Guest Post From Sophie

Hello,

here is another guest post for you all from Sophie. Please make sure you check out the project she’s doing!

 

My name is Sophie. Holly has very kindly agreed to publish one of my posts on her lovely blog.

 

I have ME/CFS, which is a chronic illness that causes, among other symptoms, severe fatigue, pain and malaise (generally feeling unwell). I developed ME/CFS gradually over a number of years and it has changed every aspect of my life.

 

Everything that I do makes me ill. I have to pay for every activity, including the mundane things that I used to take for granted like brushing my teeth. I went through a period of time when I was bedbound and unable to care for myself. Through a lot of hard work and some random improvements in my health, I am now a little better.

 

My daily activity is still very limited by ME/CFS. I can only study for a fraction of the time that I used to and I have to ration my energy. I use an electric wheelchair to get out and about. I wish I could walk further than a short distance but it just isn’t possible for me at the moment. I find my limited energy endlessly frustrating because there is so much that I want to do. However, now that my energy is limited, I spend it much more wisely.

 

Recently I have used my energy to set up “Project Let Me In!” My illness has really opened my eyes to how inaccessible lots of venues are to people with a wide range of disabilities. Project Let Me In! aims to achieve equal access for people living with disabilities one step at a time.

 

For me, the hardest aspect of living with ME/CFS is the isolation that it causes. I often can’t do the things that I would like to because venues aren’t accessible. Isolation is a problem among people living with disabilities. Everyone has the right to use public spaces. Everyone has the right to be included. Sometimes, the lack of access makes me feel as though I don’t matter. We need to work together to ask venues and councils to consider the views of people living with disabilities when making planning decisions.

 

If you would like to learn more about Project Let Me In!, visit www.project-let-me-in.blogspot.com or http://www.facebook.com/projectletmein .

 

To learn more about ME/CFS, visit www.ayme.org.uk

 

Thank you for reading 🙂

 

Thank you to Sophie for this post!

I hope you enjoyed Sophie’s post and be sure to check out Project Let Me In 🙂

Advertisements

The Importance Of Having Blind And Visually Impaired Friends

Over the last couple of years, my circle of blind and visually impaired friends has grown significantly. I grew up not knowing that many blind and visually impaired people, probably because I was in mainstream education and the services for blind and visually impaired young people in my area were very limited. During my time at sixth form I felt rather isolated from all of my “sighted” peers, this time was definitely the lowest point that I have experienced so far. I felt very socially isolated because everyone was learning to drive, go out clubbing and I wasn’t part of any of that. Whether it was because it wasn’t “cool” to hang around with the blind girl we’ll never know but I believe that experience and feeling of isolation made me so much stronger and more prepared of what to face in the outside world. When I felt low and isolated, I could have done with blind and visually impaired friends in my life, even if it was just for reassurance that I wasn’t going through that myself and that in fact those feelings are completely normal. Now that I have blind and visually impaired friends, I am a lot happier, more comfortable with myself and my disability and I feel so much more confident. I’ve come to realise that having blind and VI people in my life really does make a difference. Having people in your life with the same disability as you is something that I believe is so important.

 

There are two ways in which how I met my blind and visually impaired friends. In 2014, I spent a week at a specialist school for blind and visually impaired people and this is where my friendship started with a few of my VI friends. Whilst I was there I enhanced my independent living skills and my mobility skills. I loved every minute of it and would definitely do it again!

For me, making friends there was one of the main highs of that experience. I never expected to stay in touch with any of them, let alone be so close but two years on and our friendship is still as strong as ever. They definitely made my time there even more enjoyable and have helped me grow as a person a lot over the last two years.

 

The other way that I have made blind and visually impaired friends is through blogging, through the power of the internet. I never expected that I would make friends through writing blog posts and commenting on others posts. My Blurred World Thinking Out Loud-Sassy Style and Yesterdays Wishes are three of my best friends and I couldn’t imagine my life without these girls.

 

There are so many reasons for why having blind and visually impaired friends is so important for me and I’m going to discuss those with you. Firstly, they know the everyday struggles, embarrassments and achievements that you face. Whether that’s completely embarrassing yourself at university, making a silly mistake in a shop or becoming more confident with a cane etc., they know and understand it all. You name it, they’ve probably been there. They’ll either laugh at your misfortune or be like “you know what, I’ve been there too, we’ve all done that and warn the t-shirt”

 

They can pass on useful tips and tricks. If I’m struggling with something to do with my disability, I always go to my girls because they more than likely know the answer.

 

They help you grow in confidence. The majority of my VI friends have had confidence and self-esteem issues just like I have and for most of us that’s often been due to our disability or people’s lack of understanding. We know how each other is struggling or what they’ve been through and we’re so proud of each other when they get passed that point even when they thought they couldn’t.

 

They’re always there to have a rant with! Whether that’s on skype/the phone, in person or via text…they get everything you’re saying and that sure does make you feel so much better!

 

They understand how important technology is. If you live in the same town or city as your VI friends then you’re lucky! But if you’re like me and don’t, technology is your only means of contact with your VI friends and this is vital.

 

They never take anything disability related to heart or too personally. Chances are, they’ve been in the exact same situation with their sighted friends as well.

 

They understand the smallest of things that annoy you and the larger things. Whether that’s just something silly like your sighted friends putting pictures on a group chat and you can’t see them or something major such as you not feeling comfortable doing something. Those things probably annoy them too!

 

They’re 100 % always, and I mean always there whenever you’re having a bad day or feeling low because of your disability. When you just want to curl up in a ball and cry but they always put you back on track and give you a firm talking to! And when it’s the other way around, they need that, you’ll always do that for them because that’s what friends do. They understand like nobody else.

 

Now you know the reasons for why I think having blind and visually impaired friends is so important, you’re probably thinking to yourself that you haven’t been to a specialist school or you aren’t a blogger, well don’t worry. There are various ways in which you can meet and connect with other blind and visually impaired people.

I’m going to tell you about an exciting project that is being launched and which I feel very honoured to be a part of!

LOOK-UK is a registered charity that supports blind and visually impaired people and their families. I am a volunteer for look and I feel so honoured to be part of such a wonderful organisation.

This summer LOOK is launching Skype chat groups aimed at young people with a vision impairment. These skype groups will be run by a facilitator and will give the young people the opportunity to discuss many aspects of sight loss such as technology, mobility, education, employment and so much more. The mentoring project provides help and support for children and young people living with a visual impairment. The facilitators have been in the same position as the young people so will not judge or dictate what the members of the group are saying. The facilitator can also pass on their tips or comments on any topics that are being discussed, supporting the young people even further. The mentor will be older than the members of the group but will still be young enough for the young people to relate to and possibly look up to.

Personally, I think this is a great opportunity for blind and visually impaired young people to connect with others just like themselves. Not only will it be fun, it will also be safe and secure. I will be a facilitator myself and I am so excited and feel so humbled that I can hopefully help other blind and visually impaired young people through this mentoring project.

If you think this is something you would be interested in then here is the advert:

Are you aged between 11 and 29?

Do you want to join one of our LOOK Skype groups and meet other visually impaired people your age?

Or, if you’re over 18, why not become one of our Skype group leaders. Now’s your chance. You’ll get lots of training and guidance all which will look great on your CV. And it will be fun.

You could join one of the following groups:

11 years old to 14. 14 years old to 16 16 years old to 18 and 18 years and over or further and higher education students

This is part of our new mentoring project which will be launched later this summer.

Please get in touch if you are interested. Please contact: information@look-uk.org

 

Or if you would like any more information before you contact LOOK then please feel free to contact me. I really do hope this is something my blind and visually impaired readers get involved in, I would have loved this when I was younger! The opportunity of being a facilitator gives young people the opportunity to enhance their teamwork and communication skills.

 

I would also like to tell you that LOOK will be launching a mentoring project later this summer which will give the chance for a mentor and mentee to connect and for young people to have more help and support from someone that’s been there and knows what it is like to be a blind or visually impaired person in a sighted world. This mentoring project will be one-to-one communication whereas the Skype mentoring is in groups. They will also be holding events throughout the year for different mentoring opportunities. Watch this space for more information on this!

Check LOOK’s Facebook page for more updates. They will also be launching a new website very soon! You can find their website here One of the main aims of LOOK is to improve young people’s confidence and skills through mentoring. Personally, I think a mentoring project like this would have definitely helped boost my confidence, self-esteem and given me the opportunity to enhance my skills when I was younger.

 

As you know, my blog is all about helping other blind and partially sighted people and I feel that this could really be beneficial to young people. I have discussed with you the importance of having visually impaired friends and I think that LOOK’s mentoring projects could really make a difference to young people’s lives.

Please share with anyone you think might be interested and spread the word about this fantastic charity and the work they’re doing!

 

Holly x

Do What Makes You, You! No Matter What(guest post)

Hello everyone,

I am very excited to share my first guest post with you all! Todays guest post is from a lovely lady called Jennifer. We have been chatting on twitter and decided to do  a guest post for each other. You can view my guest post for Jennifer here

I hope you enjoy her story!

 

By Jennifer Hansford (@HansfordJen-twitter)

 

I live in Canada, in a small town called Espanola. I started my blog a little over a year ago, called Exuding Energy, which tells stories about how people still pursue goals while facing challenges. I also include my own. I’m excited to have met Holly, who sent me a lovely tweet and gave me the opportunity to write for her blog.

 

I have lofty ambitions, and I have never let my disability, or other challenges stop me from doing what I wanted to do. It’s not easy growing up with a disability. I don’t even like using the word disabled (In my case, anyway). I’m not disabled, I just do things in a different way. I may not be able to walk like everyone else, swim, or drive a car, but at least I can in fact walk, and I do most daily things for myself. I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have had my share of kids being mean to me, and staring at me as I walked passed them. Sometimes, even as an adult, I still have the feelings I did as a child when I meet new people. ‘Am I going to fit in?, ‘How are they going to treat me?’ About 8 or 9 years ago, I moved into a house that I was to share with two other girls, and one day, I was talking to one of my room mates, and I said to her, ‘”When I first moved here, I was kind of scared, I was thinking, ‘what if they make fun of me…?’ Her reply to me was, “If anybody says anything to you (that’s mean) and they’re not paying rent here, they have to go.” Ha ha! We became good friends, but she ended up moving to France. I no longer live in that place either, but I think about that moment often. I don’t know why, being a grown woman now, I still get scared about how people will react to me. I guess no matter how old I get, it’s still disappointing to not be accepted, just for having a body that doesn’t work like other people’s do.

I still worked hard, even if it wasn’t in my chosen field. I have always wanted to do something that reaches people, whether it’s a big or a small group. I just wanted to make a difference. I worked for a while as a freelance writer for various publications, but I couldn’t get a staff job anywhere. I can’t really say for sure why this was, but it felt like, since I do have a distorted way of walking, and I don’t drive a car, (and I’m really small for my age) I wasn’t given the opportunity to show them any of my actual journalism skills. I know that not everyone judges other people’s skills based on what they look like. My professor back in journalism school was one of my greatest supporters, because he saw the passion I had for the field. He told me that he used to work with someone who used a wheelchair, and he was one of the best reporters he knew, so there should be no reason why I couldn’t have a great career. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and sometimes I feel like I let him down, but I hope that someday I’ll return to it stronger than ever. I continued to freelance, since I could work from home, and editors only saw my articles, and not how I had to get around to all my stories. All they saw was good writing. I’m perfectly capable of researching, conducting interviews with sources, and things like that. I just have to find transportation to get places, which is very frustrating, but I don’t think it should keep me from doing the job completely. I do have a journalism diploma.

I left it for a while though, when I got the opportunity be a grant proposal writer for a non-profit organization that runs programs for adults with disabilities. I absolutely loved that job. I held it for about 5 months, but had to give it up earlier than expected, when I started to have issues with my throat, which gave me a whole set of new problems, including no longer being able to eat food properly. This was almost 3 years ago, and because of this, since I am so weak most of the time, I had to leave behind all the goals I had for myself.

I now am just blogging, and trying the YouTube video making thing. It’s hard though, since I can’t leave my house a lot of the time, but my goal is to put my journalism skills back to use, and create some interview show types of videos. Blogging has really helped me, and I’ve met a lot of great people by doing it, so I hope you will share some stories with me for either my blog, or the channel, or both.

I hope all of you, young and not so young, who may be going through hard times, or challenges, find a way to bring out the best in yourself again. You know, the YOU that you were before any of the hard times ever happened. Blogging became my way of regaining some of my strength. I do miss everything I once was, and I have always needed to be creative to fully function as human being, so no matter what comes my way, I am going to find ways to do that. Maybe I’ll create a new version of myself. That is what I wish for all the viewers of my blog posts and videos. No matter what your physical abilities are, we all have something to share, and we all deserve the chance to share it. So, I hope you don’t let other people discourage you from doing what makes you, YOU!

 

Check out my blog at-theexudeblog.wordpress.com

And my YouTube Channel at- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQydLY3VDFXOxoz0gQ1qsyg

 

Many thanks to Holly to letting me write for your blog!

 

I hope you all enjoyed Jennifer’s story and i’m sure you’ll agree with me that she is an incredible woman. Please check out her blog and YouTube channel!

Remember, if you’d like to write a guest post then please do get in touch with with me.

 

Holly x

Guest blogger opportunity

I would love to have some guest posts featured on my blog. Here on Life Of a Blind Girl, I am wanting to spread awareness of all types of disabilities. One of the aims of my blog is to educate others that maybe don’t know as much on what it’s like to be a disabled person, the challenges we face and how we approach life even though we are disabled. I know that my blog may not change people’s perceptions on disabled people but I do hope it can raise awareness and make them think that we are in fact normal people if they look beyond our disability.

If you have a disability yourself, have a child with a disability, are a professional working with disabled people or know someone that might be interested then please get in touch!

You can cover a specific topic relating to disability such as mobility, accessibility, assistive technology, education or employment if you like. Or if that’s something that doesn’t interest you and you’d like to take a more personal approach, you can write a post about yourself and your disability then that is fine as well. As long as the post helps raise awareness of disability, I really do not mind what you write about. You never know, it may help others in the same situation or facing similar struggles.

 

If you’d like to write a guest post for my blog and this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then please comment on this post or contact me.

Feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested as well.

I am happy to post about any disability, not just visual impairment.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Together we can make others realise that disabilities do not define us and that we can live a life without limits!

Holly x

 

Revision Tips For Blind And Visually Impaired Students

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I know this post won’t be of use to a lot of you but if you know anyone that’s taking exams and may find these revision tips helpful then please do share it with them.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate exams and completely panic and be an absolute stress head when it comes to exam season! Yes, I was probably the biggest ball of stress when it came down to taking my GCSE’s and A-levels…let’s not go there!

I thought I’d put together a few revision tips for blind and visually impaired students. It can make things so much harder when you’re constantly sat using a computer or surrounded by a mountain of braille!

 

Create a revision timetable

This can be electronic or on paper. Divide your day up into subjects, topics and make sure you list different revision techniques that you will use. This means that you won’t be sat using the same technique all day and the information will actually go in.

 

Make a revision plan

Your teachers probably tell you that you have to be organised and plan your revision. Well it’s true. Trust me, from someone that’s been there there’s nothing worse than sitting down to revise and not having a clue where to start.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just create a new document on your computer or in braille, list the topics and divide them into sub-topics. Once you’ve done that, go through them and put a symbol next to the ones you struggle with. That way you’ll know what topics you need to go over more thoroughly. As you revise keep checking back at your plan.

 

Use different revision techniques

Instead of sitting reading through documents all day use different revision techniques to enhance your learning. Some techniques are discussed below.

 

Complete past papers

I’d say this is one of the most important revision strategies. Completing past papers gives you some indication of what to expect in the exam, what sort of questions will be asked/what topics are likely to be discussed and it gives you ideas on the wording of the questions. Completing past papers gives you the chance to have a practice run through. Why not time yourself in pretend exam conditions? Ask your teachers if they have time to look through them and marked them so you know what you’re aiming for and what you did right/where you went wrong so that you know for the actual exam.

 

Make simple revision notes

Condense your large documents down into notes highlighting the key points. This can especially be useful for blind and visually impaired people because it reduces the amount of information you have to read with a magnifier, screen-reader or in braille.

 

Use textbooks and revision guides

You can get a whole range of revision guides in accessible formats from libraries, the publishers or websites such as Load2Learn. Ask someone at school or your QTVI about these.

 

Make revision cards

This can be a bit harder for blind and visually impaired people but it can be done. Why not print off or braille the key words for a topic and have the definitions separate? This is a bit time consuming but if you have the time then it can be really useful.

 

Use revision websites

BBC Bitesize is a great website that is mostly accessible for blind and visually impaired people. They condense topics into small chunks and have quizzes for you to answer, it makes revision that bit more interesting.

 

Watch Youtube videos/listen to podcasts

These aren’t always the most reliable sources of information but if you’re tired of reading/writing then these can be great just to watch or listen to. You can usually find them if you search on the internet.

 

Convert documents into audio

You can record yourself saying everything you know about a topic, see how much you remember and then check back through your revision notes.

Websites such as RoboBraille are also especially useful. RoboBraille let’s you convert documents into audio for easy listening. I found this especially useful for converting my revision notes and revision guides. Remember they are a charity so you can donate if you like!

 

Other tips

Find the best study style that suits you – whether that’s on your own or with others.

 

Work somewhere quiet and free from distractions. I know this is really hard when you’re blind or visually impaired when working on a computer or tablet because it’s very tempting to go on social media! But this really does not help you concentrate and it will not help you pass your exams.

 

Take regular breaks and relax

You don’t want to be revising for 7 hours straight because nothing will go in. Take regular breaks, refuel your brain by eating and drinking and relaxing for a bit. Then you’ll be more likely to get more revision done if you’re not tired.

 

Recap on the main bits

Once you’ve revised a topic go over the main sections, this will stop you from stressing too much.

 

On the day of the exam:

Make sure you have had something to eat before you take the exam. Chances are if you’re blind or visually impaired you’ll have extra time so will be in the exam room for a while so make sure you’re not tired before you even start the exam!

 

Manage your time for each question

Know how long you need to spend on each question so it gives you chance to proofread your answers at the end of the exam.

 

I hope you found this post helpful and hope some of you found these revision tips of use. If you have some other tips that are not listed please feel free to comment below to help others!

Remember: Your intelligence is not always defined by your exam results. If you put the work in then I’m sure it will pay off!

All that’s left for me to say is good luck to those of you taking exams!

Join me next time.

Hol x

Am i Inspirational?

I’ve often been called an ‘inspiration’ and when that happens, I feel truly humbled. To be completely honest, I don’t think I am inspirational at all, I’m just an average blind girl that’s trying to get to where she wants to be in life and achieve her goals. Granted, I went through mainstream school and didn’t give up without a fight when things went wrong which they often did, but that’s just the person I am. I’m now at university but that’s because I believe having a degree will help me get to where I want to be in life and give me better opportunities of getting a good job. I didn’t go to university for sympathy from others, I went to university because I want to do well in life, I want to do my family proud.

 

I always feel really honoured when people call me inspirational because personally I think there are far more inspirational people than me. I’ve met many inspirational people and I don’t consider myself to be one of them. They’ve saved people’s lives, have a positive attitude about everything and have often achieved far more than I ever have and possibly ever will.

I know a lot of disabled people absolutely hate being called inspirational. I know quite a few disabled people that don’t understand why we’re perceived to be inspirations because we’re human, trying to live a normal life which I do completely agree with, but I guess non-disabled people will never truly understand what it’s like to have a disability. I guess they think that they couldn’t cope with it, or adapt tasks to the extent that we do. I don’t expect anyone to understand fully because they never will.

 

I’m at a point in my life where I am quite happy with the person I am, I know what I want to achieve and where I want to get to, I know my strengths and weaknesses and without sounding big headed, I would consider myself to be a good person.

I’ve done a lot of charity work and volunteering over the last few years and continue to do so, but that’s not because I want to be labelled inspirational, but because it’s something that I want to do. By doing this, I believe that I am not only gaining experience for my future career but I am also helping others. I want to help others in the same situation as me or that are facing similar struggles that I have possibly gone through because I know how hard it can be to live with a disability every single day, wondering if there will ever be a cure. I know how hard it can be when all you want is to see something but you can’t. I know how isolated you sometimes feel. I know what it’s like to constantly fight for equality.

 

I’ve been blogging for over a year now and my blog is going places I never thought it would. I’m not one of the most popular bloggers and I doubt I will ever be but it will never stop me from writing blog posts for people to read. I started blogging in the hope to raise awareness of disability and to help others that might need a bit of support. That will always be the aim of my blog. Whether I help 1 person or 200, I don’t mind. If it helps people that’s all that matters.

Blogging has also given me the chance to make new friends; some of which are blind and visually impaired like myself and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They’ve been there for me through some hard times and I hope I’ve been there for them as well. They are truly inspirational to me. Some of them have kept me going with my blogging and supported me from the very start. I will forever be grateful.

 

If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that my aim was to be a teacher. However this has changed. I won’t go into detail why this is the case because this post is long enough already.

So what do you want to do now I hear you ask. When I graduate from university I hope to work in the sight loss field helping others like myself. Whether that’s for a charity or within education, I just want to help and support other blind and visually impaired people. I want them to know that having a disability doesn’t have to be a barrier if they don’t let it be one. At the end of the day, you don’t need sight to have vision.

Until I fulfil this hope of working in the sight loss field I will continue to write blog posts for you all. I feel like I have gone off on a bit of a tangent with this post but it’s come from the heart.

 

I’d just like to thank you for liking, commenting and sharing my posts – your support means the world!

Am I inspirational? I’ll let you decide!

Join me next time where I discuss more things about my life as a blind girl!

Holly x

If I Could See, Would I Want To?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog!

I hope you’re all well. I don’t really have anything new to tell you so let’s get on to today’s post!

Being able to see is something that I think about and wish for a lot. To experience the sighted world as a sighted person would be pretty amazing! if you’ve read my post on What I Wish For As A Blind Person In A Sighted World then you’ll know that being able to see is something that I truly do wish for.

So I thought whilst reflecting on this I’d do a blog post on the pros and cons of what I think being able to see would be like. My honest opinion on this would be yes I 100 % would love to be able to see, if I could experience the sighted world I definitely would.

When people ask me if I had the chance to see would I go for it their reactions are always different. Some are surprised that I would do that, others agree with me. So it takes me on to this post, here are the pros and cons that I think blind people would have to consider if we had the chance to see. Obviously these will be different for everyone but I thought I’d discuss a few of them.

 

Pros:

I’d be able to see what my family and friends look like.

Descriptions are all well and good, but it’d be great if I could see for myself.

 

I would have the option to learn to drive.

I know driverless cars are in the news lately but there’s a bit of controversy about them and who knows when they’ll be on the market. So, if I could see I wouldn’t have to have a driverless car or rely on public transport or to be taken everywhere.

 

I could go where I wanted, when I wanted.

Not that I can’t do this now because I can and have the freedom/independence to do so but the thing is us blind people have to learn routes either with a cane or a guide dog. I’m not complaining about this because it gives me the freedom to get out and be independent but I’d love not to have memorise directions and places.

 

I’d be able to see the beauty in this world.

That is honestly one of the things that I want the most. I’d love to be able to go to new places and see the tourist attractions, the nature, the sunset and all that stuff.

 

 

Cons:

I’d have to learn to use my 5th sense.

Using my hearing, taste, smell and touch is all I’ve been used to so would I be able to adapt to seeing things? More than likely but who knows? I know people have to adapt to losing their sight and I honestly do admire them.

 

I’d have to learn to write everything in print.

It’d be like going back to school. Now I know that when people lose their sight they have to learn braille but it’d be very strange either way.

 

I’d have to learn what things look like.

I’d have to retrain my brain to establish objects etc.

 

I may lose the skills I’ve learnt because of being blind.

I may forget braille or try to read it sighted rather than touch.

I wouldn’t also be able to write this blog and help other blind and visually impaired people.

I’ll have experienced many things that they have or know how they are feeling but I wouldn’t be able to help them to the extent that I do now which is something I love.

 

The surgery might not work.

I’d have got my hopes up for nothing and I might lose the little sight that I have and that I am thankful for.

 

You’re probably wondering after picking this to bits would I still want to be able to see. My answer is still yes – I hope that one day I can experience the sighted world as a sighted person.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always feedback and post suggestions are most welcome!

 

Hol x