Naidex 2019

Naidex is Europe’s largest event showcasing the latest technology, products and services for disabled people, helping them to live, work and travel with greater independence and comfort. The event is now in its 45th year and it’s absolutely massive, occupying a large hall in the NEC Birmingham for 2 days.

I first went to the show last year, having never heard of it before, and enjoyed having a good look around over both days. I took in as much as I could, even things that weren’t particularly relevant to me, to get a good sense of what was there. So this year, now that I knew what to expect, I was able to prepare more, and only went for 1 day. I knew that would be enough time to see everything that was of most relevance and interest to me, and I think it was a wise move. Other people may find going for both days very beneficial though, it just depends how much you want to look at.

Also for the second year running, I was proud to be an ambassador for the show. That simply means we plug each other on social media, so I give them shoutouts and they promote my blog in return. Beyond that, I’ve not been gifted in any way to promote or mention the show, I paid all of my own expenses to attend, and I’m not obliged to give any kind of review. Likewise, I’m not sponsored by or affiliated with any companies mentioned in this post. I just want to go through what I saw and picked up information about, and all opinions are my own as always.

So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy my rundown of Naidex 2019!

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TFL Access All Areas 2019

I feel very comfortable using the public transport in London, and generally have no problems getting around on it. I always plan my journeys as best I can, and feel confident travelling around the city by myself, because I find the public transport in London to be very accessible.

There is a Transport for London Accessibility Page giving lots of information to help you access public transport in the city. It’s well worth looking through everything there, even if you think you’re very familiar with the transport system, because you may well discover something you didn’t know about. There’s a recent article about accessibility that TfL have published as well.

But there is still lots of room for improvement, so TfL are constantly making efforts to improve accessibility, within the limits of funding and other resources available to them. And with that in mind, they held their Access All Areas event at ExCel London in March, to highlight the current accessibility options and services that are available, and to share future developments. It’s a great opportunity to hear from decision makers and engineers, and get to know a variety of organisations.

So I decided to go along and check it out, because it sounded very interesting. Plus it was free to attend, and just a short bus ride from my house. So in this post I want to show you some of the things I discovered there. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

Note: I am not sponsored by TfL or any of the other organisations mentioned here, and have received no incentives to mention them. I just want to tell you about what I saw at the event, and make you aware of things you might find useful. So all opinions are my own.

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September 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly update, and it’s fair to say that September was very busy and productive, as well as throwing up one or two surprises, which in turn are paving the way for a very interesting October. There is of course a video to go with this post, and I hope you enjoy this little catch-up as usual!

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My Assistive iPhone Features & Apps

Thank you to everybody for the lovely reactions to my previous post about My Visual Impairment Aids & Gadgets, especially after the RNIB kindly shared it on Facebook and Twitter, where it got a particularly big response. I’m very glad it’s proven so useful, and it’s been great to see other people sharing what they use as a result.

So this post and video is a follow-up to that, looking at the accessibility features and favourite apps I use on my iPhone. I’m not sponsored by anyone to do this or affiliated with any companies mentioned here, I just wanted to share the things that I use and enjoy. So I hope you find this post interesting, and feel free to share the features and apps that you use too.

Note: An edited version of this post has since been shared on The Big Hack website by Scope. A warm welcome to my blog if you’ve found me via that page!

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May 2018 Favourites

May was a lovely month. The weather’s been gorgeous lately, for the most part, and with no major events going on it’s been quite a relaxing few weeks .But there are still various bits and pieces I’ve enjoyed, and want to mention in this latest post and video update. So I hope you find this interesting.

To start with though, I just quickly want to plug a couple of upcoming events in June that will interest some of you. They’re for people all over the world to join in with, not just the UK. The more the merrier really, as it will help to spread vital awareness in both cases.

Sue Ricketts talking to a lady at the Nystagmus Network table ,with a tall poster next to it giving details of the charity.June 20th will be Nystagmus Awareness Day, which is its new permanent date, having moved from November. This year’s theme is Nystagmus In The Open, where people are being encouraged to do outdoor activities to raise funds and generate awareness. Sue, who runs the Nystagmus Network, is opening her garden for people to visit, for instance. People are also being invited to submit their stories online to show how amazing people with nystagmus are.

The Aniridia Day logo is a cartoon style image of the Earth, wearing sunglasses, smiling and giving a double thumbs up. Curving over the top, in yellow text with black outline, are the words “Aniridia Day”. Below the Earth in bold black text is 21 June, and below that the address for aniridiaday.org.June 21st will then be Aniridia Day. This is the second time it’s been held, as it was a big success last year. This year’s awareness campaign is called Aniridia Sight, where we want people with aniridia to share a photo or video of a scene, and describe how they see it through their eyes. So the more people that get involved, the more we can show how varied the vision of people with aniridia is. And then there will hopefully be live webinars too, for people to discuss aniridia related topics e.g. doctors, researchers, people with aniridia, etc. If you’d be interested in doing a webinar on the day, please fill out the form to sign up.

So now that’s out of the way, let me tell you what I’ve been up to in May.

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Naidex 2018

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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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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Tate Modern Audio Tours

Update (January 2019): The Tate app referred to below is no longer available, sadly. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy reading about my first visit to the attraction.

On Saturday I decided to visit the Tate Modern, as I had stumbled upon the fact that they now have a mobile app giving audio tours around the place, as well as other features that tell you more about the art on display, the activities on offer and where to eat and go shopping.

The last time I visited the Tate Modern was as a kid with my family, which I don’t remember clearly now of course (but I did record a bit of video footage at the time). So it’s been on my list of places to explore since I moved to the city, and this was a good opportunity.

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