Tag Archives: Wheelchair

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/




Adventures At Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 2

Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 2

Day 2.

Breakfast is served between 08:30 and 10:00, we met everyone down at the food court at 08:45, apparently our group had been there from the second it had opened and was already on a second/ third helping!
There is a large selection for breakfast including: typical English breakfast, Yoghurt, porridge, cereal, fruit and toast with a selection of jams and marmalades.
I opted for cereal and a cooked breakfast, with lots of tea and fruit juice… Well why not? I was on my holibobs!

Gary and I both feeling rather tired decided to have a chilled morning and go back to the chalet, we may or may not have had a little snooze… Nope nothing at all to do with the late night and alcohol we had consumed the night before!

The Beach.

As the sun was so utterly beautiful we decided to head down to the beach, not even a 5 minute walk from our door to the beach front!
It was so much fun watching Ida attempting to run on pebbles, and not understanding why she kept skidding everywhere!
She was intrigued and nervous in her new environment: growling at the seaweed and jumping back in surprise…

In typical Ida fashion, 5 minutes later she was trying to eat it, and the many pebbles under her feet!!

A stony beach with the sea in the background

Gary managed to coax her down to the sand and shore; after running away the first few times as the waves came in, she then found her footing and bobbed her little paws in and out of the surf.

After a good few hours on the beach we were a little toasty so treated ourselves to a slushy before meandering back to the chalet.

Ida a Black labrador standing on a stony beach with the sea in the background

Dinner.

With dinner being so early at Butlin’s 16:30 to 18:00, our friends were already heading down for their evening meal.

So we decided to join them.
For every evening meal there is a choice of fish, carvery and whatever is on the menu for that particular evening.
I had sausage casserole, new potatoes, mash, veg and chicken pie. Oh and yummy chocolate cake!

According to our brochures the entertainment for the night was The Rat Pack, starting at 21:45, however after speaking with our friends who had been to see the Whitney Houston act, she started at 21:15.
So Gary and I decided to head back to the chalet to chill and get ready for the evening.

Entertainment.

We left our chalet at 21:00 and went in search for our friends.
The Rat Pack were already playing when we arrived, and we searched in earnest for our friends for a good 15 minutes before getting a hold of them and asking where they were.
Turns out they were back by the entrance … we had managed to walk right past them!

We were sat far enough away from the stage and speakers that if we talked loud enough we could hear each other, , perfect for a bunch of blindy’s like us!

The Rat Pack were truly fantastic. singing as a group as well as doing brilliant solo performances, even staying in character and speaking in a New York accent when addressing the audience.
I loved that they performed as if they were the real Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr tap dancing and singing the famous Bo Jangles.
The act finished with a audience participation of New York New York, a firm favorite on our table!

Although there was further entertainment for the last hour of the evening for adults only, none of our group fancied sticking around so we headed back to our chalets to continue our own little party!
Needless to say that it was another night full of laughter and alcohol!




Day 3.

Each day got hotter and hotter, we definitely struck it lucky with the weather.
We had been at Butlin’s over 24 hours and Ida was getting the swing of where she was going.
We got lots of comments from the public, including a lot of parents educating their children on not touching working dogs, and what Guide Dogs were for.
It made my heart melt every time we passed a young child or toddler exclaiming; doggy!

Breakfast.

For breakfast I decided to have a cooked breakfast, and even managed to fit in some boiled egg on toast!

On the way back Gary, Lenny and I discussed how disability friendly the staff and site were for people with disabilities.
The paths although not tarmac smooth were flat as much as they could be allowing those in wheelchairs, or those with impaired walking to get around with as much ease as a person with a disability can manage.
It was also great to see that there were so many families and carers enjoying themselves too.
Butlin’s really does cater for all ages, and fantastically supportive for people with disabilities! 🙂

Beach Fun.

After chilling in the chalet for a few hours we decided to head down to the beach once again, mostly because we wanted doughnuts, did I mention we were on holiday? 😉

A stony beach with the sea in the background

Along the beach front there is a selection of kiosks selling everything from many flavoured ice-creams to slushies to doughnuts.
There was also a dog drink station and a few pieces of gym beach workouts in the form of pull up bars, and tricep dips.
Gary and I both gave the tricep dips a go and failed miserably at life!
There is also a pub at the end of the beach front but we didn’t visit.

Deciding that it was doughnut time we headed back down walking past the shuttle train on the way, Gary and a little boy gave a thumbs up to one another as they passed us.

A long Blue beach train with a quite scary red lipped one tooth smile

The back end of a long blue beach train

Ida and I were sitting down in the seated area when a lady and her son came over to us and asked if they could say hello to Ida.
I made Ida sit and explained that when on harness a Guide Dog is working and I don’t usually let people say hello to her when she is working.
At the same time the lady echoed my little speech and said that she sponsors Guide Dogs.
She said that she and her son wanted to come say hello as they have never met a working guide Dog in all the time she has been sponsoring them.
She asked me how long we have been a partnership and has it made a difference? I started gushing about how much Ida has changed my life for the better and given me my confidence back, at this point the lady turned to her son and kindly said; that’s great to hear, and exactly why we donate.
She was a genuinely lovely lady and I thanked her for sponsoring Guide Dogs. 🙂

After consuming our delicious doughnuts and refreshing slushy we finally headed onto the beach itself, all the while Ida pulling like a mad thing and being very disobedient!
I had to give her a very stern telling off, and she settled down.
Clearly she loves the beach as much as I do!

Gary and I were keen to dip our feet in the sea, and encouraged Ida to join us… Gary threw a stone into the water and Ida chased it! She’s such a daft dog!

Ida running towards the sea on a stony beach

It was so relaxing standing in the surf and having the surf crash at our feet, what made the moment even more special was Ida running in and out of the water, splashing and kicking up sand as she ran along the waters edge.

Evening.

On our way to dinner there were a lot more “doggy” comments, and this time it was followed up by “yes, that’s a very special doggy. It’s a blind dog!”
Gary and I couldn’t help but laugh, I don’t think Ida would be much use to me if she was blind also!

Dinner.

You can tell it’s buffet style because when Gary brought my plate to me I had a selection of different foods: hunters chicken, chicken wrapped in cheese, meatballs with pasta, veg and new potatoes… Seriously what is up with this boy and getting me new potatoes everyday? I don’t even really like them that much!

Entertainment.

The evening entertainment on the centre stage was soul night; this was the night I was most looking forward to.
I am a huge fan of soul and mouton, that if they weren’t mostly about break ups and heartbreak I would have to have them play at my wedding!

The guy’s’ voice was brilliant, and no wonder; he was the voice coach for the X Factor, and now The Voice.After a bit of name dropping he carried on with the set.
One of the women vocalists did a beautiful rendition of a Jackson 5 song.It was truly amazing.
Apart from sitting in silence and absorbing that particular song, our entire table were dancing in our seats and singing away merrily to every song they performed.
For entertainment purposes I just wished their set was longer than 45 minutes!

You could definitely tell that the partying and late nights were catching up on us because we all headed back to our respective chalets and crashed out for the evening.
It was nice to have a night in cuddled up on the sofa watching TV with Gary.

You can find part 3 here.




Adventures at Butlin’s Bognor Regis

Butlin’s

Billy Butlin’s was an entrepreneur who created the British iconic holiday parks for family’s to have an affordable UK break, now commonly known as a staycation .
Butlin’s Skegness opened on the 11th April 1936 and was officially opened by Amy Johnson; the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
Billy’s dream was to create a place for family’s to eat, sleep and be entertained which was also situated close to a beach.
There are now 3 sites: Skegness, Bognor Regis and Minehead, welcoming millions of families each year.
Some of the most widely known comedians, actors, singers, dancers and double acts have found fame because of Butlin’s.
Laurel and Hardy, The Drifters, The Foundations,Dez o’Connor, Cliff Richard and Ringo Star to name but a few!

A group of us had booked our 4 night stay months in advance, and having never been to Butlin’s before I was really keen to go.

A few days before we left I went on the website to see what we could do when we were there.
Clearly geared towards family I was blown over by the sheer amount of activities there were to do, which were all included as part of your holiday costs!
I was also happy with the accessibility of the website. The mobile version is not very compatible with screen readers, but after switching to desktop mode, I had no further issues. I flicked through page after page with ease and eager anticipation for the Butlin’s holiday ahead!

Our destination was Bognor Regis in West Sussex, situated between Brighton and Portsmouth. This was ideal for us as it was only a 2 and 1/2 hour drive.

Arrival.

The first thing Gary noticed was the giant millennium dome, meaning everything was under cover. Perfect for the unpredictable British weather!
The majority of our friends were there already and had checked in, so we headed to the Oyster Bay reception to ask for directions.
The staff were friendly and extremely helpful, and ended up giving us verbal directions to our chalet as they had run out of maps.

Our Chalet.

Being visually impaired and having a Guide Dog, we were given a ground floor chalet which conveniently had a large grass area, and bins right outside our door.
The chalet itself had a living room area complete with two sofas, a television and coffee table.
A dinning table and chairs were immediately on our right as we entered.

4 person table, two leather two seater sofas and a small tv

The kitchen was fitted with a fridge freezer, cooker, microwave and kettle.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that tea, coffee and sugar had been provided along with cutlery and crockery; perfect for a group who wanted to self cater.

Kitchen with microwave, kettle, toaster and cooker

Our bedroom was a decent size; homing a double bed, 2 bedside tables, a set of drawers, wardrobe and a desk and chair with a mirror above it.
The only criticism i would have would be for the bathroom, the toilet cistern took about 10 minutes to fill up, the shower cubicle was quite small, and didn’t drain quick enough so your feet would be in a bath of water, and having no window meant that the bathroom would be completely steamed up. On day 3 Gary found an extractor fan but it didn’t really live up to it’s name.
Possibly the most annoying of all was that there was no bathmat, meaning that the floor became soaked as you exited the shower or you had to use your own towel to mop up the mess.

A double Bed with white bed sheets and green feature wall

Wardrobe and window with the bed at the bottom

Dressing table and the door

Food.

As we wanted our holiday to be as easy-going as possible we paid for breakfast and dinner buffet style as part of our package.

After dropping our bags off we headed down to dinner to meet up with the rest of the party.
Not before going to the wrong restaurant and getting turned away because we hadn’t paid for that meal package!

We opted for the cheap and cheerful option and we dinned in the Coral Beach restaurant for the entirety of our stay.

As it is a buffet style food court you can go up as many times as you wanted.
I was very happy to find out that hot and cold drinks were part of the package and unlimited, the only drinks you would have to pay for would be fizzy drinks or alcohol.
Because the food court was so busy Gary offered to go up and get me an assortment of foods : chicken, new potatoes, veg, gammon and minted beef, not forgetting the lovely slice of cake for pudding.

Entertainment.

There are 2 main stages at Bognor Regis Butlin’s:Reds and Center Stage.
On our first evening the entertainment on the center stage would be Whitney Houston in concert, Ive always loved Whitney Houston so I was keen to go along. According to our brochure we got with our check n details it said that the performer would not be on stage until 21:45 meaning we had plenty of time to have a wander around.

We went into the local shop which was full of everything you could need for a self catered holiday.
However having the luxury of Gary driving we decided to head off to the local supermarket, less than a mile away.
We stocked up on the essentials; alcohol and coconut scented toilet roll!

Arriving back on to the parks premises Gary noticed that there was a closer entrance to our chalet, so we politely asked if he could drop myself, Ida, Lenny and Dillon off and then park the car back in the Oyster Bay car park.
The man on the gate was very accommodating, letting us through and saying he would give the heads up to his colleague on the other gate.

2 blind people, 2 Guide Dogs, a crate of beer, box of wine and a carrier bag full of other things made the much shorter walk a whole lot easier… See having a disability has it’s perks! 😉




By the time we got back to the chalet it was time to head off for the evening entertainment.
By this point neither Gary nor Lenny fancied it, so we headed next door to Lenny’s chalet for a quiet night.
Phyllis, Lenny’s chalet mate had returned from the entertainment saying she wasn’t in the mood.
The 4 of us stayed in chatting, drinking and laughing until 2Am in the morning!

You can find part 2 here.

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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My BML Experience Part 2

My BML Experience Part 2.

Saturday 25th June was the day of the BritMum’s conference a jam packed day full of talks, networking and seminars.

I set off nice and early to get into London for 08:20 plenty of time to get to the Brewery and meet the Tribesters before the talks began,

Or so I thought…

The guy who came to assist us stood there chatting for a good 5 minutes about getting the bus, because he used to live in Shoreditch… yet had never heard of the Brewery. I told him we weren’t interested in the bus he eventually took us down to the Circle Line; which just happened to be closed! Leaving us with no other choice but to get the bus…

When we eventually got off the bus, Google Maps decided to take us around in a bloody square before heading in the right direction.

Finally we reached the Brewery and registered. Ellie and I grabbed a drink and stood at the very back having a cuppa before attempting to find the Tribe.

They waved at us, but as a talk was going on I didn’t want to head into the crowd to get to them, so we waited until the lady had finished.

We sat down and the entire hall played pass the parcel; I won some chocolate buttons yay!

And this is when the chaos descended; it was all stations go, and apart from Plan The Happy, Ellie and I hadn’t spoken to or been properly introduced to the Tribe.

The Hub was brimming with people and walking into the space was like hitting a wall of noise; very disorientating to me. Very quickly after we entered the hub Nadia came over and said hello, and reintroduced herself, saying just to shout if we needed any assistance.
As we walked around Ellie told me the Brands and what she could see. – This is where I have to point out that Ellie too is Visually Impaired, she hadn’t been to the building before and hadn’t ever been to a conference either, so it was a learning curve and a shock to the system for both of us.

Ellie and I wondered around the stalls, and found other conference rooms: Vlogging and The Big Little Tent Festival, both rooms were busy but the staff were extremely friendly and explaining what their seminars would be about/ what they had to offer.

They certainly were interesting; having interactive games and equipment.

Our first seminar was SEO rub by Judith Lewis who has been using and lecturing about SEO over the past 20 years! She was very informative and quirky; unfortunately because there was so many questions she ran out of time but I will be reading the Powerpoint she created for the lecture.

A few things I learned:

The difference between follow and no follow links
* Too many bloggers are not using the Alt Text description properly, and essentially breaking the law (so I will be rewriting a blog post explaining this)
* SEO is great but a human perspective is always better
The next seminar we headed to was; how to moneitise your blog.
3 experts were there including Vicky from Honest Mum.
Personally I found the talk overwhelming, I thought we were going to learn the basics but Vicky gave too many stats instead of how to do things, in my opinion anyway.

A few things I learned:

On average gaining 10,000 page views per month is when brands/ sponsorships start to approach you.
* There is not set rule on how often you should blog. Write what you like, when you like.
* Be unique and authentic
* If you have worked with brands before, don’t be afraid to contact them to see if they have any other opportunities.
So although this isn’t the path i’m on with my blog, it was definitely interesting 🙂

We adjourned in the hub for lunch and managed to meet and catch up with: Dr Mummykins, Cuddle Fairy and Just Saying Mum. Unfortunately it was quite brief chatting to Dr Mummykins and Cuddle Fairy, but it was great to finally meet Just Saying Mum and have a chit chat; she is as gorgeous in person as she is in real life! Thank you also for seeking us out, and giving us a hand when we looked like lost souls!

After lunch we headed to the last session; How to work smart with PR, run by Alexandra Delf and Susan L. Schwartz.
This talk was extremely informative and very interesting;it was good to get the perspective of a successful blogger (Susan) as well as what to do and not do from the PR perspective (Alexandra).

A few things I learned:

Make each email personal and not blanket = it was interesting to hear the PR had never received a personalised email before!- Surely that’s just polite email etiquette? Apparently not!
* Don’ be afraid to contact PR’s but build a relationship first! Don’t just jump in asking for what you want! – Again, this baffles me as to why people think this is OK and not just rude?
* Your blog is your brand, if you want to make it so every little detail should support it as so.
*Gmail/ Hotmail accounts are seen as unprofessional. Oops!

after the seminar was over, Ellie and I went up to to ask a few questions. Who knows I may have some future collaborations on the cards! 🙂

Ellie and i met Inside Martin’s Thoughts; and Carla which I was really happy about! It was a chance meeting 🙂 so that made it all the better! I think between the 4 of us; we managed to put the world to rights a little bit! 😉
The keynote speeches were a mix of humour, sadness and thoughtfulness. There was definitely an eclectic bunch of bloggers 🙂
The party was held after the keynote speeches and Ellie and I found a few Tribal members; BeTA Mummy, Occupation:(m)other and Phil.

Last but not least was the BiB Awards 🙂 The Tribe managed to grab a few tables together 🙂 We screamed like banshee’s when Island Living 365 won the award for Fresh Voice!
I think we raised the roof! 😉
And if you are wondering; no I did not win the Inspire award, but I never expected to! I lost to the deserving: The Joy Chaser 🙂 it’s just a shame I didn’t get to meet you!

In my eyes we are all winners, being alongside such amazing writers who brings light into the darkness and educating others with their stories, and getting as far as we did; is just spectacular!
Big love to Cuddle Fairy, Steph’s 2 Girls and Downside Up! If you haven’t already checked out their blogs, please do!

Highs:

Meeting some of my favourite bloggers in person over the course of the weekend
* learning new techniques/ ideas
* Networking with PR’s
* The cake/ alcohol
* The company of my best friend all day 🙂
Lows:

Turning up late
Constantly losing the Tribe
* Half of them not introducing themselves to Ellie or I
* The wall of noise
* Missed opportunity to talk to bloggers I would have liked to.
Was it accessible to disabled people?
Yes if your issue is mobility based as there was plenty of seats and lifts.
Not if you have sensory impairments such as sight or hearing loss.

Would I go again?
At this present moment in time no.
I found 2 out of the 3 seminars worthwhile, and the staff / PR’s extremely friendly. But I went there to socialise; meet my Tribe and hopefully catch up with bloggers. Too many times it was just Ellie and I on our own surrounded by hundreds of people, with no one saying hello unless they already knew you by face/blog. I felt lonely and isolated from the Tribe and the people I hoped to spend time with

Thank you for the experience Brit Mums and for making me a finalist :))

If you went to BML16, i’d love to hear your experiences 🙂




You’re Not Disabled, But Your Parking Clearly is!

Dear vehicle drivers in Britain,

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what a Disabled Badge is and what it represents.
In Britain a Disabled Badge is a Blue badge with an outline of a person sitting in a wheelchair; this is white in colour.
Who is entitled to it?
People who have severe walking abilities, any person who uses a wheelchair, people who need the space to remove medical equipments – such as an oxygen tank, and those with sensory impairments.
I think others may be entitled to it, but it’s an assessment of entitlement application.
What it represents.
So now that you know who is entitled to use it, I guess you’ll want to know why?
That Mr Driver is simple: the person who owns a Blue Badge is entitled to use disabled bays in all carparks, (amongst other places which I won’t get into now).You know that wider space near the front of a shopping centre or Supermarket? The ones with the big white outline of the disabled person in a wheelchair? it relates to them parking in that specific space.
So why am I telling you this? Surely it’s obvious right?
The disabled space is there for a disabled person. just like a Parent and Child space, it is for Parent’s with young Children.
It’s such a simple thing to comprehend isn’t it?
You would think so anyway…
Unfortunately not.
Just this past week I have encountered 2 very strange scenarios:
A Taxi driver parked in 2 disabled bays.
Did he have a Blue Badge you may ask
The answer is no.
He was waiting to pick up a passenger from the Supermarket. He made it nice and convenient for the person and their shopping to pack their things into the vehicle.
 Very kind of him some may say.
I see it as inconsiderate, disrespectful and clearly not Law abiding.
He may have been picking up a disabled passenger you may think.
Yes that could be the case, but this is a regular occurrence at this particular supermarket, so my opinion is that surely every person that calls a taxi firm from this supermarket cannot all be disabled? I visit the supermarket regularly but at different times of the day and week, there really isn’t that many disabled people where I live, and I know quite a few of them haha. I would also like to point out, that even if this taxi driver did happen to be picking up a disabled passenger, he still was not parking in a singular disabled bay, he was parked over 2! Secondly, you are not allowed to park in a disabled bay unless you have a blue badge on show, that still goes for if he was picking up a disabled passenger, he is still obstructing two spaces that two separate disabled people might need to use As well as not following the Laws of the road. .
Airgo the Taxi driver was making his life easier, rather than thinking of the reasons why it’s a disabled space in the first place, and how he may be hindering on a disable persons’right to parking there.
The second situation, again happened in a Supermarket Car park.
A man was parked diagonally across 2 disabled bays. sitting in the car with the headlights on, and no Blue Badge displayed.
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t know about you but that seemed like pretty disabled parking to me.
My Partner and I decided to approach the vehicle and speak to the man.
*knock on the passenger window*
Car door opens slightly.
Gary: “Excuse me mate you’re not meant to park here
*Confused look and slight nod from the driver as he shuts his door*
Me: “What did he say?”
Gary: “Nothing, I’m not sure he understood me,he gave a little nod and shut the door.”
Me: “So is he moving his car?”
Gary: “Umm it seems not… I don’t think he knows English very well.””
Me: “Let’s knock back on the door and tell him to move then.”Attempting to move closer to the car.
Gary:No, just leave it.  I don’t think he understood what I was saying.” *Moving me swiftly away from the car*
Me: “”I don’t care whether or not he understands English or not. He’s parked diagonally across 2 disabled bays without a blue badge. It’s bloody ridiculous, the disabled wheelchair sign is a worldwide thing i’m sure, if you can’t speak the language you can atlas see and understand the picture.”
*I decide to take matters into my own hands and speak with customer service. What should have taken about a minute took us about 6-7. This was because when we finally got to the front of the queue, the cashier phoned to get the manager to come deal with our complaint, who then informed us She would ask security to go and investigate and get them to move.
I don’t know whether or not the security guard got to the vehicle in time, or if during our wait the driver went home. Needless to say, I believe in rectifying a situation.
So lovely drivers of Britain, if you are parked in a disabled bay without the displaying a blue badge, I will approach your car and ask you to move, and if you don’t I will put a complaint into the Supermarket.
You need to be named and shamed for your disgraceful behaviour. Maybe if you knew someone personally who needed that space, you’d understand just how important they are to the badge holder.
You have no badge, therefore you do not get to park in the disabled bays.
I am also investing in buying stickers to slap to the windshield of cars, hopefully with the tagline: You’re not disabled, but your parking clearly is.
Who knows, it might be me you next encounter…
You have been warned 🙂

Challenges of Being Disabled: The Social Side.

Social Challenges.

As a wheelchair user:

The social challenges I’ve faced have been constant.People continually stared when I was in public. Strangely it was adults that were the worst. Children stopped and stared and asked inquisitive questions, which I could handle, and if I was in talking distance I explained that I couldn’t walk very far, and it was very painful to do so. Adults on the other hand stared and pointed me out to their friends. After time my Mother used to get angry at these people and shout

“Take a picture it’ll last longer!”

At that point the adults became embarrassed and looked away.

  • People frequently would walk in front of the wheelchair and either stop dead to stare or jump out of the way dramatically just in time. Comical for the first few times but after years of it, it gets very annoying.

People insisted on talking to my Mother or anyone else who happened to be pushing me at the time. It is a strange misconception that people who happen to use a wheelchair, have other disabilities or learning impairments.
When this happened my Mother would say:

“She does have a tongue in her head, and knows how to use it.”Adults would talk to me as if I were 2/3 years old, or bend down to talk to me so they could be eye level. I found this extremely patronising and said on several occasions:

“I am a teenager, not a baby!”

“I can see your face from where you were standing.”




 

As a long cane user:

 

  • Ignorance:

Over the last 2 years that I have been using a cane I have had very similar experiences with people stopping and staring, jumping out of the way at the last minute, and speaking to the person I might be with rather than addressing me directly. As I am much older and more mature I tend to ignore these incidents, and realise that I shouldn’t allow myself to get aggravated with these people as I can’t see them and i’m not likely to notice them ever again!
Children have asked their parents about my “white stick” and again if I am in talking distance, I explain that I cannot see things clearly, and the cane is there to let people know I cannot see.

  • New people:

My main social challenges are interacting with new people; whether that’s talking to staff in a shop or restaurant I feel awkward because 9/10 times I can feel the uneasiness of the other person interacting with me.I always look at the persons face but if I am staring at their mouth or their forehead when i’m talking it’s obvious to them I can’t actually see them standing in front of me and i believe it makes them feel awkward too.
Making new friends has also been a challenge for the same reasons mentioned above, but the way I see it *ahem pardon the pun* 😉 they aren’t worth my time if they can’t get past my visual impairment.
Buildings:

Finding new places/ buildings is a stressor to me, I have to plan a route and use a a SatNav application to reach my destination, and i’ve heard people laugh if I walk into objects/ walls.

  • Helpful people:

If people have seen me waiting to cross a road they have taken my arm without me asking, people have also picked up the end of my cane, or taken the cane completely off me to grab my hand to cross me over. With these incidents specifically I hadn’t necessarily noticed there was a person there as I was too busy concentrating on listening to the traffic and judging when it was safest to cross. I find it pretty bewildering and at some points stressful as they plonk me on the other side and walk off.Or most importantly they have taken the thing I need the most to aid me crossing the road safely, and sometimes it’s stunned and shocked me into silence.
My last social challenge was a sort of scary one; I was walking home from the local supermarket bags in hand, when I was approached by a guy who said hello, we chatted for a minute or two then I made my excuses to leave. The guy didn’t get the hint, and asked me for my number, saying how attractive I was. I explained I was flattered but I don’t give my number out to strangers. He was persistent saying he only wanted my number to be friends and chat, but I said I really must leave I’m meeting friends soon. I walked away. As I reached the top of the hill he came rushing up to me asking if I was meeting my friends in town, and if i needed a hand to get there. I politely declined but he continued to follow me, returning to our previous conversation about asking for my number and going on a date. At this point I was getting quite close to home and had to really insist I wasn’t interested, and I needed to go now. Eventually he stopped walking with me, to which I couldn’t be more happy about. I was close to my house, and knew I was safe, but I needed him to back off as I didn’t want to show him where I lived.

My heart was pounding as I got home, I knew deep down he wasn’t going to hurt me, he was just a guy trying his luck, but as a petite female who can’t see past her nose, I was genuinely worried he wouldn’t leave and therefore find out where I lived and potentially stalk me. Thank the gods that never happened!
I know some of you who are reading this might perceive my thoughts and reactions as rude and inappropriate, but if you could put yourself in my shoes for a day, you’d understand. I strive to be pleasant and polite when I am out and about, but it becomes frustrating and boring hearing, and seeing, the same things from the same people everyday. I think more needs to be done to educate children and adults on how to approach and speak to people with disabilities. The more we educate, the more we learn, and the more we can end the awkward surrounding disability!

I will also say that these are just my bad experiences of dealing with people interacting with me as a disabled person. I would like to input that from being in a wheelchair as a child and teenager, to becoming blind as an adult, my perceptions and attitudes towards people have changed, and I am far more reserved, and polite when interacting with new people. I attempt to be pleasant when out in public, and educate those around me, especially when children or adults have asked questions. I won’t stand for people patronising me or being ignorant, but the ways in which I will express it is in a mature manner, and diplomatically show them the errors of their ways. I’m not sure if it’s because I have a changed persona from my childhood, or I give people the benefit of the doubt now, but i’m very lucky that I have had far more happy, interesting and pleasant interactions and conversations with the public since I went blind.
If you’re worried about interacting with people with disabilities, check out SCOPE’s End The Awkward campaign 🙂
Thanks for reading, I know my posts can be pretty hefty. Feel free to comment below if you have any comments or questions on this weeks blog 🙂

Sassy x




Challenges of Being Disabled: The Emotional Side.

Emotional Challenges.

As a wheelchair user In a lot of ways my emotional challenges were probably typical of anyone with a disability who needed to use a wheelchair to continue with daily life. Although I was not completely immobile, the pain I suffered in my childhood was beyond anything I can put into words, so having a wheelchair was a large relief not just to my body but my mind too. Don’t get me wrong I definitely had my moments: stress, frustration and anger were not only my weakness,I became emotionally drained, but it was also my empowerment. I needed that frustration and anger to keep me going, screaming at my own body to move when I was seized up, and the agony that ensued for moving it.
I really had to train myself to accept help from family and friends, and try not to be so fiercely independent. Trying to do everything on my own was deep seated within me, I didn’t want to look weak, or behave differently from my classmates, so I tried my hardest to keep up and stay involved. Unfortunately children can be quite cruel, and on a number of occasions when my friends got annoyed that I walked so slow, and couldn’t run around, they would make fun of me, and more than once actually ran away from me. My temper and sadness got the better of me, I would shout after them horrible names for leaving me, but then break down and cry whilst hobbling home, knowing that I was different and they didn’t like me being disabled.

The emotional stages of fear, grief and denial I went through was extremely hard as a child, I once was a “normal” child, and then I wasn’t. I would rely on friends to push me around in my wheelchair especially when my arms and wrists got tired, but if they weren’t interested in helping because the novelty had worn off, I had to find a way to get home, or for the next week or so I wasn’t invited out to hang out, and because I depended on them for support, if I wasn’t invited, I had no option but to stay indoors, and find something else to do those evenings.

Due to the physical challenges it unfortunately impacted heavily on my emotional state, it was draining not just on me as a person, but everyone around me, and for those years of my childhood, they were harder to cope with than I would have ever imagined.




As a long cane user: My emotional state has definitely varied over the years since my sight loss began. In some ways it was similar to my emotional state when I was in a wheelchair but it dipped and progressed in lots of different ways. As I started to lose my sight I feared a lot for my future and became frequently angry over the lack o control, my late teenage years were particularly distressing because although I had accepted I couldn’t see as well as I used to, I was in denial that it could get worse, and exclaimed several times over the years I would take my own life if I ever lost my sight completely.

Because my sight deteriorated in stages it was in some ways easier to get a handle on it and adjust to my lack of vision, but because I knew exactly what I was losing I became far more angry and upset, and it all boiled down to the loss of control, and asking others for more and more help.

When I suddenly lost my remaining vision, it was a real blow. I went into the hospital knowing I would regain more sight, and waking up from my operation with nothing. The reason I say knowing was pure denial; my Surgeon, who was also my Professor, had done this more than once over the years, so even though I knew the risks I refused to believe there would be a bad outcome. After 24 hours I had light perception and a tiny pin prick of my old vision, that was what made me carry on with life, and realise things could be worse. I’ve still had my moments of ultimate distress, fear for my future, and grieve for what i’ve lost. But through the help of family, friends and a counsellor I now take each day as it comes, and see everyday as a new challenge to conquer! 🙂 🙂 🙂




Challenges of Being Disabled: The Physical side.

This post is going to be a bit more doom and gloom this week i’m afraid. It focuses on the challenges i’ve faced as a disabled person, but I am going to explain it from 2 different stand points. Unfortunately over the years I have had some negative experiences, but as they say: you gotta take the good with the bad!I am going to break it down into 3 main categories and have 2 sub sections looking at the viewpoints from a wheelchair user and a long cane user.




Physical Challenges.

As a wheelchair user:

 

  • Steps / flights of stairs. these have been the bane of my existence since my arthritis hit full throttle. I used a wheelchair to get around easily but that was always hindered by steps. Getting into places such as restaurants, or shopping stores, If I was by myself and there were no ramps or lifts available I had to get out of my wheelchair and get it up the step. If it was a flight of stairs I had to make an informed decision on whether firstly, I could manage the stairs, and secondly, if it was safe to leave my wheelchair unattended. The reason I got so upset wasn’t just because it was an inconvenience for me, but I thought of all the people who were paralysed or unable to get out of their wheelchair for other reasons. I’m glad the law has changed but I always made sure to make a point of complaining either directly or indirectly to the staff members of the establishments.

Pavements:

  • Another source of vexation for me! I don’t think people are fully aware of just how high pavements actually are, unless I was being pushed by someone who was happy to bump me off the kerb and then recline me back again so I could get back up the other kerb, it was like strapping yourself into Oblivion at Alton Towers, and just hanging there, waiting to plunge face forward. If the persons’ body weight was not counterbalancing my tipping point, I would fall forward and have the wheelchair on top of me. Trust me on this, don’t try doing it yourself, it hurts! I learnt that the hard way! And what if someone wasn’t pushing me? I would have to wheel myself halfway down the street, passing the path I needed to be on, just to find a sloping pavement. Imagine how annoying and not-to-mention how tiring it is when that’s just a small part of your journey!

Buses:

  • Before buses in the UK had hydraulic suspension fitted getting a wheelchair on and off them was a total nightmare, combine that with the previous challenges I mentioned earlier, and you’ll understand why I was extremely displeased to get on one of the older buses.
  • One time I can’t go without mentioning, again,buses. My partner and I were on a packed bus home at rush hour, full of people of all ages:specifically referring to 3 women with pushchairs sitting at the front with their toddlers. As you can imagine, traffic was practically at a stand still, and the journey was extremely long. If it wasn’t bad enough that it was hectic, one toddler insisted on screaming the bus down until his Mother lifted him out of his pushchair. When we eventually got to the next stop there was a gentleman in a wheelchair waiting patiently to get on… The bus driver opened the doors and shook his head at the man in the wheelchair; because there were women on board with their toddlers in pushchairs!! The driver did not ONCE ask any of the women to fold up their pushchairs and hold their child on their lap, which is a policy of UK bus companies! I’m still so enraged to this day thinking about the injustice that the poor gentleman suffered! The woman already had her toddler on her lap, yet the driver didn’t even acknowledge this and do his duty as a bus driver! I even tweeted the bus company just after the event and got no response! It baffles me why some people can be so completely ignorant!!




As a long cane user:

  •  Being a long cane user is quite physically demanding, and unless it’s a route I know like the back of my hand, I have to be fully vigilant at all times when travelling around. If wheelie bins have been left out, or cars are parked on the pavement, my cane gets caught in the smallest of gaps and cause me to jar my wrist or stab myself in the stomach. Not a pleasant experience!
    Pavements: walking through the town centre or generally around the area I live in, i’m almost guarantied i’ll trip, or my cane will get snagged on the raised slabs and cause me to twist my wrist or have my cane fly behind me, as I try to continue and I haven’t noticed it’s stuck! It’s sort of painful, but in truth, more embarrassing than anything else…

People:

  • On several occasions people have not paid any attention and caught me with their body part, pushchair, or handbag, and as strange as it sounds, it’s physically demanding to retain your balance and not steer off track when this happens. I think it might have more to do with me being more unsteady on my feet due to my arthritis, but using a cane in public really takes it toll physically on a visually impaired person.