What Is Normal? (Documentary)

I still find it very humbling and flattering that so many people have taken an interest in my adventures over the past few years, whether it be reading my blog, watching my videos, or seeing me speak at events. I’m very grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement, and I wouldn’t be doing this if nobody cared, so thank you.

I never imagined that I’d have a documentary made about me though. Yet that’s exactly what happened for the first time a few months ago. It was an exciting experience and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

I’ve held it back until now for various reasons. Firstly, whilst I have permission to post it regardless, I wanted to give a bit of space for its creators and sponsors, including a major charity, to publish it first if they so wished. But I also had a few things distracting me over the summer too, as regular followers will know, which has further delayed it.

But now’s a good time to release it, as it ties in nicely with the recent publication of my Aniridia Network Conference talk – Growing In Confidence With Aniridia – which  was filmed shortly after the documentary was completed. Soon after that I was also in a second documentary – See Differently by Yiwen Feng – which featured myself and others. You can find out more about my speech and that other film in my June Favourites. I was certainly getting my 15 minutes of fame around that time!

In this post, therefore, I want to share my first ever documentary with you, and give a behind-the-scenes insight into how it all came together. I hope you enjoy it, and please do share the film around on social media.

So without any further ado, I present my documentary debut – What Is Normal?

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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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Nystagmus Network Open Day 2018

 

Even though my abseil for nystagmus research has had to be postponed (it’ll now be on 21st October), nystagmus has still been the big topic this month, because on Saturday I attended the annual Open Day held by the Nystagmus Network.

This was my second time going to this event, following my experience last year when I gave my first public talk. So this year was much more relaxed, because I didn’t have to do anything! And it was a wonderful day, so I thought I’d give an overview of how it went.

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Fashioneyesta & The Five Murders

Although the Open House VocalEyes tours I did last weekend were great fun, the highlight of the weekend came on Sunday evening, when I got to meet the exquisite Emily Davison from Fashioneyesta for the second time. If you missed it, our first meeting was at Knole Park on the August Bank Holiday Monday (which Emily vlogged as well).

This time, the plan was to have something to eat and then go on a Jack The Ripper walking tour. And we had a lovely time.

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Room 101 – My Visually Impaired Frustrations

An edited version of this post appears on the RNIB Connect website.

For this post, I thought I’d do something a bit like the TV show Room 101 (where celebrities nominate their pet hates to be locked away forever). It’s named after the torture chamber in George Orwell’s novel 1984, which is said to contain “the worst thing in the world”. We also had a Room 101 at my college which was rather memorable, because it was the examinations office! So that felt both appropriate and ominous!

So I wanted to do a post along those lines, using it as an excuse to list some things that frustrate or irritate me because I have a visual impairment. I’ve also made a Youtube video to accompany it. It’s not at all intended to be offensive or to upset anyone, and I’m not a negative or moaning person. I’m actually very positive, as I’ve hopefully conveyed throughout this blog. But it’s nice to get some things off your chest now and again, and to try and spread a bit of awareness in the process.

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Guide Dogs

In this post and video I want to talk about guide dogs and assistance dogs, in support of Guide Dogs Week (1st-9th October). They are amazing and beautiful animals who make such a huge difference to their owners, and they should be treated with the utmost respect, without any discrimination. I’ve also published an extended cut of the guide dog footage i’ve used in the video, which you can see by clicking here.

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Guide Dog Access Denials

I don’t have a guide dog, because I can see well enough not to need one. But I have many friends who do use them, and I would certainly consider applying for one if my sight ever deteriorated to a level where it might be useful. They are the most beautiful and amazing animals, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for them, and for those who train and use them. They aren’t just pets, they’re a real lifeline to their owners, enabling so much freedom and independence.

And yet, sadly, there are still people out there who don’t understand or respect guide dogs or the blind people who need them – something which has, yet again, become clear in the past few days.

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