Two Years of Life of a Blind Girl

Hello lovelies!

On this exact day two years ago, I published my first blog post and what an incredible two years it’s been. So much has happened, both as part of my blogging journey and in my personal life. I thought I’d do a post reflecting on my favourite memories of blogging over the last two years and some of my favourite posts that I have published so far.

When I started blogging, I honestly didn’t think that anyone would read my posts and people would actually visit my little corner of the internet. When I published my first post two years ago, I didn’t really know what I was doing but since then I’ve grown as a person both online and offline, found my writing style and developed new skills that I never thought blogging would give me.

 

I’d firstly like to thank all of you for your support, you truly are incredible and the fact that you choose to read my posts means the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my posts or send me an email or a message on social media, knowing that you enjoy my blog and that some of you find it educational and inspirational is amazing. I can’t thank you enough for all of your support.

 

My favourite memories of blogging so far

I didn’t really achieve that much as a blogger in 2015, I was getting to grips with it all but one of my favourite memories of when I first started blogging was being nominated for the Blind Girl Beauty Tag, I felt like I was slowly gaining readers and other bloggers were wanting to read my content too.

In 2015, I blogged about my experience with special assistance when flying. For me, that was something that I’d never done before and I wanted to share my experiences with others. You can read that post here.

Fast forward to 2016 and this is where I started to publish posts a lot more and really found my passion for blogging.

I was featured in RNIB Connect Magazine which blew my mind a little bit.

I was also asked to write guest posts for Action for Blind People, RLSB and Through Scarlet’s Eyes to name a few. To be asked to write posts for such brilliant organisations was a huge honour.

I was asked to take part in the RNIB’s #HowISeeCampaign. Being asked to do something like that really meant a lot to me, I felt like my hard work was paying off. You can read my #HowIsee entry here.

I took part in my first interview for The Aidis Trust which was a great experience.

Whilst we’re on the topic of guest blog posts and interviews, I recently created a portfolio which contains all of my guest posts, interviews and reviews, you can find that here. I will keep updating it with new content so make sure you keep checking back!

I met my best friend. Without blogging, we wouldn’t know each other. We created our seeing through sight loss series and it’s something fun to do to help raise awareness of visual impairment/disability, educate others, and share our experiences.

I also made other close friends through blogging, such as Sassy. I also took part in Sassy’s disability Q&A series which was really fun to do, you can read my interview here.

One of my favourite blogging memories has to be  reaching 10,000 views on my blog. This was a massive achievement for me. I know it’s not a huge number of views but as I’ve said previously, I didn’t think my blog would go far at all.

Those are just a few of my favourite blogging memories over the last two years!

 

My favourite blog posts so far

I haven’t been happy with every post that I’ve published but some of them I’ve really enjoyed writing and had a great response from you all.

I’ve published 58 posts on my blog so far, so here are just a few of my favourite ones, they are in no particular order:

Embracing Your Disability Meeting My Best Friend My Mainstream School Experience The Importance Of Having Blind and Visually Impaired Friends Am I Inspirational? If I could See, Would I want to? Letter to My Younger Self

 

As you can gather, it’s been a rather fabulous two years. I could have definitely wrote a lot more in this post! Blogging is definitely a huge passion of mine now.

My blog wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for you all, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I hope you will continue to follow my journey and enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Bring on the next two years!

Holly x

 

My goals for 2017

Hello everyone,

First of all happy New Year!

Now that we’ve entered a new year, I thought I’d do a post on my goals for 2017, then I can possibly look back on them at the end of the year and tell you whether I achieved them or not. I probably should have posted this yesterday but I didn’t have time so today will have to do! I’ve set myself some realistic goals, personally I think there’s no point setting yourself things that you know you won’t be able to achieve. I’m all about chasing your dreams but I think it’s important to know what’s realistic and what isn’t. So here are my goals for 2017!

Graduate from university with a first or a 2:1.

Yes I’m aiming high here, but it’s something that I want to achieve. With the right amount of effort, support and motivation I think I could achieve this. My best friend is always saying to me that I’m constantly working too hard and never stop so let’s hope the hard work pays off! We graduate in a beautiful location so I really would like to have the opportunity to experience that.

Continue my career

I want to continue working with blind and visually impaired people and this is something I would like to maintain in 2017 when I graduate. There’s a lot of articles and statistics around about disabled people not being in employment, also the gap between disabled and non-disabled people is very high and employers not always seeing disabled people to their full potential and honestly this does scare me. I’m not one to sit around and do nothing, so I’m hoping this pays off.

Keep blogging

This is one of my biggest passions and I don’t have any intention of giving up soon, but I don’t want it to slip. Balancing university work, work, other commitments, blogging and a social life can be hard and I can only imagine this would be harder as I enter the world of full time work but I love blogging so my goal is to continue doing so.

Raise more awareness of visual impairment/disability and educate others

I try and use blogging as a platform to do this but I think there needs to be a lot more awareness out there. There are many misconceptions around disability and I think people should be educated on such topics. I want to educate others on the real light of having a disability in the hope that it tackles the stigma and perceptions surrounding disability.

Be healthy

In the last couple of years I’ve suffered from overactive thyroid, anaemia and most recently chronic inflammation of the iris; whilst these aren’t major health problems and I know that things could be 10 times worse, I think staying healthy is important.

Be a good friend/family member

Quality over quantity, all the way! I like to think I’m a good friend/family member, please do correct me if I’m wrong. I think spending time with the ones closest to you is so important. I want to be there for my friends and family when they need me as they’re always there for me.

So those are my goals for 2017. That concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little insight into my goals for 2017! What are yours? Let me know in the comments.

Holly x

My Favourite Memories of 2016

Hello!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I just wanted to start off by saying a huge thank you for all your support in 2016, it has truly been incredible and I cannot tell you how much I really do appreciate it. It’s hard to believe that I’ll have been blogging for two years in January. I really upped by blogging game in 2016 and really put my mind to it, trying my best to get my blog out there and noticed. I know I’m not one of the most popular bloggers and I doubt I ever will be but I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made with my blog this year, it’s reached milestones that I never thought I’d achieve.

In this post, I wanted to write about some of my favourite memories of 2016, it’s been a pretty rubbish year with everything that’s gone on in the world and for me personally, but there have also been some good times for me too so I wanted to share them with you all. I’ve tried to do it in chronological order, I hope you enjoy!

 

Putting my blog out there

It was only at the start of 2016 that I created a Facebook page for my blog and it’s really helped get my blog out there and I’ve received some lovely messages from my readers.

I also started doing guest posts at the start of 2016 and received requests from sight loss charities and organisations asking me to write a post for them. I felt truly humbled and this was a huge achievement for me. You can check out all the guest posts I’ve written so far in my portfolio.

 

Volunteering on an Action for Blind Family Weekend

This was such a big step for me. When I graduate from university I am hoping to work in the sight loss sector so volunteering on this weekend really did give me some great experience. One of the things that I did was help run a talk on education for blind and visually impaired young people which allowed me to explain my own tips, give my own account and experiences and answer any questions that the families had. This was something that I thoroughly loved doing. It was something completely new but I felt that I gained many skills and valuable experience from doing so.

 

Passing my second year of university

Second year of university is such a huge jump from the first, anyone that’s been to university will know exactly what I mean! Back in 2015, during the first semester of second year, I wasn’t sure if I was even doing the right degree, I’d gone from wanting to be a primary school teacher to not having the first clue of what I wanted to do. But I figured it out, now I’m working towards getting that degree and working with other blind and visually impaired people when I graduate. I finished second year of university with a 2:1 which I worked so hard to get, it set me up nicely for my third and final year.

 

Celebrating passing second year of university with my friends

Everyone was together, we were all extremely proud of each other and it was just a great time.

 

Getting my first job

I’ve wanted a job since I was around the age of 16 and tried ever since to find a VI person friendly job if you get my drift! I started as a volunteer for LOOK UK in the summer and was employed as a Project Worker a couple of months down the line. It’s such a huge achievement for me as not only am I gaining experience in the field that I want to work in when I graduate university but I also can work hard and earn money just like my sighted friends. It’s given me so many skills and I am really enjoying it so far.

 

Attending Sight Village

I’ve never been to an exhibition like this before, it was an opportunity for me to see the latest technology and services that are available for blind and visually impaired people. I got passenger assistance for the first time when I was travelling down to Birmingham for the event and it didn’t go as planned, I have discussed this in a previous post. That experience really opened my eyes and possibly made me even more determined to not let my visual impairment be a barrier, even when things go wrong.

 

Being featured in RNIB connect Magazine.

This was a real shock for me as I read the Connect Magazine, so to be asked to be featured in it was wonderful.

 

Getting my OrCam.

The OrCam is a marvellous piece of equipment and it has had a huge impact on my life.

 

My family holiday

This was such a lovely holiday, I had time to relax and spend quality time with my mum and dad. It’s important to have family time with those that mean the most to you.

 

Meeting my best friend

Some of you will know her as Elin from the blog My Blurred World. This was by far one of my favourite memories of 2016, it was genuinely such a lovely day. We’d been speaking for over a year and finally got to meet in person. We got to know each other through blogging so that day was so special for the both of us. She lives over 150 miles away so you really do have to treasure moments like that. We’ve helped each other through a lot in 2016, the good and the bad and constantly stuck by each other whilst we’ve both had people we cared about walk away, helped each other through the rough times, given each other the kick up the bum when we’ve needed it and I think that’s true friendship. I’m so excited for more memories with her in 2017.

 

Becoming more confident using a cane

I wouldn’t say that this happened at a specific point but I feel that I have become more confident and comfortable when using my cane over the last couple of years, even more so in 2016.

 

My 21st birthday

I spent the weekend before my birthday with a close friend and my actual birthday with my family which was special to me. Family really are so important.

 

Reaching 10,000 views on my blog

This happened a few weeks ago, and it’s crazy to think that I have had over 10,000 views on my little corner of the internet!

Those are a few of my memories of 2016, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I would just like to thank you again for your continued support in 2016, it really does mean the world to me! I really hope you’ll stick with me as I continue my blogging journey in 2017.

I would like to wish you all a happy New Year and wish you all the best for 2017!

Once again, thank you.

Holly x

Helping Blind/VI People During The Festive Season

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to Life of a Blind Girl, I hope you’re all well and prepared for the festive period.

I’ve wanted to do a Christmassy post for a few weeks now but still wanted it to relate to disability so I thought it might be quite interesting to give you a few tips on how to make Christmas fully accessible for blind and visually impaired people. This is the first Christmas post that I’ve ever done on my blog! It’s part of mine and Elin’s seeing through sight loss series so if you’re new to the series then you can find everything you need to know about it and our previous posts here.

In this post we wanted to share some tips on how to make Christmas fully accessible for blind and visually impaired people and how to help us a helping hand during the festive period. We’re not saying that these tips will work for everyone, or that you have to use them and we are in no means saying that we personally use them all but we wanted to share them in the hope that it might help some of you as a bit of a guide at this time of year. There are many ways to make the festive period accessible and we couldn’t cover everything, we know that everyone is different but here are a few tips that we thought some of you may find of use.

So without further ado let’s get into today’s post!

The first way in which you can make Christmas accessible is by brailling or writing a large print message in Christmas cards.

However, it can often be difficult for sighted people to braille Christmas cards themselves, especially if they do not know braille but there are places that sell braille cards, these can often be found online. If you would like to try to braille your own Christmas card for a blind and vision impaired person there are braille guides online to help you with this. If you are interested in brailling a card yourself, it may be a good idea to make the message a bit shorter as braille is larger than print.

To write your cards in large print for vision impaired people, it’s a good idea to write them using a chunky pen on a white or yellow background.

For blind and visually impaired people, brailling or writing large print Christmas cards can be a fun activity to send to other blind or visually impaired friends or family.

By doing this, it means that the blind or visually impaired person can read the cards themselves independently.

 

The next tip is to Label gifts in a format that’s accessible for a blind or visually impaired person. This can be a huge help! You can braille the gift tag, write it in large print or use something such as a penfriend labeller or the ORCam to label the gifts and create a spoken label. These two devices are not a necessity so don’t worry if you don’t own one of them!

 

The third way in which sighted people can help blind or visually impaired people at Christmas is Brailling or putting large print numbers on advent calendars. It can be impossible for totally blind people to find the correct door on an advent calendar and very hard for those with low vision to see the written numbers so doing this makes it fully accessible. It’s also a way of promoting independence and it also makes the blind or visually impaired person equal to those with sight. If a blind or visually impaired person would like to do this, it means that they will more than likely need sighted assistance at first in order to stick the numbers on the correct doors but it can be a fun activity, especially for children. I used to love doing this when I was younger! If you don’t really have the time to do this, you can also buy tactile advent calendars which are often accessible for blind or visually impaired people.

 

My final idea in making Christmas fully accessible for blind and visually impaired people is purchasing accessible games. We all play games at Christmas right? You can get well known games or new ones in both braille or large print from many places so it’s fun, inclusive and accessible for everyone.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful! Make sure you check out Elin’s post to read her tips on making Christmas accessible for blind and visually impaired.

I would just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Holly x

Embracing Your Disability

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m sorry that I am not posting as regularly as usual but I am now in my third and final year of university so the majority of my time is taken up on that at the moment. I do have some posts planned though, so stay tuned!

As you can gather by the title, I wanted to write about embracing your disability. I’ve touched on this topic before in my how to become comfortable with your disability post but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot more about this topic since writing that.

I hope you enjoy this post and hopefully take something away from it.

 

When I was younger I used to refer to myself as being “visually impaired” or “partially sighted”, strictly speaking, this is not true as I am registered as “blind”/“severely sight impaired”. As I said, I’ve no idea why I did this, I wasn’t embarrassed about my disability, I guess I didn’t really understand the meaning behind the terms.

Whether you are disabled or not, one of the easiest things you can do is compare yourself to others. We are all guilty of it right? Remember that you are your own person so love yourself for who you are. You may not have achieved the same things as your friends, travelled around the world like other disabled people but that’s ok. Everyone wants to achieve different things. Who cares if you don’t want to travel around the world like others? You’ll have more than likely achieved something that’s just as great.

It’s very easy for us to say ‘there are so many people worse off than me’. Yes, there probably is, but everyone’s disability is unique and affects them in different ways. Every disability has its own sets of challenges but it’s important to point out that these challenges affect people in different ways. There are millions of people in the world with a disability each tackling it in their own, individual way.

Make your disability what it is, don’t let it make you. Do not identify yourself as “a disabled person”, you are the person with a disability, your disability is not the only thing that identifies you for who you are. You should always put yourself first before your disability as it doesn’t represent you as a whole and is only one small part of you.

Your disability is not your enemy. It may feel like it is at times, when you must fight for something so simple that non-disabled people take for granted but it should be an integral part of your life and something that you should learn to accept.

Having a disability can enable you to develop many valuable skills such as navigating using a long cane or a wheelchair, to give you the opportunity to learn ways of communication such as braille and sign language, it enables you to use your other senses effectively and become an independent individual despite having a disability.

 

I don’t love my disability, that’s rather strong but I like the person it’s made me become, I like how it’s shaped me as a person and my way of thinking. Personally, I think having a disability has made me approach life from a slightly different angle to my non-disabled peers; I don’t judge a book by its cover, I can educate people on disability, in my case sight loss and one of the most important things that it’s made me realise is that I can get to know someone for who they truly are. It’s also given me many skills: the ability to read braille (including music braille, French and German braille), use assistive technology such as a screen-reader, also the ability to navigate using a long cane to name a few.

Society can often have a negative view on disability but if you think about it, disability can be positive.

It’s important for us as disabled people to educate others on disability and help them challenge their perceived ideas. If we do this, we aren’t only putting our disability to good use but we are also tackling the stereotypes and stigmas that surround disability. Not everyone will change the way they view and perceive disability, but some will.

Let’s get rid of the idea that a disability disables us and start to embrace it. Having a disability makes us intelligent, mindful, strong and independent individuals.

In order for other people to accept your disability and get to know you for who you really are is first for you to accept your disability for what it is and learn to love yourself. Having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of.

 

We all have the ability to do something with our lives so let your disability enable you to do so, not disable you.

If you are a disabled person reading this, I hope that this post has helped you in some way. If you are a non-disabled person, I hope that it has educated you on disability itself and how capable and independent disabled people actually can be.

Me and My OrCam

Hello,

In today’s post I am going to tell you about my own personal experience with a piece of equipment especially designed for blind and visually impaired people called the OrCam. The OrCam is a camera that fits onto glasses and it reads text, recognises faces and products and speaks them out loud.

I hope you enjoy this post!

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Photo description: this photo shows the OrCam attached to some glasses. The camera is very small so it portrays the fact that it is well hidden and not very noticeable.

 

A few months ago I came across an article about the OrCam. I decided to do some research into it and watched the video on the OrCam website and was amazed by it’s capabilities. I wasn’t sure what to believe as things often seem different in videos and articles on the internet. They can often be made out to be something that they’re not. I decided to arrange a free demonstration so that I could experience the hands on demonstration of the OrCam, letting me try it myself which enabled me to find out exactly what this piece of technology could do. The demonstration gave me the opportunity for me to decide whether it would be something that I could benefit from or not. Let me tell you, I was amazed at its capabilities. I’ve been blind since birth and come across a lot of assistive technology over the last few years but there is nothing quite like the OrCam. To summarise it: it’s really easy to use, it has extremely accurate text recognition, the camera on the glasses is discrete and the device is portable.

After some serious consideration about purchasing the OrCam I decided to do so and let me tell you, I’m so glad I did! When purchasing the OrCam, the trainer came to my house and did two hours of training with me and familiarised me with the device, taught me the different gestures in order for me to use the OrCam to its full potential and answered any questions that I had. I think having training to use such devices like the OrCam is vital so I was very impressed that this was included with the package.

The only downfall that I have found with the OrCam so far is that it comes with a choice of glasses; however, these were two big for me and the bone conduction earpiece did not sit where it was supposed to so I had to go out and buy my own glasses rather than use the ones provided. I do think that this is possibly a future improvement for OrCam but it is a minor issue.

The OrCam has opened a whole new world for me and given me so much more independence. I no longer have to rely on sighted people to read text to me such as mail, menus in restaurants and such documents. For example, I can pick up a book, magazine or a newspaper just like any sighted person and the OrCam will read it to me. The feeling to be able to pick up a book and have it read to me in a matter of seconds is amazing.

I am a university student, throughout my time in education I have always had to get work sent to me electronically or converted into braille which has caused many problems to say the least. Now that I have the OrCam I can read the printed materials just like every other student in my lectures. It will make studying a lot easier and quicker for me as the OrCam will read a page of text at around the same speed a sighted person would.

The OrCam also has other features such as face and product recognition. I don’t use the face recognition myself as I have been severely sight impaired since birth so recognising people’s voices is something I’ve just learnt to do. I do think the product recognition is a fantastic feature though. You can input products that you use on a daily basis into the OrCam and it will tell you what they are. I think this is an incredibly useful feature as many products feel the same so it’s often hard to differentiate between such products.

The developers of the OrCam are constantly working on it and developing new features all the time so I can’t wait to see what features it has in future upgrades. It has already given me so much independence, and I’m sure this will continue to grow in the future.

This piece of equipment is very expensive so I honestly can’t tell you how grateful I am to own such an incredible and life changing piece of assistive technology.

I hope you enjoyed this post and reading about how the OrCam has helped me.

Holly x

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with OrCam, these are my own personal experiences and all views are my own.

Fall Favourites Tag

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well. Today’s post isn’t disability related but I was tagged to do the ‘fall favourites tag’ by the amazing My Blurred World so thought I’d complete it.

I will hopefully be back with a visual impairment/disability related post for you later in the week (time permitting) but in the meantime here’s a little post for you all!

  1. Favourite candle?

It has to be a Yankee candle!

2. Favourite lip product?

I quite like lipsticks, I don’t really have a specific favourite at the moment though.

3. Favourite nail polish?

I don’t really get expensive nail polishes so it’d have to be something good but cheap like No7.

4. Favourite trendy clothing item?

At the moment it’s my long cardigan.

5. Favourite comfy item?

I’d have to say a fluffy jumper, they can keep you nice and warm but look really stylish too.

6. Favourite shoes?

Definitely my Ugg boots!

7. Favourite accessory?

My Tiffany bracelet.

8. Halloween or Thanksgiving?

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK and I’m not that fussed about Halloween now that I’m older so neither.

9. Favourite drink?

Hot chocolate.

10. What’s the happiest part about fall for you?

The cosy nights in with a lovely hot chocolate or a walk with my family on a chilly day.

11. Who do you tag?

Lucy – Yesterdays Wishes Rach – Beauty With Rach Emily Davison – Fashioneyesta and Megan – Books and Beauty

I hope you enjoyed this post. I will hopefully be back later in the week with another post but if not it’ll definitely be up next week so stay tuned!

Holly x