Disability & Sunshine Blogger Awards

Rather than finish the year with a dull post about a scam email, I actually wanted to do a quick post to tie up a couple of loose ends, before I get on to doing my Christmas Favourites and a general look back at the year gone by to kickstart 2020.

As many of you know, people in the blogging community often nominate each other for “awards”, which is an opportunity to promote other bloggers that you like and ask them questions. And I was very kindly nominated for two of these awards back in October, but didn’t get around to responding at the time. So I wanted to acknowledge them and answer the questions that were put to me.

If you want to answer these questions yourself, then please feel free to do so. I always nominate everyone on my lists of sight loss bloggers and disability bloggers by default, as I always find it difficult to narrow it down to a select few!

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November 2019 Favourites

I seem to have gone from one extreme to another lately. After a relatively relaxed October, November has been really busy, and in a good way. I appeared on TV and radio to raise awareness of digital accessibility, promoted audio description at a trade exhibition, learnt a great deal about Ancient Greece, explored London’s illuminated bridges, highlighted more scam emails, bought some new Blu-rays and music, and enjoyed various things on TV.

So there’s plenty to cover this month, and I hope you enjoy this post and video summary of it all. As always, I haven’t received any gifts or payments by anyone mentioned in this post, and all opinions are my own.

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The Big Business of Digital Accessibility

The internet is an amazing resource, enabling people to instantly access products, services, information, communication, entertainment, etc, anywhere and at any time. And it’s especially useful and important for disabled people, for whom such a direct connection with the world around them plays a vital role.

However, there are still many websites, social media feeds and apps, and other technologies such as self-service checkouts and kiosks, that are partly or wholly unusable by disabled people, due to poor accessibility. This means they cannot access information and purchase products from many retailers and service providers, as they are unjustly hindered or prevented from doing so. As a result, they either don’t buy anything at all, or find accessible competitors instead. Which means many businesses are missing out on the benefits of a huge market worth £274 billion a year!

The same logic also applies when disabled people are prevented from gaining physical access to buildings, facilities, transport, etc, which is a vitally important and huge issue in itself. But for this post I’m focusing on the digital side.

Disability charity Scope have therefore released the findings of their survey on inclusive design, which illustrates the impact of poor digital access. This is to help them publicise The Big Hack, a comprehensive online resource advising businesses on best practice for digital accessibility and inclusion. And to help with the promotion, Scope invited me to take part in some media coverage, which included my first ever TV appearance! Check out my little bits of stardom here:

So in this long post, which I’ve divided into sections to break it up a bit, I want to:

For clarity, I have not been paid or gifted for my interviews or this post. This is just a topic I feel strongly about, so I was happy to take part in the media coverage, and all opinions here are my own. I also encourage you to research the subject of accessibility further, including the resources on The Big Hack, as there is no way I can cover everything, and no single person is a complete authority on the subject. I’m just talking about things from my own personal perspective, so I hope my thoughts and experiences are useful.

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September 2019 Favourites

Those of you who have been following along recently will know that I had some issues in August that stopped me going out much. I was still able to do a July & August Favourites post, but the August part of that wasn’t very substantial.

September has continued to be rather mixed, as I’m still having an issue with my feet, so I didn’t get out too often. I think it might be hives of some sort, but the antihistamines are keeping them right down, so they’re not getting worse and are tolerable. It means I’m able to get around more easily, and also go out and about if I don’t overdo it. I’ve got a dermatologist appointment on 2nd November (which was thankfully moved forward from the original date of the 30th), so hopefully we can start sorting it out then.

And for those wondering about my Personal Independence Payments claim, no decision has come through yet. But I had 3 text messages to say they had the report from my face-to-face assessment, and then 2 letters in the post to say they have all the information they need to make a decision. So I just have to wait and see now.

Despite all of that, however, I’ve still ended up with a fair number of things to write about for September. I did manage to go out over the course of a weekend, when my foot was behaving, plus I’ve got some exciting videos and articles to share that I’ve been involved with, and there are some TV shows and music releases I want to mention. And as usual, no products in this post are gifted or sponsored, and all opinions are my own. So I apologise that there won’t be much in the way of London-specific stuff this month, but I still hope you enjoy this post and video as always.

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What Is Normal? (Documentary)

I still find it very humbling and flattering that so many people have taken an interest in my adventures over the past few years, whether it be reading my blog, watching my videos, or seeing me speak at events. I’m very grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement, and I wouldn’t be doing this if nobody cared, so thank you.

I never imagined that I’d have a documentary made about me though. Yet that’s exactly what happened for the first time a few months ago. It was an exciting experience and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

I’ve held it back until now for various reasons. Firstly, whilst I have permission to post it regardless, I wanted to give a bit of space for its creators and sponsors, including a major charity, to publish it first if they so wished. But I also had a few things distracting me over the summer too, as regular followers will know, which has further delayed it.

But now’s a good time to release it, as it ties in nicely with the recent publication of my Aniridia Network Conference talk – Growing In Confidence With Aniridia – which  was filmed shortly after the documentary was completed. Soon after that I was also in a second documentary – See Differently by Yiwen Feng – which featured myself and others. You can find out more about my speech and that other film in my June Favourites. I was certainly getting my 15 minutes of fame around that time!

In this post, therefore, I want to share my first ever documentary with you, and give a behind-the-scenes insight into how it all came together. I hope you enjoy it, and please do share the film around on social media.

So without any further ado, I present my documentary debut – What Is Normal?

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May 2019 Favourites

Hello again, and welcome to my latest monthly recap. I’ve been a bit quiet here this past month, and that’s because I had to take a step back while working on a couple of important things – neither of which I can give you a lot of detail about in this post, although I will briefly tease you about them.

A lot of my time was spent preparing for this year’s Aniridia Network Conference. Not only was I going to be capturing photos and video, but I also had to prepare and rehearse a talk of my own, about how I’ve grown in confidence with aniridia. So that was naturally on my mind a lot. The successful event took place on 1 June, and all of the talks were filmed, which I’ll be editing and uploading to the charity’s Youtube channel in the weeks to come. So I’ll share my talk with you at a later date. In the meantime, do also keep an eye out for Aniridia Day on 21 June, which will raise awareness of the condition worldwide, and show your support if you can.

I was also on camera during May itself though, for another exciting reason, because a mini documentary was made about me by a wonderful group of film students. I really enjoyed the experience, and I’m very pleased with how the film’s come out. I’ll tell you all about it in a separate post later, after the video has been published (although there is a sneaky preview in the video relating to this post). It was made for a major disability charity, so I’m waiting to see if they’ll post it first. But I have permission to publish it on my own channel as well, so it’ll end up there in due course. In any case, I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you!

Those events aside, there are still some other bits and pieces I can tell you about in this month’s post and video. As always, I’m not sponsored by anybody mentioned here, nothing has been gifted, and all opinions are my own. So let’s crack on with it, and I hope you enjoy as per usual!

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March 2019 Favourites

It’s safe to say that March was my busiest month since moving to London, with lots of exciting opportunities, events and activities that came along all at once. So I’ve got a lot to tell you about, including disability exhibitions and events, a few guest posts, theatre shows, museum visits, and other entertainment I’ve enjoyed.

On a few occasions I was gifted or had my blog promoted as thanks for my participation, which I’ve indicated where appropriate. That has of course been very flattering and I’m very grateful. But be assured that all opinions are my own throughout, and nobody has had any input into my content.

So I’m going to crack straight on with my recap of the month, and as always there’s a video to go with it. I hope you enjoy!

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Disabled Access Day 2019

Happy Disabled Access Day! 🙂

Disabled Access Day aims to promote the accessible experiences that are available for disabled people, and this year’s event is encouraging people to “try something new and send a review”. I myself am going to an event today and will post my thoughts on it in due course, along with other accessible events that I’m attending this month.

Today is important because it helps to raise awareness of the importance of accessibility for all. It is a basic human right for everyone to have equal access to products, services, experiences, etc, including disabled people, because we need, desire and enjoy the same things as everyone else. We’re all human at the end of the day. Yet there are still many barriers to access and things that need to be improved, which is one reason why there are so many visually impaired bloggers and disabled bloggers who discuss their accessibility issues on a regular basis

However, it’s just as important to celebrate the positives as well. There are already lots of accessible experiences out there, and Disabled Access Day is a great opportunity to promote them. Because it’s not always obvious what’s available. Even now I’m still discovering things in London despite living here for 2 years! So to have a day full of organised events to choose from is a great initiative, which will hopefully inspire disabled people to discover and do more, and inspire other individuals and organisations to take notice and work to improve access for all.

So with that in mind, I’m very proud to have been asked to write 2 guest posts for today, highlighting the accessible experiences that I’ve been enjoying in London. So please do check them out, and I hope you enjoy them:

You can also check out reviews of my cultural experiences by following the links on my museum and theatre pages, among my other out and about posts. I also have lots of posts about living with my visual impairment if you want to understand that aspect further.

Disclaimer: The Old Vic kindly gave me tickets to a show in exchange for my post, while I was not gifted for the London Vision post. In both cases, however, all views are my own.

Bedtime Tag

This post is in response to the Bedroom Tag that I’ve been nominated to do by Amanda Gene – thanks Amanda! There isn’t a lot I can say about my bedtime routine particularly, but it’s not something I’ve written about on here before, so I hope you enjoy reading my answers.

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2018 Review

My second year in London has flown by, and what an incredible year it’s been, full of even bigger surprises and adventures than the first. Raising £920 from my charity abseil for nystagmus research and giving a speech to primary school children about growing up with sight loss were 2 of my biggest and most surprising achievements this year without a doubt, but there’s been so much more going on as well.

I really do feel like I’ve settled in properly now. I’ll always want to experiment with new things and meet new people, that’s one of the many great things that living in such a wonderful city enables you to do. But the foundations I laid by doing that in 2017 definitely enabled me to have more confidence in 2018, so I had a much better idea of the things I enjoyed doing most, I was less shy around people, and I made more friends on an individual level beyond just going to social groups.

My blogging has also gone well this year. It’s only ever been a hobby on the side – I’m not after fame or money or PR opportunities or anything like that – so I’ve never been worried about the numbers. But it is nice to check the figures at the end of the year, and I’m delighted that my subscriber counts have gone up so well:

  • Blog = 132 followers (more than doubled from 60 last year).
  • Youtube = 400 subscribers (doubled from 200).
  • Twitter = 570 followers (nearly doubled from 300).
  • Instagram = 300 followers (more than trebled from 90).
  • Facebook = 63 followers (my page was still very new back in 2017, so I didn’t note the figure back then).

They may not be huge numbers compared to some, but they’re great for me, and my efforts have already been far more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve continued to get many amazing opportunities and lots of wonderful feedback, been invited to do various guests posts, and have made wonderful friends in person as well as online, all as a direct result of my posts and videos. So I’m getting far more success and satisfaction from this than I’d ever expected or could have hoped for, and if things continue to go so well then I’ll be very happy!

So thank you ever so much to everyone who has followed and supported my adventures, whether you’ve joined over the past year or have been with me since I started this blog nearly 3 years ago. It’s greatly appreciated that you find my posts interesting, entertaining and inspiring, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me in 2019.

But before we get into the new year, here’s a look back at what I’ve been up to in 2018. I’ve published Favourites posts and videos for every month, which you can get to by clicking the monthly headings below. And you can also see more in-depth posts, photos and videos about particular things linked throughout the text in bold (but there will be even more links in the Favourites posts themselves of course).

So I hope you enjoy this recap of the year, and thank you again for being a part of it and sharing it with me. And a very Happy New Year too! I hope that 2019 is a great one for you! 🙂

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