Naidex

On the 25th and 26th of April I went to the Naidex show for the first time, which was held in the Birmingham NEC. It’s Europe’s biggest event dedicated to disability and independent living, and is full of companies showcasing the latest technology, products and services they have to offer, along with seminars and panel discussions, a mobility test track, a sporting arena for people to try out different activities, a moving and handling lab offering training for healthcare professionals, and more. And it’s completely free to attend, which makes it very worthwhile going to check it all out.

I’d never heard of the event before, so I was very intrigued to see what it was all about. I became aware of it because I was one of various bloggers contacted by Cláudia from the Prysm Group marketing team. As well as telling me about the event, she asked if I wanted to be an ambassador for it – which basically involved me giving them a plug on my social media channels, and they would promote my blog in return. I was happy to do that, given my interest in the event, so that’s what we did. Hence you will have seen me mentioning them every so often over the past month, and they did indeed share the link to my blog on Facebook and Twitter a couple of times as well. I didn’t receive any payments or gifts for it, we were literally just exchanging posts to promote each other.

And the event itself was great, I really enjoyed exploring it over both days. I’ve already written about my travel and hotel stay in another post, so now I want to give you a comprehensive review of the event itself, and tell you about the various companies, products and services that I became aware of. As a result, this is quite a long post, but it is divided into headings if it’s helpful. So I hope you enjoy reading about it!

Note: Footage from the event can be seen in my April Favourites video. I also discussed my Naidex visit with Fern Lulham on AMI Audio‘s Kelly & Company show on 24 May 2018.

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Travelling to Birmingham for Naidex

Recently I went to the Naidex event in Birmingham – Europe’s largest show dedicated to disability and independent living – which you may have seen me mentioning on social media recently. I explain more in my full review of the show in my next post. But here I thought I’d tell you about my travel to Birmingham and review my hotel stay, to get that out of the way.

And to be clear, I paid for everything out of my own money, I didn’t have any special arrangements with Naidex or anyone involved with it. I helped to promote them a bit on social media, in return for them promoting my blog, but that was as far as our connection went. So I hope you enjoy this post, before I get on to my epic show review!

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The Wallace Collection

Last weekend I took my first ever visit to The Wallace Collection, which is a museum full of paintings, sculptures and furniture collected by multiple generations of the same family. When I was younger I had no idea this was just behind Oxford Street, and a lot of shoppers in that area have probably been blissfully unaware of its existence. Of course, even if I had known back then, I wouldn’t have been interested, as I was never into art as a child, and didn’t pay it much attention for a while as I got older.

However, since moving to London, I’ve been able to start exploring and developing an appreciation for artworks and visiting galleries, particularly thanks to guided tours and other interactive and accessible methods of exploring such spaces. As very much an art novice, I am enjoying learning about it and seeing some of the delights on offer. It’s like a fascinating new world, more so than I’d initially expected perhaps. So that was one reason I was looking forward to this visit.

This was also the third and final outing I was doing as part of a PhD study into museum accessibility for the visually impaired, being worked on by Rafie Cecilia. Our previous visits were at the Victoria & Albert Museum last year, and the Museum of London in February. I also met her again during the ultrahaptics testing at the V&A earlier this month, but that was for a different study. It’s always a pleasure meeting her, and it’s wonderful that she’s putting so much time and effort into this work, to support people like myself who find it harder to explore museums compared to normally sighted people. And now she and her colleague Maryam Bandukda have set up the Disability Innovation Research Society, bringing together researchers to discuss disability innovation and accessible technology, which is great. So I was glad to be meeting Rafie again.

And talking of accessibility, that sounded really good in this museum as well, with the website stating that they had an audio guide for the visually impaired, plus Rafie had recommended a special app I could use to find out more about the artworks. So that was another big reason for me to go. I’d heard very good things about the Wallace Collection, and getting information about the various exhibits sounded like it would be pretty easy. So now I want to tell you how it all went.

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Growing Up With Sight Loss

When I started my blog and Youtube channel, I assumed that the only talking I’d be doing for people about my disability was purely from the comfort of my own home, reaching people through their computers and smart devices. But then, last year, I ended up giving my first ever public talk to adults at the Nystagmus Network Open Day, about building my new social network. It was a complete surprise and a completely new experience for me, and one that I assumed was going to be a one-off.

However, earlier this month I had the opportunity to give another talk, this time for a very different audience – primary school children, around 9 to 11 years old.  I won’t name the school or the people involved – they’re awesome and know who they are anyway – but what I want to do here is give you an overview of what I said. I wanted to take the time to write it down for posterity anyway, as I went over it in my head beforehand rather than writing a script.

So I figured you might find it interesting to read as well (or watch my video if you prefer), as it gives another perspective on my journey through life to date.

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Wicked

Just because I said I enjoyed Winter at the Young Vic and looking at the snow recently, it doesn’t mean I want the winter season itself to continue! We’re halfway through March now, so you’d think the spring might make a bit of an effort. But no, we had a bit more snow today, with more due tomorrow! When I’d heard this on the weather during the week, I was worried that it might stop me from going out today. But thankfully it didn’t. What little snow fell in London failed to settle, much to my relief!

So that was great, because today I was able to tick off another big production from my theatre wishlist – Wicked. It’s had loads of awards and gets loads of great reviews, and I already knew a couple of songs from it, so I was really keen to see it. And when the opportunity to book tickets with a touch tour and audio description came up a little while back, I gladly went for it. So I went this afternoon, and in this post I’ll tell you what I thought!

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Scam Emails – TSB

Scam emails seem to arrive like buses sometimes, as the saying goes. I don’t get any for a while, and then 3 come along at once. And that happened earlier this month when I received a hat-trick of emails claiming to be from the TSB bank. 2 of them were identical, but one was different. And I’ve not had emails claiming to be from TSB before. But then scammers will try a variety of banks and financial institutions to see who they can catch, so getting scam emails for different banks isn’t surprising.

So it’s time for another instalment in my scam emails series. As usual, this is going to be rather repetitive in the signs to look out for, if you’ve seen the previous posts. But the more I can hammer this stuff home to make people aware, the better, as I do get comments from people who are grateful for the info I’m providing, and people do keep stumbling on the posts from web searches. So let’s get on to it.

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January 2018 Favourites

After a very eventful and successful 2017, I’ve been looking forward to seeing what 2018 would bring. And this year I want to try and get into the habit of doing monthly favourites posts, so you can get a good overview of what I’ve been enjoying, both out and about and at home. That way I can cover little things that I wouldn’t otherwise mention, as well as the bigger stuff that I’ve written longer posts on, which I’ll link to here.

So this is the first post, for January. This month I’ve been mostly doing things indoors given the cold weather outside. So I’ve been going out to various museums, and have also been to the theatre, while at home I’ve been watching a couple of the DVD sets I bought last year, to catch up on those. And I’m also making an effort to start listening to more audiobooks this year, as I only did one in 2017, which was bad of me (although, to be fair, book-reading wasn’t top of my to-do list having just moved to a huge city!).

So I’ve been keeping myself entertained in various ways, and I hope you enjoy this post and video recap of the month!

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