The residents of the Sydney suburb of Newtown will be familiar with the striking figure of Barbara Walton. Brisk and athletic in her stride, she moves with purposeful style in her jet black sunglasses.
Barbara was born with vision impairment, Retinitis pigmentosa, which has a severe impact on her vision and her tolerance to glare.
“Anything outside is difficult for me. I miss eye contact and in groups I’m not sure what the group is talking about; one on one is better for me”
Ten years ago Barbara worked in an ideal job where she didn’t need to use a computer and was protected from glare. When the business moved and her place at reception was placed below an atrium of light, Barbara was forced to retire.
Barbara has since filled her time following her passions; the gym and caring for her beautifully decorated house. “I can’t say I’ve had a rough time of it; Mum and Dad never treated me differently and I wasn’t picked on at school, but my world is very small.”
Although Barbara exudes an independent spirit, her vision impairment impacts on her ability to make new friends easily. “People walk past me in the street and say ‘Hi Barbara!’ but I don’t know who has spoken to me!
Barbara is a fan of the theatre, using her Companion Card to attend the latest plays and shows. Her companion, a theatre buddy, is essential for her to find where to go, locate her seat, explain what is happening and make sure she find the ladies toilets but to Barbara, a companion, most importantly, gives her the confidence that she will be able to get home.
Despite the daily challenges, Barbara is self-sufficient in many things others struggle with. Through her father’s training, she takes on many of the basic maintenance jobs in the home including painting. “In my own time I can achieve quiet miracles”.
Barbara was one of the first cardholders in NSW and uses her card weekly. Among her passions is a love of heritage rail and she has travelled more than once on steam train 3801 and the diesel hauled Cockatoo Express.
She is a regular at her local Dendy cinemas where she can experience arthouse and foreign cinema. “I love good cinema and my card assists me to go my local movies with my carer so I can enjoy these movies often.”