Tag Archives: Social

Disability In Fashion: Where Is It?

Disability in the fashion industry: where is it?

Back in 1998 Alexander McQueen was the first designer to introduce disability in the fashion industry, Amy Mullins a double amputee athlete wore a pair of hand carved prosthetic legs.
and strutted her stuff on the catwalk.
It was seen as a ground breaking moment, an industry renown for it’s lack of diversity and inclusivity were now changing the tide. Disabled people everywhere thought this could be the turning point for fashion and disability.

It’s been almost 20 years and yet here we are, a community of 13 million people with the spending power of £80 Billion still being left behind.

I’m happy to see that disabled people have been showcased as beautiful, bold and have a passion for fashion with more recent designers including disabled models in London, Italian and New York fashion week, adorning the catwalk, but we still have a long way to go.

Where are the models of diversity in our high streets?
Where are the designers creating comfortable yet stylish clothes for persons in a wheelchair?

Recently Nike released a new line of shoe designed to fit the feet of those with limited mobility in their joints, however this campaign only came about because a young boy with cerebral palsy wrote to them asking for a pair of shoes that he could wear and look good in.

Having a disability doesn’t automatically mean that style and sexiness goes out of the window.Every person has a right to look glamorous and feel physically comfortable doing so.

“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” Miuccia Prada

Fashion has a significant influence in today’s society, magazines, social media, television and online, it’s everywhere you look.


“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” Oscar Wilde

Celebrities campaign for, and in some cases against fashion, in the case of Elton John and D&G.
Influence has power, and power directed in a positive way can have a profound and long lasting effect.
So why aren’t celebrities and designers coming together and campaigning for an inclusive world? It’s not like they don’t have the means or motivation, money and influence; two things that make the world what it is today.

Designers should be creating the clothes, models of disability should be showcasing the collection, and celebrities should be shouting from the rooftops about diversity and inclusion.

Clothes are designed for the tall upright able bodied person who walks to and from work. But what happens when that same gentleman sits down at his desk? His trousers rise above the ankle, and his shirt feels taut on his arms when he is typing at his desk.

Now imagine that same gentleman as a person who uses a wheelchair? His strength and mobility may be strained meaning that he cannot roll up his shirt sleeves , so he has to deal with the irritation of stretched material over his arms,


“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.” Alexander McQueen

There are many talented individuals who have created their own clothing line,wearable shoes and customisable accessories for aids, just to name a few.
However it shouldn’t be left to an individual to have little to no access to fashion that they need to design their own.
I want to see a world where a wheelchair user can go to a high street store, be able to navigate adequately, see a mannequin that represents them, and pick clothes off the rack that will make them look and feel great.
I want to see a world where disability is embraced the way race, religion and culture are.

I want to see a world where models of disability are seen as equal partners, and not a story of inspiration or pity.

I want to see a world where fashion and disability collide and make magic, standing united, coming together and create a long-lasting partnership

“Real fashion change comes from real changes in real life. Everything else is just decoration.” Tom Ford.

“This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader

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


>

Festive Fun At Christmas

Picture the scene;low lighting with live Cuban music playing softly in the form of a drummer and guitarist, and me in a black and gold sparkly dress with festive earrings to boot… Yes I was at a Christmas event. but this wasn’t just any Christmas event’ this was the MK bloggers Christmas party #MKFiesta at Revolución DeCuba!

Just before we walked in I admitted to Gary I was a little nervous but excited. This was my 2nd blogging event; my 1st blogging event was somewhat overwhelming. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this time around.

BoConcept magazine,proper corn, stu's oven and cuban free drinks

I needn’t have worried Gary and I said hello to the girls who were already there. We deposited our jackets and grabbed a glass of Pressecco.

We chatted and mingled getting to know one another, it was great being in such good company

Before long we were piling our plates high with the scrummy food; calamari, chicken wings, shredded chili beef brisket, roasted peppers and spicy rice to name but a few delicious treats!

On the table each person was gifted 2 free drinks; Gary and I both opted for cocktails from their Christmas menu. I ordered a tropical punch and Gary ordered a a chocolatey caramel pudding punch.
I enjoyed my cocktail but sadly Gary’s drink was far too sickly sweet. We were both impressed by the food and the funky glassware our cocktails came in; I had a pineapple shaped glass and Gary’s came in a cool mason type jar!
I’m a terrible blogger, I forgot to take pictures!

Mitchel ness hat "Ducks"

There were about 15 bloggers in attendance so we broke off into smaller groups to sit down and eat. This is where I got to chat more to the lovely Formidable Joy and But First Coffee. It was great getting to know the girls a little better and chatting about all things blogging. It’s fun meeting others that share the same joys and passions as you… Time just flys by…

While we were chatting Sophie’s Suitcase came over and handed out the goody bags, and my gosh were we treated to amazing gifts and vouchers from brands!

Tub of lush hand cream, bottle of ale, £1 off stus pizza, BoConcept magazine, Ducks beenie hat, Zumba classes, ProperCorn and an open spa pass.

  • A cute and cosy hat from Mitchell and Ness
  • A bottle of Ale from MK BierGarten which Gary claimed as soon as he spotted it!
  • Gorgeous hand cream from Lush, now where can you ever go wrong with a bit of Lush?
  • A cool magazine and voucher from Bo Concept. if only I had come across this awesome company before I moved 2 years ago, I
    would have spent hours lusting over the furniture!
  • 50% off at Rush, I’m very much looking forward to booking my haircut in the new year!
  • A relaxation session at Flotation Life, Gary and I are still debating on who deserves this more..
  • Lunch for 2 at Maaya I’m a lover of Indian cuisine so I cannot wait to try this restaurant out!
  • £1 off pizza at Stu’s Oven; Gary’s favourite food is pizza, so I won’t be getting a look in there then!
  • 2 vouchers for Zumba at Fitness Milton Keynes, trying to keep up with a fitness workout when you can’t see is going to be entertaining at the very least!
  • A 120g packet of sweet and smokey chili flavored propercorn it was very tasty i must say!
  • A pot of mustard from Mr and Mrs Fitz, I’m genuinely excited to try this on some pork chops.
  • And not forgetting further drinks vouchers as a fab excuse for us ladies to return in the new year and enjoy a few more cocktails!

A massive shout out goes to  Revolución DeCuba for being fantastic hosts, all the fab brands who gifted us, and most importantly Sophie’s Suitcase for organising the event itself!

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and I look forward to the next blogger meet up!

Tub of hand cream, bottle of ale, 50% of at rush and apple and cider mustard




Much love,
Sassy x

Disability Q&A #12 Mandy Ree

Hello ladies and gents, thank you for returning to another interview in my #DisabilityQ&A series! 🙂

Today I am featuring an interesting lady by the name of Mandy, I’ve seen her on social media, and I thought her to be an interesting person. She got in touch with me asking to participate, and of course I said yes! She really does have a fascinating blog, so after this interview, you should really go check it out 🙂

Enough rambling from me, I shall hand the reigns over…
Tell me about yourself:
Hi I’m Mandy Ree, I’m 30
and I live in Orlando FL. I am a freelance writer and blogger for my own personal blog Legally Blind Bagged, looking for employment in the meantime.

What hobbies do you have? I’m an avid toy collector and comic con enthusiast, Disney and 80’s kids culture is my specialty. I am also working on writing my own book “Lessons From A Power Ranger” which chronicles my journey of finding my voice in self advocacy with the help of my boyfriend with cerebral palsy.

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

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I was born with Austimal Recessive Ocular Albinism, a rare condition that mirrors the visual impairments of a person with Albisim but without the other physical characteristics. Hence I’m very sensitive to light and am considered legally blind, but I don’t have the white hair or the fair skin. In addition, I also suffer from PTSD and Anxiety as a result of severe bullying growing up.

Which terminology do you prefer ? Legally Blind

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither? I have a cane I only bring with me when I’m unfamiliar or semi dangerous, non pedestrian friendly places.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – I have always wished from the time I was little up until now there was a cure for my disability. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive. The buses in Florida are horrendous.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see? The best way I can explain my vision to others is as if you took a bunch of crappy pixelated camera phone pictures from 2005 and surrounded me with them. I can see people and things around me, but can’t make out details, resulting in face blindness. Which explains my awkwardness in social situations.

How has your disability effected you?
Mentally, I’m drained. Having a physical disability makes me question my worth in this world. It seems like things that should come easy like getting a job or traveling take twice as long for me to accomplish, despite having the intelligence and work ethic to do so. Thankfully I have a lot of good friends from my most recent job experience at Disney and the comic con circuit who have taken me under their wing and have come to my aid on multiple occasions. I’m not alone like I was as a kid growing up in school, so I consider myself blessed.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
I have become more open minded of other people and their needs. Ever since I was a kid who was mostly in mainstream classes, I was always curous as to what goes on behind the closed doors of “that other classroom” (Special Education). In my teen years, I started to volunteer my time in the Special Education classrooms, helping to bridge the gap between them and the rest of the student body before inclusion of those with developmental disabilities was a thing. I learned a sense of empathy and understanding towards others and grew a passion to help pass those values on to other people.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? How many fingers am I holding up? Believe me, that shit gets old real quick.




What are the positives of having a disability?
Learning that there are perks in traveling. Florida has a special identification card program that gets paired with a reduced fare bus pass, which grants me a free lifetime bus pass. I also recently learned the perks of navigating the airport by admitting my disability, like being able to get in the handicapped line at the TSA check in and priority boarding on the plane. The only perk I don’t take advantage of is the attendants with the wheelchairs that take you to the gate, I would rather have those saved for someone who needs it.

What are the negatives of having a disability? The sense of independence. My parents are extremely overprotective sometines and I often feel like I can’t prove I can do things on my own without help. Not being able to drive is also tough considering that free bus system I use takes a ridiculous amount of time to get from one point to another. When I worked for Disney, it took me 3 hours to get home as opposed to 15 minutes down the highway. Thank God for Uber.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled? Oddly enough I am in the gray area between disabled and non disabled, making it hard to receive services like staff to help me travel and do some hard tasks, like sewing or filling out paperwork in small print. I’m classified as too high functioning to get help and it took me forever to get on Disabilty and Medicaid. Speaking of Medicaid, getting to utilize it is difficult, since not many doctors who take it are bus friendly for me to get to. Florida lacks greatly in services and I find it appalling. Being independent is hard, it’s even harder when your income is soley your disability check, as in the case for me since I lost my job two weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how people do it. I love I’m what’s called a Right To Work state so finding jobs are hard in a state where you can technically still be discriminated against.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home- Minor tasks can be a challenge, like sewing or putting together furniture. I have been learning how to cook with my mom when she visits me during the summer, but cutting vegetables and measuring are still hard on me, resulting in food that resembles something out of Kitchen Nightmares
*outside your home Traveling by the bus system. Nuff said.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
To help with finances, I use a white board to help me remember what bills I need to pay. I have a folder set up on my phone that has my bill paying websites bookmarked, since paying online is easier for me to do than paper. When going to new unfamiliar places, I put Google maps on and use that to let me know what stops I need to get off at. I rely heavily on that when I travel so I always leave portable battery chargers in my bag, just in case. I also tied a lanyard wallet to my purse that holds my bus pass so I can easily find it.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?
Google Maps with the speech on is a lifesaver. I also have a small digital magnifier that helps with small print reading.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility? It doesn’t hurt to admit you need help.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities? Never give up on your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
I received help from Floridia Department of Blind Services and have taken advantage of mobility classes upon first moving down here from Ligjhthouse of Central Florida. When I was in college up In Rhode Island, I learned to accept my disability and the basics of self advocacy from Advocates In Action Rhode Island, a great non profit that helps people (mostly with developmental disabilities) learn that they can lead a meaningful life and have a say in their care plans. I owe my life to them, for without them, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

Where can people find you out in the world?
*Blog – Legally Blind Bagged
Legallyblindbagged.wordpress.com

*FaceBook- Legally Blind Bagged
https://m.facebook.com/LegallyBlindBagged/

Follow me on The Mighty
https://themighty.com/author/mandy-ree/

Anything you’d like to add my lovely?
On August 23rd at 4pn EST, I will be doing a live Q&A on the Mighty Facebook Page. I will also be speaking at the Advocates in Action Statewide Self Advocacy conference in Warwick RI October 27. More details will be shared on my Legally Blind Bagged Facebook page soon.



Thank you so much for participating Mandy, it was a very insightful read! I’m sorry to hear of the troubles you have faced due to your disability, and the lack of confidence that others have thurst upon you. It must be very disheartening! But good for you for powering through and proving how strong you are ! You are clearly very passionate about Disney and I hope your book goes well! Best wishes with it all, and keep in touch to let us know how it goes!

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
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10
Interview 11




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/




Disability Q&A #5 Matthew

Today’s interview is brought to you by Matthew, he followed me on Twitter, and was very kind; liking and retweeting my tweets. Of course I said my thank you’s, and we began chatting from there. 🙂 He is a very lovely guy, and I hope you give him all the love and support he deserves for writing this!

On to you Matthew 🙂
Tell me about yourself:
I’m Matthew, 29 and live in the North West of England. Right now I’m a stay at home dad looking after my 3 year old girl, before that I stayed at home to look after my older son but he is now at school full time.
To be honest, I kinda hide behind this as a reason not to try harder to find work because I am afraid that I wouldn’t find a job as I have no formal qualification except for GCSE’s. That, combined with my visual impairment I find it hard to justify anyone employing me.
I’m not short of hobbies but I have struggled sticking to one hobby for very long. I enjoy gaming mainly on PC but as my eyesight has deteriorated over the last few years I’ve found this increasingly difficult. I attempted to take up twitch streaming to go along with my gaming hobby but as I lack any kind of discernible personality I was about as popular on there as a bunch of flowers at a Hayfever convention.

I also have a desire to learn programming of one shade or another so I apply some time towards learning that skill. Although it’s slow going as I suffer from bipolar and my thought process swings from invincible to useless on a regular basis.

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

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I suffer from a hereditary condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa commonly referred to as RP .

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?
As it is a hereditary condition I assume it’s been lurking in there since birth but I was only formally diagnosed at the age of 7. It’s harder to pinpoint a start date for my mental conditions.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired, Sight Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?
The government uses both Visually Impaired and Blind when pigeonholing people like us/me but although my visual acuity is hand movements only I feel like an imposter using the term Blind as I do still have some sight. So I guess you can call me what you choose.

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?
I have a cane but never use it. I guess for the same reason as above, as I have some sight I’d feel like an imposter if I were to use it, although it would come in handy in some circumstances especially when crossing the road to inform drivers of my condition.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please explain why.
in a heartbeat I know people attribute their personality or at least part of it to their disability and rightly so in most cases. Who’s to say that you wouldn’t have turned out the same or a better version of yourself if you had not suffered from your disability?I for one will never know but I can only hope that would have been the case for me. I wouldn’t have felt handicapped during my education or when it came to me finding work. I know for sure I would be driving and earning my way in society instead of hiding behind those I love. My visual impairment is only partially to blame for my feelings, my mental condition plays a huge part in this too. However, I find it hard to believe my mental condition would be this pronounced if I did not suffer from RP or any other disability.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?
For me, colours are not very vivid, so unless things are moving I find it hard to pick objects out from their backgrounds. In addition to this everything appears smaller and out of focus so seeing any detail what so ever is next to impossible. Reading is out for the question too for all but the largest of prints held ridiculously close to my face making it completely impractical. I cannot pick people of a crowd, even my loved ones of whom I’m completely familiar with, including my children. Once they leave my side and mix in with a crowd of children they could be anyone.

How has your disability affects you?
*Socially
I am very introverted. I do not take any pleasure whatsoever from going out and socialising and so have very few, if any friends outside of my family. The main thing I struggle with when it comes to social interaction is, apart from not being able to see, is the fact I can’t look directly at the people I’m trying to talk to. Sighted people use eye contact as a social indicator when communicating and I lack this basic skill so I find myself being ignored in a conversation or failing to realise when people are addressing me not being able to see who they are looking at. I’m sure this is something that affects most if not all visually impaired people but it is a hurdle I have never been able to clear.
*physically
I find myself using my visual impairment as a reason for me not taking part in a lot of physical activities that I used to enjoy such as walking and athletics. It also impacts my day to day life from simple tasks such as grooming and cooking to commuting and playing with my children.
*Mentally
This is where I feel my visual impairment has affected me the most I’m sure my underlying mental issues were there from the start as some people affected with disabilities and visual impairments seem to come to terms with them, adapt to them and some even turn them into an advantage. I have failed completely to do this I tend to focus on the negative in nearly all situations and I always find myself blaming my visual impairment for almost all of my shortcomings.
.
Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
*Please give a positive example of how this has done so… Example: Not judging people by their appearance
As you have probably picked up on while reading my responses to the previous questions positivity isn’t my strong suit but I’ll give it my best shot. I suppose the biggest positive impact my visual impairment has had on my life is the fact I don’t rely on my sight. So I get to absorb the world in a completely different way to other, sighted people. I focus on how things feel to the touch and under foot as opposed to what they look like. I appreciate beauty in a completely different way, assessing someone’s attractiveness (superficially) by what they sound like as opposed to what they look like.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? If so, please explain below.
I think what can you see’ is or was the main question I was asked at school when people found out I suffered from a visual impairment. However as I try my best, for better or worse, not to draw attention to the fact I have a visual impairment I don’t get confronted with that many questions.

What are the positives of having a disability?
Free public transport is a boon as the cost of that is ever increasing. However unpopular this may sound, having the security of state benefits is also very reassuring as it gives the disabled a chance to live a reasonable life, if not living it up if managed well you aren’t poverty stricken either. However recently this has become a bone of contention in the conservative party as they have taken it upon themselves to change up the current benefits system and introduce a lot of uncertainty into a lot of disabled people’s lives, including my own.

What are the negatives of having a disability?
Although I previously mentioned this as a [positive, having to rely on state benefits for my income is a huge disadvantage. I feel trapped by them, they don’t offer me the freedom to look for work without the risk of losing my benefits. As a family man I can’t afford to apply for a job, get it, then lose it again after finding myself unable to manage the job and have to go without either pay or benefits in the intervening period. My family needs money to live and right now I see no other way to obtain that other than benefits. I hold those who suffer from disabilities, especially visual impairment and hold down a full time job in the highest of regards as I could only dream to be among them doing the same.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?
Difficulties come thick and fast when you have a visual impairment. The smallest thing a fully sighted person might take for granted from making sure they are wearing matching coloured socks / shoes to having clean nails and tidy hair. To the larger things such as getting from A to B and shopping. Sure these things can be overcome with adaptations and the reliance on friends or family. But having to rely so heavily on other for everything make you, or at least me, feel like a burden on family, friend and society as a whole.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?

*In your home
Not being able to find things such as my mobile phone or my toothbrush, as has been mentioned by some of your other interviewees is a major bugbear of mine.Along with identifying the difference between shampoo and shower gel in the myriad of different bottles that turns up in the bathroom thanks to my partners addiction with buying what seems like one of every kind on the market. Finding and identifying specific toys when playing with my young son and baby girl is also difficult and somewhat upsetting .

*outside your home
I find getting around using public transport very difficult, with my unwillingness to use a cane or identify myself as being visually impaired I find locating the right bus to get to where I need to be when traveling alone next to impossible, the same applies when using the train.

This issues raises it’s head when shopping too, I find myself taking the best guess when asked to go collect something from the shop by my partner and just hoping I have enough money in my pocket when going to the till as I have no idea how much anything costs as I am unable to read and unwilling to ask. So a white bread request from my partner is often a brown loaf of bread when it arrives home and semi skimmed being delivered as full fat.
Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
I wish I had a few tricks that made my life easier but the only one I can think of is utilising the talkback feature on my android phone. That paired with a bluetooth headset makes it possible for me to use the vast majority of the features of my phone either at home or out and about without feeling self conscious. Not all third party applications are compatible or take advantage of this feature fully but just being able to phone and text is a huge benefit.

Do you use Assistive technology in your daily living?
I use windows magnifier and narrator on my home PC and the accessibility features on my phone. Apart from that I don’t take advantage of any other assistive technologies although I’m sure there are plenty out there that would make my life a lot easier.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?
Find someone that can help you come to terms with you condition, weather that be a counsellor or your GP, a charity like RNIB or action for the blind. You need to come to terms with it and move forward with your life, don’t let it take over and dominate your life like it has with mine. It has held me back for so long, I’m 29 years old and haven’t achieved anything with my life. Don’t let the same happen to you. Look on me as an example of what not to do.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?
Don’t assume, don’t assume that people asking for the destination of the bus they are about to step on are just too lazy to look at the front of the bus for themselves, instead, if you know the answer, just answer or perhaps look for them. Don’t assume that if someone walks into you in the street that they are instantly a trouble maker, perhaps they didn’t see you and a simple gesture of kindness and a passing ‘are you ok’ might be in order as opposed to a hail of insults. Don’t assume that ‘if they need help they’ll ask for it’ because that isn’t always the case, if you see someone struggling, offer help, maybe they’ll accept your offer, maybe they won’t until you offer you won’t know.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
I have sought out help in the past from specialist groups and charities in the past such as action for the blind but as I touched on earlier, I sometimes feel like an imposter and find it hard to seek out help from these charities. I feel like a huge burden on society as it is and don’t’ like to put on others. This may be my mental condition talking, but I can’t change how I feel.

Where can people find you out in the world?

youtube.com/whitecanegamer
facebook.com/whitecanegamer
twitter.com/whitecanegamer
Instagram.com/whitecanegamer
twitch.tv/whitecanegamer
whitecanegamer.com




Wow Matthew, thank you so much for opening up and being so open and honest with your struggles with your mental health, and the impact it has had on you as a person, alongside your visual impairment. It’s brave of you to do so, and i’m glad you felt you could.
I am always here if ever you want to talk, and i’m sure i’m not the only one who will reach out to you, once they too have read your raw and thought provoking interview.

Please don’t forget to follow his links, and why not share the love? Leave him 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
Interview 4

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 Matthew.

Much Love, Sassy x




Who Loves Cake?

If you’re a 90’s kid like me you’ll probably have watched Keenan and Kel.

And if you haven’t Kel has a little phrase that crops up almost every episode. It goes a little something like this:

Who loves Orange Soda?
Kel loves Orange Soda!!!

*It’s very long and dramatic whenever he replies*

And that ladies and gentleman is like me; but with cake!
Just the word cake gets my ears pinned back, and my heart singing with joy!

And i’m excited to tell you that the lovely people at Baker Days have let me try one of their delicious letterbox cakes!

And oh my, they did not disappoint!

Baker Days have a brilliant website, that is completely accessible with screen readers, so I was already in a very happy mood before I even started looking at personalising my cake.

I placed my order of a vanilla sponge cake with Smiling face with heart shaped eyes, and waited not-so-patiently to arrive! I had a confirmation email telling me that my cake had been dispatched and it would be with me very soon.

They were right, it arrived the next morning!

I heard a thud and knew it was my lovely little cake coming to greet me!

I did have to wait until 6PM in the evening before I could open it though, because I wanted to tease Gary 😉

Even though it was addressed to me I really wanted to see his reaction to the cake…

He got excited thinking the cake was for him.

HAHAAH silly man, I am a cake fiend. you’ll be lucky if you get a crumb! 😉

Cake tin which says "just For You" in a white box with candles

As you can see above the box was dinky and came with complimentary candles and party blower.
Inside was also a leaflet of the service Baker Days provide as well a small blue card with 5 lit candles of varying colours. Inside the card it said “Enjoy your cake from BakerDays” which added a nice touch.

The cake tin itself was compact and pretty, also having little holes on the lid allowing the cake to breathe.

The cake itself came neatly secured in plastic wrapping, and without even unwrapping it,I was already salivating 😉

just for you tin lid and cake With a smiling face heart shaped eyes emoji in a plastic wrapper

The cake even had a little tab that said pull upwards gently to release the cake… I am a moron and managed to rip the tab off, so had to turn the cake upside down just to get it out of the tin!

Don’t fear, my little friend was not harmed in any way during this transition!

The cake smelt absolutely delicious, and was presented beautifully! The printed decoration was exactly what I ordered, and gave me a good chuckle, when I revealed the message was to me, from me, and not to him!
The icing covered every inch of the cardboard cake, and there was even tactile markings around the outer layer of the icing.

picture of cake saying: to the one i love have a wonderful day. With a smiling face heart shaped eyes emoji

But Sassy I hear you shouting at your screens what did it taste like?!

Well friends, it was utterly divine! Gary and I even did the cake test to see if it was perfect, because, you know, i’m a cake connoisseur;) and it was!
The sponge was light and fluffy , with that perfect moisture.And the icing was soft and tasty, Gary and I were both exceptionally pleased, because neither of us actually like icing, but this was the perfect amount!
On the bottom of the cake was a thin layer of buttercream which added to the perfection of the cake for me, buttercream is a massive love for me!

a side view of a slice of cake

Personally, there would be nothing that I would change about the cake!
You may ask, but why is it £14.99? Think of the quality of the service you are receiving as well as it being completely personalised and tailored to you, alongside the packaging and the added extras that are included within the price!
Certainly a lovely gift for someone, as well as it being a little different from the generic gifts!.

Onto the scoring.

Accessibility: 5/5
I was able to navigate, choose and place my order with ease on the Baker Days website. The explanations of each personalised picture you can choose from was also explained, and this made all the difference to me as a blind person ordering a product online.

Hospitality: 5/5
Although they are not a venue I visited, communication and punctuality of the Baker Days team was brilliant, I felt I was truly a valued customer. And as I mentioned above, sending me a confirmation email was also a great touch.

Quality of Service: 5/5
I was extremely pleased with the service I received. the cake was delicious, came packaged carefully and the prompt delivery is unbeatable.
If you order your cake before 2PM, it will arrive the next again day!

I would certainly be coming back for more cake in the future!

*****

And here comes the best bit my lovely friends: you can get a chance to win your very own personalised Baker Days Letterbox Cake!Simply follow Myself and BakerDays on Twitter, and retweet the tweet I send out later on today with the hashtag ILoveCake and on Friday 6th May at 6PM I shall be randomly selecting a winner!

So get following and retweeting, and who knows you could be having your own Kel moment 🙂

*Open to UK and Ireland residents only*
You can find and contact Baker Days on the following:

Website: http://www.bakerdays.com/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/Bakerdays/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakerdays

***Disclaimer*** I was sent this cake for review purposes, but all thoughts, opinions and pictures are my own.

Is Social Media Finally Becoming Inclusive?

The internet is changing,from a medium almost based entirely on text, it’s now becoming increasingly picture lead.

But what does that mean for blind and visually impaired people?

For the majority it means we are left behind, kept out of the loop not being able to interact with our peers the way we want to because we lack the vision to see pictures our friends and family are uploading to Social Meia platforms.
Modern assistive technologies can only work so far… Screen readers can only do basic functions, unless coded otherwise. A screen reader is software used by blind and visually impaired people to navigate around their phones/ tablets/ laptops. On Apple products this is already part of the computer systems software, called VoiceOver.

However this is all set to change; in the last month both Twitter and FaceBook have set up new features enabling blind and visually impaired people to feel included with the use of Alt Text (Alternative Text,) and A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)

Alt Text is a coding function used by HTML attributes. Users of assistive technology called screen readers can read the Alt Text aloud, enabling blind and visually impaired people to understand the context of the picture. It is embedded within the picture so people with sight do not see the descriptions. However this does not come automatically with any picture uploaded to the internet. The person uploading the picture must configure the Alt Text; giving a brief description of what the picture contains.

For example this picture here is a picture of the beach. I have added the Alt Text: Sun shining on a beautiful Spanish beach.

Sun shining on a beautiful Spanish beach

I have given people that use screen readers a visual explanation of what the image contains.

If I were not to edit my images before I uploaded them to my blog, the picture may say something like Image46754524-spa213456 (ok so I just made that up, but it’s not far off what a person who uses a screen reader might hear.

This is the feature that Twitter has installed in it’s latest version. You can enable this by going to
Me > Settings> Accessibility > Compose Image Descriptions
*Adds the ability to describe images for the visually impaired*

Once this function is enabled, anyone who adds a picture on Twitter then has the option of adding a description. This can be a maximum of 420 characters. Again, this will be embedded within the photo, so people using screen readers can access it.

Here is a Tweet I sent out yesterday.


My description of the picture says: White figure on dark blue background using a white cane.
This is the test that will read to those using a screen reader.

I feel this is a fantastic way to encourage the public to be more aware of blind and visually impaired people using Twitter, especially if they have blind or visually impaired followers. It will make people like myself feel included, and trust me if people are anything like me, they will be jumping for joy at that inclusivity! 🙂

My thoughts:

Personally although I love the feature, people who do not pay attention to social media updates, or have friends with visual impairments may not know of this feature, and would therefore not have it switched on.
This in itself is a major drawback; although there are advocates such as myself for inclusivity and accessibility, it’s not widely known by the general public.

I believe if these sorts of updates were shown on the news and local papers, the public would be far more likely to pay attention, and try their best to support disabled people in whatever way they could.

So this is my polite request:
If you are adding images to your Tweets, please enable the *Compose Image Descriptions* and add a short line explaining the picture. It won’t interfere with your Tweet or character length, but would certainly make my day 🙂

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of Computer Science concerned with making computers behave like humans. Facebook servers have now been coded to describe uploaded images to the site.

Matt King,is a blind engineer who helped develop this feature.
“Our Artificial Intelligence has advanced to the point where it’s practical for us to try to get computers to describe pictures in a meaningful way.”

So far it is in it’s very early stages, but for people like myself it’s moving in the right direction. The system currently describes up to 80familiar objects and activities.
These include: transport, environment, food, appearance and sports.

Here is a recent image posted to FaceBook

The A.I. describes this image as




My Thoughts:

I am truly pleased that Facebook is trying it’s best to become inclusive of visual impairment on it’s site. It’s also fantastic that there is a blind man at the forefront pushing this along, no doubt he has put a lot of hard work and effort into getting the A.I.to work successfully.

I am going to be slightly pessimistic here though: for the most part, the A.I. almost sounds like it doesn’t know what it’s explaining… When VoiceOver is engaged, it says: “could contain” and “may contain”
Facebook has also exclaimed that this system can discriminate over 80 objects, yet the most i’ve managed to get from is vehicle, food or outdoors or “no automatic Alt text available”.
So not the best really for how much FaceBook is raving about this new feature.

HOWEVER

After lots of searching, and then eventual help from Gary I found this

It says: “Image may contain tree, sky, outdoor, nature.”
Houses, tree and green field

Without this sort of technology I would not have known what this picture included at all unless I asked Gary. I am grateful that this technology exists and that major Social Media platforms are trying their best to incorporate inclusion for all disabled people!

*Final Thoughts*

I am beyond pleased that I live in a day and age where I have access to all the technology I do, and use, on a daily basis to get around independently.
From talking scales, to GPS apps, to colour detectors.
I am extremely fortunate to be blind in 2016 and not 60 years ago, nevermind living in 1016! Technology has advanced so quickly in the last 10 years and if that has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what access and technology we have, and in another 10 years who knows where the future will take us? What technology for the blind will be like?

Thank you FaceBook and Twitter… And please don’t forget to give your photo’s a quick description! 🙂

What are your thoughts on these new features? How quickly do you think technology will advance in the next 10 years?




Much Love, Sassy x

Happy Diaries #4

Hello Diary 🙂

I’ve had another productive and therefore happy week, i’m thankful to say!

A poster has been created for the Charity/ Social group I have been involved in curating 🙂

I had yet another fun Spanish lesson! My Teacher really is fab, and helps me out so much sending me WhatsApp recordings of the key points of the lessons as she knows I cannot see to read print, and as my Spanish is not advanced enough, I can’t read or understand Spanish with VoiceOver just yet… There will come a time though 🙂

What i am most pleased and excited about is I had my first Guest Post on my blog (for those who don’t know, it’s another person writing content for your blog, or allowing you to use their previously written content to host on your blog).
I am extremely grateful to Michael for being not only my first Guest Poster: but the topic he covered was deep and extremely personal to the both of us. It’s called Suicide if you would like to read it… Please do!
Together we aim to end the stigma around talking about mental illness, and more specifically suicide, as it really is still a very taboo subject in today’s day and age, which is extremely saddening!

i’m so happy to be part of such a great Tribe! I’m so proud of all the Tribesters and what they have been achieving with their own blogs! I also have to say a huge thanks to them all; giving me advice, support and resources to seek out to enhance my blogging.

So fingers crossed to the next few months, who knows what’s going to be on the horizon! 🙂




Gratitude List:

Tribesters – you Ladies rock!
* Soap and Glory products; I was kindly given a gift set at Christmas by Gary. I’ve only just started using them properly today!
* Technology – the new Facebook and Twitter features including accessibility to VI people like myself! I shall be writing a post about it next week so don’t want to bore you now!
* Music – it’s great just putting your iPod on shuffle and seeing what golden oldies I have stashed away 🙂
*My Neighbours’ – they are extremely friendly people, and very caring an considerate towards me, often asking me if I need anything, not to hesitate in asking!
*Date Nights – Gary and I were meant to be going to the cinema this weekend, but that fell through, but we still decided to spend quality time together and ordered a takeaway… I know it’s not about spending money but the Chinese was so yummy!
So that’s a look at my week 🙂

Until next week!

Adios amigo,
Sassy x








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