June 2019 Favourites

We’ve reached the halfway point in the year, and summer is finally blessing us with decent weather. And I’ve had a very busy month!

Firstly, there have been some disability related developments, most of them positive. In particular, I’ve spoken at a conference, been a guest on a podcast, and I was filmed for another documentary. So my visual impairment led to a few great opportunities in quick succession, I’m happy to say.

On the downside, I’ve finally received the call-up letter to switch from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This basically means I have to fill out a huge form about how my disability affects me, and then have a face-to-face assessment with a health professional, so the government can decide if I’m entitled to benefit payments. It sounds relatively simple when worded like that, but most disabled people will tell you it’s anything but. So that’s going to be on my mind a lot over the next couple of months at least, and I’m not looking forward to the process. But I’ll let you know how it goes at a later date. I’m not going to bore you with a rant about it in this post!

Thankfully, apart from that, I’ve been able to enjoy the month in many other ways. I went on a lovely weekend break with my girlfriend, I’ve been out in London for more exhibitions and walks, my girlfriend and I enjoyed a new film at the cinema, and I’ve enjoyed new TV shows and music releases at home. So there’s plenty to get through. As always, I’m not sponsored by anyone mentioned here, I’m just sharing these things because I enjoyed them. And I hope you enjoy this month’s post and video!

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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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My First Aniridia Network Conference

One of the first people I met after moving to London last year was James, a trustee at the Aniridia Network. He got in touch after he saw me writing about aniridia on my blog, and noticed that we had other things in common too. So we met up and became friends, which was a great welcome to London in my early days here.

Over the months since then, I’ve became a voluntary communications officer for the charity, which involves helping out with blog posts, social media content and email newsletters, as and when time permits. One of the first things we did together was to edit the promo video for the first Aniridia Day last year, which was very successful.

And now the latest project has been recording and publishing material relating to the Aniridia Network Conference, which took place on 14 April. It’s their flagship annual event, bringing together people with aniridia, parents of children with the condition, medical professionals, researchers, etc, for a day of presentations, activities, socialising and information gathering.

And this was my first time at the conference, so I was really looking forward to it. Not only would I be helping out with filming, but I was also asked to give a speech there as well, so it looked set to be a very busy day!

So in this post I want to tell you how it went. And this is just my own personal perspective, this isn’t part of my social media work for the charity. They are of course welcome to quote from this post, but they haven’t asked or sponsored me to write this. You can see their own updates about the event, including photos, videos and feedback, on their websiteFacebookTwitter and Youtube pages, with much more to share over the coming days and weeks. But for now, here’s my own experience of the day.

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March 2018 Favourites

Well, that’s an early Easter out of the way for this year, and I hope everyone had a great time. We had the typical bank holiday weather here in the UK – i.e. wet – but on the plus side we also had lots of treats to indulge on as well, so it’s been like another Christmas in that sense. Indeed, with the wintery weather still hanging around, you’d be forgiven for not realising it was spring yet. Still, just like February, once again the weather hasn’t stopped me from having another very successful month.

But before I get on to the details, I just want to very quickly mention a free event I’m attending in April that you might also be interested in. I’m not being paid to mention it, but I am one of their voluntary social media ambassadors. And regardless of that, I’m genuinely intrigued by the whole thing anyway, having never heard of it before, so it deserves a mention in any case. And I don’t want to bury it at the bottom of the post where nobody will see it.

So to quote them directly:

Naidex is Europe’s most exciting event dedicated to the disability, independent living and healthcare professional sectors. Taking place at the NEC Birmingham on the 25th and 26th April, this esteemed event provides cutting-edge exhibitors, world-class CPD accredited seminars, live demos, 1-2-1 advice and unparalleled networking opportunities, over two unforgettable days. And it’s absolutely free to attend! Register for your FREE ticket on naidex.co.uk!

There are bold claims there, I know, but in all fairness I’ve looked through the show guide listing the exhibitors, speakers and events, and it really is very exciting. PLus it is their 44th year, so they know what they’re doing. I’ll be there both days and will have no problem filling the time, and I will of course tell you all about it. But I recommend going too if you can – it’s free, so you just have to be able to get to Birmingham on at least one of those days, and you need to register for tickets on their website in advance. If you’re a fellow blogger who’s also going, and you want to say hello there or collaborate in some way in relation to it, you’re welcome to get in touch. And if you know others who might want to go, pass it on!

Ok, that’s all I have to say about it, I just felt it deserved a plug. Now let’s crack on with my latest favourites post and video, so you can see what I’ve been up to. I hope you enjoy it!

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Growing Up With Sight Loss

When I started my blog and Youtube channel, I assumed that the only talking I’d be doing for people about my disability was purely from the comfort of my own home, reaching people through their computers and smart devices. But then, last year, I ended up giving my first ever public talk to adults at the Nystagmus Network Open Day, about building my new social network. It was a complete surprise and a completely new experience for me, and one that I assumed was going to be a one-off.

However, earlier this month I had the opportunity to give another talk, this time for a very different audience – primary school children, around 9 to 11 years old.  I won’t name the school or the people involved – they’re awesome and know who they are anyway – but what I want to do here is give you an overview of what I said. I wanted to take the time to write it down for posterity anyway, as I went over it in my head beforehand rather than writing a script.

So I figured you might find it interesting to read as well (or watch my video if you prefer), as it gives another perspective on my journey through life to date.

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The Liebster Award 2

Last year I was nominated for the Liebster Award, which was very surprising and flattering considering I was a relatively new blogger at the time. It’s a fun way of showing your fellow blogging friends that you appreciate and enjoy their work, by giving them valuable exposure and promotion. If you’re nominated, you can answer the questions set for you, and then nominate some other bloggers, asking them some questions of your own.

And this year I’ve been nominated for the second time, with huge thanks to Holly at Life Of A Blind Girl! Holly recently graduated from university, which is fantastic, so congratulations! I remember how wonderful that feeling is, seems a long time now since my own graduation. Anyway, Holly writes lots of wonderful posts about her experiences being visually impaired, as well as advocating and educating around sight loss and disability, and posting about other things she enjoys too. So do go and check her out, there’s a lot of great stuff to read there.

I’ve been meaning to write my response post for a while, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long. But here are my answers to Holly’s questions. Hope you enjoy. Thanks again Holly! 🙂

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Building My New Social Network With A Visual Impairment

I’ve shared overviews of this story as guest posts on Scope’s community forum and the Nystagmus Network’s newsletter. Many thanks to them both for featuring me! And if you’ve found me via one of those articles or a social media promotion, hello and welcome! 🙂

On September 30th, I gave a 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. And I’ve written blog posts about how I prepared for it and my experience at the Open Day.

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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