Tag Archive for accessibility

First Scarlet; Then Pink; A study of Sherlock

This is an interesting one.  Something a little different for me.  Something that is far too good an opportunity to pass up.

Through my volunteer role with Open Sight I was made aware of The Conan Doyle exhibition that is currently taking pride of place at Portsmouth Central Library, an exhibition that was bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth by  richard-lancelyn-green with funding from The National Lottery (among others) it had been made fully accessible to those with a visual impairment.

Sadly I had yet to find the time to visit when I received another correspondence from Open Sight giving very vague details of a residential writing course being run and funded on behalf of The Conan Doyle Trust.  For whole Open Sight were simply collecting details of those who were interested to be passed over for more information.

The residential course running 5 full days would be fully funded including accommodation and travel, so I fully expected the ‘application process email’ when it arrived.

(I won’t detail EVERYTHING here)

But hence to say, an interest in Sir Conan Doyle and his infamous charactor Sherlock Holmes were part of the process.

The first criteria was to submit TWO examples of our own work (published or not) to give an idea of writing style.

The second criteria was to write (in no more than 500 words) what you could gain from such a residential course, while explaining your interest in The Conan Doyle Collection.

So, I set to work, this is what I wrote:

Oh how I dream to study Sherlock!

The opportunity to attend a creative writing course will enable me to learn properly how to put my own ‘interesting’ writings of my journey with sight loss. To discover that the whole thing is not only being supported by The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection that was bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth; but it is to work on the ongoing projects funded to take part in 2018, possibly enabling me to write about my love and enjoyment of more recent adaptations of one of Doyle’s infamous characters Sherlock Holmes and I find my fingers tingling over the keyboard to find the right words.

Just 500 words to explain myself, that in itself is a challenge!

Honestly, until the 2010 BBC TV series of Sherlock written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis I hadn’t really had an interest in the works of A.C Doyle. I initially took each episode as it was, set in today’s time yet with the iconic ‘nod’ to the originals by seeing Holmes and Watson share rooms at 221b Baker Street. I never realised just how many other ‘nods’ each story held.

And it was the special in January 2016 of The Abominable Bride that I gained so much insight into the original works of Doyle. Being visually impaired it is difficult to ‘read’ yet with audio description turn on I was able to enjoy every detailed part of the theatre that played out on the screen. The detailed explanation that had led the writers to take a trip into the past, the additional details within the current stories that all held historically to the original works. I was transported to a world of intrigue, mystery and found myself wanting to join The now consulting detective.

The whit and sarcasm were bought to life by a great cast, which I relate to as I often find myself writing with these; to turn some of the sadder stories that I relay into a more positive light.

My mind often runs away when I am writing and the words flow easily for the most part. I write in the hope that just one person will find comfort or happiness in reading my words. I write on my own blog www.seemyway.co.uk – about my own life, my journey, about the little ‘tweeks’ or ‘blind fails’ I encounter regularly. I also use it to talk about my passion for rock climbing, volunteering and not letting my sight beat me. It isn’t always pretty happy stories, but then it is real and sometimes there is no way of adding a positive spin to something.

I want to expand my knowledge of writing, my understanding and use of the English language as my hope for the future would be to become a published author, supporting others with sight loss, their families and friends to gain a better understanding of how people can see the world when they are visually impaired.

(the supporting work I included)Screenshot photograph of my blog post “Familiarity is a blind gals best friend”Screen shot photograph of my blog post “Blindly following google”

And now I wait….. A concept that requires Patience; something that doesn’t come naturally to me !

Despite my work being ‘found to be very interesting’ I was put onto the ‘shortlist’ which meant that if (for whatever reason) anyone was t able to attend I would get to go.

So, I kept quiet, made arrangements as if I were to be going.  Only to hear at the beginning of this week that I would not be attending.

So, for now I am looking at the positives and have taken some learning away from this experience and I am also looking at other adventures that my blogging could open for me.

So….. Watch this space !!!

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An Open Letter


Thank you for your kindness. I do not want this post to sound ungrateful. Really I don’t:

When you see me and my working girl (guide dog) Fizz waiting patiently at the curb edge to cross the road, I do not think you rude for driving on.

Stopping and (I can only assume) flash your lights, waving at me or even tooting your horn, (this I can hear) will not make me walk out into the road.

By stopping early for the junction you are being kind. But you are also putting me in danger. If I were to cross in front of you, your engine noise could mask that of a car coming the other way, or a car behind you could decide to overtake.

Unless I am on a designated crossing, Fizz is trained to not go before you. So I will stand and I will wave you on. I will put my hand up to wave a thank you, or give you a thumbs up; but please just keep going.

(Even more so when it is dark, both me and Fizz will be in high viz, but we are both dazzled by your headlights)

When I wave the first car on, why would I then walk before the 2nd? I am not doing it to be ‘carist’ I will wave each and everyone of you on.

I am not being rude, I am ensuring my own safely. Please understand, by stopping early you are often creating traffic build up, reducing the ‘natural gaps’ that would enable me and Fizz to cross safely.

I am not alone with this, all guide dog owners are taught this, as are all (or where when I was trained) long cane users.

If I am with a friend or a kind stranger has offered to help me cross.  AND if crossing in front of you would be the only option, I will drop Fizz’s harness handle (walking her just by her lead) and taking the arm of the person with me.  This removes the responsibility to guide me from my guide dog and is the only time I will ‘break the rules’

This is because we have assistance from a sighted guide.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter xx

safe travelling to you all xx

Warm Wishes xx Tink

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The Weekend that almost wasn’t

Those of you who have been following me for some time will know one of my mantra to life is:

Have dog, will travel.

And with this mantra in place and a connection made through the power of Facebook, when a fun social event that would be followed up by an information and tech based learning event popped up; I found myself booking a hotel and myself for an evening with an Amy Whinehouse Tribute act.

The Facebook connection was that with the talented Molly, The founder and inspirational woman behind The Molly Watt Trust, along with the younger company of Molly Watt Ltd.

With my (relitively) recent hearing loss, I had used my ability to connect through Facebook to link with groups that supported those known as ‘deafblind’.

Having made contact with Molly at the beginning of my blogger journey, along with having a guide dog connection with her I had taken more of an interest in the work of The Molly Watt Trust and found myself naturally drawn toward them with my increasing issues around my sight and hearing loss.

So, when this weekend came up to join in on a ‘social’ and learning based opportuity arrived.  I jumped at it.


What type of journey would it take to get from my own home town to Maidenhead?

And from the station to the hotel?

The hotel that was hosting the dinner on the Friday and the Ushers day on the Saturday was on hotels.com, so I booked my room and set about not having to worry about travelling between venues.

The price was right and would save me additional travel; it was all falling into place …..

……. Or so I thought!

I was looking forward to the event and had everything in place, so now it was just a case of picking which shoes to pack to go with my dress.

After all, not having to go out of the hotel other than to allow Fizz to spend meant I could pack the hot pink heels without the worry of walking any great distance in them.  Not because I can’t walk in heels.  Rather I prefer to be in flat comfortable trainers if I am walking in an area I am not aware of, or in the dark, where I find more difficulty than I do if it were daylight.

Come September 15th my case was packed, my train ticket was collected and off with Fizz, we were on our way.

And then came the first of our hurdles…… Reading Railway Station!

This station is something from a futuristic movie; a large metallic, vast and somewhat oversized pedestrian gangway, which is accessed via long escalators (and multipul lifts) to enable you to walk safely away from the trains to any one of the stations many many platforms.

Yet without a clear indicator as to which train leaves from which platform.  And more importantly because I am well aware I may have missed the obvious large screens giving this information I need I couldn’t find any members of staff!

I only managed to find staff on the actual platforms as and when a train arrived.  Not ideal, as some of the staff I found actually arrived and were set to depart with the train….. So couldn’t direct me around the station.

It was ok though, I wasn’t going to let this get to me, I had managed to find Starbucks on my travels around the station, so when I found the platform and train I needed it was time to grab a nice coffee for me and a bowl of water for Fizz while we waited.

We (Fizz and I) arrived at Maidenhead and out came Google Maps.

It was at this point I realised my error.

The Thames Riviera Hotel (where the dinner and information day were occurring) was not The Thames Hotel I had in fact booked my room for the night!

They were so very close, just a short 5 minute walk along The Thames between the two, yet they were very different hotels.

This was when panic started to kick in.

How could I have made such a simple mistake?

How had I got it SO wrong?

A quick message in a Facebook group about the event and I was calmed.  I could do this.  I am a grown woman; who just happens to have an eye condition and hearing condition that may make life a little more of a challenge at times.

But I am strong and independent.  Who just happened to have a blip.  That was all it was…. a simple blip.  I had come so far, the hotel was already paid for, it would be silly to turn around and go home now……. Right?

So, as I said before.  On went Google Maps and off I went.

With hearing aids in place, I had to rely on holding my phone to hear the directions, while trying to keep out of the bright sunshine to roughly follow the blue line.

I didn’t even realise my first error with this.

Maidenhead Railway Station has 2 exits.  And I found myself leaving via the small, unassuming exit.

The second error came when I misheard a direction.

While walking alongside busy traffic I was sure the direction had been to walk forward.  Sadly, it hadn’t.  It had been to turn right.  And by the time I had realised my error, in true Google Maps programming, my route had been recalculated.

A walk that saw me walking along an almost non-existent path beside a dual-carriageway.  Walking into a multi story car park attached to a local Sainsburys store to find a foot bridge to cross the aforementioned carriageway.

A footbridge that landed me by a leisure centre and bowling alley just as the rain started to get heavy.

I bit the bullet, I went into the bowling alley and collected the telephone number for a local taxi.  Upon calling the firm, I explained my location and where I wanted to go, no problem a car could be with me within a few minutes.  So I kindly mention I have my guide dog travelling with me; that was when suddenly a car would not be available for almost forty minutes.

So, I gave up on the idea of a taxi and returned to my trusted phone and four-pawed companion to find the hotel.

This was a journey that took us another twenty-five minutes and a desperate plea to my best friend for help and linking my location on Google Maps to his Google Maps; and an hour after we had left to station to walk the seventeen minutes to the hotel, we arrived.

Both Fizz and I were damp (actually that was an understatement)

The doorman at the hotel instantly took control.

He collected my case and walked us to our room.

He commented on my damp dog (which I instantly apologised for), which he would hear nothing about.  He left us for only a few moments, before returning with an armful of towels.  He explained that these towels were clean, yet had lost their crisp white finish, so were no longer used for the guests……. But would be absolutely perfect to rub down my soggy dog with and give her a comfortable soft bed to dry off on.

This was too much, I managed to thank him before closing the door and collapsing in tears on the floor.  The anxiety of the day was taking its toll. But with a nudge from Fizz (I like to think as her ways of asking if I was ok.) I realised it was all going to be alright.

A conversation with my best friend put my mind at ease regards the hotel I was staying at and the hotel I was set to attend for dinner.  A dinner for which I was going to wear hot pink heels, that I would not feel comfortable walking outside (For the reasons I mentioned above)

What was stopping me wearing my trainers on the walk, with my ‘pretty shoes’ in my bag?  The answer….. Nothing.

This time, I not only looked on Google Maps for the direction, but I used Google Street View to actually walk the route virtually between the two hotels, a very straight five minute walk along the river, passing a park (perfect for spending Fizz) before crossing a large road to get to the hotel.

This time (although I would be walking in ‘twilight’) I was not leaving anything to chance!  Although, I did feel like I was taking my and Fizz’s life in my hands by crossing the road infront of the hotel, a road that was also one of the large bridges across The Thames River.

The rest of the evening passed with a blur of fun, entertainment and enjoyment, of putting faces to names and adding new friends into my life to enrich it.

I did wear my trainers for the walk; quickly changing upon arriving at the RIGHT hotel!  Switching them out again before leaving at the end of the evening.  One of the benefits of going to an event with others who have sight issues, is that such incidents are easier to hide.

I returned to my hotel, for a very comfortable and refreshing sleep, ready to return after breakfast for the chance to chat, chance to learn and more importantly, chance to find support and similarities with others going through their sight and hearing loss journey.


The walk The Riviera Hotel to the railway station was minus the difficulties of the previous day.  I even found the point where I had taken the wrong turn.  The turn that had caused so much anxiety.

Although the train journey home wasn’t without an interesting twist either!  That I found easier to write about at the time and you can read about it in  The day we caught the train

So, for the weekend that could have easily found me returning home, I discovered just how, as a strong independent (somewhat stubborn) woman, I am also human.  I make mistakes, but I also learned I am not to be so hard on myself.

This weekend did do one thing for me; it confirmed that I had to find a way of being able to channel my phone directly to my ears (as if I were able to wear headphones again)  I am still £4,000 away from the ‘ideal’ ReSound hearing aids I am fundraising for.  But there has to be an interim answer, isn’t there?




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One beep; two beep; three beep; four

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Blindly following Google

When your climbing partner in crime suggest meeting him from work for an evening of climbing, what is a gal to do?

Other than to find out where the closest coffee shop is, and how you can get to it. As it would be an evening of climbing, the ‘have dog will travel’ attitude was altered to ‘have cane will travel’.

Train journey, easy, no problem.

Bus journey, not so easy, but still no problem.

Hedge End (where the CPiC works) has a tiny train station, yet within a short distance there are mammoth superstores of every possible concept. While other coffee places are available, I set my sights on hitting Starbucks, mainly because it has a simple pull up and park location right next to the motorway junction in the direction of Calshot.

Which in fact meant that it had a ‘quirky’ navigation on Google Maps.

The bus stop is placed directly outside the station, the bus was scheduled to tie in with the train arriving. Pure brilliance!

The bus however did not have an audio-visual display. It did have an incredibly friendly and happy to help driver, who ensured me he would notify me of my stop.

So off we went……. And sure enough, the driver true to his word, told me when we had arrived at my stop, he even explained the direction I needed to walk to arrive at Marks and Spencer’s (the major store that afforded its own bus stop!). He also waited until he had ensured I was walking in the right direction before continuing with his journey.

Only; I didn’t want to go the Marks and Spencer’s. I wanted Starbucks. Which as the crow flies is directly opposite Marks and Spencer’s (near enough) Simple enough? the only issue was the great big MASSIVE road known as Charles Watts Way – A334.

And this is where I put my faith in my iPhone and Googled my way!

The directions weren’t straight forward, which made me believe that Google was aware of the size of the road and was walking me a safer way, after all how could it possible take 7 minutes to walk such a short distance (when equating walking time, it doesn’t allow for traffic, as it would if you were driving)

So, ironically. I blindly followed its route……

….. A route that saw me walk through Marks and Spencer’s and out the other side, around the outside of Sainsburys and behind it where a worker was having a sneaky cigarette.

Still my map told me to continue, so onward I went. (I must admit, had it not been a bright afternoon, I may have had other thoughts)

Across a short path and …….. BINGO……

I had found it. The reason why Google maps was telling me it was 7 minutes.

Because in front of me was a rusty cream rail, a thin metal grate on the floor and the key to crossing Charles Watts Way.

It was the ramp, that twisted around in a loose corkscrew before evolving into a long straight path with a slight gradient for several steps, before flattening out and then rising again. It was a bridge.

In the warm sun, the shadows create by the overhanging trees made it hard to make out just how simple and easy it was to navigate.

It was a time to put my trust into my cane, because with the light; the shadows cast and the uncertainty of where I was, I felt apprehensive. I needn’t have; it really was as smooth and easy as I explained it to be.

And before I knew it, I was walking across the top of the bridge, right above all the traffic queuing beneath me. And then I was back into the shadows and the long straight declining path. Turning just once, 180 degrees to walk a similar distance again before coming to a small offset railings, a quick weave and I was on the path beside that very same traffic that I had just walked over. (I didn’t hear it moving!)

A short distance ahead and I could feel the path changing, this time it was much smoother, yet paved, not tarmac as it had previously been. I couldn’t home in on much, because although the trees were cut back, their shadows were replaced by bright glaring sun.

Faithful cane soon told me I was reaching a curb edge, the tactile paving soon enabled me to place myself in the right direction, a small road across the car park and low and behold…….



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Would you be my eyes?

Watching a film earlier today with an additional audio descript soundtrack; my son asked me

What does blue look like if you can’t see?

A question that made me think, I asked him what he thinks of when he thinks of the colour blue, to me it is the sky, the sea and swimming pools.

But mum, what if you had never seen before? What would blue look like?

And so I decided to write this post, I couldn’t answer my sons questions; but I have told him I will, I just need to do a little research first !!

For as long as the written word has existed there have been ways of evoking images from it.

Abjectives, Verbs, Nouns, connotation, yet these all rely on you knowing what such objects look like. In my research of this subject I have found something, something that was buried at the back of my brain with all of my other Secondary Educational learnings;  Pathetic fallacy – where the weather in the story or written word mirrors the emotion of the scene or the people in it. For example, when it is very hot the characters are agitated or when it is foggy, mystery is evoked. This is used to adds atmosphere to the writing and gives clues to the reader as to what is to come, especially if the weather is described before the event.  Just as many horror movies occur on dark stormy nights.

Do you need to know what weather looks like to understand it?

No, as someone who enjoys every type of weather and the changing seasons this is one element of life that I can use my other senses to understand.  Weather can be truly ‘FELT’ the hot sun on my skin, the drizzly rain, the north-easterly breeze.  Fog comes with the additional sounds of fog horns (living on this coast these can be heard miles in land) Mist gives a dampness to the air that isn’t present when it rains, morning dew has a smell to it, a storm too can have its very own smell and it’s not just thunder that makes a noise.

Weather can’t explain colour or shape though, although it works very well for emotion.

So, I am back at the beginning.

How would you describe the colour blue?  Without using the word, what does blue look like?

I have had sight and I have been fortunate to be able to see and remember colours, images, items.

Even though now my perception of colour is greatly altered, I can only really see the difference between orange and red when they are together and everything I see has a kind of haze or veil over it, so isn’t as vivid or true as it once were.

My hunt for answering my sons questions will continue, but for now; humour me?

Please reply to this blog post with your description of the colour blue.

No judgement will be passed, no humiliation with be sort.  Just an intriguing mind looking for help.

Thank You x

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What does sound sound like?

Tomorrow I have my NHS hearing aid fitting appointment.  My hearing aid assessment was very quick and limited; unlike the hearing assessment I had done privately.  My NHS assessment didn’t test how I hear (or rather struggle to hear) certain voice tones or in areas where the background noise was high.

I guess this has led me to feel that I may not gain the full potential from my hearing aids, and also because I am only having one for my right ear. And nothing for my left!

I am fortunate that as I am registered blind, I do receive a second right ear hearing aid.  This is so that should I drop one, or (as suggested by the audiologist) my guide dog EATS one.  I am not left isolated while a replacement is sort.

The NHS Choices website states;

Hearing aids are designed to help you hear everyday sounds such as the doorbell and telephone, and improve your ability to hear speech. They should make you feel more confident when talking to people and make it much easier for you to follow conversations in different environments. They might also help you to enjoy listening to music and the TV again, at a volume that’s comfortable for those around you.

I guess I find it hard to feel confident.  For as long as I remember I have worn glasses and it was actually a feeling of loss that I felt when I was told I didn’t actually need to wear them on a day to day basis, when I changed my prescription for reading glasses.  I tend to just wear them out of habit and the ability to hide behind them.

How will I feel wearing a hearing aid?


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Envious of the mundane

Sat waiting for a friend to arrive and watching (as best I can) the people coming and going with their shopping.

And a very mundane task struck me.  People were walking with shopping bags in both hands.  Sounds rediculous, but in that small insignificant moment I became upset.

And the reason for it?  The realisation that from now and forever I will always walk with one hand full; as I will either be holding a long cane,  a guide dog harness or onto another person’s arm.

It sounds silly, but having to consider what you are buying when you go out, to either contain it in a back pack or worst case over my shoulder.  It is very difficult with Fizz to have a bag in my right hand, she works off of tap que’s and a gentle reminder from having her lead in my right hand at times.

I guess for now I shall just add it to the list of ‘no longer possible’ and carry on by focussing on the ‘can do’ list.

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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.

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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.



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