Conductive Coding At Tate Modern

During January I visited a few museums, which is always a good option when it’s cold and wet outside. And the most interesting event took place at the Tate Modern, involving a mixture of hand weaving and modern technology. It was an event run specifically for the visually impaired, including an audio described tour and a workshop, and it was a lovely day. So I wanted to tell you a bit about it.

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2018 Review

My second year in London has flown by, and what an incredible year it’s been, full of even bigger surprises and adventures than the first. Raising £920 from my charity abseil for nystagmus research and giving a speech to primary school children about growing up with sight loss were 2 of my biggest and most surprising achievements this year without a doubt, but there’s been so much more going on as well.

I really do feel like I’ve settled in properly now. I’ll always want to experiment with new things and meet new people, that’s one of the many great things that living in such a wonderful city enables you to do. But the foundations I laid by doing that in 2017 definitely enabled me to have more confidence in 2018, so I had a much better idea of the things I enjoyed doing most, I was less shy around people, and I made more friends on an individual level beyond just going to social groups.

My blogging has also gone well this year. It’s only ever been a hobby on the side – I’m not after fame or money or PR opportunities or anything like that – so I’ve never been worried about the numbers. But it is nice to check the figures at the end of the year, and I’m delighted that my subscriber counts have gone up so well:

  • Blog = 132 followers (more than doubled from 60 last year).
  • Youtube = 400 subscribers (doubled from 200).
  • Twitter = 570 followers (nearly doubled from 300).
  • Instagram = 300 followers (more than trebled from 90).
  • Facebook = 63 followers (my page was still very new back in 2017, so I didn’t note the figure back then).

They may not be huge numbers compared to some, but they’re great for me, and my efforts have already been far more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve continued to get many amazing opportunities and lots of wonderful feedback, been invited to do various guests posts, and have made wonderful friends in person as well as online, all as a direct result of my posts and videos. So I’m getting far more success and satisfaction from this than I’d ever expected or could have hoped for, and if things continue to go so well then I’ll be very happy!

So thank you ever so much to everyone who has followed and supported my adventures, whether you’ve joined over the past year or have been with me since I started this blog nearly 3 years ago. It’s greatly appreciated that you find my posts interesting, entertaining and inspiring, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me in 2019.

But before we get into the new year, here’s a look back at what I’ve been up to in 2018. I’ve published Favourites posts and videos for every month, which you can get to by clicking the monthly headings below. And you can also see more in-depth posts, photos and videos about particular things linked throughout the text in bold (but there will be even more links in the Favourites posts themselves of course).

So I hope you enjoy this recap of the year, and thank you again for being a part of it and sharing it with me. And a very Happy New Year too! I hope that 2019 is a great one for you! 🙂

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November 2018 Favourites

The nights have drawn in and there’s much more of a nip in the air, so at this time of year it can be very tempting to stay indoors where it’s warm and dry and cosy. But not me. The wintry weather hasn’t stopped me getting out and about as much as ever, so November was pretty busy.

I think it was especially nice to relax having got my charity abseil out of the way. Finally getting the blog post and video up for that at the start of November was a nice way to wrap it all up. Donations are still possible and very welcome though, and thank you to the Nystagmus Network for giving me another shoutout as well!

So here’s my latest monthly recap for November, including visits to theatre shows, comedy clubs and museums, and other bits and pieces. There’s also an accompanying video as per usual. I hope you enjoy!

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July 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly favourites post and video, looking back at July. Things were very busy and successful on the blog and social media this month, I enjoyed some fun social events, museum visits and other entertainment, and I even got a bit sporty for once, all while enjoying the sweltering heatwave. So it was a pretty good month, and I hope you enjoy my review of it.

And if you do enjoy reading about the things I get up to, I would love it if you would consider sponsoring my charity abseil in September. That would mean a lot to me. A massive thank you to my amazing sponsors so far! I’ll keep updating that shoutouts page as donations come in, including links for fellow bloggers, so do chip in if you want a mention. You’ll also get mentions in my videos as well, as a couple of people have done in this case. Quite a few people have donated since I filmed the video last week!

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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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Rare Disease Day Photo Challenge

Update (March 1st) I won the challenge, much to my surprise! Thank you so much to Rare Disease UK! It was great fun being involved, because I loved the theme of the campaign, and I really enjoyed seeing other people’s photos. So very well done to all involved. We can all be proud of our efforts to raise awareness during the month! 🙂

Happy Rare Disease Day! 🙂

Today is a wonderful international opportunity to raise awareness of rare diseases, conditions, disabilities, etc, to educate people and highlight the need for greater funding and research. Here in the UK, it’s led by Rare Disease UK. But there are events taking place worldwide, so there will be related organisations in many countries.

1 in 17 people have a rare disease, meaning it’s a lot more common than you might think. So even if you don’t have one yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. And if you do have a rare condition, you’re certainly not alone.

There are over 6,000 rare diseases, affecting over 300 million people worldwide (including 30 million in Europe). That’s a huge number! So this is a day for all of us unusual rarities to get together, along with anyone and everyone who supports us and the cause in any way.

This year, the theme is “Show your rare, show you care”, and everyone can get involved, regardless of whether or they you have a rare disease. So that includes patients, families, carers, medical professionals, policy makers and members of the public.

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Tate Modern Audio Tours

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.

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