October 18, 2020
Danielle Cleary was 22 when she thought she might be pregnant. She’s been blind her whole life due to retinopathy and her partner at the time also had a visual impairment, meaning the pair were unable to see the result of their pregnancy test. 
No Privacy: Why Blind Women Really Need Accessible Pregnancy Tests
Cleary, from Croydon, London, didn’t want to tell family and friends, so she resorted to asking her neighbour to read the test for her.READ MORE: 'It's Not The Only Thing That Defines Us': What It's Like To Experience Sight Loss In Your 20s “To be in that situation and not to be able to find out what’s going on with your body before someone else does, is horrible,” she tells HuffPost UK. “It was negative and my neighbour said: ‘That’s probably for the best, isn’t it?’ I thought: ‘That really isn’t any of your concern.’”
At the age of 27, and by this time ready for a baby, Cleary realised her period was late again, and so she asked her mum to read the pregnancy test for her.
She gave birth to a baby girl, but her relationship ended two years later, and Cleary, now 36, is a single parent, living with her mum, best friend and eight-year-old daughter. 
She says the stigma surrounding being a blind mum continues.  Cleary is sharing her story as part of a campaign by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), called Design For Everyone. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of accessible design and information – and uses pregnancy tests as an example.
Every year, thousands of blind and partially sighted Women have no choice but to rely on other people to read their pregnancy results, meaning their private news becomes public.
To prove that accessible tests are possible, RNIB has worked with designers to create the first prototype for a new, tactile test. The test uses the same technology as digital tests, but has a mechanical output, instead of a screen, with raised buds to communicate pregnancy. Cleary describes the prototype test as “like gold” and says it would have made a real difference to her. But finding out if you’re pregnant is just the first hurdle for women with visual impairments. 
Charlotte Makepeace, 25, from Leeds, gave birth to her son Rory in June.  Makepeace has very little vision, so she had to rely on her husband to read her test results when they were trying for a baby.
Mothers across the country have faced disruptions to antenatal and midwife services during the pandemic and Makepeace says having a visual impairment made this even tougher, as she struggled to find information online.
“I have had a few extra face-to-face consultations because I needed that extra support, but there’s quite a lot of things that aren’t available,” she says.
“For example, I have a guide dog and they [trainers] haven’t been able to come out and do any training with me on walking with the guide dog and the baby together.”Another challenge for Makepeace during pregnancy was balance. She struggles with spacial awareness anyway, but found this particularly tough towards the end of her pregnancy. 
She says there’s a stigma attached to being pregnant if you’re visually impaired. “On the bus there were a couple of ladies talking behind me about how it must have been accidental,” she recalls. “I think a lot of people think you couldn’t possibly be choosing to start a family.” 
Cleary agrees, saying that while close Friends and family were supportive, she often felt there was an “elephant in the room” when she was pregnant and a new mum, with people wondering how she would be able to look after her daughter. 
“People don’t ask that question directly, perhaps because they think it’s inappropriate. But I think if people asked that question in a sensitive way, it would actually be beneficial for their own knowledge, for the potential safety of the child and just to understand a bit more about visual impairment,” she says. 
“My eyes don’t work, but I still know when my baby needs feeding or when my baby needs changing. Sure, there were a couple of times when I needed sighted assistance, but in actual fact, it doesn’t matter that I can’t see.” READ MORE: Isolated And Confused: New And Expectant Mums Feel The Strain Of Tier System Makepeace and Cleary also had very different experiences of attending scans, so they would like there to be more training for sonographers across the board, so all women have positive experiences.  
Makepeace describes her first scan as “amazing” and says she was made to feel “incredibly involved”; the sonographer let her listen to her baby’s heartbeat and explained everything on the screen, giving her a detailed description of her son. But Cleary had to ask her sonographer to turn the sound on (it wasn’t done as standard at her hospital) and she was abruptly handed a picture at the end. 
“Nobody said: ‘If you would like me to, I can take your hand and show you the outline of your baby’. Nobody offered that, so I had no idea what my daughter looked like,” she says. 
The number of people with sight loss is estimated to rise to 2.7 million by 2030, according to RNIB and by the time we reach 75, one in five of us will be affected. This should be enough to make everyone passionate about accessibility issues, says Cleary.  
“It’s very easy to skim past something and say ‘that doesn’t affect me’, but what you don’t realise it that it could,” she says. “It may not be you now, but it could be you in five years time, God forbid, or it could be your sister, your daughter, your niece. 
“All I’m asking as a visually impaired person is to be afforded the same as you, I’m not asking to be treated differently, I’m asking to be treated the same. And I don’t think that’s very much to ask.”
The RNIB has a list of resources and an online guide to help visually impaired parents, which you can find on their website. READ MORE: 'I Tested Positive During Labour' – 9 Pandemic Birth Stories Black Women Get Left Out Of Baby Loss Narratives. So I’m Telling My Story Woman Goes Into Labour While Taking Law Exam, Gives Birth And Finishes Test
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Interim ‘Jeopardy!’ host Ken Jennings slammed for wheelchair tweet | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
GF8JOA07ZpI
The one with the cast of 'Friends', then and now | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
FLlqmbxCjnI
Bill Murray’s brother Ed, inspiration behind ‘Caddyshack,’ dies | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
VEzPd5ot58g
Kamala Not a Shoo-In for 2024 with Black America, Tamika Mallory Says | TMZ
November 26, 2020
YLoz9LmkeJ8
Flaming Lips Singer Wayne Coyne Breaks Down Bubble Concerts, COVID-Safe Fun | TMZ
November 26, 2020
lp8BvtRXGvw
Donald Trump Hits Golf Ball in the Water And Screams, 'I Hate This F***ing Hole!!!' | TMZ
November 26, 2020
OR2kQEO5Fbk
7 Questions with 'Wild Irish Thyme' Star Jamie Dornan
November 25, 2020
bqZLJEd8Gxs
Why 'Selena' star Christian Serratos Chose to Lip-Sync Selena's Songs
November 25, 2020
FNz_Pal3qeo
'Time' Director Garrett Bradley on Covering Incarceration, Why Black Family Archives Are Important
November 27, 2020
m7j3n7dPFOI
Jake Paul's Wild Ride to the Boxing Ring - Exclusive | E! News
November 27, 2020
czrnU-Yw7_w
Why Ryan Reynolds Is Ultimate Dad Goals! | E! News
November 27, 2020
P8TQb5jPHPg
Matt James: Fun Facts About New "Bachelor" Star | E! News
November 26, 2020
af0K5AImuRg
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
28
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group Stage
Vissel Kobe - Guangzhou Evergrande
27
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - QPR
27
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Newcastle United
27
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Levante
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Swansea City - Sheffield Wednesday
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Middlesbrough - Derby County
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bristol City - Watford
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Cardiff City
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Reading
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
QPR - Rotherham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Norwich City
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Preston NE - Blackburn
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Luton - Birmingham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Wycombe Wanderers - Huddersfield
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Barnsley - Brentford
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Southampton
23
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Real Betis
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Crystal Palace
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - AC Milan
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Leicester City
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Arsenal
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Torino
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Parma
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Koln - Union Berlin
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Valencia
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - West Ham United
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Genoa
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Granada CF - Real Valladolid
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Sassuolo
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Real Sociedad
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - Bologna
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
SC Freiburg - Mainz
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Eibar - Getafe
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Everton
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - Benevento
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Barcelona
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Manchester City
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - Werder Bremen
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Hertha Berlin - Borussia Dortmund
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Chelsea
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - West Bromwich Albion
21
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Cagliari
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Real Madrid
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.