Building My New Social Network With A Visual Impairment

Last weekend, I was asked to talk at the Nystagmus Network’s Open Day about how I had been building a new social network for myself in London. It was my first time giving a public speech about myself, but it went really well. I spoke for about 15 minutes, then we had a group discussion for the next 15 minutes. It got a very positive response, and I got chatting to many people as a result of it, so I was very happy with it. I’ve written blog posts about how I prepared for it and my experience at the Open Day, as well as publishing a vlog of my trip on Youtube.

So this post is a written version of that speech, and I’ve posted a video version that I filmed on the same evening. Both are longer than the actual speech I gave at the Open Day, as without constraints on time or length I’ve been able to explain things in a bit more detail. So the actual speech was a slightly more concise version of this, although 15 minutes was still quite a bit of time to fill!

Obviously my situation is unique to me, and everyone’s circumstances will be different in their own way. I’m just giving examples of the things I’ve done. The overall aim is to show that it’s important and worthwhile to try things that interest you and grasp opportunities when they arise, as you never know what will result from them. You may have to push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit, and I know that can be easier said than done. It was a challenge for me, and it still can be sometimes. But the more you try things, the more confident you’ll get, and you’ll soon start to reap the rewards of your efforts. Otherwise, you’ll always be asking yourself ‘what if’, which is never helpful.

So I hope you enjoy reading this. Thank you to Sue Ricketts and the Nystagmus Network for asking me to share my story at the Open Day, and to all those who responded to it so well.

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Speaking at the Nystagmus Network Open Day

On Saturday, I attended the Nystagmus Network‘s Open Day in Birmingham, the first time I’ve ever been to an event of this nature. The only time I’ve previously met a group who share one of my eye conditions was after Sight Village last year, when I got together with a handful of people with aniridia in a coffee shop. And that was wonderful, but this weekend’s event was on a much bigger scale. This time, I was going to a big conference for people with nystagmus with hundreds of people in attendance. And I was very much looking forward to.

However, I was also nervous, because I had been invited to be one of the speakers – making this the first time I would ever give a talk in public about myself. I wrote in my last post about how this came about, and how I prepared for it. So now I want to tell you about the day itself and how it went. You can also see a vlog from the weekend on my Youtube channel.

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Preparing For My First Public Talk

This weekend I was invited to attend the Nystagmus Network Open Day in Birmingham. Although I’ve been to things like Sight Village before, where I got to meet a handful of people with aniridia, I’ve never been to a large, dedicated conference for people with the same eye condition to network and find out information. So that in itself was going to be interesting.

But I wasn’t just a regular attendee – I was going to be one of the speakers! So that meant doing another first – publicly talking about myself and my life. This was naturally a daunting prospect, but exciting too. So I agreed to give it a go, it was worth a try.

And I combined this with yet another first – recording a proper travel vlog, the pilot episode of “Glen Cam”! I didn’t film inside the event, but I recorded myself before and after. I’m currently editing it all together, so you’ll be able to see that on my Youtube channel very soon.

But I wanted to write in detail about my experience as well, which I’m going to split over a couple of posts so it doesn’t get too long. I’m then going to publish a written article version of my speech here, and a video version on my Youtube channel, so you can see what I said, and maybe it will give you some inspiration and reassurance too. So I’ve got quite a bit to share!

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Giving A Best Man Speech

In this post I want to write about being Best Man at my best friend’s wedding last year. I’ve also uploaded a video version, featuring photos of me in my grey suit on the day.

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