Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Disability

I wasn’t going to write about negative things on my blog but after a recent post I put on the VI Talk Facebook page I thought I would put my personal spin on what is a serious issue. So here goes.The post read – ‘’How many VI staff does the RNIB employ?’’ A simple enough question that merely was attempting to find out what proportion of RNIB staff are VI. But the reaction was quite different to what I expected. I don’t want to pay too much attention to the disappointing figures but what I do want to do is to champion the cause for the abilities of those of us who are visually impaired.

Just because someone has sight loss it makes them no less able to do many jobs than our sighted counterparts. I know VI people that are computer programmers, office managers, chefs, care workers, cleaners and work in many other fields. I know of visually impaired pool players who are better players than most sighted opposition. I know of lecturers who have lived in the real world with sight loss and can teach people with sight loss because they have experienced it.

The abilities that many disabled people have are extremely underrated. It is not a case that just because someone is perceived to be less able that they are. In actual fact, give the person a chance and you will probably be surprised.

I don’t think I am too far wrong by saying that if you employ some who is VI that you will find they work harder to overcome their difficulties and will take nothing for granted. You will find that they are loyal because jobs are hard to find . but most of all, you will find that people who have the get up and go, and the drive to not sit on their backside living off the state will be more dedicated to working hard than most of the sighted team you already employ.

It is a simple fact that people are often scared to employ those of us with disabilities for many reasons. It is my view that this has to change. The potential for all of these people is huge and the adjustments needed are minimal. If someone has the will to get up and wants to work, they will be more than capable of explaining what support they need. Then you have access to work which is there to support people with disabilities not only get into work but to retain jobs as well.
Adjustments for sight loss are not major overhauls, it is not as if the whole of your building and staff will need to cater to a disabled person. We know how to live, what you think we do the rest of the time. We don’t just sit in the corner bobbing our heads up and down to the beat of a talking book. Many of us play sports, many of us have sighted friends that we go and see and I am sure many of us consume the odd drop of alcohol. Dare I say it, most of us are just like you. We don’t want and in most cases do not need special treatment. We just want the chance to prove ourselves and not be left to feel unemployable and useless in the job market.

I myself have a job, I have been employed for over 8years doing the same job. I am now also at university. People say I am lucky to be where I am, truth is, I am not lucky. I work extremely hard to do the things I do. I have spent years building my knowledge and reputation, but all it took was for me to be given one chance all those years ago and that gave me the ability to make a real impact. If you have read any of my blogs before, then take a look back and have a read over some of the things I have done.

I hope this message gets spread through as many outlets as possible, I wouldn’t normally ask you to share this but as this is not designed for laughter, I urge you all to spread the word as far and wide as you can.

That’s it for now.
Until next time
MRWG

Status

The Power Of Social Media

So these days social media has almost taken over the entire world. You can’t go anywhere without checking your Facebook or seeing whats trending on Twitter. I have to admit, I do the same myself so I talk from experience. But every time I do, I see a stupid status like New Year new me!!! All I can think is, stop trying to fool yourself. We all know that you say it every year. Just check back on your Facebook feed using the on this day feature and you will see. For the last 10 years, every January, the same thing. New Year new me. Either you have changed every year, or the more likely situation, you woke up on January the 1st and all of a sudden, you slip back into the same old you. I mean seriously, what can you change. Be more confident, a New Year doesn’t bring new confidence and you can’t just wake up and feel better about yourself. You have to work towards the new you. Go to the gym, take up a sport or just stop being a miserable old git. 

Checking the trends on Twitter, this is a thing now. You open the app, you see a name of a celebrity, the first  thing you think is ARE THEY DEAD? It’s a horrible thought but with the way celebrities are dropping like flies this year, its almost what Twitter is now used for. I was having the very morbid conversation not to long ago with my girlfriend. Asking the question let’s see if anyone else is knocking on the pearly gates when George Michael’s name popped up. IS HE DEAD? This time the suspicious was true, funny though how Twitter has become my first thought when it comes to checking the state of whether or not celbreties have indeed bitten the dust. A very odd thought I know but hey. 

I love YouTube, I havent taken the time yet to make videos myself, maybe one day I will, not sure I really have the creativity and who wants to see my ugly mug chatting rubbidh to you. I think I will stick to writing. I do enjoy watching the creative minds of others such as the WhatCulture wrestling. I am a big wrestling fan and have been since I was a kid, nothing like watching to big muscle men fight over a shiny pieece of gold. The WhatCulture boys and their unique take on wrestling is always entertaining. Especially King Ross, the man is a genius. 

When social media first came to be, I wasn’t planning on jumping on the band wagon, but now that it has reached some incredible heights, you can’t seem to go a day without learning what someone has cooked for tea, or seeing that they have made a point of sharing the fact that they have just been for a walk to fetch a pint of milk. I am sure that some people are worried about this information. Staggering as that may be. 

I use social media to share important stories, to promote my blog and to share events such as the beer festival at our cricket club. It is a wondeful tool to spread information all over the world at a rate of knots that can’t always been quantified and long may it continue. 

That’s it for now.

Speak again soon

MRWG

Status

Is Humanities Laziness Making Life Easier For Us Blind Folk

Over the last few years there has been a whole range of smart devices that have incorporated the ability to use your voice to control all sorts of devices. It started with Sat-Navs which made perfect sense, not a good idea to use your hands to set a device when you are driving. This then moved onto the smart phone. Now people are using smartphones in cars and the Sat-Nav is becoming more and more unused as time passes. Why would you have a Sat-Nav when your phone will do it for you? Your phone can pretty much do anything for you these days. But this is not a bad thing. What people see as convenience as a sighted person, as a blind person, we see it as essential. The same device that sighted people use to get them from A to B, we can use to control a huge part of our lives. It could be adding reminders, it could set your morning alarm or it could be searching for information on Google. The advent of voice control on smartphones has not only allowed convenience for the lazy humans, but it has opened up a whole world of easy access to the ‘smart world’. Ok so it’s not only lazy humans granted. It is also for those who are so busy that everything needs to be done at once. So, you are driving along in your car, making calls, sending emails and checking the weather all with your voice. Well guess what. I am walking with my Moses stick and doing exactly the same. It probably looks like I am going mad whilst doing so but still. I know the truth and that’s all that matters.

This may not have been the intention with the likes of Siri, Ok Google or Alexa but I for one am very glad this has happened. The task of using a digital radio to many may seem like a simple task, but when you can’t read the screen to select the station, it is a real frustration. I now own an Amazon Echo and it is quite possibly a revolutionary device for the blind and partially sighted community. Simply say Alexa – play TalkSport and within seconds, there it is. You can adjust the volume with your voice so the lazy humans don’t even need to get off the sofa. Alexa is also very intuitive and will learn all the time. Her limits are endless. Talking books are seen by many as a life saver, if you are a member of Audible from Amazon, simply ask Alexa to play your book and she will, and she will do so from the place you last left off and she will smile whilst doing so. Not literally but you can tell she is happy. A very good voice tells you that. I have been using synthetic voices now for years and most of them are dull and very uninspiring. Alexa however, if you didn’t know any better, could well be mistaken for a human voice, and not the lazy human either. She sounds emotional, she actually sings, and sings well too.
I will be doing a full review of Alexa’s features in a later blog, I just want to realise her full potential before I write about her.
So, with Amazon, Google and Microsoft all ploughing vast resources into lazy humanity, I say keep up the good work It can only enhance the lives of us with bad sight.
Humans, be a bit more lazy and let’s see if Apple can catch up. Stay on the sofa use your voice, they know what you do, the more you do it the more they will develop it.
That’s it for now.
Check back soon for my review of the Amazon Echo.
MRWG
Status

The Zebra Saved My Life

Some of my sight impaired friends may not know this but on the back of a lot of service vehicles such as delivery vans and lorry’s have stickers on the back that say how am I driving? They follow this with a phone number so that you can ring cousin Jimmy’s boss to let him know that my word you have never seen a corner taken quite as well as what cousin Jimmy did this afternoon by the roundabout next to lidl. Come on, you all have to admit no one in that right mind has ever done this. But the sticker remains none the less. I often feel like ringing the company and having a moan about cousin Jimmy as his hands were not at the 10 and 2 position. But the how am I driving idea to me breads so much more thought than just van drivers delivering sandwiches to the local Co-Op. For me I am constantly berating drivers stood there in the middle of the street frantically waving my Moses Stick at there  car not having a clue if they are paying any attention. You can only  imagine they aren’t. If they were they wouldn’t have turned that corner that quick and nearly run me down in the prime of my life on a zebra crossing. By the way zebra crossings are evil and should be banned. Effectively it is a stand off between me and the car on the road that I can’t quite see well enough. You never know when a car will speed round the corner startling me just like the jack in the box scaring the living daylights out of me when I was a kid. The stand off comes to an end when the guy in the car waves his hand at you but you can’t tell he is doing so because like my Moses stick would suggest my eyes don’t really work too well. So then he flashes his light which blinds me even further. Thanks for that cousin Jimmy. Then after a good 7 seconds of sheer panic at the zebra which is there to protect you, you step out. What does cousin Jimmy do, he revs his engine as he is fed up with waiting. I can’t blame him, that’s seven seconds of his life I just wasted whilst trying to protect my own life from ending. But it’s to late, you have made the first step. This turns into either rage or panic, you either turn and start shouting what are you doing you idiot, this is a zebra crossing and its for me to cross AARRRGGGHHH. Or you end up doing a stylish ballerina move that you have never been taught probably looking like a complete fool and end up back where you started all over again. Oh dear, sorry cousin Jimmy, your going to have to wait ten seconds now until I am 100% sure I can go. Yes, this time I am going to make you wait longer just because you made me jump out of skin.

Zebra crossings are not meant to be a place where you fear for your life but I have had so many experience of idiot drivers on the roads I choose to be as careful as I can. One of the only times in my life I am that careful. Crossing roads with sight loss is not easy, I will happily wait for ages whilst other people are walking casually across the traffic lights because they can see well enough to know a car isn’t coming. The reason I wait is I value my life. Drivers don’t seem to value theres all the time. This doesn’t go for every driver of course. But as I said, I have had a lot of near hit experiences and do not wish to have any more.

I appreciate I am not a driver and have never actually held a driving licence but I have taken lessons in the past, I have taken and passed a theory test and I do know a good deal of the Highway Code. So I drives me mad when I am stood on the crossing waiting to cross the road, and a car pulls up clearly knowing his vehicle will not fit into the gap left by the driver in front who is now stuck in rush hour traffic. So why indeed does the new car decide to enter the crossing box and block us poor pedestrians in? It annoys the hell out of me. I don’t always see it and when I ‘accidentally’ hit the car with my Moses stick, I am the one in the wrong. Sorry cousin Jimmy, you shouldn’t have pulled up there. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t have had this problem.

Thats it for now.

All the best

MRWG

The Zebra Saved My Life

Say What You Think

I have never been one to beat around the bush, quite the opposite in fact. But recently I have found myself biting my lip and sometimes my tongue so hard that I nearly draw blood. A gruesome image I know but I just get so frustrated with things and at times I just want to throw a blunt object at a wall over and over again until I have forgotten what it was I was so upset with in the first place. Of course there are many places where you can’t throw said objects at said wall due to the fact it is frowned upon in many circles. I don’t know why it is frowned upon it seems perfectly fair to me to be able to release the tension without releasing someone’s head from there body. Of course this is wrong and I would never do it. So instead I bite my lip and tongue quite literally at times. I wish I didn’t but you can’t smoke on a bus or in the many other places I find this feeling a pure rage at other peoples stupidity. I realise this may sound as though I feel I always know best and for the most part I know this not to be true. I do have a sound understanding of many things in life but I also realise that one man can’t know everything. Not even Steven Hawkins knows everything. (OR DOES HE?)

It is not healthy to bottle up feelings, I find that if something needs to be said it is best off to just come out an say it. It could be a joke that has you laughing under your breath to yourself or it could be telling some you like them. In many cases the things that we bottle up are in fact negative feelings and thoughts to another person you are somehow close to.

The person could be a colleague, a lecturer it could be a mate. Whoever it is it really shouldn’t matter. Negativity is a bad thing and has no place in my world. So why am I not saying how I feel to people currently? All of my life I have opened up and just come out with it. Is this finally me growing up? I didn’t think this day would ever come. I am normally to busy coming up with my next one liner to think about other things that much. But here I am getting frustrated about to blow worse than a volcano that has been dormant for decades and still, the words do not come out. I don’t believe I have turned over a new leaf, this whole thinking before saying for me is like turning over the whole damn forest.

So in future if you ever see me right a comment on Facebook and I do not wish to divulge why that comment was written on my own page, then don’t bloody push me. If I have something to say it will be said.  But it will not be the 21year old Marc who would come out firing on all cylinders because the world owed me a favour. It will not be the 25year old Marc who was getting cocky as he thought he was just plain better than you. It will be the new and improved 30year old Marc who is old enough now to know better.

You have to ask yourself, why is that person annoying you? Are you to tired? Is it their fauly they are annoying you or is there some underlying issue that is out of their control? At the end of it all you don’t know and chances are you never will. So instead, write  a blog and hope it gets read. After all, I certainly feel better now.

That’s it for now,

All the best

MRWG

 

Say What You Think

To Read or Not To Read!

After working in the same job for eight years now without any hope of promotion, I decided I needed to do something about it. So I started to search for other jobs in another organisation that would match my ambitious targets. After applying for several different places it became apparent that due to my lack of qualifications I couldn’t get a foot in the door despite my wealth of work experience and knowledge that should be more important. The world has moved in peculiar ways over recent times. It seems that paperwork is more important than years of practical experience. With this in mind I decided to start looking for a course which would enable me to gain the qualification the employer’s desire.
I started university this year at the grand old age of 30, a mature student only in name and not in behaviour. For the most part this is true I do like to be the class clown and crack the occasional joke or two. There is no better feeling than a quick quip that has the whole classroom not sure whether they are allowed to laugh at my personal micky taking. However the first few weeks have taught me lots. I am doing a certificate in management studies with the aim of becoming a manager at a sight loss charity in the future. I am learning some key skills and also confirming some common sense facts that I already know. The main thing I am learning though is that libraries and many websites are not set up in a way that someone with severe sight loss is able to access with any ease at all. The staff at campus must be getting a bit tired of me complaining about the set up. It’s not their fault I know but they are the ones that take the full force of my displeasure at such limited IT systems. IT don’t seem to care about making the changes either, so long as they are sat in their boiling hot, windowless office setting up the next Apple Mac they are happy. New toys for the IT guys and lack of interest for the blind guy.
There are three different libraries on three separate campuses and only one computer on each site has accessible software on. Now if I were the only one that would be using this software throughout the entire university then that would be fine right? Well, I am sure with all of the thousands of students that study at the university I simply can’t be the only one. In fact my support worker has told me she supports someone else with sight loss so I know I am not alone.
So, what happens when more than one person wishes to use the accessible computer? The other is left outside in the cold. I suppose you could always walk 9miles to the other campus if you were that desperate. Trying to find it could be difficult however. Then of course if you make it to the other campus you have the find the mysterious accessible machine that probably doesn’t work or is totally out of date so it doesn’t do the correct job anyway.
Moving onto the online library, I have never been much of a reader, wasn’t interested in reading A Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings, I would much sooner watch the screen adaptation with a good bit of Audio Description, so you could forgive me for not being up to date with the library vernacular. When it comes to searching for books and journals it simply can’t be that tough right? Wrong, never more wrong and simply wrong. I have more chance of finding a symbol cane in a junk yard than I would ever have of finding my way around the online library with any degree of continued success. Mainly this is due to the fact nothing is labelled correctly and therefore isn’t read aloud by my software , but also the poor colour contrast on screen which you can’t change. All in all this makes for a very unpleasant experience which leads you to be very frustrated and not want to bother. The amount of headaches I have endured trying to read about motivation theory you wouldn’t believe. Ironic really that I lose motivation struggling to find a journal on motivation theory.
I have to say however the librarians themselves have been nothing short of miraculous at times and have been kind enough to scan books in and copy them into text documents which are so much easier to read. This gives me the level playing field I was promised by the disability department from the start. After all that’s all I need to give myself a good chance of succeeding with my studies. A level playing field and the will power to get through no matter what.
Keeping a full time job as well as doing this course is without doubt going to be a challenge but one that will no doubt be worthwhile in the long term. I will keep you posted on my progression.
That’s it for now.
MRWG
To Read or Not To Read!

Let’s Talk About Sight Baby

Just recently there have been a lot of online contributions about ‘What I See’. More people with sight loss are trying to explain what they can see. I find this notion very difficult indeed to describe to people. I mean it isn’t that I can’t say what I do see but how can I tell you what I don’t see? I would never know it wasn’t there. So when people ask the age old question ‘So what can you see’? After I shake off the utter distain for the 12 milliontth  time I have been asked this question I realise again it is near impossible for me to put into words the blurry nothingness that is my vision. But never the less, if I carry my moses stick I will always be asked the same question. So, I simply reply, ‘I see shapes of things and not much more’. This is about the size of it. I see shapes, some big some small. But they are all shapes. This doesn’t really answer the question properly but it seems to satisfy.

I am a very outgoing person, I enjoy a good drink and I enjoy meeting new people. I enjoy making people laugh and I enjoy a game of pool. I am not your ‘stereotypical blind person’. This whole idea that if you have a white stick you must be completely blind and not ever do anything to enjoy yourself and improve your life is utterly laughable. It still gets to me when you hear people say ‘look at him on his phone, he aint blind’. Or if you are walking down the high street there is always one or two that have the odd word to say as they are walking past. Granted these are few and far between but still.

I often feel like turning around and saying ‘look at you with your stupid face and crappy dress sense, you must be blind yourself. When it comes to it, just because someone has a white stick, it doesn’t mean they are totally blind and it certainly doesn’t mean they are anything less than anyone else. It is the shameful few that like to act like bullies because they never grew up before they started to reproduce themselves. It does make me rather concerned about the future at times.

The bottom line is, a lot of people with sight loss will use some kind of walking aid, could be a dog it could be a cane. But it is not anyone elses right to doubt that person and to fling abuse there way for no reason other than your own self pity from your own unfulfilled life.

I realise this page is entitled Real Life Humour and for the most part that is what I aim to write, but there are times when you just have to get something off your chest before you can start to find the funny side of things again.

That’s it for now, Next time I will try and be a bit more upbeat.

MRWG

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Sight Baby