Archive for November 23, 2013

It’s all about perception

Tonight when popping onto Facebook and catching up with my friends news a fellow ‘blindie’ posted about the trouble they had had when booking a table for a family dinner, when doing so she informed them about her guide dog that would be joining them.

She put up on Facebook that they would not recommend her bringing her guide dog is she could leave it home guide dog.

Having eaten at the restaurant before it is a tiny place, not that it is overcrowded, just small. When I ate there it was for a family celebration and as I was going to be enjoying the wine I left my trusted pooch home.

When in the restaurant, the waiters seemed to be struggling to move around the tables as all of the tables were occupied. The tables themselves were quite small especially considering the fact the meals included so many dishes per person.

I am maybe the one who is the devils advocate here, but I do try to look at both sides. To clarify I wasn’t part of the phone conversation, so can only comment on what has been posted on Facebook.

My friend who I shall call Bee says that when booking the table the person she spoke with was very rude.

As a guide dog owner I too have been on the receiving end of rudeness or in most cases, lack of understanding. It is surprising how many people, especially shop and restaurant owners aren’t aware that guide dogs and other assistants dogs are cleared by environmental health to enter their premises.

Bee felt that the restaurant were very rude and is asking guide his team to get involved because if the situation.

But is it real rudeness?

Is it a language barrier? On the telephone voices and accents can sound rude, when they are not understood or heard in the correct context.

Or is it something deeper?

Is it that as someone who is often discriminated against starts off on the back foot?

For those that have faced discrimination or difference just like me become overly defensive and instead of being assertive, form aggression toward certain subjects ?

As the post suggests, it’s all in the perception!!

If you read a Facebook status that a guide dog had been refused entry into a restaurant because of their guide dog. How would you respond?


This week saw me with my family go and watch a firework display with my daughters Cub group, after navigating in the dark from the car to the camp site where the bonfire was crackling away.

We sat around enjoying campfire songs, I was mesmerised by the flames, watching the little flecks fly off into the night sky, thinking how this looks to others, do they see the flames as I do?

This was when I began to think about what a firework
Actually looked like when it went off
In the sky?

For me it is just a burst of colour, but I wondered if ‘sighted people’ saw individual flecks or different colours?

So after the camp songs & warming up by the fire we walked up to where the fireworks were being set off from & I divided that I would film some of the fireworks on my phone so I could see it as others.

This was what I filmed


The film shows almost perfectly what a saw from the embers that were coming off of the fire, little fuzzy balls like those I spoke of in an earlier post (looking through raindrops)

Looking at the practicalities of using an iPhone to film fireworks that are roughly 100 feet in the air won’t give you the clearest image, but actually the ‘poor film quality’
Allows me to explain more to you about how I actually do see.

Maybe you can have more of an understanding as to why I was mesmerised by the little embers flying off the fire rather than the fire itself.

This has given me the chance to let you literally ‘seemyway’

I hope you enjoy?

Learning to forget to look…., Not ready for that yet!

Although I am registered as ‘blind’ I do have some sight, all be it distance vision that doesn’t even get me the top line on the eye chart and central vision with a peripheral of less than 10%, a figure that has recently reduced by 17%…. Feel free to do the math on that! To me it means just one thing

“my remaining sight is deteriating and quicker that I really would like”

Making the most of my remaining sight is key, and by actually using my eyes I am causing no harm, nor am I strengthening them. The deterioration of my retina is uncontrolled and unmapped.

So, by now you may feel confused by the title of this latest blog, well let me explain. As my sight has deteriorated, my eye’s and the period for which I can use them to concentrate on anything has reduced dramatically. In theory anyway, I say this, because I can still spend hours watching a really good film, of which without the aid of audio descript I miss a large percentage of it.

But for this I suffer.

As my eyes tire from the concentration, they in fact become dry, and difficult to close without seeing vivid flashing images on my eyelids.

As I said above, having missed a large percentage of a film, I now rely fully on Audio Descript and do not strain or even try to see what is actually happening on the screen. This has given me back my love of the cinema in recent months, so that is a bonus!

But there is one part of my life that I can’t stop over concentrating on and overworking my eyes, that is my phone, my laptop and my iPad. All of which have fabulous built in accessible software, after all Steve Jobs insisted that technology was assessable to all, not as an after thought, but as part of its design, hence why all my tech is Apple…. That and the fact that originally my training before my sight loss was in Design and if it was design, it HAD TO BE Apple.

Anywho, I digress. I have dragon and Siri that enable me to speak to my tech for it to then type my words. I have magnification, I even have voice over. And yes for you techno-phobes, it even works on touch screen. Even more so since the IOS 7 update!

But the thing is….

I have SOME vision and I can’t help but use it.

I can touch type and thankfully have been able to do this from a very young age (I think I was about 8) so I don’t have to look at the keyboard or technically the screen either, but I do like to proof read what I have written, especially when it comes to emails, letters and more recently college assignments.

It is a college assignment that has in fact lead me to write about this. You see, it is currently 4.15am on a Monday morning, having been working on my latest assignment that is due in at 9am THIS MORNING. I am now not able to sleep, even though it would be a really good idea if I could as I have a 4 hour lecture and a gym class later today too!

The question you are probably asking right now as you read that last paragraph, is what the….? Yes, I did leave this assignment a little later than others, but actually that isn’t the reason why I am up so late with it.

The REAL reason I was working on it so late, was because of my wish to see what I am doing and the light levels. You see even with the daylight lamp on, if it is too dark in the rest of the room, I struggle greatly to focus on all of my work, as the light level varies from that under the lamp to the rest of the room.

With the darker evenings (which in fact cause the darker days) I am able to sit down with a suitable light that illuminates the whole room at about 6pm.

This is slap bang in the middle of feeding time at my zoo, then comes baths, books and cuddles before bed for my 2 little monsters. So that 6pm soon becomes 8pm and I’m sure you can see where I am going from here?

I have tried and tested myself with this, so that I can understand what I can do without suffering and what I can’t achieve without the suffering.

The short answer is not much.

Once I hit 2.5 – 3 hours thats it, I can look at spending at least that again letting my eyes settle down. The good news is that if I extend that to 5 hours, that doesn’t increase the ‘down time’ that I need.

So, to save my sanity, especially in the winter months I need to start to stop looking.

But its hard, emotionally more than anything….. The reason is because, one day I wont ACTUALLY be able to see it, so while I can why shouldn’t I?

If your sight were or if your sight is deteriating would you want to stop seeing all the things you can see now knowing that in the future you will have no choice but not to see them?

This is a tricky argument that I have had with a few people, you see the one point I struggle with is that apart from the lack of sleep, I am not causing myself any harm, I am certainly not causing my eye’s damage.

This I have checked, double checked and yes, you got it TRIPLE CHECKED!!

Blind Dating

I have explained before that I have a wicked sense of humour….. This blog post shows this off perfectly.

Sitting yesterday with a friend having a much needed catch-up over a leisurely Sunday brunch at a popular Italian American restaurant, the following occurred.

As usual, my trusted guide dog was laid on my feet under the table waiting for any food to drop. Me and my friend had been talking about how life had been for me since seperating from my long term partner earlier in the year. She knew that I had struggled with others opinions about being a single parent, she also knew that I had taken the decision to end the relationship and that it had been a happy decision for me.

This led us to talking about dating and how after having been in a relationship for so long you would even start going about this. At this point, a couple were seated in the booth behind us. I remember this point as the woman in the couple was sneezing continually, so I passed a packet of ultra-balm pocket tissues behind me to her partner.

Me and my friend continued talking about dating, she commented on how I could try internet dating or speed dating. This tickled me, so I made a joke of how she was fundamentally suggesting that I went on a ‘blind date’ as I went on to say, my days of catching someones eye across a crowded pub were behind me, I would be lucky to even catch the eye of someone stood right beside me. The irony of ‘blind dating’ continued and she by this point was looking on her phone and discovered that there were dating sites just for disabled people. I made a joke of how a guide dog had a great pulling power, but how to train them to seak out single guys for blind people would take real indepth training…..


At this point I was aware of uncomfortable mummbles from the couple in the booth behind us. Me and my friend continued to speak about how a blind person would go about dating, when the ‘gentleman’ in the booth behind me turned around and commented, (these words have stayed with me….

“You really are being quite rude and insensitive, talking about poor blind people who can’t possible have as enjoyable and free life as you ((me))”

To which I was shocked, so I said all I could which was, “I beg your pardon?”

“Well, you two are sat her enjoying a nice leisurely breakfast, probably off to do some shopping laughing about those less fortunate than you who have a horrible disability and can’t even think of coming out for treats like this. Whilst you both sit here poking fun at them for not being able to date, you both have such freedom, people like you make me sick.”

At this point my blood was boiling and I’m sure my friend could sense this too, as she reached across the table and asked me if I wanted to leave, which no I did not.

I was not going to be accused of being insensitive, rude and worst of all being called a ‘poor blind person’.


I kept my cool (dog knows how!) and out came the sarcasm……


“I’m sorry sir if my ‘private’ conversation with my friend has upset and sickened you, I am so very sorry that you feel that ‘poor blind people’ don’t have such freedoms as to go out for a long breakfast or enjoy shopping. I am so very sorry that you feel that I was insulting those with horrible disabilities. I was in fact talking about myself and how ‘ironic’ it was to use the word ‘blind date’ you see because for me now that is what it would be, I am sorry for that.”

At this point he stood up and called over the waitress, he said “I can’t believe the nerve of you ((me)) now pretending to be blind, while you clearly aren’t to justify and make excuses for your terrible behaviour, I wish to be moved. (Directed at the waitress)”

I was close to tears at the point and the waitress was about to speak, the very same waitress that had seated me and my friend and made a fuss of Vicky before she had curled up under the table.

I myself now stood up and turned to the gentleman, a term I use very loosely as he was about the same age as me, and definite not gentle!

“It’s ok, no need for you to move, we were just finishing up and off to enjoy some carefree shopping, I will even go to the till to settle up my bill as to not upset you a moment further, if you would just be so kind as to give me a minute to get my guide dog in her harness?”

He sniggered at this, but he soon stopped when I woke up a sleeping Vicky and got her out from under the table….

In fact his face was so red with embarrassment, even I could see it!


I finished putting her harness on and walked toward the till. My friend was talking behind me to the man and his girlfriend, but At this point I just wanted to leave.

She came and joined me a moment later to tell me that on the girlfriends insistence her boyfriend would be paying our bill for us, he hadn’t spoken another word apparently, just stood there shocked and embarrassed.

My friend said that she had explained that I was clearly upset by his insults and assumptions of ‘poor blind people’ and that it was incredibly rude to earwig on others conversations.

His girlfriend was very apologetic, but still he said nothing.

As we left the restaurant, my friend said she could see through the window that his girlfriend was clearly shouting at him.

To be honest I didn’t care…. I was using every muscle in my body to stop me from breaking down in tears, I was so shaken by it that we didn’t go shopping, without a word spoken, we got in her car and we went straight to the nearest pub for a large whiskey (for me anyway)

We had been having such an enjoyable time and only a true friend would laugh with me while we spoke of blind dates and meeting someone new. She knew instantly that I had been upset by those cruel words, but that I wouldn’t scream and shout, but calmly and with sarcasm allow that horrid man to be left thinking about what he had said and done.

I am not a ‘poor blind person’ with a ‘horrible disability’, I am me Tee, with a visual impairment…. I have plenty of freedom to go shopping and enjoy long breakfasts with friends, I am also privileged to have such wonderful friends that won’t talk over me, but know me well enough to know that I am fully capable of speaking my own mind. Also just like on that day, also know when I need a stiff drink and a huge hug.


And to answer the question you may be thinking by now…. No, I haven’t and nor will I be signing up to an iNternet dating of any kind !!!

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