Being Visually Impaired in Summer

Hello again,

I am really happy that it is almost June, I prefer the summer months because the warmer weather helps my back. The less cold the easier it is. Which means I hopefully won’t have to take pain killers too much.

Whilst my guide-cane is great at helping me to ‘see’ what my eyes do not, it also has a negative impact on my shoulder, spine and neck. The reason being is if the surfaces aren’t smooth the slightest jolt, feeling for a curb, or an out of place slab really hurts. I suppose I have to take the rough with the smooth. Due to my many different health problems I often feel like ‘if I didn’t have x then y wouldn’t be too bad’. But I can’t sit and feel sorry for myself otherwise I’d never leave the house. So off we go.

Last year it was suggested to me I wear sunglasses. I said ‘but what about in doors? I can’t do that.’ They replied with ‘why not? if it makes your life easier’. So I went and got prescription sunglasses. I honestly wish I had done it sooner. My day to day is so much better. Less light means I get less headaches and can deal with things easier.

There was still a problem with glare though. I was still finding it hard to block out sunshine when outside. Meaning my eyes getting tired and choosing to close themselves. Which is wonderful when you’re half way across a road. But that is where my guide-cane comes in handy. Helping me navigate my way to the other side. What to do about the glare though? I decided I should buy a cap with a decent brim. I was shopping at an outlet for some new jeans, and saw a blue hat. It was a good size and I decided to buy it.

Now I try not to leave the house without it. It helps to cut out glare so I don’t have to look at the floor to stop the sunlight being too much and causing me to close my eyes without warning. Making journeys when I’m out alone a bit safer. Plus it will stop direct sunlight getting on my head in summer when it is too hot. So it’s a win win all round.

The issue I have with summer though, which I can’t control is flying bugs. Bees, wasps, flies etc. My peripheral vision is not too great and the other day a bee, I think it was a bee, flew at me. I could only tell when it had reached the side of my face and was cm from left eye. I made a panicked noise. I hope people didn’t hear.

I like bees but I can’t stand when they come near my face.

If you have any tips on how to cope with summer please leave me a comment.

As always, I’m on Twitter @PhilippaB
I’m reachable at

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Hello again,

May the 16th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Basically what the name of the day is, is what it’s all about.

To start my day I went to work and there were so many people waiting for the train I just took one look at the platform and thought ‘no thank you’. I checked to see when the next train was and it was only a few minute later. So I decided to wait. This was the sensible option as it meant I had more chance of getting a seat. Which I got.


(image below shows a guide can e being held up in front of a purple train seat facing sideways. Beyond the chair is train door open to the right)PkZPClcbTb+sFUjmRSkhMw_thumb_de84

I find my journey to work very taxing because if I start early the sun is low in the sky which means there’s a lot of glare. I have started to wear a hat which, along with my sunglasses cuts out the glare a little more. This has made getting to work a little easier. It is also helpful when people move out of my path when they are a good few feet away so I’m not worried about thinking ‘will they move, will they trip over my guide cane?’

A few days ago I had someone move at the very last minute. By this I mean, they brushed passed my shoulder. I find it very difficult being visually impaired, but on top of this I have Dyspraxia. Meaning I find it hard to coordinate my movements. I cannot see, I cannot react quickly and therefore I rely on others to watch where they’re going. I don’t have the ability to be as mobile as others.

GAAD is a day to bring these issues front and centre a little more. However, GAAD is only one day. The issues we face as a disabled community are quite varied. We use this day to make our issues known. The problem comes when GAAD is over. This happens during Priority Seat Week too. (This scheme appears to be London based, which I think needs to be rolled out nation wide. Accessible travel is not something we expect only when we visit London.) People-hopefully- give up their seats during Priority Seat Week and then as soon as it is over normal service is resumed. Just as on GAAD people think it’s just one day.

It is not.

Disabled people exist 24/7 365 days of the year. We do not wish to be stuck at home, some of us have jobs believe it or not. Some of us go volunteering. All of us have lives- just like you!

All we want is access. We have a right to access society and be seen as human beings. In my previous post I wrote about disability chic, and how being disabled isn’t something we should feel bad about. Yes, we do have our down days but that’s what people do. We shouldn’t be excluded from having a life, we should be included in society.

GAAD is all about accessibility and making the world work for everyone. We are not second class citizens. How would you feel if you were excluded from an event?
Unfortunately there are a lot of groups out there who will be used to this feeling. Whether it’s because of race, ethnicity, disability, there are so many ways in which people can be made to feel excluded.

We share one thing in common, we are all human. Why can’t we work together to create an accessible world everyday?

We can. We must. We are. I went into Boots a few weeks ago and a member of staff came up to me straight away and asked if I needed help. This was wonderful. The other day I got on the train and I was asked by the conductor if I needed assistance. I asked them to help me find a seat. I usually get a taxi home due to the amount of pain I am in, the taxi drivers ask me if I’m OK getting in and out. Yesterday a person asked if I was looking for a taxi. I said yes and they opened the door for me. I said thank you.

It’s important to remember our world can be accessible and it is accessible in many ways. But that does not mean it is perfect. It could be a lot better. That is why we need GAAD. To remind ourselves that conversation shouldn’t stop. That we can keep making our world a better place. Please remember to be kind and always ask someone if they need help. If they don’t that is OK, but in asking you showed that there will always be someone to help.

Acts of human kindness go along way.

here is a link to my welcome page where you can find all my other blog posts.

If you have any thoughts on this post or would like to know more please email

I am on Twitter @PhilippaB

My thoughts on disability chic

Hello again,

For this weeks post I am going to talk about ‘Disability Extremism’ or ‘Disability Chic’ as it might be known. If you are unaware of what this is, simply put it is the idea that people are being loud and proud about their disabilities.

Now, you’re probably wondering ‘whats wrong with that?’

Well, what if I told you there are a number of people out there who believe ‘being loud and proud about your disability’ is a negative thing?

That you shouldn’t be proud of your disability, that disabled people are less than everyone else?

Believe me that this has been a hot topic on Twitter this week.

There is the idea amongst some people that having a disability is something to be ashamed of. That disabled people should be hidden away and not be allowed into general society. That we take up too much room, we take up too much effort, we take up too much in the way of valuable resources.

If you do not believe me then consider this, how many disabled people have died due to their benefits being stopped? That they are deemed ‘fit to work’ by the DWP? How about the whole argument around changing spaces? That they take up too much room? That organisations don’t want to pay to have an accessible space for a carer to be able to change their disabled child meaning they have no choice but to lay their loved one down on a filthy public bathroom floor and change them? Would you change your baby on a toilet floor? Or maybe that a staggering number of blind and visually impaired people are not in employment because companies don’t know how to support them? I could absolutely go on making a list here.

My argument, along with other disabled people, is that we should not feel ashamed of our disabilities. We shouldn’t have to not be allowed to feel good about ourselves. If you as a none disabled person feel uncomfortable around a person with a disability that is your problem, not ours. You need to ask yourself why you are uncomfortable. You should not tell us ‘oh I don’t feel comfortable using the word disability- you should say differently abled’ why? Why should I change how I describe myself? I am disabled!

I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled!

The world is geared up towards the abled, because they are the majority. Which is some ways makes sense. However on a human level, it does not. This needs to change. We will not sit back any longer.

Now people are talking openly about being disabled and using # on Twitter to create environments and communities where we can feel empowered, we are being targeted. Why? Is it because when people demand change it means other people have to be willing make changes to what they know and are comfortable with. They are having to accommodate and make room for people who before were not catered to. I am not saying I expect change over night. I recognise that doesn’t happen. But what I am saying is, we demand to see change and we want to know how change will occur.

Part of the change we want to see is a change in unconscious bias towards disabled people. We want people to stop judging those of us who ask for a seat on train who ‘don’t look disabled’. We want people to stop staring when we get out of cars when we’ve parked in a disabled bay and are putting our blue badges in the windows. We want you to stop rushing us at the check out. We want you to talk to us like we are human beings and not like we are something for you to stare at on the street.

People like Sam Renke have spoken out about this on ITV. Sam has spoken about how online abuse is very common. That more needs to be done to tackle hate speech towards disabled people. I agree. We deserve to be safe, to be allowed to feel un threatened. Words hurt, behaviours hurt. Unconscious bias- hurts. We need to encourage people to understand that their behaviours are harmful towards the most vulnerable in our society. Sam talked about how we need to have more accountability and I agree. Please watch her video here.

I am visually impaired, have Dyspraxia and a curved spine. I am often in pain. If you would like to know more about how you can support visually impaired people in work, please reach out. I will advise you how best I can. I will also leave a list of charities below who you can contact and discuss any concerns you have.

We are not demanding anything big and Earth shattering. We just want to be respected and treated like humans. Like you.

I am placing these links below as sites you may find useful. I am in no way affiliated to them.

See Ability


CVI Society

Guide Dogs

Dyspraxia Foundation

Scoliosis Association UK


Equally Together