At lunchtime on Wednesday 14th November, five Year 9 Technology students took a forty minute trip up to Chesterfield Library where Lees Brook had kindly been extended an invitation for a special guest speaker appearance. Simon Wheatcroft lost his sight in his mid-twenties and was rendered almost completely blind. With only the smallest perception of light, he learned to not only navigate general life in darkness, but also to train and run marathons and later, ultra-marathons.
From the humblest beginnings of running back and forth on an empty football field to running the open road, Simons story would grow and begin to attract the attention of tech giants interested in exploring and developing software applications to assist him in his quest. Simon has worked in partnership with the likes of Google to develop software that is capable of creating spacial corridors for him to run through. Notifying him by audio cue or vibration if he strays from the route. Later the technology would further develop to send frequency pings into the space in front of him and warn of any obstacle in his path.
In a Q&A session, Simon was able to provide our students with some of his insights into the app they are developing to help visually impaired people navigate transport systems. He was intrigued by the idea and some of the programming implications that would have to be thought through.
A very insightful experience and exemplary behaviour from our students who were far more mature then a few of the college students from elsewhere sat around them.