Tag Archives: Support

Disability Q&A #18 George Rector

welcome back ladies and gents to another #DisabilityQ&A 🙂
I am happy to introduce you to a lovely gentleman called George, we met on Twitter and he is a beacon of positivity and warmth. not only is he a great advocate for people with disability, he is always there to lend a helping hand, or in the case of the Internet, lend a listening ear to anyone who may need it. I am lucky to call him my friend 🙂

Over to you George!

. Name: My name is George Rector. I am married to my best friend whose name is Sandy.

Where I live: I live near Orlando, Florida, USA (near Disney).

Occupation: I am a retired eye doctor. I had to quit practice due to my Multiple Sclerosis. I have been an MS Peer Counselor for about 13 years.

Hobbies: My passion is photography. My ability declined as my disability increased. I also like to read or listen to audiobooks.

Reason for disability: I have the rarest form of Multiple Sclerosis. I also have Spinal Cord Damage and am a T10 paraplegic.

Refer to myself as person with a disability? Yes, I refer to myself as a person with a disability. I don’t like the term handicapped, as I feel it is degrading. I despise the terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair.”

Do I tell others? My paraplegia is quite obvious from my wheelchair, the elephant in the room. I am open about my MS. As for specifics, I share those with people as I get to know them.

Mobility aids: I use a wheelchair full time and have for many years. My chair is a small, titanium chair that is light weight and fits well most places. I don’t object to some stares, as I think that is normal. I do make eye contact and willingly answer questions from children.

If I could extinguish my disability, would I? For me, personally, no I wouldn’t. While I am quite independent, the disability shifts tasks to my wife. I would like to make her life easier. Otherwise, definitely No. I like who I am and the people I have met.

How does it affect my mobility? I have 2 things going on. The obvious thing is my wheelchair. As a T10 paraplegic I have paralysis below the waist. The MS adds to the mobility issue with fatigue. I think fatigue is the most disabling part.

How has disability affected me? First of all, disability ended my professional career. It affects the house we can live in and where we live. My last winter in the North I got snowed in for weeks, and my health suffered.

Has disability made me who I am today? Yes, indeed, it has. Aside from my ever present wheelchair, It changed my profession to volunteer. I have met many wonderful people. The 2 words I hear most often in Peer Counseling are “alone” and “overwhelmed.” At times I feel like that, as well. I try every day to brighten someone’s day, to make them feel less alone and not so overwhelmed.

Question I get asked about my disability? I get stares because of my wheelchair, especially from children. I get asked what happened? Children get an answer; adults who are strangers get a farfetched story. I like to explain to children and will demonstrate my titanium chair to anyone who asks.

Positives of a disability: 2 things come to mind. First, it makes me think, figure things out, think about who I am and how I can help someone. Second, I have met some wonderful people. I met wonderful people before disability, but this is different. There is a bond, a sense of helping one another get through a rough time.

Negatives of disability: Again, 2 things. It places an added share of the load on my wife, and it dictates the type of house we can live in. The huge negative is the added expense. The costs of a disability are staggering

A difficulty for me being disabled: The worse thing is being down here when the rest of the people are up there. In a group, people stand and look at each other when talking. The sound literally goes over my head. It is isolating

What frustrates me? I deal with my wheelchair and the things I need because of my MS. The frustrations come with attitudes, terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined.” There is no duct tape binding me, and my mommy isn’t making me sit in a corner.

Tips for others: For dealing with paraplegic, I’d like to pass along the 2 basic rules. Call ahead to make sure where you’re going is accessible, and use the bathroom before you leave home. For dealing with MS, remember that there are many things. Vision is one of them. Don’t settle. Learn about large print, magnifiers, reading glasses with prism, proper tint for your needs.

Assistive technology? I have reading glasses that are more than just magnifiers. Tinted lenses to manage light. E-readers to control the print size, and audiobooks. Of course, there is my wheelchair. A custom, ultra light weight wheelchair is a prosthetic body.

Advice to someone newly diagnosed: Much of my work with MS has been talking with those who are newly diagnosed. Ask questions; read; don’t trust feel good stories (crip porn) on TV but get information from sources like National MS Society, United Spinal, NFB, etc.

Advice to the person with no disability: Remember that the person you encounter who has a disability is a person. Not a wheelchair; not a white cane; a real person who loves and can be loved; a person with interests and passions; a father or mother; a doctor; or even a blogger!

Special services I use: I volunteer with the National MS Society, and I get more back from volunteering than what I put in. The MS Foundation is good, also. I’d also recommend the Low Vision Section of the American Optometric Association.

Where can you find me? If after all this anyone wants to find me, I’d be honored.
My blog is Popping Wheelies. It is everything you’ve ever wondered about someone who lives life on wheels, and more. www.poppingwheelies.wordpress.com
Twitter: @grector71
Instagram:Grector71
Facebook: George Rector
LinkedIN: George Rector
Email: grector71@gmail.com or george.rector@nmss.org

Anything that I’d like to add: I’d like to thank Sassy for all she does for so many people. And I’d like to get in another plug for my blog, Popping Wheelies!

Thank you!!!!!

❤❤ Thank you so much George, I love that you see your disability as a positive, and the way it has impacted your life and meeting new people. I think like you, for the most part, we would love to change our disability for our loved ones, for all the times they have had to go the extra mile, or change plans because something wasn’t accessible when it should have been. Also, I really love your blog and I think everyone should check it out!❤️❤️ ❤❤

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

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




Disability Q&A #17 Elin

welcome back ladies and gentlemen to my #DisabilityQ&A Series. Today we have the lovely Elin sharing her story with you.
We met on Twitter and I love reading her blog, so much positivity and great Beauty posts.
Now over to you Elon! 🙂

Tell me about yourself:

My name is Elin, I’m 18 years old and I live in the UK. I am currently working as a Trainee Community development assistant for the RNIB/Action for blind people and I really enjoy my job, I love working within the sight loss field. I have 2 main hobbies, one being music, I play a number of instruments including the piano, harp and guitar and I also like to compose my own songs every once in a while. Another hobby of mine is blogging, it’s a huge passion of mine as I love writing but I also like to share my interest in beauty and fashion with the online community whilst also attempting to raise awareness of visual impairment along with other disabilities in the hope of changing people’s perceptions of disability.

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

What is the medical reason you have a disability?

I have two disabilities the main one being my visual impairment, I have a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and I am registered blind Severely sight impaired.
I also have a disability known as Chronic fatigue syndrom/M.E.

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?
I was diagnosed with RP when I was 6 years old and I was diagnosed with Chronic fatigue when I was 15.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired,
Sight Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?

Visually impaired or Severely sight impaired.

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?

I have a cane and I’m currently on the waiting list for a guide dog.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please
explain why.

I think I would.

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

My vision is blurry but I can see some things. I am able to read large print on good days, I can see movements and I can also see objects when they’re not to close or not to far away from me.

How has your disability effected you?
Socially

It has affected me in A number of ways socially, I’ve felt socially excluded at times and I often feel isolated. As I can’t see people’s faces I can’t go up to someone and start a conversation and this is something that has affected me a lot. My Chronic fatigue has also stopped me from going out at times because I’ve been to tired therefore I’ve missed out on social events which has again made me feel isolated.

Physically

Chronic fatigue syndrom results in severe tiredness and weakness and can also make me feel very light headed meaning I sometimes can’t complete certain tasks because I’ve been too physically drained to do them.

Mentally

My disabilities can make me feel very low but I have learnt to maintain a positive outlook on life. Although I do have my down days I find it’s easier to deal with them as i grow older.




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

Yes definitely! I would be a completely different person without my disability, it’s helped me in so many ways and helped me to be a positive person. I don’t judge people, or I try not to, because I know what it feels like to be judged and it’s definitely not a nice feeling.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your
disability? If so, please explain below.

“How much vision do you actually have?” – when I tell people that I am registered blind/severely sight impaired some assume that I have no vision at all so when I explain that I do have some remaining vision they are curious as to how much I actually have.

What are the positives of having a disability?

In my opinion there are a number of positives, meeting fellow disabled people is a great positive as you can relate to those people and become really good friends.
Another positive is that you can help and inspire others who have a disability and make them realise that their is a positive side to everything, I love helping and motivating other people.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

Being treated differently within society and not being able to see certain things that sighted people take for granted.

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

Not being able to go anywhere on my own without learning the routes, having to depend on other people if I want to go places. Not being able to do certain things if I’m too tired or weak to do them.

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 sometimes for example if they’ve been moved.

*outside your home

Not being able to go somewhere spontaneously on my own, I can’t just hop on a train whenever I want to because I would have to have someone with me. Also not being able to go to unfamiliar places on my own because I wouldn’t know my way around and I wouldn’t be able to see to find my way around.

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

Label your make-up products with braille labels or with a penfriend, it makes finding the products you want to use a whole lot easier.
Keeping your clothes either colour co-ordinated or together depending on what they are.
E.G. keeping t-shirts together, dresses together etc.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

I use a lot of assistive technology, I love Apple products because of the accessibility so I use VoiceOver and the zoom on my phone and laptop. I also use ZoomText at work which is a screen magnifier and reader.
I also use a number of accessible apps such as Tap Tap See, NantMobile Money reader, TextDetective, Overdrive and a number of others.

I also use a liquid level Indicator from time to time.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going
through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?

It’s hard, I know it is from personal experience but just know that you’re not alone. Living with a disability isn’t easy but you shouldn’t let it stop you from doing the things you love in life. If you feel like you’re struggling then it might be best to talk to someone, don’t struggle on your own, talking always helps. Don’t let your disability define you and don’t let it be a barrier,
I always say ‘no matter who you are, you can live a life without limits’.

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

Don’t judge people with disabilites, we’re not different to anyone else in this world.
Also, don’t assume that we disabled people need help because most of the time we might not need it and can feel a sense of discrimination if people assume that we can’t do things for ourselves. Even though we know you mean well and we appreciate any support it’s always best to ask before assuming that we need help.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your
family deal with your situation?

My family and I haven’t used a lot of services for help but we have gained support from the Amber Trust, VICTA and the RNIB which we are very thankful for.




Where can people find you out in the world?

Blog : https://myblurredworld13.wordpress.com

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

Twitter : @myblurredworld

Instagram : @myblurredworld

Email : myblurredworld@gmail.com

❤❤ Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed! I love and appreciate your honesty, sharing your thoughts that life can be tough, difficult and stressful but with the right support, determination and positive mindset you can achieve what you want to!
I also love that you have listed some of the technology that you use, and how to keep things organised! I’m sure lots of people will find this very useful! ❤❤

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

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




Is Your Tiredness A Sign Of Something Serious?

Being tired is perfectly normal in some situations. For example, if you’ve been burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline at work and stay up way past your bedtime, it is a given that you will wake up feeling very sleepy the next morning. And you might have to deal with that tiredness throughout the whole day! Similarly, if you are particularly busy or take part in some very strenuous exercise in the morning, then your energy levels will probably drop, and you will feel quite lethargic in the afternoon.

However, if you are constantly tired without any real reason for feeling that way, it could be a sign or symptom of a much more serious condition. Worried that your lethargy and sleepiness could mean you are ill? Read on to find out more!

Young lady lying in bed with white sheets and bedding

Picture Credit

Depression

Tiredness is a symptom of regular depression, and bipolar depression. But what is bipolar depression exactly? It is similar to regular depression and most patients feel the same feelings of sadness and uninterest in the world. However, there are some other symptoms that can help differentiate between these two depressions. For instance, those who are bipolar suffer from mood swings and sometimes even psychosis. If this sounds like you, it is important you see a medical professional very soon.




Anemia

If you feel run down and generally under the weather alongside your tiredness, then the most probable explanation is that you are suffering from anemia. This is when you haven’t been getting enough iron in your diet and end up with a deficiency. It is most common in women, especially those who have been through the menopause. It is easily treated with iron tablets.

Diabetes

There are various symptoms of diabetes, and constant tiredness is one of them. Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood or when there is not enough insulin being produced to control blood sugar levels. Other symptoms include a constant feeling of thirst and sudden weight loss.

Glandular Fever

Glandular fever is a viral infection and most commonly seen in young, teenage girls. The main symptoms include a sore throat, swollen glands, and high fever, but most patients also complain about tiredness as well. Even though most of the symptoms will go after four weeks, the tiredness can often affect the sufferer for at least a couple of months.

Coeliac Disease

Some people are unable to eat any form of gluten as they have coeliac disease. When coeliacs accidentally eat some gluten – found in foods such as bread, cereals, and pasta – then their body reacts badly, much like an allergic reaction. Tiredness is one of the most noticeable symptoms, alongside diarrhea and weight loss. There is also often a feeling of discomfort after eating any ingredients that contain traces of gluten.

As you can see, your body might be trying to tell you that your tiredness is a sign of an underlying condition. Think you are suffering from a serious condition? Then it’s a good idea to see your doctor as soon as possible!




Friendship, Relationship, Love

Gary and Sassy cuddling together on a bench. photo taken from behind with a lighthouse off to the left.

I never thought i’d end up with Gary, in fact, neither of us ever thought it would happen…

We met at University when he joined in 2012, both my Uni housemates met him on nights out during Freshers week, at separate times, and before long he joined our friendship group.

He and I clicked straight away, and it was nice to have another male within the group. Gary wasn’t like a lot of the other Freshers, he wasn’t the biggest party goer and was mature for his age, which I think is why our friendship blossomed and the group felt so relaxed around him.

We hung out, texted, stayed at each others houses and gave each other relationship/ dating advice, it was plutonic. Our friends all joked and said if we ever lived together, we would get together, but we laughed it off and ignored their comments; we didn’t see each other like that.

And this is where the story gets interesting…

It was my housemates’ last year at Uni (it would have been mine too, but that is for another story), our lease was due to run out and I was frantically searching for a place to live as a singular student that I could afford, with no luck whatsoever, Gary and 3 of my other Uni friends had all agreed I could stay at theirs until I found a place, it’ll only be about a week I said, so i’ll be out of your hair in no time!

Gary and Sassy both laughing. Sassy with her hands covering her face and Gary stood behind her grinning

3 months went by before I finally found somewhere ! Needless to say Gary and I grew closer, spending more time together: hanging out, eating together, and because of my sight loss he even helped me go shopping. Being blind and moving to a new area takes a lot of mobility and energy to get where you want to be. I was most grateful for his support, friendship and sense of humour at that time!

It literally came from nowhere, one night we were playing drinking games, and when the others had left the room he randomly just kissed me.
I was in total shock, but for the strangest reason it just felt right…

Gary and I moved in together as a couple after his student lease ran out, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.

He’s been my rock, confidant and my best friend for as long as i’ve known him, it’s just intensified since being together. He has been at my side through the toughest 5 years of my life, 3 of which has been as my partner.

We are a very happy family unit, spending the majority of our weekends rambling and chasing our gorgeous pup Ida!
Currently we are saving for our first house and plan to move where his family live, although, we have made a happy life four ourselves here.
I can’t wait to start the next chapter of our relationship and eventually be his Wife! ❤

sassy touching noes with Ida the guide dog

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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Sightloss stress and depression

Did you know that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness?
Were you aware that there is a positive correlation between sight loss and depression?
I’ve been diagnosed as clinically depressed since 2015
Through the support of my partner Gary and my GP, I sat and talked candidly about my erratic mood swings, lack of energy, motivation and my constant exhaustion.
We talked at length about my symptoms and the options available to me.
I opted to go on antidepressants as I have previously had counseling.

Antidepressants aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. However for me they have been invaluable; they have improved all the symptoms I mentioned above, and most importantly for me it’s helped me focus on the bigger picture.

My deterioration in vision since the age of 14 has been a source of vexation and frustration for me.
I hated relinquishing control, having to ask friends and family for help, needing things like worksheets adapted and continuous hospital appointments.

I just wanted to be normal.

But I wasn’t.

I walked into people and inanimate objects, I would knock things over, not be able to read anything without a magnifying glass and so many other things.

I’ve always been a perfectionist so asking for help or embarrassing myself publicly always sent me into a spiral of stress.

Over the years this stress manifested into rage and because of this I pushed people away, or, pushed them to their breaking point.

At the time I genuinely believed my outbursts were justified and acceptable. I believed I had to fight: fight for support, fight to be heard and fight to prove myself.

There was always a reason, an excuse, a situation. I couldn’t see that my behavior, thought processes and even actions were out of control.

It wasn’t until I was at University studying psychology and having a truly fantastic network of friends around me that i recognised all of my grievances and anger were due to me losing my sight.
I still had my moments but they were few and far between..I would get riled up by the little things; dropping something on the floor and spending 5 minutes looking for it, tripping up kerbs or spilling my drink. everywhere.

I learned to laugh it off. Reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things they really weren’t such a big deal.

Yet as my sight deteriorated further and these menial things seemed to happen more frequently I realised I needed some support.

And that’s when I rang the RNIB counseling support line, and registered myself on the waiting list.

I wanted to talk through my problems, how to acknowledge my frustrations but not let it control me.
I wanted to know how I would manage with my impending sight loss and what techniques I could use to make my life and mental state healthier.

The waiting list was so long that by the time my first counseling session happened, I had already lost my remaining vision.

My counselor was fantastic,although I had lost my sight, and the worst had happened to me, she listened, emmpathised and talked through my anxieties and frustrations with me.

The counseling was invaluable to me and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 Depression decided to rear it’s ugly head again.
It took me a long time to acknowledge that I was changing and becoming angry all over again. It was always the small things: walking into doorways, pouring the kettle and missing my cup, dirty dishes and not noticing I wasn’t holding my cup straight so hot tea spilled over me and my interiors.

All those little things added up to one big thing: dealing with my sight loss.
This is why I started antidepressants,I was chemically imbalanced, so why not try chemicals to restore my balance?

I still have my down days, and that’s ok. It’s about acknowledging my stress levels and doing something about it.

Here are some ways I cope with stress:

  • Try your best to realise when you are in the midst of an angry outburst or thoughts.
  • Allow emotions to be present. Cry, scream, shout, But not at anyone. Be present in acknowledging the feelings, but don’t let them take over.
  • Don’t use expletives or negativity when expressing these thoughts.
  • Breathe deeply, and think only of what your breathing is doing.
  • Read up on mindfulness, and try putting it into practice.
  • Listen to music. Blast out one of your happy songs,
  • Distract yourself by making yourself focus on something small.
  • Exercise, it releases endorphins.
  • Text/ call someone. you care about.
  • Find a task that needs a lot of focus and thoughtfulness. Maybe like writing a blog post? 🙂
  • Watch something funny.
  • Make some tea, and enjoy the 10 minutes to sit and drink it.
  • Think of something positive. What are you proud of?
  • What are your passions? Find them and emerge yourself within them.
  • Smile! Yes, forcing yourself to actively smile, actually lifts your mood.

Constant stress can lead to depression so make sure self care is at the top of your priority list.
Depression is an illness, a brutal thought process that truly can take over your body and mind. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Establish your stressors and find a way to combat them.Only you know your triggers and only you can save yourself from stress.

Think positive, stay positive! 🙂

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




Join My Campaign: Think of The Carers

Think of the carers.
We all know that carers are the unsung heroes of today society! They look after their loved ones with no thought of themselves, no rest bite, and very little recognition for all their hard work and effort.
Most people would say it’s all in a days work, especially if it is their child that they care for. But I believe they deserve recognition for what they do.
If you are a parent/carer of an unwell/ chronically ill/ sensory impaired or disabled person I would love to hear from you.

I would like to hear your side of the story; how the diagnosis made you feel, what it means for you as a person, and tasks you have to do on a daily/ weekly/ monthly basis just to support a person you love
This guest series is about hearing disability from the carers perspective, and I hope to raise awareness and understanding of all that you do.

If you would like to participate, I would love to have you! Please contact me on the following:
Email:
SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter:http://www.Twitter.com/@SassyPant6
FaceBook: https://m.facebook.com/Thinking-Out-Loud-Blog-525815087584791

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/




Happy Diaries #13

Hello Diary,

I’ve had a very fluctuating week and the weather being bipolar wasn’t great either!

My cane tip arrived at the end of last week which meant i could actually leave my home, see friends and volunteer 🙂

I wrote a guest post for the lovely Lolly earlier in the week and it was called Are Mobile Phones Materialistic Or A Necessity 🙂

Spending time with friends was particularly good as I felt that it was truly needed.

My Sister has come to stay for a few days so it will be good to spend some quality time together and go shopping!

Gary, Francis and I went out to a Thai restaurant with a few friends and it was rather enjoyable; Francis particularly enjoyed her dessert – pistachio ice-cream with frozen strawberries and strawberry sauce!

Gratitude List

Having Gary around when i’ve been at my most vulnerable.
Getting a massage from my friend, it always releases my Arthritic tension 🙂
Seeing and spending quality time with my sister
Eating yummy food and enjoying brilliant company
it’’s only 6 sleeps until BritMums or five if you are going to the welcome drinks like me!
I am extremely excited for the week ahead!

Until next time!