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Partially sighted skier: Continuing adventures while guiding a VI skier in the GM

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I spent most of the last 11 days acting as a guide to a visually impaired skier in the Grand Massif. She wears a vest like this one here

https://brookhivis.co.uk/partially-sighted-vest.html

its has the logo and partially sighted on the front as well, but only on one side.

I just wear my normal ski gear with a back pack, its the back pack she follows, she follows me very closely, much much closer than most would find comfortable, however sometimes we get split a bit.

We did have a few incidents of people trying to ski between us, or follow her very closely, which spooked her, that one or two seemed to find funny, and i got really very badly cut up a few times. Lift queues were "interesting" with one particular english comment that she should not be on the slopes and it was dangerous to them, (she is not deaf!, strange what people say?). But then we had a incident when she had a fall and I didn't realise, so a snowboarder helped her out, knew all about guides etc, and came back later to check I had found her, which was really kind.

Anyway I would like an opinion, would the pink vest be better?, as yellow vests in France mean something else?

Would Vision Limitee also on it help?

should I wear one of them with guide on it?

we are also thinking of getting some form of communication between us, rather than me shouting! but what?

Thanks for any help Very Happy

edited title from Partially sighted skier: Best jacket colour & some dire other skier behaviour last week in GM, as I thought this may be of interest to others thinking of doing same?


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 13-01-20 19:34; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
When I have skied in Tignes in the autumn there have usually been some adaptive groups there as well.

Standard equipment for guides for visually impaired skiers seems to be a loudspeaker system on a waist belt. I guess it helps more than a radio as the follower can also work out where the guide is by the direction of the sound.

I don't remember seeing the pairs skiing all that close together, but I guess it was just obvious to anyone doing race training that they should stay away from the visually impaired skier.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Zorrac, idiots will ignore anything you wear - put it in French and they'll be Russian, etc.

For comms, look at motorbike intercom systems, e.g.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/LEXIN-Intercomunicador-motocicleta-Bluetooth-Comunicador/dp/B07G427WNT/ref=pd_cp_107_2/261-4072553-0529651?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B07G427WNT&pd_rd_r=5ed2b2c2-93f8-47aa-a72b-3ef9e308eb89&pd_rd_w=ZDopA&pd_rd_wg=iJhSS&pf_rd_p=90a1ae50-b353-4b88-b984-b1b8b30d3309&pf_rd_r=APWM8VJ0X8JFJ95WQDCF&refRID=APWM8VJ0X8JFJ95WQDCF&th=1&tag=amz07b-21

Designed to fit in helmets and be exposed to weather
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@Zorrac, You have a PM
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The guides for blind skiers in the Olympics wore an Orange bib ::


https://www.iprosports.co.uk/product-category/club-zone/british-blind-sport/british-blind-sport-hi-vis-kit/
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@Zorrac, Does the backpack have anything on it to identify you as a guide? I saw a partially sighted skier in Kronplatz a few years ago, and I don't remember if the pair were wearing hi-viz, but the guide did have the word 'GUIDE' on the back of their jacket.

A vest with 'GUIDE' on the back in a matching colour to the other skier would make you more visible as a pair and may make it more obvious what's going on to other skiers. I don't know if it would stop deliberate actions, but may make others less likely to cut you up or come between you accidentally.

Pink or orange might be best as those colours stand out really well with pink/orange tinted goggles which a lot of people wear. They are also less prevalent than yellow.
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The standard symbol for visually impaired in Europe is a yellow background with 3 black dots. https://www.sehhelfer.de/Das-Blindenabzeichen/ worn as an armband or as a badge.
I'm guiding a VI skier this week. He is wearing a high vis. yellow vest with that symbol on it, I'm wearing a high vis. vest with guide written on it. He likes the high vis. yellow because that's what he can see best, especially if the guide is wearing it with dark/black trousers.
We also use intercom designed for bikers. It certainly saves my voice particularly as we are skiing fast.
The VI skiers who are following a boom box are probably totally blind, they can hear which direction the noise is coming from. Any VI skiers that I've skied with who can see something (however little) prefer a headset.
I'd recommend that you both wear a vest the same colour, so other slope users can identify that you're skiing together. Choose a colour that your VI skier can see well, bearing in mind that she'll be wearing goggles or glasses when she's skiing. The guy I'm skiing with this week has several different lenses for his goggles which he changes depending on weather/light conditions.

There's no end to obliviousness of other slope users unfortunately. The hardest part of my job at the moment is anticipating what other people are going to do and where they're going to go. Fortunately, he's an ex-racer so if I tell him we have to go straight down the black piste to get past some dithering skiers he has no problem with it!
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OT, did she liked the views?
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Claude B has investigated being a guide for blind and partially sighted skiers. You might wish to PM for advice, he is a sensible helpful chap. (Posted before I saw the above post from SaraJ).


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Mon 30-12-19 21:06; edited 1 time in total
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Just got back in , and wow, thank you so much everyone Very Happy It is going to take a little while to digest it all.

@achilles, I do know ClaudeB , so will do a pm later, and that thread is excellent.

Thanks @SaraJ, my VI skier is just stopped doing normal vision club competition training and a few club races, as it was getting a bit dangerous with her failing vision, (read very, with some huge crashes), she is a very good skier, but now has a considerable visual field loss, but there is still a small area where vision is reasonable with correction.

@Scarlet, I don't have anything written to say I am the guide, so we will have a chat about coloured vests for both of us and get something.

@cad99uk, Thank you very much for the pm, I will be in touch if I get stuck with the tech bits (which is very likely!) and @ousekjarr, for the link, and also @albob, as didn,t know about that supplier.

Thank you everyone for your contribution, shows how great this forum can be!
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Only problem with orange vests/bibs is that people might thing you are cloggies. But then they'll give you a wide berth anyway given the "skills" those Dutch groups who like to wear bibs demonstrate.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We're currently in Japan and have seen quite a few people using something like these Bluetooth setups with boom Mike's https://www.techsounded.com/best-bluetooth-ski-helmet-speakers/
Which might work well as a direct means of communication.

In New Zealand guides and skiers usually both wear vests from memory. As a skier it helps being able to easily identify the guide so that you know who the "pair" is.
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We're currently in Japan and have seen quite a few people using something like these Bluetooth setups with boom Mike's https://www.techsounded.com/best-bluetooth-ski-helmet-speakers/
Which might work well as a direct means of communication.

In New Zealand guides and skiers usually both wear vests from memory. As a skier it helps being able to easily identify the guide so that you know who the "pair" is.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Did some advanced motorbike training a couple of months ago using a similar communication system & I would think it would be incredibly useful for guiding a partially sighted skier, or even just a very nervous skier. The only downside is what happens if the system fails. It did with me & I didn't hear the instruction to take a left at the lights.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Ski NZ wrote:
....
In New Zealand guides and skiers usually both wear vests from memory. As a skier it helps being able to easily identify the guide so that you know who the "pair" is.


As an ordinary skier I have found it helps me steer clear of a pair in Europe, too.
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Zorrac wrote:


https://brookhivis.co.uk/partially-sighted-vest.html



Quite honestly, I don't think I'd process that skiing down a crowded piste. The logo isn't instantly recognisable and the writing is fairly small. There's too much else going on monitoring what multiple other people are doing as well as my own skiing. I would recognise a skier and instructor skiing together, that's usually obvious. In a lift queue, yes I'd notice and take account of such a vest.
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@Zorrac, Definitely, from what I have seen in France, it's lettered up green jackets for both. I am sure I have seen skieur malvoyant (?) and guide printed on them in big letters. How on earth anyone could think about deliberately messing up someone doing what your friend is doing I do not know, I just usually watch in admiration as flat light is enough to mess me up let alone what they must be dealing with. As for the comments of the people in the lift queue they are beyond contempt.
Found this if it's any help

<iframe></iframe>


http://youtube.com/v/3baB0tFZnBo
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@dogwatch, it is the proper symbol for partially sighted, but most don't know it, i think with the two of us in the tops it may register?

https://www.partsight.org.uk/

@skitow, skier mal-voyant are the correct words for partially sighted

My VI skier follows me so close as she can then see my movements better, so she can then work out the terrain, she has skied since 2 1/2 years old, and then had full sight, and it was reasonable until about 5 years ago. It makes me ski better, as I really have to think about where we are going, my turns have to be good as they are getting watched, planning ahead, it is also really tiring for the guide.

On the last day I fell over and I expected to be run into, and she just stopped right next to me, and said "it looked wrong about 2 turns before so I slowed down................!!"

I think we are going to try both in green/yellow and then also pink, as the vests are not that expensive in the general scheme of things and will see what she prefers.

We will have to investigate the communications a bit more, thanks everyone for your comments and happy new year! Very Happy
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Zorrac wrote:
@dogwatch, it is the proper symbol for partially sighted, but most don't know it, i think with the two of us in the tops it may register?

https://www.partsight.org.uk/



Thanks, now I know!
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@Zorrac, You could always get a French phrase printed on those vests, for extra securite...
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@albob, Have worked out what we are going to get and a bit of French will be added.

From all the info everyone has posted I have done quite a bit of investigation. It seems that in many places the VI skier is a yellow top and often the guide is a red top, so that is what we are going to get. The eye symbol on both, with Visually Impaired on the yellow one, with also Skier Malvoyant as well.

The red will have the eye symbol and Guide, with same on the front. My skier has said red will be fine.

Communications still not sure
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It never got further than the investigative phase tbh. I did speak to a Brit in Switzerland but she never got back to me. I got the sense that she uses the ESF here. I have seen other Brits and other nationalities being guided. A high vis jacket for both seems normal with something like mal voyant written on it. Depending on the severity the guide may have a speaker to shout instructions or even play loud music.
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When I’m working with my daughter in our outside riding ring next to a road we use these so I don’t have to scream. They are also marketed for other more extreme sports. We’re happy with them.

https://ceecoach-us.com/
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This is a very interesting thread. I am an optometrist specialising in low vision work. What sort of vision does this lady have - hand movements only, light perception only, or better? I have a colleague who has hand movements only; she skis quite well, closely following her husband, but finds skiers dressed in white a serious hazard!
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@Chris_55, She is currently undergoing re classification, so not sure at the moment, but she has less than 40 degrees visual field, central acuity is quite good with considerable correction.

edited to correct info as I got it wrong................


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Sun 12-01-20 18:24; edited 1 time in total
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My daughter is a vip. She has ocular albanisum, with nystagmus. She is now 19 and has skied a week a yearish since the age of 9. Lessons were always hard for her as the "follow me" was a bit more of a waste of time for her than full sight kids, offen making her own way down. When I ski with her (I am pritty rubbish) I am always amazed at how well she does, not seeing bumps and having little peripheral vision.
We have a rule that she waits at cross ways on the slope but sometimes misses them and goes on, making me panic some what! She does have the advantage of not seeing how steep some slopes are!!!
She sometimes uses a short cane in the village and gets very little awareness shown to her.
I never thought of a high vis thing for her, I am guessing she wouldn't want it anyway, she hates standing out.
I have to ware (my excuse for the unfashionable outfit!) the same jacket and Salopetts so she recognises me when we get split up. She has other issues so is a bit of a worry but seems to enjoy a week in the snow, not being able to drive or ride a bike, skiing is a fab way for her to go fast under her ownish steam!
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@harrim51, get her involved with British Blind Sport, it is an excellent charity, they do all sort of events.

https://britishblindsport.org.uk/
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My sister although not vip has another disability and needs extra space leaving around her and her assistant, she wears pink hivis with writing saying she is disabled on it (which you can't really read when skiing but the lift operators and people in the queue can and hopefully don't push her about). Most people avoid but there is always some idiot who gets inbetween them at some point. I think it is better than nothing though.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Zorrac wrote:
@harrim51, get her involved with British Blind Sport, it is an excellent charity, they do all sort of events.

https://britishblindsport.org.uk/


Thanks
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Well we tried the new jackets , me in red with guide on it and her in yellow and generally they seemed to work better with me in something as well, but we did get some very odd behaviour again, for example the weirdest was being followed very closely for a long way down two pistes we did back to back, they link into each other, a steep red and a long blue with a bumpy bit at the end, that was unpleasantly busy and we got really badly cut up with the follower going between us and actually clipping one of my poles. I don't really want to stop suddenly as we agree what we are going to do before we start off.

This actually happened on one or two other occasions with followers as well in other places, as I looked round to see where my VI was, and saw the same person following us, (different people at different times!) so I didn't imagine it.

People slamming down the bar was also a problem we had, but that is just general, I said at one point, arete, svp skier malvoyant, and got told to f... off in French and then a bit of a rant in French, most of which was too fast for me to understand, but it was not very pleasant, but the others were fine about it.
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My daughter is an Adaptive Instructor who has worked with a lot of VI (and severly Autistic, but that's another thread) clients.

I have never been so touched as when she took a totally blind lady who had never had sight and who had never skied.
Her husband is in a wheelchair and is not in a position to meaningfully assist.

By the end of the week she was skiing (albeit gently) on green and mild blue runs with my daughter guiding.

The client was SO fulfilled and her husband...who is a good sit-skier (!) was ecstatic as this was something they can now share.

Watching video clips...a tear? Certainly not! I must have had something in my eye wink
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@Zorrac, Good to hear that the jackets helped. Were you using a comms system too? That would help in the situation you described where you perhaps would need to stop suddenly.
The first command that I agree with any VI skier is the emergency stop. Often a short, loud "STOP" which means stop immediately, even if that means hitting the deck. Having a headset and microphone helps with that kind of command because the VI skiers can hear it clearly and know that the guide said it.

Having other random people follow you is a bit odd. Maybe you were skiing a nice line which was easy to follow.
Here in Austria there seems to be two types of people - if people notice and understand that there is a guide and a VI skier they usually give us room and stay out of the way. If they don't notice and are oblivious then it's up to me to avoid them.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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@SaraJ, Skied everywhere in Grand Massif today, and in Flaine the jackets worked brilliantly with the lifties, asking do you want it slowed down etc. Our communication is still me yelling alot, have not had time to get a microphone etc set up, think we will be doing bluetooth, but is it on transmit all the time? or do you have to press a button / speak a trigger word, and a button press on the unit on the helmet will be a bit of a pain.

Most people also avoided us, which was good, seemed to get stared at quite a bit today, VI skier was also on a new pair of skis and we had to go quicker, as she loved them, which was interesting at times, as I got asked to speed up when it was ok to, so long GS turns at speed was different with someone glued to the back of you. Quite a few runs were very empty at times so we could do it. Overall a super day.
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Toofy Grin Haha! We're often the fastest skiers on a piste! It's fun, but exhausting!
We've also had quite a few days of fresh snow and poor visibility which is interesting Very Happy
The comms system has 2 settings - voice activated or constant transmit, which picks up all noise all of the time. We have it on constant. It was a bit disconcerting at first to have a guy breathing in my ears all the time but it's useful too, for example, if I ski over a patch of ice he can hear my skis and then I can hear as he skis over it too which is an extra clue to help me know how far behind he is.
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@SaraJ, thanks, could I ask what system you use, as there seems to be many of them which is a bit confusing.

one thing it does for me is it makes me pick my lines properly (and as you said that is maybe why we get the odd follower) plus ski better and always think about what I am doing and more importantly what others are doing or may do, but it is tiring, I am a bit shot tonight!

thank you very much for your help Very Happy Very Happy
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Coincidentally I came across this today (not my image) showing the Canadian approach in Whistler.
There's relatively active slope control in BC so I'd expect these to be treated with significant respect by anyone intending to keep their pass.
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Back on the slopes, in the rain, but with bluetooth Sena snowtalk headsets fitted to our helmets and me with bright orange leki poles, which VI skier has said make a difference, make a difference to the wallet as well!

The bluetooth worked really very well, we have them running all the time, and they don't need a boom microphone, only drawback is they pick up other conversations in the gondola, which can be a bit loud. Did a lot of the gondola today as was a way of staying less wet for longer!

Made a big difference warning her of bumps and turn shape etc. Plus people skiing across the front of me and then just stopping, I need to be more aware that in duff conditions others are concentrating so much on themselves they are not really aware of anything / anyone else.

Only downside is the goretex xcr in my arcteryx salopettes doesn't seem to work very well, got rather soggy, was still warm, but a bit damp. Can i revive it in anyway?? was washed in nikwax soap stuff.
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@Zorrac, Pleased to hear that the comms made a difference Very Happy
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SaraJ wrote:
@Zorrac, Pleased to hear that the comms made a difference Very Happy


+1 Thanks for keeping us updated.
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Zorrac wrote:
Well we tried the new jackets , me in red with guide on it and her in yellow and generally they seemed to work better with me in something as well, but we did get some very odd behaviour again, for example the weirdest was being followed very closely for a long way down two pistes we did back to back, they link into each other, a steep red and a long blue with a bumpy bit at the end, that was unpleasantly busy and we got really badly cut up with the follower going between us and actually clipping one of my poles. I don't really want to stop suddenly as we agree what we are going to do before we start off.

This actually happened on one or two other occasions with followers as well in other places, as I looked round to see where my VI was, and saw the same person following us, (different people at different times!) so I didn't imagine it.

People slamming down the bar was also a problem we had, but that is just general, I said at one point, arete, svp skier malvoyant, and got told to f... off in French and then a bit of a rant in French, most of which was too fast for me to understand, but it was not very pleasant, but the others were fine about it.


I do wonder on the following thing is whether the other skiers think they should be overtaking because it might "scare" the VI person so if you are going a reasonable pace then you just get stalked. That doesn't then explain the cutting up but my theory there might be an individual who is underskilled/a bit frightened themselves so they project that it will be impossible for the VI skier and then try an "at any costs" move. I.e. the problem is people who aren't skilled rather than any maliciousness.
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