Laura and Tom walk together - Tom is holding onto the black strap of the orange Ramble Tag fastened around Laura's arm.

The Ramble Tag is a guidance aid, designed specifically to improve the experience of guided walking and sport for visually impaired people. It was invented April 2018 by Laura Maclean and Tom Forsyth. Here’s their story.

Laura:

Tom is my neighbour, and because he is visually impaired, I’ll help him walk his dog when his partner is away. During these walks we have built a fun, creative friendship – always sharing a love for problem solving. We are “chalk ‘n’ cheese,” but we inspire each other and make each other laugh. Together we have become the perfect business partners as Ramble Tag Ltd.

We live in urban Glasgow, and on more than one of these walk together, we felt traditional guidance methods weren’t working for us: both our dogs were pulling us in different directions and we were either bumping into each other or being separated.

We were having a giggle and I was like, “Tom!! You need something better to hold on to!” and he replied something like, “We’ll stick a handle on you!”

Lightbulb moment!

We looked at each other with big smiles and continued a very excitable discussion on how to do this. We were buzzing with an energy to make this happen from this point onwards.

That night, I chopped up a perfectly good holdall bag and a knee pad. Having burnt the midnight oil on the sewing machine, I knew the next morning I could surprise Tom with the first prototype in the form of a simple Velcro arm band with a handle attached.

I couldn’t wait to see his face! We were very excited – I wrapped it around my arm and off we went with more big smiles.

Tom:

That first try of the as-yet-unnamed product was a real revelation to me. I was immediately aware of increased feeling of independence, and a sense of liberation in not having to make those shuffle-like steps to keep in pace with Laura. Although it was a joint product, I could not help grinning as I thought to myself, “This is good. This is really good!”

My dog Finn now had the leeway to sniff as many lamp posts as he desired while I felt totally secure and at ease holding the now-named Ramble Tag.

We had not only solved our problem, but we had created a tool for the visually impaired with limitless possibilities. In the process of development, we also became aware of the improved comfort and synchronisation in our test-walks with each new prototype.

Laura and I know that the Ramble Tag may not suit everyone, but neither does the white cane or a guide dog. If you are visually impaired or a guide please do give it a try, wherever you live.

Laura:

From that moment we have not stopped. Together, we have done everything from designing the prototypes, packaging and logo to marketing and fundraising through Kickstarter.

We are now selling all over the world for everyday use between families, friends and guides, to carers, assistance crews in airports, train stations and stadiums. The support we continue to receive is heartwarming – and now our only goal is to let every visually impaired person know that these are an option.

 

To learn more about Ramble Tag, visit them online at www.rambletag.co.uk and follow them on Facebook (Facebook.com/RambleTag) or Twitter (@RambleTag).

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