The VIEW conference in the biggest coming together of education professionals who support visually impaired young people in the UK

I headed down to Birmingham on Wednesday 15th March the night before the VIEW conference after train strikes the following day threatened me to get no further than Piccadilly, Manchester.

On my way to Birmingham, it struck me that Better Places had an existing affinity with Birmingham even before the event, being the stomping ground of Charlotte Jenkins, illustrator for the series.

The hotel I arrived at was nice. I quickly hung up my clothes and headed downstairs for tea (dinner) before getting my head down early for the conference to come.

The following day, I woke up early to get the Better Places stall ready for conference attendees. I was in good Company with LookUK, RNIB and BookShare amongst other brilliant organisation setting up their stalls alongside me. This was a staple event for many of the organisations despite it only being my first. I also got to see some people I’d only ever met online. Luke and Tiffany from VICTA and, Charlotte from LookUK and, of course, ‘Gwyn, Gwyn, Gwyn’ Gwynth McCormack, all who’ve been so helpful and support of me and Better Places so far.

From there, there was a bit of a wait for any interaction with anyone other than stallholders with attendees being ushered through for a day of talks and presentations on the latest in world of visual impairment education.

As the day went on, stall holders were invited into the conference area for their five minutes to share a bit about their organisations, work and what they do. Better Places got it’s turn, and I did my thing – which led to a flurry of interest, connections, and book sales when I returned to my stall.

It was great to see so many people interested in the book; from all over the UK too.. They talked about what a great role model Nicky would be for young visually impaired people (and their parents), how they could see the interactive readings and workshops going down well in schools near them and how we needed much more positive representative for blind and visually impaired people in the industry. I was also held to account about ensuring my books were accessible too and is alternative formats, which I can assure everyone I am working on.

After a while, the stallholder room settled, I packed away and made my way to the reception area where I had drinks before being shown through to dinner. I was welcome by colleagues from Manchester and Stockport Sensory Services which I was grateful for. We had a good chat (and drink) well into the night.

As with other organisations, I’ll be sure to make the VIEW conference a staple for Better Places in the future and look forward to attending the next one in 2024.



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