Busses and Cycle Lanes

Hello All,

I hope you are well.

The topic for todays blog is around street layouts.
Normally I get the train to work, however the other week I had to get the bus.

When getting off I was unaware that I was getting off onto a small area of pavement which divided the main road and a new cycle lane. This meant that when I stepped off there was only enough room for single file people to walk on. If you use a guide cane and do not know that there is a cycle lane a few feet in front of you, you are not safe.

The reason you are not safe is that the pavement you have to walk across does not have adequate tactile paving.

Tactile paving exists to tell a Blind or Visually Impaired Person that there is a a curb, a step, or any change in their surroundings coming up which they should be aware of. 

Given that there is only tactile paving on the zebra crossing between the island of pavement and normal pavement, divided by a cycle lane, this is not safe at all.

See photo below of a crossing with a tactile paving then a cycle lane, then a small strip of pavement to get onto a bus. Notice in the photo the bus does not need to stop near the tactile paving.

Cycle lane


Blind and Visually Impaired People have tried to raise concerns about these issues in the past and I wanted to write about my experience with this.

Whilst I understand cyclists need somewhere safe to access the roads this should not be at the expense of Disabled Peoples safety. I cannot begin to image how wheelchair users navigate this issue.

I love that we have more green alternative to travel by making cycling more accessible. It will allow more people to maybe feel like cycling is an alternative option for them. Meaning less cars on the road, meaning less pollution and greener city spaces.

It would be good to hear if you are Disabled and have had similar issues to the ones I have described above.

Thank you,
Philippa.

Please take a look at the following article which addresses concerns from RNIB regarding New Street designs to encourage more cycling and walking https://www.rnib.org.uk/more-cycling-and-walking-good-as-long-as-streets-are-accessible

Please take a look at Street Design Guidance from Guide Dogs https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/research/policy-and-guidance-for-businesses/street-design-guidance-for-local-authorities/

Nystagmus Awareness Day 2022

Hello all,

Happy Nystagmus Awareness Day!

What is Nystagmus?
“Nystagmus is a complex eye condition, characterised by involuntary eye movements, from side to side, up and down or round and round. This affects the ability to focus, see the world in three dimensions and recognise faces.” Nystagmus Network.

How does it affect me?

For people with Nystagmus they have something called a null point which is a point at which they can hold their heads to reduce the amount of wobbling their eye does. Nice and simple… not really. It doesn’t stop the eye from wobbling and for myself this causes other problems, linked with Scoliosis.

If I have to hold my head at a certain angle to be able to reduce the eye wobble and try focus on something my neck will start to hurt. Which then spreads into my shoulder and then my back. This null point is not in keeping with what my posture needs to reduce the constant pain of Scoliosis. Therefore I just have to make the most of a bad situation.

How I see.

One thing which I think people would be interested to know is, what does the world look like to me? 

See the difference? It is as though there is constant motion and nothing ever stands still. I describe it to people like this ‘Imagine you have a terrible headache and you are stood up on a roundabout which is spinning. Then add to that by having to move around on the roundabout and stay stood up.

Does your head hurt? I know mine does.

Another problem for those of us who have Nystagmus is that we struggle to recognise faces. For children this can be stressful because if they can’t locate their parent in a crowd, they become stressed or panic.
This problem of recognising faces does not go away or improve as you get older. When I am out meeting friends I cannot see them until they are a few feet in front of me. Even then I may not be able to tell it is them.

How can you help someone with Nystagmus?
You can send them written information in formats they find accessible, meaning large font, or in a preferred colour. You can let them know in advance what coloured jacket you are wearing when you meet up. Or say exactly where you will meet them.

If you have any questions about Nystagmus you can drop them below and I can answer from my own perspective. Please check out Nystagmus Network for more details.

They have a wealth of information and they are really beneficial.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @PhilippaB.

Scoliosis and Community

As it is June I will be writing another post about… you guessed it… Scoliosis Awareness.

I have only ever met 3 people who have the condition. One of them is a friend of a friend. The other is a person I know through work. They are both really lovely and it is nice to be able to speak to people who have Scoliosis as it can be quite lonely at times.

It can be lonely because people don’t always understand when you say ‘my back hurts’. People may respond with ‘oh… mine too’ or ‘have you tried Pilates?’ Please don’t do this when someone who has Scoliosis or, any chronic condition tells you their back, or something else hurts.

My spine hurts because it is so curved my spine curves into my shoulder blade. It doesn’t go underneath but it goes rather close.

The other person I know who has Scoliosis is my Mum. Her spine is not as curved as mine, but it’s still curved.

As not a lot of people know about Scoliosis is can be quite lonely. This is why it is important to share our experiences. So we can raise awareness and allow people to feel less alone.

This is important because it helps reduce the negative impact on your Mental Health. If you know there are other people out there who have the same condition as you then you can talk to them. Talking about things like diagnoses, pain management or even just activities you enjoy which are low impact. I joked with the person at work about the gym and we were both just like ‘nope…. Physio exercises are enough thank you’. These little things really do help you to feel less alone. 

If you have stumbled across this blog and you have Scoliosis please follow me on Twitter and join the community of Scoliosis Warriors. 

Scoliosis Awareness Month Ouch

Hello all,

Hope you are all well.

June is Scoliosis Awareness month and it true fashion my back has been hurting a lot more recently.

One of the things I need to do is get some more sport massages booked in. They are very beneficial to my back and mental health. The massages really release a lot of built up tension which causes me to be in pain.

The past few weeks I have been trying to do a few more different exercises on top of the normal stretches I have been given by my physio. The one which I am working on is arm and leg raises. It is quite difficult because I also have Dyspraxia so my balance is not the best. Doing these exercises helps with my back pain and helps my balance. So that’s two problems being addressed in one.

Doing the exercises in the long term will help to improve my core strength which will allow me to cary myself better. This will then mean I am using all my muscles, so that I am not over reliant on just the one side of my body.

In the short term it is causing me more me pain as I get used to my back having to work muscles it doesn’t normally, due to my scoliosis.

In the long term it will be better because the muscles are being used more and more. Helping me to stand up straighter, build strength in my shoulders and hips. I know it will be beneficial, it just really hurts.

The exercises along with the sport massages will help me to feel more comfortable, more relaxed and less tense. Reducing my pain and also improving my mental health.

Do you have Scoliosis or suspect someone may have it? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Go to your doctors and ask that they check to see if the person has it. The person will be asked to stand up as straight as they can, then asked to lean forwards. This will allow the Doctor to see if the spine has a curve or if the shoulders are not straight.

If you want to seek any advice then check out Scoliosis Association UK.

I am on Twitter @pbarraclough

Things you should not do.

Featured

Hello all,

How are we all doing today?

Normally I do not go out alone as I struggle to get to new places independently. Getting to work I do alone as it is a familiar route.

When getting on and off trains it can be quite difficult for a few different reasons, one of which is when the platform and trains are busy.

It can be very helpful when someone asks me if I need help. My preferred way of people asking is if they say ‘hello’ rather than touching my arm to get my attention. This is just because I don’t like people in my personal space.

If I say yes to you your help then please let me take your arm and the guide me onto the train. Then help me to find a seat. Once we have found one I will say thank you and that I am happy for your help.

People will ask me if it is OK to ask a Disabled person if they need help. My response is always, please ask if you are unsure. The reason I say this is because it is always nice to be asked and if we do not need help we will politely say no.

Things I do not appreciate as a White Cane user are people assuming I have no site at all and using this to think it is ok to push past me.

This week in one train journey the following happened:

The train pulled up and I was about to get on when someone got on in front of me. Then another person decided to the same. The second person did so as my cane was helping me navigate the train step. My cane caught in between his feet and he could have fallen over or I could have misjudged the gap and hurt myself. This is all because people are arrogant and want to get on first.

The train is not leaving any quicker because you got on first.

Then getting off the train I stood waiting to go through the doors from the carriage into the exit. My cain was stuck out and I was ready to move through the door. Then someone stepped round the side of me and pushed through the door before me. These doors are quite narrow. My cain got stuck between their feet as they continued to walk off the train. Once again this could have ended up in injury to myself or them.

If an injury were to occur, it would not be my fault. I have a cain for a reason, if you chose to ignore it and you fall over it is not my fault at all. You may think that’s a bit harsh, but it is not. My eyes don’t work well, which is why I have the cain, your eyes work, so please use them.

Please be respectful of Disabled people, well everyone really. Personally I think if you were to ask if someone needs help it is OK to do so. As long as it is coming from a good place then it is all good.

Thank you for reading.

Scoliosis

Featured

Hello all,

I have decided this weeks post will be all about Scoliosis. Recently I have adjusted the exercises I do so I can try get a better balance, strengthen my core and shoulders. How exciting.

Doing physio exercises is very tiring. Normally when you go to a physio via the NHS you get exercises to do and they will, if necessary do a sport massage to release some of the tension. This is not normally the case though.

I do my exercises and then I have sport massages separately. Yes they are costly however I think it is really worth it. The sport massage releases the tension and helps you to start again. Then you can do the exercises to rebuild your strength and reset your muscles.

All of this does not stop my need to take painkillers on a daily basis. Right now for example, I am sat in my comfy chair but I have had to take pain killers. I am also wearing layers to keep my back muscles warm.

Scoliosis is very hard to live with and there is no cure. Even if you have the surgery you still have scoliosis. You still have days when you are in pain.

If you have any questions around scoliosis please feel free to drop a comment a below. Also check out SAUK.org.uk

Thank you for reading.
Twitter @PhilippaB

Being Sociable when disabled

Status

Hello all, 

It’s been a while. I’ve been enjoying some time away from my blog and it’s been nice. 

One thing which I am very excited about is the summer coming. It is always nicer when the weather is warmer and we can spend more time outside. The other thing I like about the spring/summer is that the days are longer. This means I can try and go out a bit more than I would in the winter months. Being visually impaired means I don’t do well in the dark. Having scoliosis is also another factor which stops me doing stuff in winter. The reason being my back hurts more due to the cold. 

But spring and summer are on their way. 

The other day I got to meet up with my friend which was lovely. I have not seen them in a while. We went for cake and had a wander.  It was lovely to catch up. 

I struggle to get out at times as I get quite tired with work. This is frustrating as it leaves me with little energy. So I often feel as though I can’t see my friends as often as I would like. But this is one of the problems when you’re disabled. I am always grateful to my friends who are understanding of this.

This problem of not feeling able to socialise as much as I would like is something the disabled community is not new too. We all have problems with being able to get out for a variety of reasons. Either due to tiredness or lack of access for our needs. There are many reasons.

I hope the world can be more accommodating for the disabled community as we have so much to offer. We just need support.

Anyway that’s my post for today. I shall try be back again soon with more posts. Have a great day. 

World Book Day 2022

Hello,

How are we all?

This week we have World Book Day coming up on the 3rd of March. Last year I did a small blog about what I had I had been listening too and I thought I would write another one about my love of reading.

Quite often you may see the discussion around are Audiobooks really reading? In my opinion, yes it is. For one reason I am Visually Impaired and without AudioBooks I would have lost the ability to do one of my favourite things. Reading.

My recent listens are:

Divergent Mind by Jenara Nerenberg
Click here for Audible 

Full Circle by Michael Palin
Click here for Audible 

All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk

Click here for Audible

*other formats are available 


When it comes to rereading I enjoy a variety of different books, unfortunately fiction is not something I am listen to very often.

My latest listen is ‘All of the Marvels’. This book is great because it goes into a lot of detail about the Marvel Universe and how it has grown over time, the way it has addressed issues going on in the world and how it has an infinite scope to just keep going. If you are a fan of Marvel I would definitely give this one a read.

When it comes to books I love that you can always learn something. The argument that audiobooks are not really reading is pointless in my opinion. If you are enjoying them, if you’re learning something, if they are helping get you through the day then what’s the argument, really?

Stories and books should be for everyone. Whether you’re Visually Impaired and can’t see the book, or you’re Dyslexic and you struggle to follow along. It should not matter. Books are there to be enjoyed and if you enjoy reading then enjoy it by whatever medium you see fit.

What books have you been reading lately?
Don’t forget to check out #WritingCommunity on Twitter.
Charity Shops are a great place to pick up books.

Thank you for dropping in and see you soon. 

Lucy and Yak Fleece

Hello again,

For a while now I have been wanting a fleece from Lucy and Yak. The materials are recycled so it’s a great win for the environment. Also everyone I know who has their stuff seems to really like what they buy.

The other day I treated myself to a nice dark blue fleece. The fabric is very soft, the colour is lovely and the fit is very snug and cozy.

When I’m buying clothes I have to be very careful as I  am quite fussy about the feel and the fit. As I have a Scoliosis it is very important to me that the fit is comfortable. I ordered a small after looking at the size of the model was wearing in the picture. Normally I would go for a medium. But fleeces are meant to be baggy so I went with the small.

When it arrived I was happy with the packing, all recyclable and mostly paper. So it all went in the recycling bin. When I took it out it felt nice and soft. I have been wearing it for two days now and I really like it.

I tend to be quite cold so need to wear three layers. Even in the house. However with this fleece I am only wearing two layers! My back feels comfy in the fleece and I am nice and warm.

I reckon I’ll be buying another item in the future.

The price was £45 which for something so comfy and which was from a recommended brand I wasn’t too fussed by. Its also going towards items which are better for the planet, so why not.

I know this isn’t the usual kind of blog I post, but it does link to my Scoliosis as clothing is very tricky when spine is curved.

If you would like to read a few more posts about Scoliosis please look here.

Thank you for reading, speak soon. 

Philippa.

*I have not been asked to write this or have not received anything for it. I just like what I bought.

Shopping when you’re Visually Impaired

Hello all, 

Been having a bit of think about what the next blog post would be. After some deliberation and a spark of inspiration it hit me…. Shopping! 

Today we went to M&S to do some Christmas shopping. It is better to go during the week for me as it is not too busy and therefore not overwhelming…well….

When we got inside I felt OK as it was not too busy at all. Then we wandered around and after a few moments I felt a bit like my heart was racing a little faster than normal. I told myself it was OK and just reminded myself why this was.

Why was this you ask?

One of my visually impairments is Cerebral Visual Impairment, which means my eyes and brain don’t always get along. The messages my eyes are receiving are not being interpreted by brain. This isn’t great, but now that I know why this is it’s easier to manage the emotions which are caused by it.

I will write you something about CVI later on. But if you want know more, please check out the CVI Society.

When we were in M&S I became quite overwhelmed. One of the reasons for this is that there is a lot of colour and shapes and the lighting is quite intense (hence why I wear sunglasses)

Having colours can be very helpful in some ways as it means colours can be associated with things. For example, if I am trying to find the right size of clothing, I can say size x is y colour. Then I am not having to look for small writing. This is great for my Nystagmus, so I don’t have to focus on tiny writing. But its not great for my CVI because if there’s a lot of colour and shapes and ‘stuff’, my head just goes ‘waaah…wait…hang on….nope. Too much information at all once…’ This will then result in either a ‘shut down’ or ‘meltdown’.

A shut down is where everything just needs to stop and I need to sit down. Preferably on the floor to feel grounded and allow myself to sit eyes closed and head in hands. It reduces my need to take in sensory information. 

A meltdown is similar in that it is your body telling you no! It is a way for you to physically express the emotions you can not verbally express during a melt down. This is not, I repeat not, the same as a toddler having a tantrum.

Shopping can be very stressful for those with CVI and we need coping mechanisms. One of which is going shopping on a quieter day. We shouldn’t have to just shop online. This can be just as bad if website accessibility is not user friendly. But that’s a blog for a different time. 

One thing I like to do which is important to those of us who are Visually Impaired is feel the clothing. As we don’t have the ability to take in things visually in the same way seeing people do, yes I am calling you that, we rely on our other senses. I found some great PJs  and they went straight in the basket after I felt how soft they were.

I was mooching around the bedding section, I love bedding, only to find myself feeling all the fleecey stuff. I stopped and said excuse me to someone who’s trolley I nearly bumped into, but they said it’s OK and let me go past. This was nice as they recognised my cain and didn’t tut at me. Which does happen.

Anyway, overall M&S was nice and I like shopping there for various things. They are always happy to help. Which is a massive part of shopping. 

Have a nice evening all and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you,
Philippa B.