In this post and video I want to talk about guide dogs and assistance dogs, in support of Guide Dogs Week (1st-9th October). They are amazing and beautiful animals who make such a huge difference to their owners, and they should be treated with the utmost respect, without any discrimination. I’ve also published an extended cut of the guide dog footage i’ve used in the video, which you can see by clicking here.
As a follow-up to my School Days video last month, I thought I’d also write about how I got a job after graduating from university.
My degree was in accounting and finance (in which I got a 2:1), so naturally I was looking for work in that field. It was the area that interested me most, and my degree would allow me to skip some of the exams of the official accounting bodies, which would be a great help.
But I was also open to other ideas and possibilities as well, if any came up. I knew that just having a degree in itself would be useful, even if it wasn’t directly related to the job I eventually went for. So I didn’t feel I wanted to restrict myself too much, just in case.
If you’ve seen my School Days video, you’ll know I used to be a member of a local sports club for disabled people when I was a kid. So, as well as doing sports at school, I would also take part in lots of swimming galas around England, from Darlington in the north, to Plymouth in the south, and lots of other places in between.
There were people with lots of different disabilities at those events, so to try and make things as equal as possible, they would either try and group people with similar conditions together in each event, or the competitors in each race would start at different times (from slowest first, to fastest last), based on their personal best times. The theory being that the finish of each race would be quite close, although often that never really held true.
In any case, I won a lot of medals and a few trophies over those years. And it got to a point where I was offered the chance to train for the national disabled swimming team. But I decided not to take it any further. I wasn’t sufficiently interested or motivated to take it to a more professional level, instead having my sights on things like my exams, university and my career beyond that.
I didn’t even know about the Paralympics back then. If I had been aware of it, and if it had been as widely covered as it is now, and if the right support, coaching and funding had been available, maybe I’d have thought differently, who knows? But at the time, I was more interested in other things. And I don’t regret my decision at all, I’ve been very successful on the route I did take through life. But when you watch the kind of performances that we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, it’s impossible not to wonder how things could have been, potentially, with the right drive and determination.
In this post and video I want to describe what audio description is, how it is useful for the blind and visually impaired, and why it’s high time we should be able to add it to Youtube videos. This is in support of the #AudioDescribeYT campaign, launched by James Rath.
This post is based on the video I did last year for Scope’s End The Awkward campaign, giving advice about interacting with disabled people. Scope explain things far better than I do – I’m just giving my own perspective on things here – so I strongly suggest looking at their website and videos. But I hope you enjoy my post on the subject as well.
In general you just need to be friendly and respectful, and treat each disabled person as a person first and foremost, just like you would with anybody you meet. Don’t make assumptions about how they feel or what they can do, be tactful about any questions you ask so you don’t get too personal, and offer to help instead of forcing it on them. And don’t worry if you do make an innocent mistake. These things happen. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody’s expecting you to be. We do understand if you feel awkward around us – all we want to get across is that you don’t need to feel that way. 🙂
This past week I spent a couple of days in London with a friend. Just a brief visit, but we had a lovely time. It was my first time in the city for a few years – I used to go up there two or three times a year when I was a kid, because we had relatives there, but over the past 5-10 years the visits have been much more sporadic. Hopefully I’ll actually be living there soon (crosses fingers), so this was also a preliminary visit to re-familiarise myself with the area and see what it was like getting around the place.
A little while back I wrote a blog post about audio description for TV shows and films, and audio navigation on DVD menus. Things like that really help people who are visually impaired. But if you have partial or complete hearing loss, then that kind of feature isn’t much use. Instead, the equivalent form of assistance for such people is subtitles and captions, which display a text transcript of what people are saying and what sounds can be heard. And these also make a huge difference. And experimenting with it on Youtube has earned me a shoutout on a fellow blogger’s channel, which I’m very flattered about. If you’ve come here because of that video, which I’ll mention later, then hi! 🙂