Tag Archives: disabled

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?




Find A Way To Shine No Matter What

Find a Way to Shine, No Matter What

By Jennifer Hansford (@HansfordJen-twitter)

My life’s ambition has always been to inspire people and give them hope in some way. I want to do this, because I have always needed something or someone to give me hope too, and I know how important it is.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy. I can walk, and to do things pretty independently, but I do have a distorted way of walking, which I have always been self-conscious of, as people would often stare at me, or say mean things.
When I was around 9 years old, and in fourth grade, I had an operation on my hip, and tendons in my legs. In the process of my recovery I had to learn to walk again. It was pretty painful, but I have always been a determined person, and nothing in my life has been easy, so this was just another thing for me to get through.

I was made fun of a lot as a child, because of the way I walk, and sometimes even in my high school years. I remember one particular girl who was in one of the same classes as I was, who had started to say some things to me that I didn’t like. I don’t remember what they were, but I do remember losing my patience with the situation and saying to her, something like, ‘I don’t appreciate being made fun of for something I can’t control.’ She left me alone after that.
The one place I did feel like I belonged, was in college, where I studied journalism. School became like a second home to me, and I had the best professors in the world. My main professor, the one who taught us about reporting and newspaper layout, was one of the reasons I have always tried to remain in the journalism field. I remember him telling me, “If I give you a story that you can’t get to (possibly because of stairs, or something that might be difficult to navigate) just tell me, and I’ll put you on another one,” or perhaps he would find a way to get me to the one that was assigned to me. He told me there should be no reason why I shouldn’t have a great career in the field. Sometimes, though, the rest of society doesn’t share this type of attitude.
I have only freelanced for various publications, and I liked doing that, but I wanted to have a staff job at a newspaper, so I could feel like I had a ‘real career.’ A lot of staff jobs were unattainable for me, since I can’t drive on my own, which is why I liked freelancing. I could get around by bus, or someone driving me, and the editor was non-the-wiser, since I had never met my editors in person. I wasn’t judged by how I got my story finished, and they were unaware of my physical disability. They were just happy with the finished product. I had gone to an employment agency that is supposed to help people with disabilities get a job they want, and had asked them to call newspapers on my behalf, and assure them that I am perfectly qualified and able to do the actual job of researching, and writing an article, even though getting around has to be done in a different way than anyone else would. The worker I spoke to told me she wasn’t going to do that, and that if a career in journalism was going to happen for me, it would have happened by now.
This is the kind of attitude I wish I could help get rid of in society. Those who are ‘advocating’ for people with disabilities, especially should not have this attitude. I guess that’s part of the reason why I have an interest in journalism. Everyone has a story, and some people need others to make that story known. Everyone needs a voice, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. I wanted to be the one to share those stories, and bring awareness to things that need attention and respect.

Two years, however, I developed health issues with my throat, which left me not being able to swallow food properly. I have lost a lot of weight, and also lost a lot of my hair, which I’m assuming is because of poor nutrition. I’m very weak most of the time and sleep a lot during the day, so I do my creating at night. I didn’t want to completely give up on all my writing goals, so I created my blog called Exuding Energy. This is a place for me to still do some form of article writing, as I find people willing to share their stories, ask them questions, then write about it. I decided to focus on what, and who, inspires people to keep trying to achieve their goals, while they are facing challenges or difficult times, because blogging became my way of staying positive during my own struggles.
This is my way of still sharing people’s stories and giving them a voice, while still giving myself a voice too. To all the people who also have disabilities, whatever they may be, I hope you’ll continue to do what it is that makes you happy, no matter how you have to do it. We may have to do things differently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it well…Right?
If you have a story to share, I hope you’ll share it with me. I also have a YouTube channel, which will be based on my blog (I only have two videos posted right now, but I hope you’ll check them out), so if you have any video or photos to accompany your story and wouldn’t mind me making a video version of your story, please feel free to send them along as well.

The link to my blog-https://theexudeblog.wordpress.com/

The link to my YouTube page-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQydLY3VDFXOxoz0gQ1qsyg

Thanks so much to Sassy for allowing me to share my story on your blog!

Disability Q&A Interview #4 Meagan Houle

Welcome back to my disability Q&A series where I interview people from around the world about their disabilities, and how they cope in daily life and overcome any struggles they may face.

Today’s interview is brought to you by Meagan, I stumbled across her Twitter page, a while ago, noticed she had a blog also, and got absorbed reading it she too blogs about visual impairment, disabilities and challenging stereotypes. So I thought who better to ask to join my campaign?

Now I hand you over to Meagan…
.

tell me about yourself?

My name is Meagan Houle, and I hail from the Great White North
(Alberta, more specifically). I’m a soon-to-be graduate of MacEwan
University, working on a Professional Communications degree. I’m
finally 21, so can now raise a glass anywhere I’d like! It’s terribly
exciting.
What hobbies do you have?
Language is one of my greatest loves, so I’m always reading, editing,
reviewing, or writing. Crowds don’t scare me, so I like to get up in
front of them and either speak or sing. Research is another great
love, so I’m always chasing some elusive answer or other.
Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
My eye condition is Leber’s Congenital amaurosis, but its friends call
it LCA. It’s a rare genetic disorder that affects patients in varied
ways. Some may be completely blind, while others, like me, have light
and colour perception. The particular form I have is literally one in
a million, so I get to be special in at least one way. You might say I
won the genetic lottery.
Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?
Yes. What little vision I was born with is declining now, but I’ve
always been visually impaired.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired, Sight
Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?I tend to favour “blind” because it’s such an easy, uncomplicated
catch-all, and because I’m not sensitive about perfect accuracy. If
we’re being technical, though, “visually impaired” suits me best as I
do have a tiny amount of vision, though not enough to give me any real
perks! (Thanks, universe.)
Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?
Oh, I’m a lover of the long white stick, for the moment at least.
If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please explain
why.
It’s a complex issue, but the short answer is, maybe. If there was a
medically low-risk cure available I might consider it, but only if
rehabilitation services were being offered afterword. I can’t imagine
suddenly being able to see with no one to help me process the new
information my brain was receiving. I’m not exactly happy to be
disabled, but I’ve grown used to living this way and the thought of
such a foundation-shattering change makes me shiver a little. For me,
it’s not a matter of snapping my fingers and making my problems go
away; it’s far more nuanced than that.
For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?
I can’t properly answer this question, because I have no idea what
seeing normally would be like. I have no frame of reference. I can
tell you that I can see light and colour, though my colour perception
is fading as LCA continues to limit my peripheral vision. I can’t do
any of the useful stuff, though. I like to joke that I’m functionally
blind, for the most part. I can’t read print or recognize faces or
drive. I read braille, and use screen readers, and travel with a cane.
How has your disability effected you?
*Socially
It’s tough to say how exactly blindness has affected me socially,
because I’ve never been any other way. I will say that, within the
bounds of my family, it made very little difference. Certainly, my
cousins and sister had to slow down a little when playing tag or
hide-and-seek, but generally I felt like one of them in the ways that
mattered. School was a different story. I was lucky for the most part:
I wasn’t usually bullied, and when I was, it often involved some kid
running around me in circles chanting “You’re blind!” over and over.
(Really? I had no idea!) I was, however, ignored by almost everyone,
even the nice kids. I eventually made a few cherished friends, and I
graduated with a healthy social life.
Dating was harder, not least because I was introverted and shy. I
couldn’t exactly fall for someone I’d hardly spoken to because looks
were mostly irrelevant. I also found it difficult to exchange those
loaded glances you’re supposed to send across the room to the
potential new love interest. I met my fiance online (though not on a
dating site), so I haven’t dated in several years.
Now, I don’t find it much of a challenge to make friends and
socialize. It takes people some time to warm up to me, but once I
prove to be fairly normal, I find it simple enough to join groups for
work and school. While I do have a large group of blind friends and
acquaintances, I get along equally well with sighted people.
*physically
LCA is believed to be capable of causing all manner of delightful
things, like organ damage unrelated to the eyes, but so far I’ve been
spared. Blindness itself is not an overly physical disability, in that
you can still move uninhibited for the most part. With blindness, it’s
the external environment that’s more worrisome. I’ve sustained more
than a few minor and moderate injuries courtesy of a post I couldn’t
see or a wall I forgot about entirely. I actually gave myself a minor
concussion once via a support pole while playing a spirited game of
tag. I did forget which grade I was in and the names of my cats, but
what’s a knock on the head here and there for a life of carefree play,
right?

*Mentally
This can tie into the social aspects, I think, so it’s a hard question
to answer on its own. One of the most important parts of a human’s
general development is their relationship to the outside world, and
since I grew up in a rural community packed with sighted people, I had
no geographically close friends who understood me or my particular
struggles. The internet, when it finally came along, broadened my
horizons enormously, but as a child and young teenager, parts of my
life were quite distinct from those around me and I had no idea if I
was doing everything right. Any exclusionary trait is going to
interfere with mental development, so I doubt I could even begin to
quantify the ways blindness shaped mine. I was sometimes put in
separate classes, though not often as I went to public school. I was
excluded from many activities, and placed in groups with people who
had cognitive disabilities (the reasoning being that disabled people
should all be lumped in together, even when they have nothing in
common at all). I really think my small but loyal group of sighted
friends saved my sanity while I was growing up.
Now, I’m reasonably well-adjusted, so I doubt blindness is quite as
problematic for me mentally as it used to be.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
I imagine it’s impossible to have a disability like blindness and
remain entirely unaffected by it. My identity is made up of so many
components of my life, and blindness is an undeniably important part
of that. Maybe I’d be more inclined toward sports if I could see,
though there are many blind athletes, so that’s unlikely. Maybe I’d be
more interested in fashion, though again, there are many
fashion-conscious blind people, so that seems unlikely, too. Maybe I
wouldn’t be as introverted or bookish; maybe I wouldn’t be as
interested in music; maybe I wouldn’t be as passionate about diversity
and social justice. Still, introversion, musicianship, and a passion
for social justice are fairly common, so I’m not convinced blindness
has made me who I am, from the ground up. It would be naive to claim
it hasn’t shaped me at all, though. Blindness has a habit of
encouraging certain traits while minimizing others. Music an books are
blind-friendly, so it’s natural that I would gravitate toward them. It
makes sense that I’d be passionate about diversity, as I’m a diverse
individual by default.
If I had to cite one positive, disability-related aspect of my
identity, I suppose it would have to be a certain empathy toward any
and all struggles, whether I understand them or not. I’m quicker to
get involved on behalf of someone else, and much more likely to
consider a new discrimination case carefully before making judgements
about how it might be dealt with. Disability has, in short, reminded
me on a regular basis that life is unfair. It has made me want to make
it a little fairer.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your
disability? If so, please explain below.
There are too many to name! I suppose I’m most often asked how I
manage living with blindness. I don’t have a satisfactory answer to
this, so I just tell people that necessity is very persuasive. If
you’re given a burden and told you must either bear it or not exist at
all, it’s not a hard choice to make. This doesn’t mean I don’t
struggle, and this doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoy being disabled,
but it does mean that I’m forced to handle it, so I do. Most days,
it’s not even on my mind much. >
What are the positives of having a disability?
I’d say the positive I most value is that I get to see the best of
people. I definitely get to see the worst of people, too, when they
discriminate against me or tell me I’m just a drag on resources and
ought to go home to my mother. I get to meet people while they’re
offering an providing assistance, asking how they can get involved in
associated causes, and generally trying to understand me. So many
strangers have crossed my path because they wanted to know how they
could improve the lives of others. It’s a privilege to interact with
so many who seek education and champion diversity for all people, not
just themselves. These are the type of people who make great lifelong
friends.
What are the negatives of having a disability?
There are a few too many to discuss properly here. The obvious ones
are social exclusion, chronic unemployment, accessibility barriers,
gaps in understanding, lowered educational an professional standards,
bullying and bigotry, etc. Even the most successful, functional
disabled people can’t escape at least a few of these. You just learn
how to deal with them. We have all the same issues as every other
humans; we just have a few extra ones, too.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?
At the moment, my most immediate difficulty is finding gainful
employment. I’m on the job hunt, and I’m routinely bumping up against
barriers that wouldn’t exist for a sighted person with my
qualifications and skills. I’ll be looking at the ideal job,
daydreaming about the interview, only to find a few duties associated
with video editing or some other skill I just can’t learn to a high
enough standard. Then there’s the issue of disclosure: I no longer
disclose blindness on application forms, because it’s the quickest way
to guarantee that my resume will end up in the recycling bin and my
calls will go unreturned. More than once, a hiring manager has become
excited about me as a candidate, only to go silent when they realize
I’m blind. Suddenly, the position has been filled, or they no longer
need anyone at all. So, interviews are stressful because I’m
anticipating their reactions to me. I know I’ll be defending the
qualifications a sighted person would simply be assumed to have. When
sighted people point to their degree, it’s assumed they can do the job
until they prove otherwise. For me, it’s the opposite: I find myself
defending my degree, because it’s assumed I’m incompetent until I
prove otherwise. It’s highly discouraging.
As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily /
weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home
Unless I’m very careful about organization, it’s easy to lose things,
even if I’ve only just put them down. I can spend ten minutes
searching my tiny apartment for my keys or cell phone. (Of course, I
can put this down to being a wee bit scatterbrained, as well.) Then
there are general accessibility issues, like labels I can’t read,
though I have developed labeling systems to get around that. The home
is the least frustrating environment because it’s the only one I can
control.

*outside your home
The most frustrating obstacles outside the home are usually outdoors.
While I can learn a route and travel with reasonable safety and
precision, any unexpected obstacles can really throw me off. (This is
partially because I have a cane, but it can hinder guide dog
travelers, too.)Construction zones, illegally-parked vehicles, and
snowbanks are just a few of the objects that can knock me off course
if I’m not especially familiar with the area I’m navigating. Of
course, outside the home, people are free to move objects around with
impunity. So, even if I’m organized, as soon as someone moves my
belongings around, it’s going to slow me down. This happens especially
in school and workplaces, where a huge volume of people come and go,
often touching and manipulating things I will later need to use. This
is why we can be so fussy about our own possessions, and why we hate
it when others move them.
Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to
another VI/ disabled person?
I don’t have a ton of handy tips and tricks that aren’t either common
knowledge or stolen from those wiser than I am. I think the single
most useful thing I can think of is the value of labels. Label
everything, even if you think you can probably remember where you’ve
put a thing. That way, if someone else comes in and shifts your stuff,
you’re not facing hours of fiddling. If you can afford one, get
yourself a Pen Friend. The thing is an ingenious piece of tech that I
use all the time.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?
All the time! Assistive tech is how I get through my life with any
degree of efficiency, especially at work and school. I use, among
other things, a screen reader, an electronic labeler, (pen friend),
multiple image recognition apps, a scanner, and my beloved Packmate
braille display (yes, I still live in the Middle Ages, sue me).

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going
through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?
I don’t know what it would be like to lose or be about to lose your
sight, since I’ve never really had much of it myself. All I would say
is that it’s so important to reach out to others going through the
same things. The internet is full of support groups for every
imaginable struggle, and if you can’t find one, start one. I know it’s
cliched, but you’re never alone.
Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?
Assume we’re normal until told otherwise. Obviously there are some
differences, but I think you’ll find they matter far less than you
might imagine.
Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your
family deal with your situation?
I was diagnosed in infancy, so my parents sought out the CNIB to
provide some support. As I got older, I usually handled struggles
without tailored help, though the CNIB continued to provide occasional
guidance as I grew. Today, I’m almost entirely independent of
designated charities and the like, but I do know when to ask for
help–something it took me a long time to learn.

Where can people find you out in the world?
🙂
When I’m not being featured on the excellent blogs of others, I can be
found on my own blog (wheresyourdog.wordpress.com) where I write about
advocacy, education, and diversity, among other things. There’s even a
post about how horrible mosquitoes are; it’s definitely a riot. You
can follow me on twitter (@MeaganHHoule), where I share things that
make me laugh, cry, and think. You can also witness my addiction to
literature on Goodreads
(https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/27630033-meagan-houle). Add me so
I can fall in love with the same books you do!

Anything you’d like to add my lovely?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about me and my dubious wisdom.
If you take nothing else away from what I’ve said today, just remember
to follow this blogger’s example and ask lots of questions (after
checking that they’re nice, polite questions, that is). We all need to
know how much we don’t know. Knowing how much you don’t know is half
the battle…or something. Now, get out there and (respectfully)
pester some folks!




Thank you Meagan for your fabulous answers! Not only did I see yet another great prespective of how you live your life as a person with a disability, but you embraced it with such humour and pazazz! I love your writing style, it’s unique and amusing; certainly puts my ramblings to shame! 🙂

Please don’t forget to follow her links, and why not share the love? Leave her a comment, we would both appreciate it!

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

You are most welcome to subscribe to my mailing list so you do not miss any future interviews. For that I would be most grateful! 🙂

Thank you once again Meagan, it was lovely to interview and find out more about you as a person!




I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did?

Until next time wonderful people!

Much love, Sassy x

Embrace The Cane

Embrace The Cane!

Last week I filled out the fab VIP Daily living tag. Created by Holly and Elle and Within this tag a question I answered I talked about how I embraced my cane after feeling self conscious.

I also have been talking to a lovely guy, and a similar conversation arose so I thought I would give a more in-depth story of how I embraced my cane.

I first had cane training lessons when I attended a specialised college for the blind. My sight was deteriorating, and after speaking with my Mum about it, she suggested getting in touch with the mobility department and asking for cane training encase I needed to use one in the future.
And that’s what I did.

In my free periods, I would have cane training with a mobility teacher, she was very patient with me; knowing how much I despised the thought of using a cane, I saw it as an embarrassment, and a way to draw unwanted attention to myself.
I used to cringe when having to use the cane on campus, and about in public.

The specialist college that I went to had a large number of visually impaired people who were mainstreamed in high school, and they didn’t use a cane, the majority of these people, like myself, felt confident without a cane and just saw it as a nuisance. So for the whole time of my college years myself and others who were visually impaired did not use a cane. And as horrible as it sounds, I actually believed that I would get mocked and sneered at if I were to admit I was taking these lessons.

I was in a juxtaposition with myself; I didn’t want to learn to use a cane, because that meant there was a possibility I would need to actually use it, but when I was out with my mobility teacher and it was just she and I, I felt more relaxed and wanted to conquer it. I was eager to learn and get things right, and would constantly chastise myself when my swing was out of time with my footing. (I am a left handed cane user; so as I step out with my right foot, my cane swings across my body to protect that side from being caught by an obstacle).She taught me how to swing in step, how to go up and down stairs and how to cross a road safely and properly as a cane user. By the time I left the college, I felt confident that I could actually use a cane if ever I needed to.

*********

The first time I used the cane was about a month before I lost my sight completely. Again, I admitted to my Mum how hard it was to get around, how I felt scared a lot of the time and would ask people to come with me somewhere, or guide me whenever we were together.
I would see bollards or wheelie bins at the last possible second, and on a few occasions, it was too late and I got a bruising from inanimate objects. Likewise, I would jump out of my skin and sop dead thinking there was an obstacle in my path, but there was nothing there.

I was constantly nervous leaving my home, and avoiding doing so at all costs unless I was assisted. I was losing my independence and I hated it.
I said to my Mum that when I came home for the summer, I would conquer my embarrassment of the cane and use it, because I knew it was time I used it. I was becoming a danger to myself, and potentially others.
Mum agreed.

Note to self: don’t tell Mum anything!
Mum tells the entire family i’ve decided to use my cane after all these years! “Even though she should have been using it years ago!”!

Every time I went to leave the house: “Sassy are you going to take your cane?”

*Hates self for telling Mother about the cane*

“No, I don’t need to., it’s really sunny out and I know this town like the back of my hand.”

A few days of this conversation happening…… Mother had asked me to go to the shop and get some bits, knowing I would struggle finding the items and the stress of it all I waited until my Sister got home from school and asked her to come with me.

“Yes. But only if you take your cane.”

“Francis don’t tell me what to do, i’ll use my cane when I need to!”
“Well i’m not taking you to the shops then, Sassy you said to Mum weeks ago that you know your sight is too bad to not use it, and that you know it’ll help you not only get around safely, but it will allow people to see that you can see them and not just being ignorant!”

*Fuming at my little Sister for telling me what to do, and showing sense*

“Fine! Let me go change.”

“Go change? It’s really warm outside Sassy, what are you on about?”

I’ll be back in a second!””

“Why the hell are you wearing a hoody?”

“So I can wear my hood up.”

“What? Why?”

“So people can’t see me.”

“Sassy you’re wearing a bright pink jumper with your hood up in summer, people are going to notice you, regardless of the cane!”

“Just shut up and let me do what I want!”

*All the way down to the shops*

*Oh god this is so embarrassing, see I knew people would be staring. I hate this so much*
“Sassy you look so stupid. Put your hood down.”

“No!”

“Put your hood down and your head up, everyone knows you’re blind anyway. It’s pretty obvious who you are !”

By the time we got home Mother was already back.

“Why are you wearing a jumper, and with the hood up?”

“So I can hide.”

*Mother just laughs and listens to Francis retail the scenario. While I stalk off*

From then it became a bit more of a frequent occurrence, if I left the house I would take it. Still under duress I will say! But I used it more often, still deliberately leaving it behind if I could get away with it!

********

The day I lost my sight, and actually realised I couldn’t see I kept thinking thank god I brought the cane!

I left the hospital with my Parents and embraced this ugly duckling, that had transformed into the beautiful white Swan before my eyes. Figuratively speaking of course! 😉

In the strangest of ways losing my sight, opened my eyes to the independence I could now have with this ugly white metal object.
Because I couldn’t see people watching me, or staring, they didn’t exist.

The cane became MY cane: my aid, my ally and an extension of me.
And from then, on I’ve never looked back! 🙂

I hope you liked my story 🙂

Have you ever felt in a situation similar to mine? Or as a cane user can you relate to my story?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂




Much love, Sassy x