AUTHOR: Odette Battarel
Odette grew up in France as a fully sighted child and came over to England in the 80s to study contemporary dance. She worked as a dance teacher for Westminster Adult Education Institute for 15 years and was the co-founder of Dance Project Company going into school to introduce creative dance to children across London. One day Odette saw a few sparks in front of her eyes and then she could not read any more; the last book she read was in 1993. Odette was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease which has affected the centre of her vision. She then went to Dorton college for the Blind in Seven Oaks to learn how to use a computer with speech and magnification. Later she did a management course in Croydon College. For 8 years Odette managed a centre for blind people in Balham working for the Thomas Pocklington Trust. During this time she became very interested in blind tennis and went to Japan where it was invented to learn how to coach totally blind players and brought it back to England. With the help of Metroblidnsport and the Tennis Foundation the game has developed over the years and is now part of the LTA’s disability tennis program with regional and national tournaments. Odette now work for Croydon Vision as the community Dynamo supporting members of working age to find employment and to deliver visual awareness workshops in the community to raise awareness of issues faced by blind people, as well as finding solutions and make London a more accessible and disability friendly place to live in!