#EndTheAwkward

Hello everyone,
Today’s post is about the awkward moments that I have experienced due to the fact that I’m severely sight impaired.

#EndTheAwkward is a campaign created by disability charity, Scope. The aim of the campaign is to End the Awkwardness surrounding disability.
It is said that ‘Two thirds of people feel awkward around disability’. This really needs to change.

Thank you secretsofbeauty13 for tagging me to share my awkward moments for #EndTheAwkward

Disclaimer: I do not want to offend or insult anyone, I am doing this to raise awareness of disability.

1. Using a cane
I was using my cane around school, doing the usual left-to-right motions when I accidentally knocked someone with the cane. This person was in the same year as me and because I slightly knocked her with my cane she started shouting and swearing at me in the corridor in front of others. I felt really embarrassed because it was an accident. This really did knock my confidence when using my cane and at one point I didn’t use it at all because I was so anxious. I have always felt that when using my long cane it makes me stand out so I don’t look “normal” so as you can imagine, this encounter really did have an effect on me.

2. ‘Everyone close your eyes so you know what it’s like to be blind’
It was my first day of year 7, like everyone else I was very very nervous because I was starting a new school and meeting new people. I had my first P.E lesson (I hated doing P.E) so I wasn’t really looking forward to it but I had to do it anyway.
Things were going well until one moment which changed everything, the teacher said to the class ‘everyone close your eyes and carry out this activity so you know what it’s like to be blind and you know how Holly feels.’ I felt embarrassed and upset and angry. Not only was this wrong, I also thought that people would just have that opinion of me, ‘the blind girl.’
I would just like to point out and say that this is not a representation or a true picture of what it’s like to be blind. Many people that are blind/severely sight impaired, including myself do have light perception or other vision.
The teacher did eventually apologise but this is something that I will always remember.

3. ‘she’s blind, she can’t sit there’
A few years ago I was going on holiday with my mum and dad and was pretty excited. We arrived at the airport to check-in etc and when it came to getting our seats this is when it all happened. My mum and dad asked if we could sit near the front and the woman behind the desk simply told my parents ‘she’s blind so she can’t sit there.’ They asked why and she didn’t really say. We came to some arrangement but then she said ‘Does she even have a passport?’ Just because I’m blind why would I not have a passport? I’m just like everyone else. I felt quite self-conscious and embarrassed.
Also, why couldn’t she have asked me myself instead of asking my parents for me? Whenever this happens I do speak for myself all the time but it still makes me feel very awkward in situations like this.

4. You’re blind so how do you have an opinion?
I’ve come across many people that think that just because I’m blind, I cannot have opinions or like things the same as everyone else. I have often been asked this when I’ve been talking about a band/artist I like or clothing for example. I’ve been asked it when I’ve been going to a concert. ‘You don’t know what they look like so why are you going to see them live?’ I have other senses that I can use to determine my opinion.

5. You’re blind…how do you play in instrument?
I’ve been playing the flute since I was 9 and have been in a band and taken part in many concerts. One thing I often got asked was ‘how do you play the flute when you’re blind?’ I always say ‘just like you are doing. I learn in exactly the same way apart from the fact that I read braille music.’ People with disabilities can carry out normal activities just like any other person.

These are just a few of the awkward moments that I have experienced, they might not seem awkward to you but there’s so many more that I could include – I just had to select a few.

If you have a disability please feel free to do this and share your awkward moments. Personally I think that if you aren’t comfortable with your disability, can laugh about it or talk about it then it makes other people feel uncomfortable about it as well. If we share our experiences then we can raise awareness and help #EndTheAwkward

Find out more information about #EndTheAwkward here: http://www.scope.org.uk/awkward

As always, thank you for reading!

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flying and special assistance

This summer has been one of facing and overcoming many challenges for me, including getting special assistance on a plane on my own. For many people this is a regular occurrence, but for me it was a first. I was going to see one of my best friends in Belgium and spend a few days with her so I thought that this was the ideal opportunity to try special assistance.

Outward
When booking my tickets with KLM, I also booked special assistance for both the outward and return journeys from Leeds Bradford and Amsterdam airports. I’ve only got light perception so if I was going to travel on my own, special assistance was vital.
I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that I could get through check-in and get through customs. I was instructed to go to the special assistance desk, my parents dropped me off at the airport so they went with me to the special assistance desk. I was met by a member of staff who helped me check my luggage in and get through customs. Once in the departure lounge they found me a seat at the appropriate gate for my flight. I was really impressed with how things were going so far!

After a while my flight had been called and a member of staff came to help me out onto the runway and onto the plane.
Once I was seated a flight attendant explained where the call button was and and I listened to the usual safety instructions. The flight itself was pretty calm with nothing unusual happening.
Once we landed in Amsterdam I was told to stay in my seat until a member of staff came to help me off the plane once all the other passengers had departed.
A lovely Dutch man came to help me off the plane and onto a minibus, he told me that we were picking up some other passengers before heading to the terminal. Once we arrived at the terminal, I was met by another member of staff who would then help me collect my luggage and to my welcoming party in arrivals. I was really impressed with the service and felt very happy with the way things had gone.

Return
Before I knew it, my 5 days with my friend were over and it was time to head home. To be completely honest, I was rather nervous about the return journey although I’d experienced it on the outward journey but you hear of all sorts of things happening.
Once my friend’s family had drove to Amsterdam airport they accompanied me to the KLM desk. I’d previously done online check-in so this made things quicker. All I needed to do was get my luggage checked in and wait for special assistance. The lady on the KLM desk said that I needed to have a new boarding pass printed so she did that for me, I didn’t know why but I didn’t argue the case. We waited for assistance, finally a lady arrived and my friend told me that she was wheeling a wheelchair. I started to get a bit nervous because I had thoughts that they were going to make me sit in this wheelchair when I was quite happy for them to guide me. Panic over, it turned out that the wheelchair was for another person who the lady was assisting as well.
After an emotional goodbye with my friend, the lady took me through customs. After a while we were met by another member of staff who helped me onto a minibus which would take me and some other passengers to our aircraft. The same member of staff helped me onto the plane and made sure I was seated.
Like the outward journey, a flight attendant explained where the call button was if I needed anything etc.
Once we arrived at Leeds Bradford Airport I waited for everyone else to get off the plane before I was met by a man who helped me and another lady off the plane and through passport control, to collect our luggage and to meet the people that were picking us up from the airport. Like the outward journey, the return journey ran very smoothly with no bad reports.
I was very impressed with special assistance and will definitely be doing it many more times in the future…fingers crossed I have the same experience!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post 🙂