Tag Archives: disabled

How to Rock Your Disability

When you’re dealing with a disability, many people will say ‘don’t let your disability define you’. Well, that’s easier said than done, because your disability does somewhat define you. But, it doesn’t have to destroy you. There may be certain things that you’re unable to by yourself or unable to do period. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life. In fact, many people have achieved amazing things because of their disability. Take Jim Abbott for instance – a major league baseball player with a deformed right arm. If you’re ready to take the world by storm, here’s how to do it.

Quote in the coulds I have within me all the dreams in the world
Flickr

Don’t Be Afraid to Dream
Your disability may hinder you in some ways, but dreaming of the future is still important. It’s also important to recognise that dreams can evolve. So, if you dreamt of doing something or being someone when you were younger but your disability means you can’t reach that goal, keep dreaming. For example, if you dreamed of becoming a ballerina but you haven’t got full use of your legs, you can still join wheelchair dance classes, and perhaps dream about opening a dance school for disabled children in the future. Try creating a dream board for inspiration. Your possibilities are never completely burnt out.

You Are Not Your Weakness
In fact, a disability isn’t a weakness at all. If you’re willing to look at it from a different perspective, your disability could be your biggest strength. Thankfully, there are many new and innovative disability aids that will allow you to have as much independence in life as possible. One of the biggest challenges for people with disabilities is dealing with the views of others. You may be as positive as you can be about your disability, only to run into someone who treats you like a child or see’s you as nothing more than a disability. In these circumstances, you have to be the most confident person in the room and assert your independence. Show people how smart and beautiful you are. Every time you do, you become an advocate for every other person suffering with a disability.

A lady looking at the camera Eating an Apple
Flickr

Live a Healthy Lifestyle
When you have to live with a disability, there will undoubtedly be times where you feel like giving up. You may suffer with bouts of depression and anxiety and you may not want to make the effort to look after yourself. You may even turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the way you feel about your body and your life. If you need help recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, visit www.orlandorecovery.com/ and get some support. It’s also important to have a healthy diet and get as much exercise and fresh air as possible. All three of those things contribute to good mental health and encourage a good mood. If you’re living with a disability, taking good care of yourself is vital.

Know Your Limits
Pushing yourself to reach your goals and striving for independence is wonderful. But, there will be times when you need help. No man is an island. It’s okay to ask for help when you know you need it. If you push yourself too hard, you could damage your health and risk the plans you have in store for your future. When it comes to stress, you’re just like everyone else. Make sure you take well-earned breaks on a regular basis. It’s also beneficial to develop a good support network of family, friends and medical professionals. That way, when you’re really in need of some help, you have plenty of people to rely upon.

Picture of a glass with the quote because the glass really is half full

Flickr

Think Positively

Stephen Hawking once said, ‘Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically’. Sometimes, the first thing you need to do in order to live positively is to accept your disability. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with it and that’s that. But, that doesn’t mean the world has to be full of doom and gloom. It would be easy for you to become negative because of what you have to live with, but that’s not what you want, is it? Here are some tips on positive thinking – http://www.success.com/article/7-practical-tips-to-achieve-a-positive-mindset. Do your best to stay positive, even in the midst of hopelessness. Let your personality shine brighter than your disability and forgive anyone that offends you.

As a disabled person, you’re faced with something that can seem almost impossible. But, don’t let your disability turn into a mountain you can’t climb. You have what it takes to reach your goals, no matter what your disability is. Find ways to jump over your obstacles and always look for the positive in every situation.

Bar Smith’s Farringdon: A Tiki Review

Bar Smith’s Farringdon: A Tiki review.

What is the Tiki culture?
The Tiki culture can be traced back to a man named DonThe Beach Comber. He was Texan born but knew that there was a world outside of the states so he went to explore.
His travels took him to the rum centred Caribbean and South Pacific. He loved the laid back lifestyle and on his return home opened a bar to recreate his adventures, the bar was like stepping onto a Caribbean island and he made the cocktails to match.

I was invited to attend Bar Smith’s in Farringdon to try the Tiki menu, to say I was excited would be an understatement. If you know me, you know I’m a lover of cocktails, so I was very much looking forward to having a taste.

Arriving at Farringdon, which is wheelchair accessible, we headed to St John’s Street, just a 2 minute walk from the station.

Upon entry to Bar Smith’s there was 3 steps leading into the bar, with no accessible ramp, but once inside it definitely felt like we were transported to a beach holiday.
The bar was a large open area with tall tables and high chairs, alongside lower table and chairs dotted around the space.
It was very rustic and dark which complimented the Caribbean relaxed vibe.

We were approached by a member of staff who asked if we wanted a table for two.We agreed. At this point he said that he would go and check with his manager to see if my dog was allowed inside
I politely explained that she was a working dog and she is allowed in, but he went off to ask anyway.
On his return he had 2 members of staff with him, one being the manager.
They said that the dog wasn’t allowed in. but we could stay. Again, I explained that Ida is a Guide Dog and legally she is allowed in.
I was told that the dog could stay if I ate outside.
Needless to say I was not a happy bunny, and I explained this, alongside stating that I was here for review purposes.
Their tune quickly changed.

We were then sat at a lower table, given menu’s and left to it for a few minutes, Ellie couldn’t see a Tiki menu so we asked for one.

cocktail menu at the tiki bar

Ellie and I both ordered pizza: I ordered the beef rib and Ellie ordered the Hawaiian .
As we were here to review the Tiki, we couldn’t not order a cocktail! Ellie opted for the Navy Grog which alongside the was out of ingredients, so we both went for the XOXO, very tasty indeed!

Our food arrived promptly and was plentiful. As Ellie and I are such little things we took our time eating the pizza’s, I managed to finish mine because i’m a fat pig, Ellie on the other hand did not…
It was a good 10 minutes after we had finished that Ellie caught the waiters eye and asked for some more drinks, the bar was very quiet, but staff didn’t seem to be around.

Beef Rib and tomato pizza

Ham and pineapple pizza

We ordered one more cocktail each, Ellie had a Pina Colada and I opted for the Tiki classic of A Zombie, they went down rather quickly…

Two Easter head style cups with ice and a straw poking out the top

We headed to the bathroom and I was disappointed to see that there was no disabled toilet.The toilet cubicles were small and the taps were quite high, this would not be accessible for a wheelchair user.

As we were in no rush to leave Ellie and I stayed for another 15 minutes or so, chilling and chatting.
The atmosphere was somewhat spoiled by a man climbing a ladder and fixing lights off to our right.
We left with our empty plates still on the table.

Although the food was very tasty and the cocktails were delightful, I don’t think i’ll be returning to Bar Smith’s Farringdon in the future.

Accessibility: 1/5
The tube station was the only accessible part of our experience.

Quality of service: 2/5
There were only 4 things on the Tiki menu, 3 of which being pizza, I originally asked for the salad but they had run out of ingredients.
Although the food was tasty and came quickly, the waiter failed to ask if we wanted more drinks, and did not take away our plates.

Hospitality: 1/5
I was made to feel very unwelcome because of Ida, even after I explained that she was a Guide Dog.
There was also a lot of confusion with regards to the bill, I explained that I was attending for review purposes…. I’m not too sure this information was passed onto the floor staff.

*I was invited by Bar Smith’s for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Honest Grapes Wine Festival In SOHO

Wine tasting at the Honest Grapes wine festival.

Last week Gary and I were invited to attend the Honest Grapes wine festival in SOHO.Gary and I are only really just getting into wine tasting and discovering different brands that we like.
My Dad is a wine buff and has taught me lots over the years, often asking me to “try this and see what you think” most of the time I wasn’t interested, but as I got older my taste buds began to change, with Champagne becoming a firm family favourite; especially around Christmas and New Year!

Needless to say I was rather excited to attend the wine festival .Gary enjoys being my guide for certain blogging events, especially if it includes food and alcohol!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend this event without sighted assistance, so it was good to get Gary on board and make it into a fun date day:)

After getting delayed with thanks to broken signals on the railway, having to walk half way around St Pancras just to get to the underground, and then having to ask for assistance and walking the 100+ steps up the escalator we finally arrived in SOHO.
Thankfully it was only a 5 minute walk from the tube station, and handy Google Maps got us there with no issues.

As we entered the building we were greeted by a lovely Chinese lady who informed us that the lift would only be able to take us up, so we would have to walk back down the stairs upon exiting.
Ida and I are becoming well versed in stairs, so I wasn’t particularly bothered about this.

Arriving upstairs we walked into a large, open, bright and white room.
The kind gentleman checked us in and even got a tray for Ida to have a drink from.
We asked if it was OK to bench Ida while we went around, just so she didn’t get under anyones’ feet, and he was more than accommodating, even offering to look after her on his table.

And then the fun began…

The first table we visited was Exton Park, an English Brewery. situated in Hampshire where the grapes are Grown in a very chalky environment which adds a distinct flavour to the wines.

We tried the Exton Park Brute first, this was a white sparkling wine.

We both thought it tasted very nice but as with most brutes’ it was Dry

You can purchase a bottle for £27.90

The next wine we tried was the Exton Park Pino MeunierRose. This was a sparkling Rose Wine with a fruity burst of flavour.. Out of the 2 this was our favourite.

You can purchase a bottle for £39.00

The second table we visited was the Chene Bleu- Vineyards, this is situated in the la verriere region of France.

The first wine we tasted was the Chene Bleu Rosé 2016. – This was a Rose wine with a silky smooth finish.

You can purchase a bottle for £20.90

The second wine we tried was the Chene Blue w 2010. This was a Red Wine,, I found it too full bodied for my personal taste. I’m not a fan of red wine as a rule and the taste made it a bit sour and sharp for me.

The third table we visited was the Clemens Busch- German Wine maker

We tried the Clemens Busch Vom Grauen 2015. This was a dry sharp red wine.

You can purchase a case of 6 for £122

The second wine we tried was the Clemens Busch vom roten Scgiefer This was a fantastic red wine, which I felt was not too full bodied for my taste. I felt that the wine completed itself nicely, by this I mean the flavour didn’t linger on the tongue or leave it dry. You can purchase a case of 6 for £122.40

Clemens Busch Marienburg GG The third wine we tried on this table was the Falkenlay 2012. This was a smooth sharp white wine that didn’t stick to the pallet..

The fourth wine we tried was the Greatest hits.

Grace Bridge Pino Noir 2013. This was a light fruity red wine, and affordable at £18.40 a bottle.

Luke Lambert Australian wine maker standing in front of a big barrel of Wine

The next table we visited was the Team Picks table.

Brownstone Winery.

We first tried the Chardonnay 2015. – This was a light yet Crisp white wine.

You can purchase a bottle for £13.80

The second wine we tried was the Chateau Trebiac Rouge 2012-. This was an earthy flavour but was a light red colour.

You can purchase a bottle for £13.40

The next table we visited was the Spanish Tapas table.

We tried a selection of cheeses including; goats cheese, very creamy but not over powering.

A semi mature cheddar which was crumbley.

A mature cheddar which was strong and smokey, with a bit of crumble.

A blue cheese which was potent and creamy, not to my taste but Gary thoroughly enjoyed it.

We also tried some cooked ham cut straight from the hoof, this was sort of slimy in texture but tasted nice.

I also managed to taste the ham wrapped in breadstick, this was very tasty, it gave the ham a good crunch.

Our final tasting was the semi mature cheese with a sweet jelly, this was completely ccomplimentary to the cheese, and apparently very popular in Spain.

The next table we visited was Fine Wine.

The first wine Gary tasted was the Mastrojanni Brunello Montalcino 2012 This was a Medium bodied red which stayed on your tongue for a while, not to Gary’s taste.

You can purchase a bottle for £53.59

The last wine that Gary tasted was the mirafiore barolo lazzarito 2008 This was the last red wine Gary tasted, he thought it was very full bodied and clung to the pallet;not to his tastes

You can purchase a bottle for £66.50

The first wine I tasted was the Cal del Bosco Annamaria Clementi 2007 This was a white sparkling wine that was slightly dry, but refreshing.

You can purchase a bottle for £89.70

The second wine I tasted was the Frerejean Freres Blanc de Blancs This was a crisp white wine, it was tasty but not my favourite.

You can purchase a bottle for £61.40

The final table we visited was the Australia and New Zealand Wines

We met the co- founder of Honest Grapes,; Nathan, who had just come back from a 5 month trip to Australia and New Zealand meeting young people growing their own wines. He was very friendly and clearly very passionate about his job and the company.

Taras Ochota a wine maker Nathan met on his travels to Australia and New Zealand

The first wine we tried was the Jamsheed Ma Petite Francine Cabernet Franc 2016. – This was a very light and fruity Red Wine, both Gary and I enjoyed it.

Nathan explained that most people who declare they don’t like red wines, do in fact like these, because of their fruity flavours, he was definitely right.

You can purchase a bottle for £19.80

The final wine we tasted was the mirafiore barolo lazzarito Another very light and fruity red wine, it was not full bodied at all, and we both found it very easy and tasty to drink.
You can purchase a bottle for £66.50

Timo Mayer another wine maker Nathan met while on his trip to Australia and New Zealand

Gary and I had a lovely day learning, tasting and meeting so many passionate people who knew so much about their craft. It was so interesting meeting the people that grew the wine, finding out their back stories as well as gaining more knowledge about how the wines were produced.

The only down side to the day was the public not understanding that Ida was a working dog and needed to be left alone. Too many people went over to her and gave her fuss that she became very excited and wouldn’t settle, so we ended up taking her around the last few tables with us.
She settled down instantly, but I do wish people would not interfere with her.

Before we headed out we headed back to the exton park table and tried the rose and brute one more time. The rose was definitely a hit for both of us, and it is wine we will be purchasing in the future.

Thanks to honest Grapes for inviting us, we had a fab day! 🙂

Accessibility 3/5

Getting to SOHO as a disabled person was a challenge, many of the train stations lacked lifts and had too many stairs or just escalators. The venue the event was hosted at unfortunately had a broken lift which only went up, meaning you would have to come down many stairs on your return.
As a wheelchair user this event would not have been accessible to me.
All of these things are totally out of Honest Grapes control.

Hospitality 5/5
The people that worked there on the day were absolutely fantastic, showed real passion and enthusiasm for the job, and were also extremely accommodating with my blindness.

Are you a wine lover? Would you attend a festival like this?

*We were given tickets for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Understanding M.e. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)

Hi, I’m Ellen! Sassy has kindly given me the opportunity to write a bit about ME, (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), and my mum’s experience of suffering from it. I think it is so important to raise awareness and I have included some tips for anyone who wants to help somebody suffering from the illness.

In 2011 my mum was diagnosed with ME after many months of feeling very ill and numerous doctor and hospital appointments.




What is ME?

It’s not easy to define what ME is due to many different symptoms and theories as to what causes it. Some say it is a neurological disorder, others an immune dysfunction, but much research is still needed.

How ME effects my Mum:
ME effects people differently and can vary in its severity. For my mum, in addition to an overwhelming tiredness she gets body aches, pains, dizziness and nausea. And I’m talking 24/7. It’s like having bad flu every single day to the point where you can’t get out of bed.
One of the hardest things for suffers is the lack of understanding. You can look well on the surface or perhaps be having a good day but that doesn’t mean you’re cured. The next day might be a very different story. It’s much more than just feeling ‘a bit tired’ and can’t be made better by a good night’s sleep!
The stigma around ME:
Many doctors, (though not all!), don’t understand ME, probably due to not knowing the cause of it. Some can be unsympathetic and dismissive. It’s important to find a doctor who understands and supports you as this is the first step in being diagnosed and feeling better.
How to support someone who is suffering with ME:
Depending on the severity, developing ME can completely change your life, in some cases leaving you bed ridden. If you know someone suffering here are some ways you can help:
• Don’t tell them that they just need ‘a good night sleep’ or to take ‘a refreshing walk in the countryside’ to feel better. The only way to manage ME is to allow your body to rest and pace your activities every day.
• My mum can’t easily plan ahead as she never knows whether she will be having a good or bad day so be flexible and understanding. Plans may need to be adapted to include less walking for example.
• Encourage them to take time out each day to rest. This is the main way my mum can manage her illness. If it means having a Spanish style siesta each day, go for it! And don’t let them feel guilty for missing out on things!
• Offer to help with the more mundane life chores e.g cleaning/walking the dog. It means they can save more energy for the fun things!
But it’s not all bad news! When first diagnosed my mum couldn’t even walk from her bedroom to the kitchen and had to spend months in bed. But now she leads a normal yet slower paced life by building in time each day to rest! Most people improve over time and are even cured after 5-10 years. It’s all about balance and staying positive!
In a funny way I think my mums ME has actually bought some positives to her life. She takes a lot more time for herself and has rediscovered hobbies and interests that she’d given up during the usual frenetic pace of life. Now I’m older I look back and realise how hard it must have been, even at her worst she was always there to pick me up from school and cook me dinner and never complained about how ill she was. She’s an amazing mum!
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, come and say hi at www.ohhelloellen.com or on Twitter




Spring Staycation For Those With Disabilities

With recent unrest and Brexit on the horizon, a holiday in the UK is looking like an attractive option this year. There has been a recent rise in the ‘staycation’ due to economic reasons, but though you may not have to change your sterling into another currency, a staycation still requires a little organisation, especially if your holiday needs to include accessible elements.
Though many would assume sharing a language would make everything infinitely easier (which it does) there are other elements of a mainly meteorological nature, to overcome. The UK has many fantastic locations for every sort of holiday you can imagine, from the picturesque West Country to the action packed Lake District. Though as with most things in life, planning is key.
While the UK is making great efforts towards being more inclusive, accessible for one hotel means wider door frames and a lack of steps, while what you really need is specially adapted facilities and a hoist. Ensuring that you are getting what you expect is mainly down to clear and open communication from the start and at every element of your trip.
Not only is accommodation vital to your trip, but so are many other elements, but often overlooked is dining. While on holiday, you wish to treat yourself, but if all the best eateries are up several stairs and do not cater to those with limited mobility, it will not be the vacation you are hoping for.
We spoke to those who know best when it comes to accessible holidays, for their top tips for a staycation to create a little guide that everyone should peruse before they indulge in a British break. Including everything from accommodation to activities, dining to domestics, it allows you to do nothing but relax by the time your holiday comes round. Click here for the in-depth guide :

http://www.companionstairlifts.co.uk/news/planning-your-spring-staycation/
Keep up-to-date by following their social networks:
Facebook
Twitter


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The Importance of a Guide Dog

The Importance of a Guide Dog.

Guide dogs logo white silhouette man walking with white silhouette dog

For as long as we can remember dogs have been mans best friend, so it makes sense that one day these fun, loveable and loyal canines would become a vital and supporting role for people with disabilities.

Guide Dogs was founded in 1931 by Murial Crooke and Rosamond Bond. These women organised the training of the first 4 Guide dogs in Merseyside, Liverpool UK.
Since their humble beginnings Guide Dogs has grown expansively and is the largest breeding collection for people with visual impairments.

Becoming a Guide Dog is extensive and very specific.
Mate selection for breeding a Guide Dog is of great importance. The pups that are born need to be good natured, hardworking, intelligent and not scared of loud environments.
most Guide Dogs are a cross of: Golden Retrievers, Labradors and German Shepards’. In cases where the visually impaired person has allergies or other needs dogs such as Poodles are cross bred.

A Guide Dogs working life is around 8 years and the cost of raising, training and caring for the dog is on average £50,000.

Lenny sitting on a bench with Dylan a black and brown german shepard laying at his feet

 
The Stages of a Guide Dog.

Once born each litter is named by a letter in the alphabet.
For example a litter with the letter L could be named: Luna, Liza, Leo, Luke…
The only letter of the alphabet that is not used is the letter X.
6-8 Weeks.
The puppies are vaccinated and ready to meet their puppy walkers.
A puppy walker is someone who assists the pup on it’s training to becoming a Guide Dog this includes walking the pups, start basic training and and give simple commands.

it’s imperative that they are brought up properly.
Volunteer puppy walkers introduce the pups to the sights, sounds and smells of the world.
The puppy walkers will take the pups through busy streets, into shops, on buses and trains.

The puppy walker will also teach the pup to walk ahead on the leash as this is how they will walk when guiding a blind or visually impaired person.
They will also teach them to obey simple commands such as sit, stay, down and come.

1 Year Old Guide Dogs.

The puppy walker returns the pup back to Guide Dogs training school to begin their advanced training.

The skills the young dogs learn to assist a blind or visually impaired are:

  • Walking in a straight line in the centre of the pavement unless there is an obstacle.
  • Not to turn corners unless told to do so by the handler.
  • To stop at kerbs and wait for the command to cross the road, or, to turn left or right.
  • Learn to judge height and width so that it’s handler does not bump their head or shoulder.

With each command a verbal, physical and visual command is given to the young dog. These signals are given to the dog to understand what they should do next. All Guide Dogs are trained to be on the handlers left hand side.When a Guide Dog is in training it will always wear a brown harness, they do not wear a white harness until they have qualified.

As you can see the training is rigorous, but it has to be. A human is putting a lot of trust into it’s companion,a companion that cannot speak.
Sadly not all of the puppies make the grade to become a Guide Dog, these puppies usually go on to train as a Police Dog or other important roles.

Matching the correct dog with the correct owner takes a lot of skill and experience on the part of Guide Dogs.The owners height, length of stride and lifestyle will all contribute to the type of Guide Dog they are matched with.

The Guide Dog and owner spend around 4 weeks intensely training together, 2 weeks of that will be at a training centre set up specifically so that there are no distractions to either the dog or owner. But this is mostly for the owners benefit.
Once they have successfully qualified, the visually impaired person signs a contract, hands over 50p and the Dog is given it’s white harness.
I have a number of friends who have Guide Dogs, and over time I have learnt a lot about the expectations of a Guide Dog and the bond between the two once they are fully qualified and living together at home.

I asked a very good friend of mind if he wouldn’t mind being interviewed to give a more in-depth insight into the partnership between Guide Dog and it’s owner.

Black and brown dylan sitting next to his black and white dog pal




Interview Questions.

What does having a guide dog mean to you?
Independence and the freedom to go out and do things. The convenience of going places in a quicker time.

Can you explain the relationship that you have with Dylan?

We are a solid partnership; he is pilot navigator, and I give him all the instructions.
He gets me from a to be safely: avoiding potholes, people, street furniture and what not.

What was your life like before having a guide dog?

I was lacking in confidence,; I would only go out if it was necessary,.
I would do most things in the company of others because I refused to use a cane for a while. This certainly made things more tricky!

What is the greatest benefit, in your opinion, of having a guide dog?

The partnership you get from having a Guide Dog and the confidence it invokes within you.
Having a constant companion is awesome, and, it’s been a great excuse to meet and interact with all types of people

Have you ever faced any negative feedback having a Guide Dog?

Yes, the public can be frustrating sometimes. Not understanding that my Guide Dog is working and interrupting or distracting him.
There was one incident where my first guide dog Jasper and I were about to cross the road, when suddenly he stopped abruptly and I nearly fell over the back of him. It was a man who had grabbed Jasper between his hands and started rubbing him! When I said to the guy “excuse me what are you doing?”
His response was: “it’s okay mate!”
Let’s just say the guy felt the sharp end of my tongue! I’m a lot calmer than I used to be with the public, but that day I did show my anger, hopefully it has taught him never to interrupt a working Guide Dog again!
Unfortunately that isn’t quite the end of the story… Because he had distracted Jasper so much, the dog then decided to cross at a green light, before I had given the command.
I had to pull Jasper back onto the curb and tell him off.

What are five pieces of advice you would like to give the public about having a Guide Dog, especially when he is out and working?

•First and foremost never interrupt the handler or dog when it is on harness, the dog is working and to distract them could cause problems, or even accidents like I explained above.

•Treat the handler as a person, and with respect: ask if you can pet the dog.
Do not assume it is automatically ok, to pet them, just because YOU love dogs…
You wouldn’t take a baby from it’s pram and start kissing and cuddling it without the mothers permission, so do not attempt to distract or play with the dog just because you want to.

•Never give food or titbits to the dog. All Guide Dogs are fed well and each portion is measured. Giving them food will invite them to be greedy and undermine the training that Guide Dogs’ (the charity) and myself have taught them.

•Guide Dogs are normal dogs that are specially trained to listen and obey commands given to them by the handler. Such as, sit stop forward…
They are not specially made robot dogs with built in GPS. They do not know where they are going,they listen to the directions given to them by their handler.

•Please appreciate that not every person who has a Guide Dog is completely blind. A Guide Dog is an extension of the visually impaired person. He helps enhance my life and gives me more freedom, but they are not specifically bred just to be given to totally blind people.

Any funny moments?

Quite a few, but here are two of my favourites.
Jasper, my first guide dog was having a free run in the park and had been bounding about in The muddy lake when a lady in a white skirt called to him. He went over and jumped up at her… Surprise surprise she had dirty marks down her white skirt!

Dylan my new Guide Dog had been out for a free run with my friend. When they came back he apologised profusely… Dylan had spotted a baby rabbit, chased it down, caught it, and then decided to eat it!
I did think he was going to be ill, but thankfully not! He definitely didn’t have any dinner that night!

Any advice you would like to give to a person starting out with their first Guide Dog?

•Keep up the obedience training that Guide Dogs teach you… It’s really invaluable to make sure your dog is doing the best job they can when on harness.

•Don’t be afraid to say no to the general public: it’s not okay for them to interfere with you or your Guide Dog and it is okay to discipline them when you are training them. The public like to interfere, but you know what you have been taught and stick to that.

•Free runs are occasions for you to bond with your guide dog. Show them all the love and affection and attention they need, it helps to build a stronger bond as well as letting them have a chance to be a normal dog.




Disability Q&A #14 Amelia Khan

Hello everyone and welcome to a new year and a continuation of my #DisabilityQ&A series!

To kickstart the new year we have Amelia, she is full of fun positivity and most importantly honesty! I’m very lucky to call her my friend! I hope you love her interview as much as I do!

Over to you Amelia…

Tell me about yourself:

Hi I’m Amelia Khan, 26 and I live in the sunny south (one can only dream)
What is your job?
I work in the Charity Sector

In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, having me time, socialising and following technology stuff.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability? i’m Visually impaired, my condition is called Peter’s Anomaly
Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth? Yes.

Which terminology do you prefer?

Blind – but generally not amazingly fussed.

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?
Cane
If you could extinguish your disability, would you?

No, my disability has helped me to be the person that I am today. I come from a culture where people with disabilities are made to feel inadequate – people see the disability rather than the ability. This is reflected in the way that I am perceived by people within my own community. But My disability set me apart from their thinking, as I was singled out by them. Therefore, I am more open minded, don’t judge others as easily as they do, and respect people for who they are, as apposed to whether they have a full working body. But, overall, it has shaped my outlook on life and has encouraged me to push boundaries and challenge stereotypes.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?

Nothing… but my brain does try to give me visual representations of my surroundings based on what people tell me and what I think is around me. However, my brain does decide to branch out sometimes and gives me some exciting colours in the form of random shapes (also known as floaters)

How has your disability affected you?
*Socially – I find it hard to meet knew people, get out as much as I would like to, and starting a conversation with people for the first time due to lack of eye contact and being wary of how they might perceive me.
*physically – I am not as active as I used to be, but slowly working on that one. My eye condition means that my eyes look smaller than other people’s, but thats no bother cause I still look hot 🙂
*Mentally – since losing my remaining vision, I have to really battle with myself to try new things, stop fearing the worst possible scenarios, I try and come across as more confident than I actually feel at times, which then makes me more anxious because I am trying to hide the fact that I am afraid/not comfortable with the situation.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?

Yes – people see disability as a limitation, so my desire to prove people wrong, this has made me determined to achieve and push myself to my limits even if it is hard initially, but it has definitely made me a stronger and confident person.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability?

How do you choose your clothes – I am someone who likes to look presentable, so I have a secret system to aid me in this task. It obviously works because everyone is amazed at how me as a totally blind person can coordinate my hijab, top, trousers and shoes.

What are the positives of having a disability?

Jumping cues, especially at train stations, not waiting for the ticket barriers, train staff ensuring you get a seat, people having little expectations of you, so no pressure to live to other people’s standards (of course that doesn’t mean that you should not try to be the best that you can), the funny reactions I get when walking with my cane – either people jumping to avoid me, a group of people parting like the sea or someone just tripping over my cane as they were not looking where they were walking.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

When people make assumptions about what you cannot/can do. When people talk to your companion rather than you. When people talk to you in a tone that makes you feel like a 2 year old. Having to deal with the annoying DWP no matter if you are unemployed (on ESA) or in work (using Access to Work),

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?

The time it takes to complete simple tasks such as making a cup of tea, or making toast, or walking from A to B.
As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home – finding my stuff that has been moved without my knowledge,
*outside your home – having to navigate street furniture, staring people and badly parked cars.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?

*Keeping socks paired in the washing machine? – Maybe use pegs/hooks to keep them together.

*Colour coordinating your clothes – either wear black trousers with a coloured top – or the other way round. Yes, colour detectors do exist but I don’t find them amazingly reliable.

*Applying make up? just splash the foundation on your face and hope for the best *joke!!!* – I don’t wear make-up

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

Yes, I use a screen reader called JAWS, a Braille note to access the internet, read books and write notes.
I use a liquid leveller for making drinks. I also use apps like Google Maps when I’m out and about.
What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?

Initially it seems like your world has stopped, but this is to be expected. Ensure that you get the right support and just go with your emotions. If you don’t feel that you are ready to do something such as work or going out on your own, then don’t. Try and make a list of all the positives in your life and review it. Try and reflect on what you have achieved and assess your progress, only then will you see how life can be rebuilt again.
Yes sure it will be different, but its not the end of the road. Most of all, I would say – don’t feel like you have to go it alone, get support from family/friends, professionals if required.,

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?

Dare I say it, we are all ‘normal’ people, so next time you see a person with a disability/visual impairment, stop and say hello instead of watching them as if they are gonna explode into a million bits any second.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
Yes. I have had support from local and national sight loss charities.
Where can people find you out in the world?
*Blog  https://travellingwithvision.wordpress.com/
*FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/travellingwithvision/
*Twitter – @amelias_words

Anything you’d like to add my lovely?

Life can definitely throw twists and turns which seem unbearable at times, but I wouldn’t change my sight loss for the world, as someone once wisely said “your disability doesn’t define you, but never forget how it has helped to shape you”.

❤❤ Thank you so much Amelia for taking the time to be interviewed! I love your positive attitude, and your sense of humour! It clearly shows your drive and determination to see the positive in life rather than the negative. I think we could all learn that lesson from you! Your honesty, sincerity and humour are fabulous traits to have. Thank you for sharing your story and giving some fab tips! ❤❤

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?
Interview 1
Interview 2
Interview 3
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10
Interview 11
Interview 12




The Last Leg

“Sleep is for the weak!” I screamed as the hospital ward lights flickered on.

OK i’m joking. I was extremely tired and the combination of excruciating pain, and the constant need for the bathroom didn’t allow me any quality of sleep.

I was fed, washed and dressed waiting for the Doctor to arrive. He came over and asked all the usual Doctor questions. I explained my blood pressure cuff analogy to him and said that the pain had worsened the longer I had the cast on.
He was very friendly and supportive, even saying he would take my cast off to examine my leg. But as he did not perform the surgery, and wasn’t my Doctor, he had to wait to speak to a Consultant to see what to do.

Not too long after, my nurse came over and said he’d heard I had been uncomfortable all night, and I was complaining about the pain in my leg; to which I agreed.

“It sounds to me like your cast is too tight, let me go get some scissors and i’ll cut it off for you.”

The relief was evident on my now smiling face!

It took Rich, my nurse, a while, but he managed to cut the cast all the way down to the top of my ankle.
The relief was almost instant, my leg was on fire and heavily pulsing, but I actually managed to feel the blood pumping around my leg.

After a serious dose of medication and about half an hour later, I could feel my leg again, and not just agonising pain!

The Doctor came back not too long after and asked how the pain was, he was surprised to hear how drastically my pain scale had reduced.

“My ankle still feels really tight and sore, but it’s like my leg is able to breathe again.”

Rich, my nurse, was with me at this point and the Doctor said there and then to cut the cast off completely, the cast was obviously too tight and I should be fitted with a brace and not another cast.

You would have thought i’d just won the lottery with that comment, I was so ecstatic and relieved at the same time!

Again, as he was cutting the cast off my foot, I could feel the blood beginning to move freely around.

My entire leg was massively swollen, but the tight pain had almost fully disappeared!

Unfortunately it seemed like the surgeon, Doctors and nurses had not taken into consideration my Arthritis.
Whenever I have had a knock or bump to my body in the past, my Arthritis tends to balloon. So the combination of my accident and surgery on my leg, my joints were bound to become inflamed; specifically my knee and ankle.

And that was exactly what happened…

My leg had doubled in size… Couple that with an extremely tight cast and you’ve got a lot of pain through lack of circulation.

First brace given black with foam pads as support and Velcro straps leg is extremely bruised and swollen

I trust Doctors, after all they are the one’s who went to medical school, but i’m an advocate for no-one knows your body better than you do. I’ve lived with chronic pain since the age of 7, so I know the difference between normal pain, and abnormal pain.
*****

Leg with 17 stables closing two long cuts down the right side of the leg

With each day that came and went my leg pain decreased, I owe a special thanks to my friend Oramorph for helping me with my pain relief!

Those first few days on Oramorph were certainly interesting, I was a little woozy, mostly sleepy and my brain felt like it was trudging through sludge… it even got to the point that I declared to the occupational therapist that if nothing was going to happen over the weekend then I was just going to go home and come back Monday – until my friend kindly pointed out that this was a hospital and they weren’t just going to look after my bed for me for the weekend until I decided to return!
When my brain and tongue finally engaged, I realised how ridiculous I sounded, and we had a good laugh at my expense! ;)*****

On a more serious note I did realise just how understaffed, overworked and underpaid the Nurses and Health Care Assistants actually are.

Some patients needed more support due to their age, physical restrictions and sometimes a combination of the two. It was eye opening to watch just how demanding some patients can be, and how in turn that has a domino effect on the rest of the ward and staff.
I also noticed the lack of financial funds that the NHS have on the ground and how that is impacting on patient care.
One particular lady was brought in because she had a fall and had broken her foot… She was also very elderly and suffered with Alzheimer’s

It was heartbreaking to watch her in such distress asking where she was, what had happened, where her parents were as they would be getting worried about her and the why couldn’t she go home?
When she first arrived she had one on one support from a nurse, but that didn’t last very long as the nurse had other patients and duties to attend.
It was awful to bare witness to her on a continuous loop, that turned into hysteria when nurses couldn’t be present to talk to her and soothe her.

When the nurses weren’t around I tried to engage her in conversation as best I could, going through the motions of answering her questions. At some points she and I had conversations about her life and the odd time she was even lucid for a few minutes, so it was lovely.

However being witness to this happening over a few days on one ward I am saddened that there not are specific wards for such patients who need that extra care, support and attention.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the only patient I saw this happening with. I moved wards on Saturday around midnight and there was a similar case with another elderly lady.
Thankfully this ward was much smaller and quieter so nurses and HCA’s could give more attention to her. However, other patients such as my neighbour and myself were forgotten on several occasions.
I blame the Government for these situations, not the Doctor’s,Nurses and HCA’s on the ground. But it’s plain to see that even being in a first world country, patients still aren’t getting the full care and attention they truly need.

*****

New black brace with soft padded supports and clear plastic dial.

Leg without staples or brace on, 2 long cuts with visible staple holes and scabbing

I’m grateful to both hospitals for the care and treatment I received because without them I wouldn’t be at home recovering, trying to live a normal a life as possible as a one legged, blind short arse can 🙂

It’s not been plain sailing; lack of medication, supportive equipment, medical appointments and staples being in my leg 3 weeks longer than they should have been haven’t made my recovery easy but it’s been just over a month since my operation, so i’ve only got 8 weeks left to go!! 🙂
****
It was lovely to bump into you Becca, and meet you Eileen, i’m just sorry it was in such crappy circumstances!
I hope your recovery is going well and you’re kicking butt 😉

Much love,
Sassy x




Are You Indirectly Discriminating?

Are you being indirectly discriminative?

The Equality Act 2010 says that indirect discrimination is:
“A practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but has a worse effect on some people more than others.”

Without realising it, we are indirectly discriminating…

How am I indirectly discriminating you may ask?

I will get into that very shortly but first I will give a brief explanation of what the Equality Act is.
The Equality Act 2010 was proposed as a way to combine previous legislation together to make a better stronghold on discrimination and support those who may potentially be discriminated against in the future.

There are 9 protective characteristics:
*Age
*Disability
*Gender Reassignment
*Marriage or Civil Partnership in employment only
*Pregnancy and maternity
*Race
*Religion or belief
*Sex
*sexual orientation
But for today we are focusing on disability.

Disability and Access to Websites.

The Equality Act at Section 21 includes the adoption of a single concept of the provision of a service which covers ; goods, services and facilities among other things.

While the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t expressly refer to websites the consensus has been that the reference to the provision of service does apply to commercial web.
You can find more information on the Statutory Code of Practice.
“Websites provide access to services and goods and may in themselves constitute a service; for example, where they are delivering information or entertainment.”

*****

Websites can be a double edged sword for those with disabilities. People with sensory impairments such as blindness may choose to shop online, but much in the same way shops/ buildings can create physical barriers, a website can present the same barriers.

Screen readers are software programs giving blind and visually impaired people a way to navigate computers, tablets and phones through audio feedback.
Problems arise when user interfaces such as buttons are not labeled correctly, tables are not configured properly and images have no alternative text. Also known as Alt text attributes.

Why is this important?

Imagine the frustration of browsing the internet and being denied crucial information, such as buttons with the Twitter logo only saying link, tables reading non stop from left to right and photographs only saying the word image.

So going back to the earlier question: how am I being indirectly discriminating?

By not labelling these interfaces/ attributes correctly, you are denying visually impaired people access to your website. Whether it is intentional or not.

So what can you do?

By adding Alt text! Adding Alt text is simple; when you upload/ edit a picture on your website, you should give a clear description of the image.
Example:
Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance

The Alt text reads “alt=”Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Likewise, if you are adding a text based image to your website, you need to include the original text of the image as screen readers cannot distinguish the writing/text.

Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you!"

The Alt text reads “alt=”Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Blogging and SEO.

so you’re a blogger and you bake a delicious cake, you’ve been told to include Chocolate Cake Recipe , in every image of your tasty treat. In order for SEO to give you better rankings you need to include the Title for every image caption, right?

WRONG!!

The caption/ tag area is for Alt Text descriptions. Blind and visually impaired users need to know what the image is about, and SEO will also penalise you for not doing this.
SEO sees this as spam. In order for you to get good SEO rankings as well as being lawfully abiding, your images/ photos should have a brief description.

Most blogs are being indirectly discriminative, and not just to visually impaired people. People with other sensory impairments, motor skill problems and cognitive issues may also be indirectly discriminated against.

If you are unsure whether or not your website or blog is indirectly discriminating, you can use these free tools below to check.
Please think about your potential audience before you hit publish.
Make sure your user interfaces are labelled correctly, images have Alt text and videos have a written translation of what your video contains, especially if it is a slideshow of images.

http://wave.webaim.org/
https://tenon.io/
https://www.squizlabs.com/general/html-codesniffer




 

References
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/employment-statutory-code-practice
http://www.firstcovers.com/userquotes/111218/smile,+and+the+world.html
https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/helping-people-to-use-your-service/making-your-service-accessible-an-introduction
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
https://www.w3.org/WAI/




A Day In Brighton

A day in Brighton.

Back in April myself and 2 friends visited Brighton for the day. I’v never been to Brighton before so it was a nice way to explore the famous sea side town.

It was raining for the majority of our train trip so we weren’t particularly looking forward to stumbling about in the rain… Lucky for us as we got off the train and walked through the station the rain stopped!

I popped to the disabled toilets in the station before we headed off, they were clean and smelt nice 🙂 The member of staff by the barrier was very friendly also! 🙂

We were going to walk down to the Marina but as the bus stop was just across the road from the station we decided to catch the bus. A local came over to us and started chatting to us until our bus arrived, he was very friendly. The bus driver could tell that we were not locals and gave us a few ideas of where to go.

We caught the bus down to the Marina, the bus journey itself wasn’t that long, but entertaining. Not only did my friend manage to insult another passenger by announcing that she couldn’t tell whether the passenger was a man or a woman (the passenger was a woman, she had her head shaved and said she gets it a lot).
But the most exciting part for me was that the bus itself was electric and a talking bus! Great for the environment and the blind! Talking buses announce each stop and tell you what stop is next! I fell in love with the town instantly!

Number 7 electric and talking bus

We got off the bus and had a walk around, snapping some pictures and enjoying being in each others company!

Mermaid Statue

Brighton Marina with docked boats

Stone Fountain spraying water into a large basin

We decided to go for lunch and Zee-Zee’s , I have been to the chain before and as we were out celebrating my birthday I was given the deciding vote 🙂

We were seated promptly and given menu’s and our drink order was taken.
I asked for a Braille menu and the waitress went and fetched one for me; another bonus to Brighton!
After Kathy explained we were out for my birthday I was given a complimentary glass of Pressecco!

After the drinks were brought over there was a swap of waitresses, and the new waitress Maddie took our order She was very friendly and bubbly.
I ordered King Prawn Linguini in a tomato sauce with courgette shavings.

King Prawn Linguini in a bowl with courgette

Lenny ordered spicy meatballs in a tomato sauce.

Spicy Meat balls in tomato sauce

Kathy ordered some vegetarian rubbish 😉

Goats cheese salad and bread

As we were placing our orders Lenny and I were trying to encourage Kathy to get a meat dish, and kept trying to tell Maddie our lovely waitress that she should bring her a giant plate of food with various meats, much to Kathy’s dismay!

I would like to point out that neither of us have any problem with people’s life choices and if Kathy were not such a great friend, we wouldn’t have wound her up! 😉

When Maddie returned baring gifts of delicious food she too joined in the banter exclaiming that there were extra prawns in Kathy’s lunch! Kathy just about freaked out and Lenny and I couldn’t contain the fits of giggles we burst into!
Not only was our lunch delicious but having such a bubbly waitress with a great sense of humour totally enhanced our experience at Zee-Zee’s Brighton!

We were far too full to order any desserts, although they were mouth watering, we may have had another Pressecco or two 😉 of course drinking all that Pressecco called for a bathroom stop.
Zee-Zee’s Brighton had very disabled friendly toilets, they were clean and smelt that way too! 🙂

After letting the last of our drinks go down and giving our tummy’s a rest we asked for the bill.
Lenny i’m sure was batting his eyelashes at the lovely Maddie!It was fun to not only chat to her but get to know her a little too!
She even gave us some money off our bill!

As we were gathering our things I mentioned to Maddie that I was a blogger, and I planned on doing a review for Brighton, and was going to do a special mention of Zee-Zee’s and their fantastic service!

She said she wanted to read it, then I suddenly got bashful! So Maddie if by some very slim pickings you do ever read my blog; thank you for making our trip to Brighton all the more enjoyable, it was lovely to meet you!

We left Zee-Zee’s and headed out towards the Marina to take a few pictures, and then we took an easy stroll along the sea front back towards the train station. There is a tram service which passed us but as it was really warm and sunny we wanted to take in the sea air and soak up the sun.

Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the peir in the distance

We popped into Pret- A Mange for a quick drink as the sun was beating down! :

We also dropped into a quirky music shop; there were so many cool instruments and they allowed you to pick them up and try them out! 🙂

Lenny Plucking the Chello

A wall of guitars

Our entire trip to Brighton was fantastic, we enjoyed our leisurely time there, and would happily go there again, especially to explore the pier and the more touristy bits!
The locals were extremely friendly and welcoming, the services they provide are accessible and accommodating to Visually Impaired people, I would definitely recommend visiting Brighton!

Have you ever visited Brighton? Do you have any recommendations?