Ralph was born with congenital cataracts. After time at a boarding school for partially sighted he returned home to do his A levels, and then went on to Bradford University. He has spent most of his working life in telecommunications, with the last 25 years spent in technical specification and management. He moved to Cambridge in 1990 and has been a Trustee at Cam Sight since 1993, having had a few roles on the Executive committee. He took early retirement in 2016.