Firstly, I appologise to the followers of this blog for not posting. My father was diagnosed with secondary cancer towards the end of last year – and died after Christmas.
I’ve come back to university *because I know that’s what Dad would have wanted*
It’s still very tough at times. But, I’m ready to start posting – and I think you’ll enjoy this first one.
Let me set the scene. I’m a broadcast journalism student. I get up rediculously early to scour the papers and listen to the radio for stories.
The top story on BBC radio Wales is about how all 7 health boards in Wales are failing deaf and hard of hearing people by not giving them access to interpreters and other services that would help them.
“Wow,” I think. “That’s shocking!” I immediately contact Action On Hearing Loss Wales to ask if I could interview someone about this. I also write a voicer.
When I mention it to the people on my course who’ve not heard of it – they listen to the radio and decide it might be interesting – but we’d have to ask the tutor.
OK, so far so good right?
Here’s where the real mixed messages start.
The BBC broke the story – and it’s an investigation BBC Wales has done.
So, apparently we can’t run the story in our mock production day – note the word “mock” nobody will hear it – and it’s for us to practise our journalism.
Also, we ran a story on TV production day a few weeks back *and radio* about how the BBC had apparently said Casualty faked some of the filming in some of the scenes. So, how on earth can we not run the story about deaf people!
I’m understandably amazed at how this story isn’t worthy of inclusion. It’s yet another case of disabled peoples issues being ignored.
I find it in daily life as well sometimes. My ideas will be glossed over or discounted – then, when I mention them, they actually turn to be exactly what my tutor was expecting us to say!
I’ve written a list of things I’ve achieved in my life – and after difficult days *which yesterday certainly was* I remind myself just how much I’ve achieved. I think other people would be surprised! I certainly am!
let me know what you think.
have you felt ignored or underminded by people because of your disability?
Do you feel disabled peoples issues are ignored in the media?
you can follow me also on twitter at:
I felt compelled to write this blog – as I’m seeking advice for an assignment at university and would welcome your views.
I’ve recently arrived in Cardiff and last week I wrote a post about my first week – which you may recall involved me getting lost quite a bit.
Well, last week I ventured off campus alone for the first time – and had some amazing but baffling experiences.
The first adventure I had was to St David’s hall to see Sandi Totzvig a comedienne I’ve admired for a long time.
I got in the taxi and everything was going well.
When I reached my final destination I asked the price: “5 pounds 60,” said the driver.
“How much?” I asked having not heard properly
“5 pounds.” he said.
So – I asked him if he could guide me to the door.
“oooo,” he says in manner of a builder who’s just been asked to quote for a major job
“Well, you can’t get to the door – you’ll have to walk down there!”
So, I harness up Chelsea and we start trotting down the road in the general direction he pointed me in.
Now, I don’t like cities – I’ve never liked them (Perth being the obvious exception) but they cause me to feel rather irked and nervous.
So, I ask someone.
Obviously the first person I ask isn’t from Cardiff – but thinks I’m going in the wrong direction.
So – eventually I find someone who offers to take me (I think my pitiful whining that if I didn’t find it soon I’ll miss the show may have prompted him) however – when I eventually get there I’m given first class treatment – taken up in the lift, a chair is taken out to give Chelly more room and Sandi certainly doesn’t disappoint.
I’m allowed to leave via the stage door – and the taxi comes to pick me up – alls well that ends well.
Feeling quite proud of my achievements – I make up my mind to go to the National Museum of Wales the next day.
This is relatively easy to do – with the help of someone – who incidently was at the Sandi Totzvig event the night before.
So I arrive and ask the guy on the desk:
“Do you have audible guides?”
“Ah, no,” he says.
“OK, so, do you have a braile guide perhaps? a map?”
“No. We should really I suppose.”
I’m taken round two displays by one of the curators and get to handle a lot of the exhibits – including a whale skull, one that belonged to a fox and lots of interesting items.
I go to the cafe for lunch and return home having had a really good 2 hours.
So, here’s my plan. I want to be a mystery shopper – visit tourism places – and assess them for accessibility and then write posts about them in a blog.
I didn’t really want to do this as part of my course – as I said from the outset that I wouldn’t use or allow people to get me to use my disability on this course. During my first degree the tutors were obsessed with my blindness to the point that I was told to stop saying “look, see, watch” really – it’s true.
But – I feel that I could really do some good writing reviews of places for other disabled people – and to help companies and service providers improve the enjoyment of what they offer. In the year of the paralympics – when disability has been brought to the forefront of peoples minds – it’s not enough to say:
“We should have this, that or the other.”
I believe it could help people. So – what do you think?
Why not comment below
Don’t forget you can follow me on twitter as well at:
Well, the reason for not blogging laboriously like I ought to be – is that I’ve spent the last week getting lost – in various ways in Cardiff. Yes, I’ve landed! I don’t think Cardiff knew what was coming when hurricane Chelsea and I arrived last Wednesday – complete with 2 suitcases – an ironing press, 2 huge rucksacks and various items of kitchenware.
But, (and it’s early days yet) I really like it here!
Cardiff’s a relatively small city – and reminds me of Perth, very cosmopolitan and friendly.
But, whoever designed the building I’m based in – and the student union clearly hadn’t met a blind person.
Now, I love steps – no, not the group, but the up and down kind. I can run up and down them with reckless abandon – but when you’re faced with 2 options, one flight up, one down, side by side, I feel more baffled than I’ve ever felt before.
Then, in the case of the building where my lecturs are – there’s 4 choices! Up or down, both sides!
I’ve perfected a vacant stance – gazing around in helpless despair as if to say: “Now, where do I go!”
I’d love to find the person who designed it and put a blindfold on them – then giggle with glee as they wander around aimlessly for days getting hungrier, older and – much fitter!
However, I’ve perfected parts of my routes – and actually think I’m doing quite well.
I’ve made some fantastic friends – went to a pub quiz last night (we got 42 out of 70 and my knowledge of 90′s game shows came in handy)
I know I’ve made the best decision coming here and I’m sure I’ll enjoy every minute. So, if I don’t blog foranother few days – just send out a search party for me – and some food for Chelsea!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the paralympic games. So much so – that I’m determined to take up a sport. I’ve no idea what it’ll be yet, but it won’t involve using a ball of any kind – and it certainly will get blogged about.
In my last post I wrote about how we should all try to inspire people – and it got me thinking, who are my role models?
I have 3 in the journalism field – Kate Humble, Kate Silverton and Fiona Bruce.
They’re incredibly good at what they do – they deliver the news (or in Kate Humble’s case) teach you things in a non patronising way – but a way that makes you appreciate what they’re saying.
Fiona Bruce is really warm and friendly – I was able to meet her when she came to my home town with the antiques roadshow.
I also have two other women I thoroughly admire – but couldn’t really call them role models as such.
The first is a lady I met on holiday recently. She’s 3 years older than I am, She came over from Australia – left her family and friends and is working here.
she had to make new friends and embrace the British weather! But she’s incredibly kind – and I know we’ll remain friends for life.
The second is a younger woman – 23, who moved with her guide dog from Canada to study at a university near me.
She’s struggled to make friends – learn her way round and make sure she has all the equipment she needs – but is one of the most upbeat people I know.
So, the other day when I was stressing about going to Cardiff – I thought about these two women – and resolved not to worry – they moved all the way from a different country – I’m just popping down the road! How difficult can it be!
So, whether your role model is Natalie Du Toit – or Nicholas Parsons (come on, he must be somebody’s role model), Ellie Simmons or Enya – be inspired, and maybe – one day, you’ll be someone’s role model!
– but travels around the UK and other parts of the world.
I love the paralympics! It’s brilliant to see how team GB (and team Australia) are doing.
But, I’m amazed at the words being used to describe the paralympians. ]
I used the word amazed purposely – as that seems to be in the top 5 favoured words, along with brave, inspirational, marvellous and unbelievable.
Firstly – let’s define one of those words – brave
Possessing or displaying courage; valiant.
Now, at the risk of sounding degrading – and thoughtless – I don’t feel that applies to most paralympians.
Bravery has an element of danger.
If you’re fighting an enimy – with the constant risk of death or attack – that’s brave.
A fireman running into a burning building – that’s brave.
But how about inspiration.
That’s defined as being, among other things:
An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
Now, I’m the last person to consider myself a work of art – (I doubt anyone else would) but I hope – that I will die a really old woman having inspired as many people as I can to make small differences to their life or other people’s lives.
I’ve been called inspirational in the past – as well as brave – but I don’t feel comfortable being called brave.
I’m not, I’m just me – going about my daily business – doing ordenary things that everyone else does.
But, if people want to see me as inspirational – I’m all for that.
If one person is inspired to make their life better, richer or just different through something I’ve said or done – that’s fine.
I look at my blindness as a gift – and, with a gift you either use it – or throw it away.
I try to use mine by fundraising, making people laugh and showing other disabled people (and those without a disability) that no matter what’s wrong with you – you can achieve anything you want too – with a bit of determination – and a positive attitude.
So when I watch the paralympics – I’m inspired to try new sports – to get back into running. I’m certainly not good enough to enter competitions – but it’ll motivate me to get fit – and have a hobby.
When I hear someone’s done something – I think:
“I’d love to try that – if they cando that – whether it’s going on holiday alone – or jumping out of a plane – I’d like to give it a go!”
So – let’s all be inspired to make our world better – for others – and ourselves! You never know how you will touch another person’s life!
In my last blog – I recounted the exciting adventures I had trying to locate a bus-stop.
In this blog – I’ll tell you about the exciting night (and morning) at my first (and last) backpackers hostel – warning: contains rocking horses and cats!
I spent a lovely hour – listening to the commentary on the city sightseeing tour bus. The commentary was excellent – although a little dull in parts *no stories of people, events or seedy streets*
I got off at the castle bus-stop – and was greeted by a man who took me to the counter where I paid the extra money for a guided tour.
There must have been 15 other people on the tour – of varying nationalities and demeanours.
We were asked if anyone would like to climb the 87 steps to the tower. I said yes immediately – and, not wishing to be outdone by the blind girl – everyone else followed.
The tour guide was really knowledgeable and told me all about the various pictures – and even let me feel things behind the ropes (something extremely frowned upon normally)
While he was explaining about the banqueting hall – Chelsea suddenly let forth a thunderous growl that echoed menacingly across the hall.
I shushed her – hurriedly apologised until someone said:
“There’s a rocking horse on the wall – I don’t think she likes it!”
Really? I thought, could have fooled me!
We all giggled at Chelly – but she carried on in her usual insouciant manner.
I then got the taxi to the backpacker’s hostel!
Now, before I recount the following events – I want you to know that I adore the principle of backpacking. But, a bit like the time we walked up 500 steps in Italy – only to discover we’d gone the wrong way for the bus-stop, it was a good idea at the time!
I met the owners – who were pleasant and welcoming.
I went out for a gorgeous Italian meal with my friend – and came back to the hostel.
The owner makes food for the residents sometimes – and had left me some apple pie and ice-cream.
I said I was a bit full – but could I sit in the lounge for a bit – which she said was fine.
As soon as I walked into the lounge I knew there were two people there.
I heard one tapping on its keyboard – and the other was just sitting there – but I heard them moving in their seat.
I’m one of the most stubborn people I know – and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m British – so naturally reserved (haahaa) or whether it’s because I can’t see others – so mistakenly believe they should speak first.
So, a stand-off ensues – except for, we’re all sitting – and nobody talks.
I mean, nothing!
Then (and this is totally weird) there’s a cat in the corner – one of the people walks across – and – takes a picture of the cat – and leaves!
Now, I love cats. My best friend has a cat – and Chelsea’s best friend is a cat – but, who goes round randomly taking pictures of cats!
I walk out and eat my delicious apple pie and ice-cream – and go to bed feeling more lonely than I ever have before.
It’s not that I’m one of these old dears that wants to chat to people – but I like being acknowledged – and, as I can’t see people – I rely on speech – even a grunt would have sufficed!
Chelsea’s charms didn’t work either – the poor love must be losing her touch!
The next day I bounce out of bed with a resolve that I’m going to chat to people at breakfast – and be braver – and less British!
I walk into the dining room – and say:
“Hi, what do we do for breakfast?
I hear a chair scrape – and a voice says:
“Ahhh, you go into the kitchen and it’s all there on the surfaces.”
Realising to my horror that someone is prepared to abandon their breakfast and come to my aid – I say:
“Ah no, don’t get up – I’ll be able to do it.”
Ahhhhhh! Why, why why did I say that!
That man could have really wanted to help – he must, or why would he get up – and I knocked him back like he’d just offered to poison my tea!
One of the staff piles my plate with all sorts of pastries, fruit and croissants.
I go back to the dining-room and say:
“Where are you two from?”
Works every time! It turns out they’re the two kiwi guys Chelsea tried to follow upstairs yesterday as soon as they’d arrived. She’s not backward in coming forward is old Chelsea!
We chat for a bit – and they leave.
Then two more people sit down.
They’re chatting – and, didn’t even say hi when they walked in. Yes, I know I sound silly – but I’ve always been brought up to at least smile – or even growl at people – anything to make them feel included.
I’ve never lost friends from it – and have made heaps of friends through Chelly – so I know it’s a good thing) perhaps not the growling though)
I feel so upset – so frustrated. I’m not used to being ignored – I’m not used to feeling “Blind!” and that’s how I felt
Blind and vulnerable!
It’s like people are scared to approach me sometimes.
So – I say:
“Has anyone seen the cat today?”
Yeah, good one Nicki! That’s not going to make you look strange is it?
Then – I use the same line I used on the kiwi guys – and they’re putty in my hand (apart from the Canadian thinking I meant I went to Perth Scotland, not Perth Australia) really!
It’s like I’ve broken a whole glacier – and given them permission to talk to me like I’m a proper person – like them, the same, with different experiences, values and beliefs – but still me!
One of my Australian friends once said to me:
“You can’t be responsible for how people act – – but you can be responsible for how you react.”
I’ve learnt that – even if people are scared of the big bad blind girl – I’ll always be who I am – and nobody can take that away.
Anyway – it’s Chelsea they should be scared of really – especially if you’re a rocking horse – or a cat!
Posted in Cardiff, cats, dogs, hostel, humour, pets, travel, Uncategorized
Tagged Cardiff, dogs, humour, travel
I’m a very adventurous person. I’ve walked with lions; scuba dived with sharks and abseiled down one of the tallest buildings in North Wales.
So, I thought I’d use my visit to Cardiff to chat with my tutors about equipment as another of life’s adventures.
I planned to do the whole tourist thing.
So, armed with my guide dog, a rucksack and bags of determination I boarded the train at Llandudno junction and settled down for the long, arduous journey to Cardiff.
I’d also had the good fortune to pack a picnic – which was a good idea as there was no trolley service on the 4 and a half hour journey.
I also read – and in no time at all we’d arrived – a little earlier than we were meant too.
A lovely man helped me off the train – and I said:
“I know you’re not supposed to take me out of the station, but…”
now, this is one of the silly rules we have in Britain. Staff can take you from the train to a taxi rank – but can’t *or aren’t supposed too* take you out of the station. Why? In case they get lost? Anyway, I had a rule breaker on my side – and he brazenly strode out of the station – and headed towards the bus-stop I’d asked for.
Then, I think his conscience kicked in, and he said sadly:
“I’ll have to leave you here – but there’s another bus-stop by the castle down there. You can pick up the city sightseeing bus there. Maybe about 500 yards!”
“Right,” I said hesitantly
“So, I just keep going this way?”
“Yes,” he said “You’ll be there in about 5 minutes.
Now, I don’t work in any particular system – yards, metres, minutes – it’s all the same to me – so I shoulder my backpack – and stride off as confidently as I can.
But, fearing I’m heading the wrong way I ask a man passing by for clarification.
“Ah, we’re going that way love, we’ll help you. I’ll just check with the tourist centre that the bus-stop is down there.”
I thank him and stand with Chelly – listening to the noise around us.
It’s a long pedestrian street – and people are bustling by.
My new friend returns.
“OK, are you ready? let’s go,” he says, in manner of someone operating a particularly exciting fairground ride.
We walk down the street, chatting as we go – until Chelly’s decided she’s had quite enough for one day – and decides to leave her own mark on Cardiff’s streets.
I spring into action – and my new friend is absolutely amazed that Chelly’s done it by a bin (well, what can I say, she’s a clever girl)!
Then, for no fathomable reason my friend says:
“OK Love, you’re about 500 yards from the bus-stop, will you be OK from here?”
“No!” I want to say petulantly.
“I was told it’d take 5 minutes!”
Instead I say:
“Yeah, we’ll be fine – thanks for helping us.”
He goes off with his friends – I gather up Chelly’s harness – and proceed to walk down the street.
I check again that we’re heading for the bus-stop by the castle where the open top bus goes – and an Irish lady informs me it’s about 500 metres away.
Ahhh! Can’t somebody make a rule that we either say metres, yards or miles?
I realise I’ve not rang Mum – so take out my phone. While I’m chatting to her – I say in the most plaintive voice I can muster:
“I’m trying to find the bus-stop, but people keep abandoning me halfway through helping me.”
I finish the call – and a familiar Irish voice says:
“I can take you to the bus-stop if you’d like?”
I almost hug her with gratitude – but thank her instead – and in no time at all I’m boarding the open top city sightseeing tour bus. At last!
So, in answer to my original question – apparently, it takes 4 people to find a bus-stop – plus a very puzzled guide dog.
Posted in Cardiff, dogs, humour, society, tourism, transport, travel, Uncategorized, Wales
Tagged dogs, humour, society, tourism, transport, travel