Long Caines

Hello all,

One thing which has come to my attention lately is the lack of awareness around long Caines and what they are for.

As a visually impaired person who uses a long caine I find it rather difficult when people do not acknowledge my caine.

My new long cane held in my left hand, it has a red handle.

I use a long white cain with a roller ball on the end and a red handle. My cain is there as a symbol to others that I am visually Impaired and need extra space and time to navigate my surroundings.  It is also there to allow me to feel what is going on around me so I can navigate safely.

For example I can use the cain to discover a change in surface so if there is a dropped curb or some steps I can use it to tell if there is something blocking my path and which direction I need to take to avoid this obstacle.


One very important thing to note is that I use the caine in my right hand as that is the side I see nothing out of.

If you see a person with a long cain please give them the space they need to navigate safely, do not grab them, do not jump over their cain. If you think they may need help just say hello and ask ‘do you need a hand?’ I personally do not mind if someone asks. I would rather be asked and politely decline.

Before we are let loose with our Caines we go through training. This allows us to learn to use the caine in a safe reliable manner. We have to learn to navigate steps, curbs, changes in terrain (oh yes on and off road) we learn what tactile paving means what. So we know if where approaching stairs, a crossing (what kind of crossing) or even if we are approaching a train platform.

Caines are not cheap either so this is why we ask that you don’t leap over them, as you could hurt yourself and in the process damage our caines. Or us. Ouch!

If you would like to learn more about being Visually Impaired please follow this link to discover more of my post about being visually impaired.

Thank you again for reading.

Mind My Cain

Hello all,

It is Monday again which means it’s time for another blog post. This week I’m focusing on being a long cane user.

As you maybe aware I am Visually Impaired and use a long cane. In order for me to get around I sweep the cane across the floor in front of me to be able to find objects in my path. Including but not limited to steps, curbs, dogs and people.

Earlier this week I had gotten off the train and was making my way to the escalators. It was a busy morning and I was making my way to work. Someone was at the side of me and noticed my cane hit their leg, they looked down at my cane and continued to move forwards. The difficult and dangerous thing was that we were trying to get on the escalator. People at the other side of me noticed I had my cane, they stopped and let me get on. I said thank you.

My long cane in the centre, a red handle. In front is a train platform.

The person who had come into contact with my cane continued onto the escalator. I continued to use my cane to navigate onto the escalator and my cane caught between their legs. Once we were on the escalator I stood my cane in front of me and waited until we reached the top.

I put my cain out cautiously to find my way off. As I did this and moved forward the same person was caught by my cain.

The difficult thing with being a cain user is that we are using it for the right reasons. To discover obstacles in our path and navigate safely. The problem comes when others pay no attention. Mistakes can be made yes, but when someone actively notices your cain and continues to not give you the space you need to navigate safely then they are putting you and them at risk.

The danger in this situation is that the person who ignored my cain could have tripped up and slammed their head onto the escalator. I could have then fallen onto them. This would have been very dangerous for both us.

Similar situations can occur when cain users are crossing roads. If people ignore our cain and step into the road or don’t move out of the way then they could cause both of us to fall over.

When out and about people tend to have their headphones in to block out all the noise around them, which makes sense. But this can also mean you’re in your own little world.

This can lead to people being less aware of their surroundings. Meaning they may miss someone using a mobility aid. Which can have serious consequences.

All we ask is that you try be a bit more cautious. We are doing what we need to do to get around. We can’t travel at quieter times if we need to get to work. We shouldn’t have to travel at quiet times.

Please just be a little mindful and don’t rush people. Getting to work can be very hectic and can create stress. But if we all just try be a little more aware of our surroundings (unless, like me you’re Visually Impaired and find this difficult) we can all have an easier and smother time on public transport.

Thank you,
Philippa B. 

My Visit to Red Wings

A while ago I really wanted a nice new pair of sturdy shoes. Th reason being I have had a pair of really good shoes for nearly ten years. These shoes have started to wear, but they are still useable. I just decided I should save up and look around for a replacement.

I know a few people who have Red Wings, they have told me they are ridiculously comfortable and have never had any problems. They work with all their outfits and they look amazing.
So acting on personal advice I looked online for their shoes. The prices, while expensive seemed like a good investment- if they last you the time people have assured me they will. Hear’s to ten years of RedWings.

The pair I saw online were a petrol shade of blue. The design is 6-INCH MOC TOE WOMEN’S BOOTS 3353. I sat and thought about it for a while and struggled to find places where they had them in stock for me to try on. When I am spending that much money on shoes I need it to be right.

When I went to London to visit my brother we went to the Red Wings shop.It was nice inside. All the shoes neatly on display with storage boxes stacked at the end of the room waiting for peoples new shoes to be taken home.

A PAIR OF pETROL blue shoes with white soles on a wooden floor.

I wandered around and I saw the shoes I was looking at online. The lady asked if we were ok and needed anything. I mentioned looking at this particular pair online and that I was considering buying them, but that I wanted to try them on.


She brought me over the size I would need and asked if I had owned Red Wings before. After explaining I hadn’t and that my brother and some friends owned them she told me how sturdy they are and long lasting. She also mentioned the women’s shoes are made from the leather of a cow because the female leather is a lot softer. Then she explained the insoles had a soft cushion.

I laced them up which was easy, my Dyspraxic fingers were ok with the laces. They felt really comfortable as I wandered around the shop. My toes didn’t touch the ends I felt really comfy. Taking them off I decided to buy them. They were the last pair in the shop and Red Wings were not making anymore of them. That was the universe telling me to buy them.

The shoes are placed in individual bags and then placed into their big box. The lady had to get more bags sent from the mens shop. Someone came round and we placed them in the bag. My brother carried the box as we wandered off to get some tea.

The shoes were amazing and I really enjoyed the customer service. She was not pushy, she chatted to us about the brand and made it feel like a great experience. This is what I want when I go shopping. Especially when I am spending that much on shoes.

I am also in no way being endorsed by Red Wings for this blog.

Enjoy the Sunshine Responsibly

Hello all,

The past few day have been rather hot. When the weather is like this it can be quite nice for a short period of time. However because we are not used to it in the UK the temperatures can be very uncomfortable.

Our houses are not designed for keeping cool. They are designed to stay warm. Which is not ideal when the thermometer is saying 45 degrees C outside.

During the hotter months of the year it is important that we stay cool and look after ourselves in the heat.
It is nice to be outside but we need to enjoy the hear responsibly.

If you have a heart condition it is especially important to take care of yourself. The British Heart Foundation has some amazing resources on their website. Remember to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water. You should also wear a hat and spend time in the shade.

If you keep your curtains pulled closed during the day you will stop the heat from warming your house. This is probably why in warmer countries they have small windows and shutters. To keep the heat out.

Anyway that’s it from me, I am far too warm and I have just had some lunch meaning I am now rather tired.

Enjoy the sun, but be sensible.

Philippa B.

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