Abbie is aiming excessive on the climbing wall


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A high-flying Abbie.

Abbie Robinson, from Fulwell, is a three-time world paraclimbing champion despite suffering from a degenerative eye condition, which means she only has to rely on her peripheral vision and can’t focus on fine details.

Abbie, 23, will compete in two International Federation of Sport Climbing Paraclimbing World Cup competitions next month – on June 21 and 22 in Innsbruck, Austria, and on July 8 and 9 in Villars, Switzerland – and against Athletes from all over the world compete 30 different nations.

Abbie, who started climbing on Sunderland Wall, was diagnosed with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy at the age of 17, but has never let her passion for climbing shake her.

Abbie steps into action.

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After joining the GB climbing team, she has won a number of international competitions – World Cup events, four consecutive World Championships.

Abbie attributes much of her success to advances in technology — specifically, a handheld digital reader that reads text from any printed surface or digital screen in real-time from OrCam Technologies.

When she competes, a sight guide speaks to her through a headset and guides her through the route, describing the direction, size, and shape of each hold.

Her Orcam reader allows her to travel independently around airports and train stations, select products in supermarkets, choose meals in restaurants, read training programs and create customized schedules

Reach for the heights.

Abbie said: “When I compete, my vision guide basically acts as my eyes.

“I use the reader for traveling to and from competitions, reading, shopping, reading menus in restaurants and generally getting through the day.”

Abbie now works as a head coach at a climbing center in Swindon and not only wants to defend her world title next year but also wants climbing to be part of the Paralympics.

She said: “Climbing was included in the last Olympics for the first time and paraclimbing is working very hard to include it in the Paralympics.

Abbie in competition

“That would be awesome. We have already adjusted our disability ratings to match those of the Paralympics, increased the number of participants and the number of countries involved.”

“I am delighted to be taking part in my fourth international season of competition and so proud to represent the British Paraclimbing Team.”

She added, “I am very grateful for the support I have received from OrCam Technologies to help me overcome the challenges associated with my visual impairment. I’m excited about how this kind of technology can help others overcome their disabilities.

“It has also made me more determined than ever to continue my dream of raising awareness of paraclimbing worldwide and brought me one step closer to my dream of competing in the Paralympics.”

A delicate balancing act.

Irie Meltzer, Regional Director for the UK at OrCam Technologies, said: “Abbie’s story is incredibly inspirational and the determination she shows to reach new levels of success is fantastic.

“It has been a real privilege to work with her and support her journey through the 2022 World Cup season. We wish her the best of luck for both competitions.”

Abbie with her OrCam reader.