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Ramble Tag guidance aid co-creator Tom Forsyth speaks to Disability Horizons

Ramble Tag is a guidance aid for people who are blind or visually impaired that enables their companion to guide them without having to hold them directly. Our writer Emma Purcell, spoke to the co-creator of the Ramble Tag guidance aid, Tom Forsyth, who is blind himself.

Ramble Tag guidance aid logoRamble Tag guidance aid: how it was created

How did you come up with the idea of the Ramble Tag guidance aid?

The creation of the Ramble Tag guidance aid came from necessity after my neighbour Laura and I ended up in a potentially dangerous situation of losing contact with each other while walking our dogs. We had to do something to stop this happening in the future and the Ramble Tag was the perfect of solution.

We strongly believe that the Ramble Tag offers a choice for people. For inclusion and accessibility, we need choice. If visually impaired people don’t have a choice, then we go back to being told what to do before we had rights.

The Ramble Tag might not be for everyone, but in a situation where you need assistance but someone doesn’t want to take your arm – for example, because of a gender or a cultural issue – or you want some distance between you, then the Ramble Tag could be your solution.


 

You can buy the Ramble Tag guidance aid from the Disability Horizons Shop.


How did you lose your sight, and do you also use a cane or guide dog?

Laura and Tom using ramble tag while walking dogs

I lost my sight because I’ve been an insulin-dependent diabetic for more than 60 years. Up until about four or five years ago, I could navigate my way independently around my local town. But as my eyesight has deteriorated, I’ve been able to do less and less. I’m now very conscious of light.

I’ve never really used a cane or guide dog before, although my pet dogs tend to pick up on things pretty well and aware of my situation. They would do things for me, such as stop at curbs and things like that.

Ramble Tag guidance aid: how to use it

Left image – Tom being guided by assistant using ramble tag facing camera. Right image Tom being guided by assistant using ramble tag from behind.

How do you set up and use the Ramble Tag guidance aid?

The Ramble Tag guidance aid is very simple to use. Basically, the guide attaches the device to their arm or wrist with two Velcro straps.

There is a padded loop handle with a firm but light rope that the visually impaired person holds. This enhances the amount of physical information received from the guide to the visually impaired person.

Where can the Ramble Tag guidance aid be used?

The Ramble Tag guidance aid is extremely popular at airports and railway stations where a lot of issues can come up.

For instance, it can be awkward when people offer to help you and suddenly grab your arm or cane when you don’t like to be touched without asking. Or when you’re put into a wheelchair even though you’re able-bodied.

That’s where the Ramble Tag offers an alternative solution to assisting and guiding visually impaired people. It can also be used for outdoor walks, running, attending theatre shows, music and sporting events, museums and galleries, plus much more.

Ramble Tag guidance aid: what’s available

Metro Ramble Tag guidance aid black and orange

Which Ramble Tag guidance aid do you prefer, and which is your best seller?

I tend to go by the guide’s preference. My partner, Frances, prefers the Metro Tag, which has the same design as the original but is more compact for storage. With Laura and other family members, we tend to use the original Ramble Tag.

The original Ramble Tag is also our best seller with customers because of the amount of flexibility it offers.

Find out more about the different types of Ramble Tag to find out which one would suit you best. 

Have sales increased due to the coronavirus pandemic?

Definitely. I think because of the need for social distancing between the visually impaired person and the guide, more people are going for the Ramble Tag as it is the perfect solution.

Ramble Tag guidance aid: award achievements

Black Ramble Tag with beach view in background

What was it like to be a finalist in the RNIB Innovation of the Year awards 2019 and runners up in the Blackwood design awards 2019?

To be shortlisted for the Blackwood Design Awards 2019, was such an honour.  Laura and I were so proud that the Ramble Tag was considered for such a prestigious award.

Again, with the RNIB Innovation of the Year Award, to be a finalist and, against such heavily financed opposition, one can only revel in the success of such a simple and inexpensive product like the Ramble Tag.

How do you feel to be nominated for the National Diversity Awards 2020?

The National Diversity Awards 2020 is our third nomination and shortlisting. One can only look at the other seven finalists to see the creativity and talent that we are against.

People say, “It’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part” – Laura and I can easily go along with that. Who knows, we might be third time lucky.

The Ramble Tag guidance aid is available in a range of styles, sizes and colours and can be purchased on the Disability Horizons Shop.

By Emma Purcell

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, check out Emma’s other Disability Horizons content, read her blog Rock For Disability and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Emma Purcell

News Editor, Freelance Journalist and Blogger at Rock For Disability. Loves live music, comedy, acting, chocolate and a Harry Potter fanatic.
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