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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Update (January 2019): It appears that the Tate app referred to below is no longer available, which is a pity. 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.