist in obtaining work for blind people.


Name changed to “The Oxford Society for Visiting and Providing Books for the Blind”.  However, it appears that this name was soon shortened to “The Oxford Society for the Blind”. The books and magazines provided by the Society were in Braille and Moon.  The teacher’s salary was 30 shillings (£1.50) a month.


It was agreed for the next year “to provide for visiting, at their own homes, the blind throughout the county”.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” amalgamated with “The Oxfordshire and Midland Home Teaching Society”. In that year a County Visitor was employed, but only from January to the end of August as: “it seemed to the Sub-Committee that this was as long a period as the subscriptions would allow them to employ his services”. A total of 122 people were helped during the year, with annual subscriptions totalling £76 – 0s -2d.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” opened a shop at 4 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, where blind people were employed to sell their own work and orders taken for piano-tuning and chair-caning.  The shop also contained a library of books in Braille. The Society’s register contained 145 names of blind people, of which 53 were in the city.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” was registered under the Blind Persons’ Act (1920).


Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council accepted the assistance of Oxford Society for the Blind in providing teaching to blind people in the county.


Shops employing blind people to sell their own work were opened by the charity in Banbury and Bicester.


The name of the charity was changed to “Oxford (City and County) Society for the Blind”.


The Rt Hon. the 8th Countess of Macclesfield became vice-president.


Offices at 3 Enstone Road, Charlbury, were purchased.


Changes to local government boundaries led to an extension of the area covered by the charity to include Abingdon, Didcot and Wallingford.


In its centenary year, the charity’s name was changed to “Oxfordshire Association for the Blind” (OAB).  This was also the year in which OAB registered with the Charity Commission.


The Rt Hon. the 9th Countess of Macclesfield became patron, following the death of the 8th Countess.


OAB sold its Charlbury property and relocated to rented property at The White House, Rivermead Rehabilitation Hospital, in Oxford City.


A “Sight Advisory Service”, providing on the spot information, advice, counselling and emotional support for newly registered blind or partially sighted people, was established by OAB at Oxford Eye Hospital.


Moved temporarily to 9 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, Oxford, following the sale of Rivermead Hospital by the NHS.


Purchased property in Gordon Woodward Way, Oxford, on the site of the old Rivermead hospital. The building was purchased thanks to a grant from the Bradbury Foundation.


Moved into Bradbury Lodge in August. The new centre was officially opened by The Rt Hon. the 9th Countess of Macclesfield.

Equipment and visual aid demonstration services were provided from a temporary building in the car park.

Over the course of the year more than 2,000 visually impaired people and their carers were supported by OAB in some way.  The charity also worked with 11 local self-help groups for visually impaired people.


In February, OAB teamed up with Banbury Museum to host BlindArt’s “Touching Art Touching You” exhibition.  The exhibition had more than 25,000 visitors, helping to promote the needs and abilities of local blind and partially sighted people.

OAB’s volunteer home visiting scheme awarded accreditation by the Mentoring and Befriending Association.

North Oxfordshire project helped to form two new societies for sight impaired people in the area.


Major fundraising campaign to build an annexe to our existing building. Our appeal champion was Colin Dexter, famous local author of the “Morse” mysteries and visually impaired himself.

OAB becomes registered as a company limited by guarantee.


The Campoli Centre opens to offer Oxfordshire’s largest, best-equipped and only specialist visual impairment drop-in resource centre.