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.

Sunshine and Glare

Hello,

It is getting round to that time of the the year again when I need to remember to take a hat with me when I go out.

The sun is causing a lot more glare than what I’d like.

I do enjoy summer, the warmer weather is better for my back pain. But the brighter sunshine is not good for my vision.

Hats are the best way for me to be able to move safely when I’m out, they cut down the amount of glare I’m having to put up with.

Otherwise I have to close my ‘good eye’, which means I’m left with less than 3ft of vision to see where I am going. Yes I have my cain, but I’m in pain when I’m using the very little vision in just the one eye.

It feels like someone is jamming their fingers into my eyes. That’s how much it hurts.

By wearing a hat I don’t have to worry about the glare, meaning there is less chance of me pain from the sun.

Please remember that when you see a visually impaired person, or anyone who is using a mobility aid, give them room. Be patient and let them do what they need to. We appreciate not being rushed.

Kindness goes along way.

Have a great day,

Philippa B.

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.

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. 

New Long Cane

Hello all,

Last week there was no blog as I had caught Covid.

What I was going to write about, which will be topic of this weeks post is the first week with my new long cane from RNIB. No Jab Long Cane.

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

The cane is a little longer than normal but it is still safe to use. It is a graphite cane with red sheep skin handle, I know right…fancy. With it being graphite it is lighter than my aluminium one.

The opening line for the description by the RNIB is ‘This revolutionary shock-absorbing long cane is designed to eliminate the sharp jabs that can occur when cane tips get stuck, for example, in a drain, while you’re out and about.’

The shock absorbing element of the cain is the reason I bought it. Due to my curved spine I find that my pain levels are increased whenever the cane whacks against something.

DareDevil.

As soon as I opened it and saw it, I just thought DareDevil. I mean who wouldn’t? I messaged my friend straight away and sent her a picture. It’s so good.

But does it really work? 

Yes, yes it does. The Caine absorbs 80% of the shock created when you walk into something. It’s especially helpful when you are walking along uneven pavements and the cane catches causing me to have a lot of pain.

I had to swap the tip though as it came with a marshmallow tip, I prefer rollerball. The reason being is I feel it glides a lot more smoothly along the floor and works better with my back.

The cane cost £56.99 ex VAT. It was a worthwhile purchase and I would urge anyone who can to try it out if they suffer with any form of neck or back pain.

Let us know how you get with it.

Until next time, Philippa B.

First Blog of the Year

Hello all,

So here we are a few weeks into 2022. It’s scary isn’t it?

Well I thought I’d take the time to stop and reflect a little on where I’m at after a busy 2021.

Last year I pushed myself out my comfort zone quite a bit with work and loved it. I’m aiming to do the same this year.

The other thing I really want to do more of this year is listen to more audio books. I know I said this last year. My brother got me another Audible Subscription. I recently finished Divergent Mind by Janera Nerenberg. This book was fabulous. It really resonated with me a lot of the things she was saying.

It can be very tough finding the answers you’ve been searching for for so long and never quite being able to understand. Books like Divergent Mind, Neurotribes By Steve Silberman and Odd Girl Out by Laura James are incurable reads. Which for me, really helped me to understand more of myself which I have never fully understood. But that’s not for this blog…

I don’t normally set a lot of goals for the year, I find when you do, you can get quite down when you don’t achieve them. But I would love to listen to more audiobooks. I want to go to London and visit my brother. I would also love to be able to see more of my friends.

We all know the last few years has been exceptionally hard. I’ve just had a few days off and the other day I got to see my friend who I haven’t seen in two years. We went for afternoon tea. It was lovely. We didn’t hug. Hopefully next time. Stupid Rona. I missed my friend. 

I hope you all have plans for 2022 which you manage to achieve.  Remember if you can’t achieve them all, It’s OK. Set a few loose ones you know you want to achieve. Then you can feel accomplished and feel better.

I’m off now, I have a few things to crack on with. But I’ll be back soon.

I’m on Twitter @PhilippaB

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. 

Homedics Spa Heel Smoother

Hello all,

I am back again with a post which isn’t as heavy as last time.

If you dint read my last post you can read it here. It was all about Disability Hate Crime and what I have experienced recently. 
In time I will revisit this topic, as it a topic which people don’t aways think about when we talk about Hate Crime. 

Anyway, moving on to this weeks blog. One area of self care which people may tend to forget is our feet. We use them day to day and we can often forget about them. 


A few weeks ago I noticed a rough patch of skin on the back of my heel, then one appeared on my other foot. Yesterday I got out my Homedics Spa Heel Smother to get rid of the dead skin on my feet and make them nice and smooth.

There are a few pads in the box which you can swap between, one is like a normal file to break down chunks of hard skin. The other is like a small piece of rough textured paper, they’re called heel smother buffing discs. This is good for the slightly rougher areas of skin. You can buy these separately.

I decided to use the buffing discs. After struggling a little I managed to get the adhesive off the back and stick it down onto the circular top. This you then click onto the base of the Homedics Spa Heel Smother.

Sitting down I put one leg up and onto my other leg so I could see under my foot. Then I turned on the heel smoother. It has a click button you push side to side so it’s easy to tell which mode you have it on. I only use number two because it is a good speed. After about five minutes my heels were buffed and so were my big toes.

As someone who is Visually Impaired and Dsypraxic this little device is quite handy as all you have to do is hold the heel smoother and move it around. It is shaped like the bottom of pop bottle, rounded edges with grooves so you can hold it easier.

The only issue I have had with it is when I used the metallic piece to get off the harder skin on my big toe. I wasn’t sure how hard to press and for how long. This then lead me to cutting my toe because it had worn away at the hard skin too much.

This was a while ago and I put a plaster on it and limped around for a while. But at least the dead skin was gone.

Over all its something which is very handy to have because it wears down the skin easily enough and its easy to hold.

Unfortunately the model I own seems to be no longer available. You can still buy newer models. Give it a go and let us know how you get on. 

I’m on Twitter.