Whose Liner Is It Anyway?

I’d love to go on a cruise one day, it’s one of those bucket list items for me. I know a few friends who have done it and enjoyed it, and I love the idea of relaxing in a massive floating hotel… well, they can be entire floating cities in effect… with all the entertainment on board, and visiting a variety of interesting places. One day it’ll happen I’m sure. 

But I got a nice taste for it on Saturday, and in particular learned about a lot of the history of it, with the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition Ocean Liners – Speed & Style. This was the last weekend of the exhibition, so I just got around to seeing it before it closed. And I made a new friend in the process. So it was a lovely day, and I thought I’d tell you a bit about it.

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April 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly favourites post, and April was very busy for me. There were a couple of big important events, a couple of interesting museum visits, another theatre trip, and a few nice walks now that the weather’s improving. So I hope you enjoy this little post and video recap of what I got up to.

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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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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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Something In The Air At The V&A

Earlier this month I made another visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The first time I went there last year was with a lady called Rafie, to see how accessible it was as a visually impaired person for her PhD study. And this time I met her at the museum again, but this time it was for a focus group accessibility study organised by some of her colleagues from University College London (UCL), and there were 3 other participants as well as me. The ladies from UCL were running a few of these sessions over a couple of days, organised by a lady called Lydia, and this one had sounded very intriguing to me. Quite literally ‘sounded’ in fact, given that it involved some clever use of ultrasound!

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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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