Archive for January 17, 2017

How did people cope before Google?**

Or more to the point; how did people cope before assisted technology?

This weekend just gone, I attended a conference with colleagues, part of the presentation was a show, bright lights, loud music, all contained in a large conference centre, with about 1700 other people.

Enough to put anyone with anxiety off!  So add to that my sight issues and ever changing hearing and I was in a total panic mode.  I had my faithful Fizz with me and some fabulous friends, so knew I would be well liked after.  But having been to a similar (yet different) event with the company in the summer, knowing more wasn’t helping to make me feel better.

This was a BIG event, there were lots of whispers about information that was going to be shared, I knew o had to be alert and listen, while also taking notes.

And this is where the assistive tech came into play……

Out of my bag came my iPad and headphones, just one placed inside my left ear and my voice over switched on and I was all set.

Since I was 6, I have been able to touch type, so could happily type as the various speaker talked, using the camera on my phone to photograph the PowerPoint slides I thought would be relevant …. Even though I couldn’t actually see them at the time!

I have said it before that “I am a Mac” but over the weekend it became so clear just how much of one I am.

I have many a ‘shortcut’ set up on both my phone (iPhone SE) and my IPad, so with certain finger taps or multiply finger movements I can easily move around.

The one that got a lot of whispers was the ‘screen curtain’.  For those who don’t need it, I guess it is a feature you don’t know about.

The screen curtain does exactly as it suggests, it puts a black curtain over the screen, or an easier way to explain it; it turns the screen off, without turning off or stopping you using the iPad.

This feature works hand in hand with Voice over as I have no need to see what I am doing as I am able to hear it all.  Also in a conference setting, where the lights are dimmed and others are sat behind writing notes, it saves the light from my screen being of a distraction or glare to them while allowing me to conserve battery.

It did cause no less than three people gently tapping me on the arm and explaining that my laptop seemed to be switched off.  So, with a quick three finger triple-tap the screen curtain was turned off and they could see my document, which often then led to “wow” or “aren’t you clever?”  But like I said above, it’s all just part of the tech and my ability to get the most out of such a conference as others.

Over the weekend I wrote pages and pages of notes, which I have since edited and corrected the odd predictive text issue and been able to recap on my learning.

The conference was much more tricky than I had anticipated, I didn’t realise just how much my hearing had changed from the previous 6 months.  I didn’t anticipate the eye atrain, ear ache and headache that I would suffer after four hours.  So much so, that in the evening instead of putting on my new posh frock, I got into my pj’s and curled up instead.  Knowing that Sunday’s training was almost twice as long!

The team around me were concerned about my struggles from the previous day, so arranged for me, Fizz and a friend to sit in a better position, much closer to the screens, yet further away from the speaker, so the presentation was clearer, and not as loud.

I felt very emotional and suppressed my tears at this act of kindness, they did not need to do this, yet they did and it became clear when I returned to the conference just the extent hey had gone to.  A member of staff met us at the door and walked us in moving us through the crowds and seating us, checking if Fizz needed any water or if I needed a drink or anything.  This biggest part with them making these adjustments for me was that they allowed me to have a friend with me, my colleague who I was sharing a room with, who was more than happy to take Fizz out for a walk and a wee or get me anything I needed or showing me where the toilets were.  This simple act allowed me to relax, to know that I was with someone I knew and trusted and that didn’t have to worry about a thing.

So at our next conference in February I shall be keeping a tally on how many comments and ‘gentle nudges’ I shall get about typing or pretending to type on a switched off iPad ….. Watch this space !!

The one thing that this weekend has shown me is how much I am loosing my control on my disability, how much it has changed and thankfully how much I am now surrounded by people that are happy to support me.


**DISCLAIMER:  Other search engines are available

Crowdfunding and me

So, it would appear crowdfunding as aposed to charity fundraising comes with a limit… Not a monetary limit, rather a time limit; of just 120 days !

So having been keen and set up a page (as detailed in my previous posts) we have had to change the name slightly and create a new page.

The £95 that was raised on the original page is being moved over and the link for the new one is:

so, the 120 day counter has been reset and from today we have 3 months to raise this.  So, even if it is just £1, if you can help it would be greatly appreciated.

On the buses …… audio failures

As a girl with a visual impairment, having tech on bus journeys or train journeys are key to my ability to be independent.  If such an option isn’t available then I will set myself up to use another method of knowing my location and when or where I am to get off.

so imagine my surprise and upset when half way through a bus journey yesterday evening, I find that the audio has stopped?

I was travelling to an poorly lit area, I had Fizz with me and as I got on the bus I checked with the driver that audio was on.  And as we set off, the audio read out the next stop, confirming what the driver had told me.  All good, I could feel safe and secure that I could just sit enjoying the ride and await my stop to be read out.

There seemed to be a long pause in the audio.  I checked with another passenger sat near me and he confirmed that the screen (as the audio on buses is teamed with a visual; just like on the train) was reading the next stop, but he hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know where we were as he was getting off at the last stop, so didn’t need to know.

it was then moments later that the audio returned, only to read out a destination that was much further along the route, a good 45 minute walk back to where I needed to be if I had got off then!

so instead I travelled back to the bus station and started the journey again.

This time, when I got on the bus I asked the driver for my specific stop and asked him to ensure that he stopped there for me, he said the bus had audio, but understood my concern following my previous journey.

The audio on this bus was on, it also continued to detail each and every stop, so I was aware of where I was and when I was due to get off.

I put it down to a glitch and having safely arrived at my destination all be it an hour later, I forgot all about it.

That was until this evening.  This time I was travelling with my son home after a shopping trip.  Again, it was dark but I was more aware of my surroundings as it is a journey I have done thousands of times.

Again, the bus left the station and the audio announced the next stop.  This continued until just before we were due to get off the bus, we were literally around the corner and the audio stopped.  I could work out roughly were we were, and having stopped at several stops to let people in and off of the bus, there were no further announcements.

Thankfully a block of flats lit the way to enable me to work out that we were approaching our stop.  But again, the audio had let me down.

Memtioning it to the driver as we got off the bus he simple said “I don’t pay any attention, I couldn’t tell you it had stopped.”

So, what is a gal to do?

I shall be sending this blog to the bus company, is it just really bad luck that I have encountered this issue?  Is it a relay issue with the bus audio?

I know that my hearing is going, but to hear the audio and then to not hear the audio….., that isn’t me?

I feel that I am not able to trust the audio on my bus journeys anymore, and with the dark early evenings. This is making me feel that going out after dark isn’t an option.  Or do I just walk?

Lots of questions.  But I am totally stuck with whatever I do.

The Cheesegrater is going to have to wait

An image of the London Skyline, showing The Cjeesegrater with The Gherkin to the right and The Lloyds building in the foreground.

All the climbing of 2016 has taught me so much more about myself as a climber, I am going to need to work on my technique dramatically if I am to turn my 1st place into a Team GB place.

This doesn’t mean that I am giving up on my fundraising, now more than ever I want to show my worth and EARN my Resound Hearing Aids, but with my climbing partner currently our of action, as the post title suggests ‘The Cheesegrater is going to have to wait’

Just days before Christmas, my climbing partner in crime underwent an operation for a hernia, one that has left him unable to train for a minimum of six weeks.  So with him not even being able to go to the gym until mid-February, let alone climb.  I have made the decision to postpone my climb.

Yes, I can climb with another partner.

No, I am not sharing my climb with ‘climbing partner in crime’.

But…… He is my motivator, my muse and my forceful “not let me down until I have reached the top” coach.  It wouldn’t be right to climb without him as my belay.

The new date is looking like late March, early April.  But no date is being set until the whole of ‘Team T’ is fit enough.

First a gherkin; Next a Cheesegrater !! is where I wrote about my challenge back in October, it was hoped that the climb would happen later this month, but health comes first and so, I am going to be cheeky and link you to the Crowdfunding page that has been set up for me, ‘HelpTeeHear’ where you can see why I am doing all of this.

My world is getting quieter in addition to darker and I’m not happy with it, not one little bit.  I want to be able to keep me, my independence and my love of technology that helps me to do all this.

So, my shameless plug is above, please take a moment to have a look.

And in the meantime, follow me for more updates on the climb and my other adventures.



Happy New Year xx

January First, a day for the 3 R’s;  Resolutions, Reflections and *the most important of them all) Rum !!!

This isn’t going to be a slurred hiccup fuelled post…. It is a small, little tradition.  Raising a glass to those who lived life to the fullest, but that never made it out of last year alive.

And this year I am having it as a long drink of Captain Morgans Spiced Rum and Crabbies Ginger Beer.  It is during this time of reflection that I think of those happy times with those I miss, I also raise my glass in celebration of those who have taken the decision to leave my life.

Regardless of what lead to their leaving, the initial sadness their departures caused, I am glad they did.  We learn from all that cross our path, those who are born family, yet don’t act like it, those that start as strangers and become family….. They all count.

Cheers…….. Here is to an action packed 2017 !!

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