Hello again, 

Hope you’re all well. This week has been the first week in about four months I have had to leave the house for work. This involves me getting on the train. 

The first day back on the train was ok. The conductor helped me on the train and to find a seat. If someone offers to find me a seat I say yes. The reason is that I have learned it takes away the visual stress of having to do this myself. As the trains are busier than I expected this is something I will continue to do. 

When I go into the station I use on my way to work I found that the one way system has been changed. This now means there is no one way system on the platforms themselves. Only on the bridge routes linking the platforms together. This I can see making life a bit more difficult as things get busier. If they keep the one way system on the bridges it will really help. 

One ways systems are better for Visually Impaired and Blind people because we don’t have to worry about navigating people coming towards us. It really reduces the levels of visual stress. 

Once I am off of the main bridge and down towards the barriers things became a bit stressful. The reason being they are relaying the floor. So there are barriers which means my brain cannot easily find a quick route around them. It wasn’t too busy so I just took a bit of time and wandered slowly where everyone else was going. Once through the barriers I noticed the same thing. I stopped. 

The issue is not just the visual stress, but the unexpectedness of the train station having work done to it. Once I knew where I could walk I just focussed on the exit and made my way towards it. 

The next issue with all of this is that I am using my long cane. This means I am sweeping the floor to find out where things are. So when a surface changes it can impact how I am going to navigate my way through the station. After a few trips to work and home I am feeling a bit better about it. 

I just want the work to be quickly so I don’t have to deal with ongoing upgrades to this station. 

The work they are doing though is very good. It will definitely modernise the station which is something that has been needed for years. One of the biggest improvements is the new glass ceiling. It really lets in a lot of light. Which compared to how it previously was is so much better. The ceiling used to be old darkened wood. 

 

Please be mindful while you are out and about as a lot of people are feeling anxious. Disabled People find travel difficult at the best of times and we are having to navigate a new way of travelling. We want to be able to get out, get to work, see our friends. We just need you to be patient with us. Going back to normal is a scary thought for some of us. I am not looking forward to jam packed trains and people pushing and shoving me because they can’t wait. Lets just be nicer and be mindful of others as we ease out of this lock down. 

Be back soon, 

Philippa B. 

While you’re here please check out my fundraising page.

my guide cane is in the foreground, there are two blue seats the background facing me, with two 'Out Of Use' signs pace on the tops of the seat.

Where to sit?

World Book Day

Hello all, 

I’m back after my Covid Vaccine, but that’s to be written about in another blog. I am feeling very grateful though that I received the vaccine. 

Today is World Book Day and for as long I can remember I have loved books. I always enjoyed English at school and it was probably one of my favourite subjects. No wonder I opted for an English based Degree in Media Studies. 

Do you remember in primary school when you used to get a new book? There was one occasion I remember trying to pick a book and putting it back and choosing from another basket. The teacher told me I had to chose a book which went alongside my reading level. This irritated me. I told them what kind of books I was reading at home and didn’t understand why I had to chose from the book box with my reading level. Eventually we came to a decision. If I read the books and brought them back quickly then I could move up the levels quicker. I did this and got to read harder books and proved a point which we all knew I could do, but for the sake of the system I had to have it noted down. 

Looking at a  book shelf, there isa clock on the all above.

Reflecting on this and the fact that it is World Book Day I have been wondering how many books was I aware of when I was younger which featured Disabled people? What is that representation like now? 

Looking back I do not really remember that many books, especially from when I was younger which featured Disabled characters. Thinking about this I have just asked my Mum if there was a character in the Biff and Chip books who was a wheelchair user. She says there was. 

For World Book Day I have done a bit of looking around and found that there are some great books available which represent Disabled Children. A great article I found was in the HuffPost about a variety of books which feature Disabled people as the main characters. In the article there are a number of different representations, the best part is that in some of the books the Disability isn’t even the main plot line. Which is fantastic. After reading it I sent the article to a friend who teaches in a primary school and they loved it.

Part of the problem is not just having books about Disabled people, but also having them be written by Disabled people as well. So you know that as a Disabled child  ‘hey this book has someone in it like me’ then they can be told the Author is like them too. It is about allowing people to see themselves in stories and know that the person behind the story is able to understand how they feel. 

Whilst looking at wether representation is better today than it was when I was in school I came across Pablo and the Noisy Party. There is a TV series linked with the book which is brilliant because as we all know everyone learns differently. Written on the books Trust Website is ‘This empowering series competently reflects neurodiversity and like the TV series, has been developed by writers who are themselves on the Autistic spectrum, and is based on real-life experiences.’ When I saw this quote on Books Trust it made me smile to know that the comment I made in the previous paragraph is trying to be addressed. Children need to not only see themselves in books, but know those writing them are like them too. 

The other part of the problem is having access to these books for all children. It can not just be the case that we talk about them only to parents of Disabled children. They need to be in book boxes in every school. Otherwise how does it just become the norm that the woman in the street is using her white stick to feel the floor beneath her feet and get around safely? Or that the man wears headphones in the supermarket and hums quietly as he puts his items into his basket because he could be Autistic? 

These questions need to be addressed and by writing this blog have made you a bit more aware that these books are out there. You just need to look. But them being out there is not enough. They need to be in classrooms and libraries and they need to be seen as the norm. Hopefully by writing this and also in sharing the book list with my friend I have done something to help make a difference. 

Here are the links below to some of the things I discovered whilst doing this blog. 

Until next time,

Philippa B.

If you have enjoyed this blog and would consider donating to my fundraising for The British Heart Foundation and the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, please click here

Pablo and the Noisy Party https://www.booktrust.org.uk/book/p/pablo-and-the-noisy-party/ 

Fun in the Sun https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/storybooks-featuring-disabled-children/ 

Disability Horizons- https://disabilityhorizons.com/2019/09/8-books-with-a-disabled-character-as-the-lead-or-focus-of-the-story/

Online Christmas Shopping

Hello all, 

I hope you are well. I thought today I’d write down some of my thoughts around ways in which we will be trying to adapt this Christmas. 

Given that we are currently under new restrictions here in the UK it is important to consider how we are going to adapt our shopping habits for Christmas. Shops are technically only open for click and collect which means you need to be more organised with your shopping this year. 

Last year I tried to buy gifts from local and or independent shops. I made this decision as I wanted to try find unusual and handmade items. Me and my Mum have already started to swap Etsy shops with one another. It’s nice browsing around on Etsy. You tend to find yourself filling your basket pretty quickly. 

I think for me this year it’s so important to try support any local business, artists, authors etc that you know, by sharing their website or photos of their work so that people can see what they do. We need to support our local business’s so that the people running them can stay afloat during these uncertain times. 

I am not saying to not shop at bigger business’s,  but maybe split some of your gifts. For example I love Lush! If you’ve seen my instagram you’ll know I love a good bath bomb. But every now and then I mix up my order and buy from The Cornwall Soap Company. they make lovely little soaps and amazing scented candles.

Another little shop is called The Great Yorkshire Shop. They are based in the Corn Exchange in Leeds and are very proud of their Yorkshire Routes. Who wouldn’t be? Check them out and celebrate all things Yorkshire. 

It’s interesting that shops are having to adapt to be more online focussed. It works better for Disabled people. However, just because you have an online shop it does not mean you are instantly accessible. For example if your site does not support screen readers (these are tools used by Blind and Visually Impaired People to have their devices read out to them what their screen is displaying) or if you have made videos but not paid someone to close caption them you are cutting out a percentage of a potential market who may really enjoy your products. As Disabled People we have a right to access the world just like everyone else. 

If you are unsure if your site is accessible then you can pay a Disabled person to check it for you. It’s better to have your website checked and ensure you are accessible so that you can then reach a wider audience. 

Anyway, thats me for now. I have back pain so I’m going to stop writing now. 

Check me out on Twitter or Instagram 

While you’re here please check out my Fundraising for The British heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

Beary Quiet

Hi,

For a long while I struggled with sleeping, one of the reasons was down to my room not being dark enough. So we got some black out blinds fitted. They work quite well. However there was also another issue, noise. No matter how quiet you might think it is, as soon as I lay down to shut my eyes I can hear everything. 

When I say I can hear everything, I mean everything. From that weird noise the fridge makes every so often, to a car outside. I decided I would purchase some ear plugs. Searching online I came across a company called Beary Quiet. The name made me chuckle so I decided to check out the reviews. People had left some great reviews on Amazon so I thought I’d give them a go for myself. 

IMG_1649

On Amazon this is what they have to say for themselves:

‘DESIGNED FOR HIBERNATION…

Small But Mighty

Our slow rebound foam is designed to form a expansion seal against the walls of your ear canal. Activating a 37dB (decibel) barrier to noise.

  • Enabling you to achieve REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
  • Flared bell shape increases sound absorption to bounce unwanted noise
  • Boosted Fibre Blend forms a safer structural design. Preventing any risk of the plug disintegrating in your ear when in use

Comfortable Sleep

We engineered our earplug with Soft Sonar Foam which has a premium texture verses the traditional sponge foam earplugs.

  • Key benefit being, it’s comfortable when worn and it has an improved grip within the ear canal when you sleep

Noise Reduction

Beary Quiet earplugs dampen noise around you by 37 SNR dB (sonar decibels). They won’t block noise entirely but there’s a reason behind this…

We’ve engineered our earplugs to provide a perfect harmony of reducing unwanted noise and permitting important audible alerts such as smoke alarms, home invasion and most importantly your alarm clock!’

They arrived fairly quickly and as soon as they turned up the first thing I noticed which I really liked was the packaging. It comes in a circular tube, with a picture of a bear on it. I would like to think it is recyclable, which is better for the planet. Inside the tube is a packet of 30 earplugs. You also get a little tin to keep them in during the times you’re not using them. The earplugs themselves are black and feel quite squishy. 

There are different sorts you can buy but I opted for premium foam reusable ones. You get 30 in a pack. 

I have had the earplugs since….late May this year. So I thought I’d let you know how I’ve got on with them. As I mentioned before I really struggled to fall asleep, due to many reasons, one of which was the slightest noise. 

You take them out the packet, they all come in one big plastic bag, rather than individual bags. Roll them between you finger and thumb until they are stick thin. Then place them into your ear. Hold them inplace while the foam expands and then let go. Beary Quiet says they block  out up to 37 SNR DB of noise. So obviously they don’t block out everything. I can still hear certain things, but the sounds are now nicely muffled. However, this is only when I am starting to fall asleep. Once I’m off to sleep I don’t wake up because I’ve heard a noise. I must be quite a deep sleeper when the conditions are right. I genuinely love them and I will be buying them again. They have made such a massive difference to my sleeping.

As for the reusableness… that’s a word right? meh… it is now, I think they’re living up to that. I use mine for 2 nights and then put them in the bin. I am concerned for my ears so I want to make sure they stay as clean as possible. So I don’t use them more than twice. 

I would recommend Beary Quiet to anyone who is struggling with sleeping due to noise. It is now July and I have been using them since late May. Even if I can’t sleep because I can’t switch off, the noise reduction is very beneficial because it’s one less thing I have to contend with. Meaning if I can’t sleep, which has happened, I can just lay their and enjoy the quiet as much as possible. 

I would just like to point out that I have written this blog post reviewing these earplugs without any endorsement from the people of Beary Quiet and I hope that you maybe try them out to see for yourself. They only cost £12.99, but on Amazon where I bought them, directly from Beary Quiet, they cost £8.99. Click here if you to want to hibernate peacefully, without missing your alarm clock in the morning. 

Whilst I have you, if you have a few pennies spare would you mind donating to my Virtual Fundraising Tin for the British Heart Foundation?

If  have written a blog post about why here.

Right I’m off. 

I’m on Twitter: @PhilippaB

I’m on Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip