Blind Veterans UK & SuperNova - Our Story

Billy Baxter, one of Blind Veterans UK leading members, talks to us about how he joined, and how he regained his independence thanks to SuperNova. Find out more at Twitter: Facebook:


My name is Mr Billy Baxter. I've been a member of blind veterans UK for approximately sixteen years now.

My name’s John Robinson, joined the army at 16, parachute regiment. 

I set a career on the guns, serving in Northern Ireland, on a piece of equipment would you believe, at the front of the building, the abbott, and that particular vehicle was part of my battery.

Whilst I was carrying out peacekeeping duties in Bosnia, my right eye started to, not work, but it wasn't until the first of September, 1997, I woke up, opened both of my eyes, and I couldn’t see.

I had lost the vision in my left eye, and since 2008 I think I got about 9 injections into me right eye to slow it down, because I got macular degeneration.

My wife found out about blind veterans UK. She found a leaflet, with a contact number. 

I was invited to go back to Brighton, for a week with me wife, to have an induction to see how best they can support me with what training and so forth.

I, vehemently fought against going, but to my amazement, I went to Blind Veterans UK, where I was in awe of what was being done, for blind and visually impaired people. 

On your introductory week, you do all your life skills kind of stuff. They teach you how to go into the kitchen so that you can make yourself a cup of tea. You do it safely, cause they’re teaching you to have independence. There’s all sorts going on, you know, you can do woodwork, you can do arts and crafts, make a mosaic.

There’s sports, hobbies and interests that I thought I would never do again, but it was the computer course that really, started to make me think.

They decided that, because I was only 42, computers obviously are the way forward.

Prior to losing my sight, anything to do with technology, I ran away from…

But then they put me through all me ITQ, and I really got into it, it was like a new toy, and now I look back eight years later since, I would be lost without it now. 

I was in absolute awe on how on earth, can you do that? Oh, well we got some software to enable visually impaired people to operate a computer in exactly the same way that a sighted person would.

SuperNova Magnifier and Screen Reader. Times three, times four magnification. 

Every time I use my computer, I do use SuperNova.

There’s voice. There’s magnification for people with low vision. They can change the colour contrast. 

Because sometimes on word, it’s a white page, and at first it was “wow” too bright, so yeah, using different colour schemes come very very handy. Same as the voice, especially if it’s going to be say an important letter. 

Dear David, thank you very for your help moving the coach into the flat. 

I write my own word documents. I also access the internet. 

I’m using the emails all the time, printing letters off all the time. I’m confident now that I go onto Google, and search for different things, I’d be lost with it now.

SuperNova enables people like myself to compete in a sighted world.

It’s there to guide you, to help you, it gives you that reassurance to know that you’re safe, whether it be with magnification or different colour scheme. It’s there to help you, and like I said, it’s a big big safety net.

If you got severe sight-loss and pick that phone up, and you get in contact with Blind Veterans UK and you’re an ex-serviceman or woman, your life will change forever, for the better.

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