Tag Archives: Wheelchair

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:
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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.