10 Tips on Making Concert Venues Accessible for Blind and Visually Impaired People

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m rather excited about today’s post, it is a collaboration with RightHear. RightHear is an accessibility solution for blind and visually impaired people, enabling them to be as independent as possible.

 

I am a huge concert lover (and a bit of a fangirl) so when Right Hear asked me to collaborate with them on a post on ways that concert venues can be made accessible for blind and visually impaired people I wanted to get involved straight away! Concert venues can often present accessibility issues and barriers for disabled people and I thought that listing some of the tips of how they can be made accessible may raise awareness of this.

So, without further ado, here are 10 tips on making concert venues accessible for blind and visually impaired people or those with other disabilities.

  1. Provide access information

Information on accessibility of the venue should be on your website, making it easy for disabled people to access should they wish. This should also be easy to navigate to and not buried somewhere deep within your website. Disabled people often have to plan their visit in advance, so this is vital. This information may include: how to book accessible tickets, where disabled seating is located in the venue, contact details for the designated disabled access officer (if appropriate), location of disabled parking and how to book this, location of disabled toilets, details of assistance for people with guide dogs, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids and any other necessary information.

One other idea is to have a specific contact number for disabled customers, making it easier for them to call should they need to. This is also extremely handy when booking accessible tickets.

As I am blind myself, accessibility information is something that I will always look for on the website, even before booking tickets. I will often contact the venue beforehand to check the best way to book accessible tickets if it is not stated on the website, and see if they are willing to accommodate..

2. Have various ways of booking accessible tickets

Often, the only way of booking accessible tickets is over the phone. This may not be possible for some people, so have other ways of them being able to book them such as online or in person. Make sure that these ways are accessible, for example, having the booking office in an accessible place.

3. Train your staff

One of the most important aspects of making concert venues accessible is to train your staff; this may be in sighted guiding, communication strategies, disability, or visual awareness training, but it is important for them to have adequate training. It is very noticeable and easy, for disabled people to tell which staff have, and which staff have not had visual awareness training. Friendly, patient, understanding and helpful staff make the experience much more positive. It’s also important to allocate staff on events to assist disabled people to their seats, answer any questions and provide support if needed.

4. Ensure that staff are knowledgeable about the venue and the local area

Staff should be able to help disabled people with any queries that they may have about the venue, and also being able to answer any questions that they may have on the local area, such as getting to places, finding the train station, or ordering a taxi.

5. Consider orientation and mobility needs

Navigating an unknown venue can be extremely difficult for blind and visually impaired people. Offering assistance for visitors with a visual impairment is invaluable.

Also have braille and large print signs or maps, making it accessible for blind and visually impaired people to read and access. It is also important that this is in plain text (with no arrows or graphics), as it is easier for blind and visually impaired people to read. They should also be in the same places on doors, then they are easy to find, especially for people relying on braille. After all, independence is key.

6. Have space for disabled seating

This may seem obvious, but many venues do not cater for disabled people and do not have enough seating or wheelchair space. It’s important to have as less of obstruction as possible in venues, making it easier for disabled people to navigate, especially those in a wheelchair or blind and visually impaired people using a cane or guide dog. It is also important to have specific seating reserved for disabled people and their companion in a good viewing location. If it is an outdoor venue, then a viewing platform may be a good idea.

7. Have adequate lighting

This might not be possible during the concert, where flashing lights and contrast are more up to the artist than the venue, it certainly can be considered outside of where the actual music or performance is taking place. When planning lighting in your hallways or in the actual auditorium, consider keeping things on the brighter side so that visitors can navigate around the venue when they’re not at their seats. In addition to accessible lighting, it is also important to have coloured contrast railings, tactile markings on floors leading to stairs and also easy lift access for those with less vision or other mobility needs.

8. Provide large print, high-contrast, braille, electronic or audio formats of materials when possible

This includes menus, event programs, or any other literature you may have. Although putting literature into such formats may seem expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Even if it is, providing these materials is a long-term investment that will not only support customers who are blind or visually impaired, but may also be useful for customers with other disabilities or those that are elderly. Accessibility means equal opportunities for all, and almost always has benefits to your business.

9. Have specific, accessible features such as audio description or touch tours

Audio description is a narration/description of exactly what is going on. Audio description allows blind and visually impaired people to listen to a description through a set of headphones while still being engaged in the show or performance. This promotes accessibility, equality and independence as blind and visually impaired people know what is happening themselves, rather than relying on their companion to tell them. This may not be possible for all shows such as concerts, but it can be implemented for events such as theatre shows/performances or sporting events.

Touch tours are when a blind or visually impaired person gets to go onto the stage before a performance to get a feel for the environment and touch the props, costumes, set, and more. This really sets the scene for blind or visually impaired people and can give them a better understanding of the show. Like audio description, this may not be possible for all events, but where possible, this is a worthwhile consideration that also promotes equality and accessibility.

10. Speak to disabled visitors about their experience

Liaising with disabled people about their experience gives you detailed information on what you need to improve on, what works well and what doesn’t and gives you an insight into their experience. You can use this feedback for future improvements or developments. By gathering feedback from disabled visitors shows that you have a keen interest in making your venue accessible and it also shows you are willing to support disabled visitors to the best of your ability. You could do this by having a review section on your website, using social media or even a short, simple questionnaire.

 

Useful links

There are some very useful links that may be of interest: Attitude is Everything – improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists, and the music industry. Festival Spirit – a charity which provides a safe and fun way of disabled people being able to access festivals. They provide “buddies” who are non-disabled volunteers who accompany disabled people at festivals. They also provide accessible accommodation. Euan’s Guide – disabled access reviews, by disabled people, for disabled people.

 

That concludes today’s post, those are just some of the tips that can be used in order to make concert venues accessible for blind and visually impaired people, or those with other disabilities.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it is of use to some of you! Feel free to share it with people that you think it may be of use to.

As always, thank you for reading.

Holly x

 

Disclaimer: although this post is a collaboration, all views are my own. I only work with brands and organisations that support my message and the aims of my blog.

Common Misconceptions on Blindness

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I thought I’d write a bit of an educational post on some of the common misconceptions on blindness/visual impairment and the correct ways to approach these. Just a note before I get into this post, I’m not speaking on behalf of all blind people, I’m talking from my own personal experiences. I hope you enjoy today’s post!

 

Being blind is a tragedy, therefore blind people are helpless.

This is far from the truth. I’m sure every blind person has their down days where they do feel helpless at times or feel like they’re fighting a constant battle but it does not mean that blind people cannot achieve the same goals as sighted people.

 

Glasses help blind people see.

No this is incorrect. Every blind or visually impaired person’s vision is different so for some, glasses do help but for others they do not. People may also wear glasses as a piece of assistive technology such as the OrCam in order to give them independence, not to improve their vision.

Photo shows an OrCam attached to a pair of glasses

 

Blind people have amazing hearing.

This is not true; we learn to use our ears and take note of sound effectively. We don’t have some sort of extremely powerful hearing. Just because we can’t see, it doesn’t make our other senses amazing.

 

If you are interacting with a blind person, you need to speak to them very loudly, then they’ll know that you are talking to them.

No, this is very rude and very very annoying. Speak to us like you would any sighted person.

 

People who are blind see total darkness.

This is not true as there are many variations and levels of blindness. Some people have tunnel vision, some can read large print, others have light perception and some have no sight at all. Personally, I have light perception which I find rather useful at times.

 

All blind people read braille.

As mentioned in the previous statement, many blind people have some useful vision so therefore do not need to read braille. Some people use other forms such as audio or assistive technology. We are very lucky in today’s society that we have such things. Personally, I do read braille myself and I think it’s a vital skill to have.

 

Blind people attend specialist schools and colleges.

This is one of the misconceptions that really does bug me. When I tell people that I went through mainstream school their shock and disbelief is evident in their voice. Educating blind people in mainstream schools has been in place for many years now, so specialist schools are not the only option. Specialist schools do exist and whether a blind person is educated in mainstream education or specialist school is entirely down to their needs and preference.

 

When interacting with a blind person, don’t say things such as “look” or “see”.

Never ever change your vocabulary when talking to a blind or visually impaired person. As a blind person myself, I use terms such as “I’m watching the tv” or “have you seen that?”

You won’t offend us by using them, you’ll more than likely offend us if you don’t use them.

 

Guide dogs know where to take a person and when to cross the road.

A guide dog isn’t a SatNav, it’s down to the person to know the route that they’re carrying out. A guide dog doesn’t know where to go, they only know where to go through training and commands from it’s handler. It’s the owner that decides when it’s safe to cross a road, and the guide dog will intervene if necessary.

 

All blind people have a guide dog

Whether a blind person has a guide dog or not is completely their own decision. Some feel that it gives them freedom and independence, whilst others prefer to use a cane. There are also many variations of canes – the standard white cane, red and white striped cane meaning deafblind and a range of coloured canes can also be purchased if you want a bit of glam or something a bit different.

Picture of a purple cane

 

Feeling someone’s face is a technique that blind people use to make out what someone looks like.

I don’t know one blind person that does this. Personally I think it’s just totally weird!

 

Blind people have limited job opportunities

Why do so many people think this? It drives me up the wall! With the correct technology, equipment, support and training blind people can get a job in whatever field or industry they wish. It may be harder for this to happen, but it does not mean that it can’t or won’t happen.

 

Blind people are unable to live independently

Being blind means that we may learn to do things differently or make adaptions, it does not mean that we are unable to care for ourselves or be independent.

There is specialist equipment and technology such as a cane, guide dog, screen-reading or magnification software or kitchen appliances in order for us to complete daily tasks and live independently.

 

Blind people can’t apply make-up.

People are often shocked when I say that I apply my own make-up. There is often this wrongly perceived idea that blind or visually impaired people can’t look glamorous, and therefore don’t apply make-up. Personally, I love being able to apply my own make-up!

 

Most blind people are looking for a cure

Many blind and visually impaired people are more or less happy with their disability and do not want a cure. Personally, it would be nice if I could see but I’m not looking for a cure and holding onto the tiny chance that this may happen. I’m happy with the person that I am and believe my blindness has shaped who I am today.

That concludes today’s post everyone. If you are a blind or visually impaired person yourself, what common misconceptions do you experience? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Holly x

Blogging And Sight Loss: How It Works

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

Today I wanted to address a question which I get asked quite a lot, ‘how do you blog even though you’re blind?’

This is a very valid and interesting question, I get asked it by both sighted and visually impaired people. So today I wanted to tell you how I’m a blogger even though I am blind, give tips to aspiring bloggers out there and hopefully answer that question for you all.

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

 

Find an accessible blogging platform

Once you decide on the main focus of your blog, it’s important to find a blogging platform that’s accessible and one that you like, and feel comfortable using. You may need to do some research beforehand on different blogging platforms, this will help you decide which one is right for you.

Personally, I use WordPress, as I find this to be the most accessible with my chosen screen-reader. It’s also got an app which I also use on my iPhone or iPad which I find very useful and it is also very accessible. I do know blind and visually impaired people that use Blogspot, so it’s all about personal preference and finding out which one works best for you.

When initially creating my account, and setting up my blog, I did need sighted assistance to originally find a blogging theme and to help me with my blog header and things like that.

Blog header that says 'Life of a Blind Girl'

However, the pages, menus and other aspects that are on my site I did myself.

 

Writing posts

Writing content is obviously the main aspect of blogging. Everyone has different ways of doing this, and there’s no reason why you should be limited to doing this because of a visual impairment. There’s so much technology out there that can enable you to do this such as screen-readers or magnification software.

To write my posts I use Jaws screen-reader on my laptop and sometimes tweak them using VoiceOver on my iPhone or iPad. In simple terms, a screen-reader reads out loud everything that is on the screen and also what you’re typing.

Before I even write my posts, I like to plan them and write down any ideas that I have for future blog posts. To do this, I usually use the notes app on my iPhone as it’s something that I can refer back to quickly and easily.

picture of an iPhone

In terms of writing posts, I will either write my posts on a word document or write them straight into WordPress and spell check them using the built-in editor.

 

Visual content

For fully sighted people, visual content is often as important as written content. It catches people’s attention, and can often draw them into reading your posts. Depending on how much vision you have, adding images in your posts may be something you need assistance in doing. When you insert images into your posts, it’s important to add Alt text (alternative text) or a photo description so people who are blind or visually impaired know what the photo shows. That goes for any sighted bloggers out there as well!

I’m going to be honest here, I don’t take blog photos myself as I don’t have any useful vision to be able to do this. My Mum or Dad take them for me, which I am extremely grateful for. I do insert them into the posts myself and write the descriptions to go with them. I will often get my Mum or Dad to check whether they look okay before I press publish.

 

Sharing posts on social media

It’s important to share your posts on social media in order to gain new readers, followers, and visitors to your blog. All social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are fully accessible for blind and visually impaired people so this shouldn’t be a problem. Sharing and promoting your posts is all part of blogging! Social media is also a great way of interacting with other bloggers and being part of the blogging community. It’s important to share the love!

 

Engaging with other bloggers

It’s important to engage with other bloggers – read their posts, leave them a nice comment and you may even find that you will make new blogging friends along the way. Depending what blogging platform they use, you may experience accessibility issues such as not being able to leave a comment but there are other ways in which you can do this such as contacting them on social media or sending them an email. It may also be good to let them know if their blogs are not accessible as they may want to try to change this.

I like to engage with other bloggers and have also found some of my closest friends through blogging. Engaging with other bloggers may lead to blogging opportunities such as being asked to write guest posts or being contacted by brands.

 

That concludes today’s post everyone, I hope some of you have found it useful or that it gave you an insight into how I blog as a blind person.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, or do not hesitate to contact me. Are you a blogger with a visual impairment and have some other useful tips? Or are you a fully sighted blogger and have some general blogging tips? Then leave them in the comments below!

Holly x

Embracing The Cane

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m sorry for the lack of posts at the moment but third year of university is the reason for that!

Just a quick note, today’s post is very long so grab a drink and a snack, sit down and enjoy!

I know that not all of you will be able to relate to this post but I know many of you like to hear my experiences of living with sight loss and this post is one of those where I discuss my experiences and also give some advice.

I hope you enjoy today’s post!

Embracing the cane is something that many blind and visually impaired people struggle with, others not so much. I was one of those that struggled with it for a few years; but now I’m completely comfortable using one. Looking back, I’m glad I did have that doubt, apprehension and anxiety when using one because it’s contributed to my thoughts and feelings when using a cane today. I can also empathise with others that don’t feel so comfortable using a cane.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m comfortable using a cane and I can openly discuss this topic. Today I want to tell you my cane story and how I learned to embrace it, seeing it as something positive rather than something negative. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reminder that the glass is half full, not half empty.

 

My story

I first had cane training (mobility training as it’s formally called) when I was at school. The training is done by a professional, called a rehabilitation worker. The rehabilitation worker taught me some cane techniques and in the following sessions we proceeded to do routes around my school, to my classrooms and such places. Let’s just say, I absolutely hated the training. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy learning to use the cane, because that’s not true, I love learning but there was something about it that filled me with dread and a hatred towards this white cane. I don’t know fully what it was but I think there were a couple of contributing factors: the fact that I was using it for the first time around my school, the place where I knew a lot of people and they’d see me with this thing and probably wonder what the hell I was doing? The second being the negative thoughts that I was having, what would people think of me using a cane, was I standing out even more so than before, what if I bumped into them? Having mobility training isn’t something your average teenager does, unless they have a visual impairment. When you’re in your teens, you want to fit in, make friends, socialise with others…you get my drift. How the hell was I going to do that when I was lumbered with this thing? I also didn’t find the lessons fun, I’m quite a motivated person so I’d have preferred to get out and about rather than being in the same environment. Obviously, I needed to learn the routes round my school, but I would have liked a variety of routes, have a change of scenery, rather than just the same building constantly. I got to grips with using the cane and things improved slowly.

Later on, I was then taught how to cross roads safely and independently. One of the major downfalls of this though was that I only learned the route between my home and my school so I didn’t really enjoy it. There wasn’t any option for me to learn other routes and do things that I wanted to do. I was proud of myself for achieving this goal and getting that far but I still wasn’t fully happy within myself using a cane. I didn’t use the cane around school and when I went out I didn’t use it as much as I should have, when you don’t like something it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it.

When I entered sixth form, I gradually became more confident and comfortable using a cane. I started to realise that it was my way of being independent; rather than relying on others. Granted, I wasn’t 100 % comfortable with the whole concept, but I was getting there.

When I entered my second and final year of sixth form I started applying for university, just like everyone else. When I was doing this, I knew that I wasn’t fully confident using a cane and knew that I needed to get myself into gear and needed to do something about it. I spoke to my parents about it, we spoke long and hard and did our research into different options and this is when I enquired about going to a specialist school for a short period of time. One of them got back to me and it was agreed that I would spend a week there in summer. During this week I had intense training on independent living skills and mobility training. Let me tell you, I learned more mobility skills during that week than I had ever done previously. I’m not saying that this is the right option for everyone because it was something that I enquired about myself rather than a professional advising me to do something like that, but it was definitely a great experience for me. It really gave me the confidence boost that I needed. After attending mainstream school all the way through education, spending a week at a specialist school was rather interesting for me. I feel like that really set me up for starting university that upcoming September.

A few weeks before I started university I had mobility training around campus so that I knew where everything was, in order for me to be able to navigate to my lecture rooms and for me to have a good idea of the campus. I think this was really the turning point for me in terms of my mobility; I was far more confident using a cane and I genuinely felt comfortable using one; I wasn’t as bothered what people thought as it was my mobility aid and my way of getting around. The rehabilitation worker was genuinely lovely and made it enjoyable which took away any anxiety that I had previously. I think it also helped being surrounded by people that weren’t that bothered about my disability, they cared but it didn’t faze them as it did others in school. There’s people from all walks of life at university and others that have the same or similar disabilities so you’re not usually the only one in your institution.

Looking back, I think university was definitely the turning point for me. I found independence and I think that’s one of the most important skills for blind and visually impaired people to have. Since becoming comfortable using a cane I’ve been on a plane on my own and continue to tackle the challenges of public transport. But without motivating myself to be independent I would not have got this far.

 

How I embraced the cane

So as you’ve probably gathered from my experiences above that embracing the cane didn’t come easy to me, my experiences are just one of many and every blind or visually impaired person has their own experiences. Some, like myself learn to have a love/hate relationship with a cane, but for others they may never have this.

I want to tell you how I learned to embrace the cane in the hope that it might help some of you out there.

Find a cane that’s right for you

You don’t have to just use the standard white cane, you can customise your cane. For example, you can purchase coloured canes or even get them customized with  gems or whatever you fancy. Your cane is your mobility aid at the end of the day so it’s up to you! There are various opinions around whether people should just have standard white canes or customize them, but personally I think it is all about personal preference.

 

Do not give up

You may want to give up at first, especially if you’re finding it challenging but not giving up is key. If you give up then you won’t achieve anything so why quit? No one said that it would be easy.

Believe in yourself

This is so important. Believing in yourself is one key to happiness and independence.

Stop caring what others think and focus on yourself

This applies to many aspects of life but things become so much easier when you stop caring what others may think of you and focus on yourself. So what if you’re walking down the street with a cane or guide dog? Your disability is a part of you. Feeling comfortable within yourself is so important.

Think of the positives

Embracing the cane will provide you with independence, lifelong skills and so much more so rather than thinking about the negative aspects, look at the positives. Remember what I said before, the glass is half full, not half empty.

Look towards the future

Just think what you can achieve if you can conquer something like this.

 

That concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed reading and possibly learnt something from it.

As always, thank you for reading.

Holly x

Why I Write About My Disability Online

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

As you can tell from the title, today’s post is reasons for why I choose to talk about my disability online. I have picked my top 10 reasons for doing so, they are in no particular order., This post is something that I don’t really see much of on the internet or in the blogging world so I thought it was something different to write about.

I hope you enjoy today’s post, so without further ado let’s get into it!


 

  1. Blogging about my visual impairment gives me the opportunity to raise awareness of disability and blindness/visual impairment

Disability awareness is so important and reading first-hand experiences, accounts, tips, and tricks can really go a long way in my opinion. Being completely honest and open about my visual impairment on my blog gives me more scope to help raise awareness of disability and discuss some of the many experiences that us disabled people face.

2. It gives me the chance to tackle the stigmas and perceptions surrounding visual impairment and disability

There are many perceptions of visual impairment and disability in contemporary society, everyone has their own opinions on these so blogging gives me the opportunity to tackle these. Many of them are far from the truth so I can discuss and debate them right here on my blog.

3. Writing about my disability on my blog gives me the opportunity to educate others on sight loss

Many people have the perception that having a disability is all negative or that all blind people are all the same, well let me tell you that this is far from the truth. Some people have never come across a blind person before or others may have a blind or visually impaired family member, so me choosing to blog about my visual impairment gives me the chance to educate such people. Talking about my disability on the internet to educate others and to possibly change their perceptions on disability is so worth it.

4. Talking about my disability on the internet has given me the opportunity to create friendships

I have met some of my closest friends, including my best friend through blogging and this is all because of my little corner of the internet. It allows me to communicate and talk to those that are visually impaired or have another disability. If I didn’t write about my disability then we possibly wouldn’t be able to relate to each other as much.

5. Discussing my disability online allows me to be part of a community

In my case, I am part of the sight loss community and I really do love it. You can get advice, ask questions, learn about others experiences and so much more by being part of such a wonderful community. I’d also say that I’m part of the blogging community too which is something that I love.

6. I can be creative.

Often talking about disability can be regarded as being plain and simple, it may be ‘boring’ to some people. Blogging about my visual impairment gives me the chance to be creative through Q&A’s, collaborations with other bloggers, write and feature guest posts, and so much more.

7. Writing about my disability online means that I can share my own personal experiences on living with sight loss

For me, this is so important. I don’t sugar-coat anything on my blog, I’ll tell you exactly how I’m feeling. If I’ve done something then I’ll tell you, or if I’m having a down day I won’t pretend I’m happy just to make everything look positive. It’s important to be real and honest, people want the truth and that’s one reason why I choose to talk about my disability openly on the internet.

8. I can let my feelings out and be completely honest

This links in with the previous point, but if I’m annoyed about a certain aspect of my sight loss or want to share an specific experience then blogging gives me a platform to do so. It can sometimes be quite nerve-racking pressing publish on a post where you’ve wrote exactly how you’re feeling or have expressed your opinions on a particular topic but once you do it, it’s such a good feeling. The responses from my readers make up for it! I’d definitely say that blogging is a hobby and I love coming up with blog posts and writing them for you all.

9. Writing about my disability online allows me to empower, inspire and help others.

There’s nothing like a huge sense of relief when you can relate to someone, their story, their blog post or just what they’re saying. Being completely open about my disability allows me to create content that other people will hopefully relate to and possibly even feel inspired by. That for me is one of the main reasons for why I continue to write blog posts.

10. It gives me positivity!

My blog is no way viral and I’m by far not the most popular blogger on the internet but I have way more readers than I ever expected and it’s an amazing feeling! Receiving positive comments and messages really does mean the world. It makes blogging about my disability completely worthwhile and gives me the inspiration and motivation to carry on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of the many reasons as for why I choose to talk about my disability on the internet.

If you are a disabled blogger then what made you decide to blog about your disability? If not, what was the reason for starting your blog? Let me know in the comments!

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.