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Station in Life, Disabilities & Imagery

Station in life featured image description is in the body of the post.

Station in Life, Disabilities & Imagery

“Inspiration porn is harmful to society and people with disabilities for two main reasons. First, inspiration porn encourages “ableism,” which defines people by their disability and classifies them as inferior to those who are nondisabled. Second, inspiration porn distracts us from looking at the real issues.” ~Joy Thomas

The introduction below is for an article that will help you understand the significance of inspiration porn. To improve humanity by changing the way we perceive one another, let’s begin by understanding everyone desires to belong.

My friend, Joy Thomas, wrote a through-provoking piece “Inspiration or Ableism? How To Tell The Difference.” In the article, she talks about inspiration porn and offers in-depth thoughts on what our reaction to it means. 

As a member of the homo sapiens species, I am in awe, and to some degree saddened, by our differences. In awe, because I can’t comprehend how no one is a carbon copy with over 7 billion people on our planet. Likewise, I’m saddened because it sometimes feels like we place a greater value on which groups from which we come.

Except for my membership within people with disabilities (PwDs), I don’t know what it’s like to belong to any other majority group. Being an African-American female over age 50 with a disability places me in several marginalized categories of humans. I’m saying this to let you know that I have experience in what it’s like to be ‘different’ on many levels. While I won’t be considered acceptable to everyone, I do not and will not consider myself less valuable than another human being.

“Broken Crayons Still Color”

As human beings, we are complex and our world is massive. It makes sense that we would bond to those with shared commonalities. Additionally, it makes sense that our individual biases could prevent us from widening our circle.

When we qualify or compare our station in life to another person from a place of being better it’s problematic. While broken crayons may still color, as humans who are we to determine who’s broken? So please, when you have a moment check out Joy’s article on Crixeo.

Station in Life Featured Image Description:

A close-up view of a single dandelion plant with several seeds floating in the air. The plant is set against a clear blue sky background.

 

 

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Words: Balancing Realism, Compassion & Hope

Balancing Words Featured Image Description is in the body of the post

Words: Balancing Realism, Compassion & Hope

“Long after your final patient has gone home, somewhere somebody’s life may be falling apart due to the conversation you had with them earlier that day.” ~Fern Lulham

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by an amazing motivational speaker I recently met. When Fern Lulham was born her parents were given devastating news about their precious newborn. 

Dear Doctor Choose Your Words

Image 1 Fern Lulham description is in the body of the post.
Image 1 Fern Lulham

What is the scariest thing about an operation? Is it the pain you might experience? Is it that the procedure might go wrong?  For many people, it is the idea of putting their life into the hands of a doctor. Of course, not all operations are life-threatening.

Not all operations carry with them the risk of death. However, every single operation will involve a threat to their patient’s well-being. And this threat does not just apply to operations.

In what other contexts do you have contact with your patients? Every consultation brings this same hazard. Every appointment presents this same danger. And every single conversation you have with a patient puts their life firmly in your hands.

When we go through a medical process, doctors are legally obliged to inform us of the potential risks. And yet there is one very important risk which is not considered; something which can be just as lethal as the surgeon’s knife. It is our doctor’s choice of words.

Words, when placed into the hands of doctors can be deadly. To patients, their words equal truth, their opinions are facts. Their diagnosis is final and our future is whatever they say it will be. I want each and every one of you to know that you are incredibly powerful people. You might not always feel like it, but for most of us patients, you and your words are everything. Always remember this. You and your words are powerful.

And with that power comes great responsibility. When you are talking to a patient, what are you thinking? Are your thoughts with that one patient in that one moment? Do the words you choose tell that patient that they are not just one more name on your seemingly endless list?

Words & Trading Places 

I would like you to think for a moment. I want you to remember a time when somebody has said something which has really stayed with you. A small collection of words which days, months, even years down the line, you can still hear ringing in your ears. How do those words make you feel?

  • They may be angry words of disappointment or disgust.
  • They may be the words of a bully at school.
  • They may be the encouraging words of a friend.
  • They may be the advice of a parent.

Such words can have a huge impact on our lives and on the way we feel about ourselves. And isn’t it surprising how we can still hear them as clear as day as if they have just been said to us just a moment ago?

Image 2 Fern description is in the body of the post.
Image 2 Fern

Have you ever left a voicemail message and felt self-conscious about the way you sound? Your sudden awareness of the structure of your sentences and things not sounding the way you intended. We do not think about this until we know what we have said can be replayed and listened back to again and again.

When I am speaking to an audience, I am very conscious of the words I use and what impact they are having. Why? Because I know that people are listening. What we don’t think about is that people are always listening. They are listening particularly carefully when it is their doctor who is speaking to them. And everyone carries around a means of recording that information and playing it back at will in their minds. Everything you say is being mentally recorded and, believe me, your patients are replaying it over and over and over again.

Rewind Replay

I know this because I do it myself – for hours! Entire evenings after the hospital visit before, have been dedicated to going through these conversations with a fine tooth-comb. Long after your final patient has gone home, somewhere somebody’s life may be falling apart due to the conversation you had with them earlier that day. For them, it does not end when they leave the hospital. Words which concern them, words which terrify them, words which they don’t even understand. Words which haunt them for who knows how long…

Image 3 Fern & Mr Hamada description is in the body of the post.
Image 3 Fern & Mr. Hamada

When I was only a few weeks old and first diagnosed with a visual impairment, my parents were told: “your daughter will never see.” Can you imagine how that would make you feel as a parent being told this by a doctor? Devastation. Hopelessness. Fortunately, he was wrong and I can see – not much albeit – but I can. Even if I couldn’t though, I’m sure you can think of words of hope and encouragement which may have helped my parents then and which may have helped me hearing my story years on.

These days, I go to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. My parents and I have left that hospital feeling just about every emotion known to man. We’ve had good news, bad news and every kind of news in between. The reason my parents come with me, even though I could easily tell them what happened when I got home, is to hear the exact words which are spoken. We have all come to trust that from my consultant, Mr. Samer Hamada, regardless of the stark medical facts, there will always be words of confidence, compassion, understanding and, most of all, of hope.

The Power Of Hope

Image 4 Fern and Nancy description is in the body of the post.
Image 4

This is the thing we crave whenever we are told of my progress. To know that even if things are not going to plan right now, it doesn’t mean they never will be. To be assured that even when there is not an immediate solution, the potential for a solution is always there.

Mr. Hamada speaks with such passion about his work and is so enthusiastic and excited about developments being made in medical science. This is hugely infectious and makes me strongly believe that he truly wants to make things better for me, as much as I would wish it for myself. It is inspiring and encouraging and gives me a reason to keep going, even when my world is uncontrollably getting darker all around me by the day.

So to all doctors, I say, please think about the words you choose and the way they are spoken because, to your patients, words can really be the best medicine.     

Balancing Words Featured Image Description:

A representation of the medical profession, this photo includes a stethoscope, pen, and open laptop on a white background.

Additional Images:

  1. Fern is a pretty brunette with bangs and hair length just beyond her shoulders. She is wearing a white tank top with a chunky silver statement necklace.
  2. In this photo, Fern is standing at a lectern at a speaking event. She is wearing a dark-colored cold shoulder dress with a silver necklace and ankle boots.
  3. Fern is posing in this photo wearing a sparkling lacy red dress with her consultant, Mr. Samer Hamada. 
  4. Nancy (Fern’s golden lab guide dog), is so adorable as both are seated on the floor. Nancy’s paws are on Fern’s shoulders as she gives her human an affectionate kiss. They are both wearing party hats (Nancy’s is pink and Fern’s is green).

Connecting With Fern On Social Media:

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Exploring Beauty Through Touch

2 Blind Chicks With Attitude mugs sitting on a desk. 1 shows the image & slogan and the other shows the tactile braille

Exploring Beauty Through Touch

“The less we see with our eyes the more we see with our hearts.”

Blind Chicks With Attitude braille mug with Abby image to the right of the handle and braille to the left
Image 1

We really don’t know what we don’t know. To people with sight, it seems unlikely those who cannot see can appreciate beauty, yet it’s true. Being able to experience the world with and without eyesight provides a unique perspective. Since losing my sight my life is more meaningful and my view of the world has expanded.

In the early days of my sight loss, I obsessed on what I lost and my future seemed so bleak and uncertain. However, when I connected with members of the blind community my life took an unexpected detour. Instead of a desolate and dull present, I’m living a life with purpose and passion.

I continually meet some of the most fascinating people one of whom I get to introduce you to today. The first time I met Kathy Keck was at a Pennsylvania Council of the Blind state convention. Recently I spoke to Kathy to see if she would be interested in collaborating on a special project.

Kathy of Loving Touch Connection is the artist who creates the braille on Bold Blind Beauty’s coffee mugs. When I spoke with Kathy about creating braille phrases on our mugs if it’s possible she was more excited than I. What I love most about Kathy’s work is her passion to create beautiful pieces for those who cannot see. In my opinion, the tactile component is a feature that can boost any artwork to be appreciated by all.

Following is a snippet from an interview with Kathy on Mystic Access Podcast:

How did you come up with the Loving Touch Connection idea?

On many of the glassware pieces, I use a special glass paint to outline and accent the designs for more detail—this is a thicker paint which creates a raised outline around the design. One night about seven years ago, I was having a glass of wine in one of these types of glasses, and it suddenly occurred to me, that this might be something blind people could enjoy—to be able to “see” with their fingers a design of flowers, birds, etc. — it was like a message from God giving me so many ideas. To not only do artistic designs with the outlining but also to put messages in braille on the glassware. Such as coffee mugs with a message like #1 mom, have a great day etc.

I went online, to see if there were any other types of products like what I was thinking of, and there was nothing with raised-dot braille and artwork. I did a little bit of research on braille, and came up with a technique of applying words in raised-dot Braille to the glassware.”

Could you tell us more about your products in general and the Loving Touch Connection line in particular?

Loving Touch Connection line of products are raised-dot braille messages on wine glasses, martini glasses beer glasses, Salt and pepper shakers, spice jars, Glass canisters for the kitchen countertop for coffee tea sugar etc. And treat jars for the guide dogs treats. All of the pieces have raised-dot braille and the word in script (unless a customer requests otherwise). Designs are colorful and always have a raised outline around the design.” ~Kathy Keck

When Will The Braille Mugs Be Available?

The braille coffee mugs will be on the site as soon as I can get them synched with Shopping With Abby. ~Steph

Exploring Beauty Through Touch Featured Image Description:

To the left of the handle is the slogan “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.” in braille.

  • Image #1: The Abby trio and the slogan are to the right of the mug’s handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.”

Connecting With Kathy On Social Media:

Facebook:

Instagram:

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How Do Blind People Exercise?

Jump rope and blue towel

How Do Blind People Exercise?

How cool is it that this month’s guest post from BlindAlive allowed us to introduce you to another blogger? Since I like to keep things on the “up and up” Kirsty Major gave me permission to republish her article shared on BlindAlive. The article that follows is an edited version where Kirsty shares some fabulous exercise tips and tools. To see Kirsty’s original article please visit her site at Unseen Beauty. Okay, let’s dive in. ~Steph

“Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.” ~Kirsty Major

So How Do Blind People Exercise?

You may have been asked this question, or perhaps you found BlindAlive during your search for an answer. While many people enjoy Eyes-Free Fitness Workouts, blind and visually impaired people have many ways to remain active. We recently met Kirsty Major, owner of Unseen Beauty. and are pleased to share one of her posts with you. ~Mel Scott

Keeping Fit When You Can’t See

Red exercise hand weightsWhen I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. It was a 30 to 40-minute walk to the train station, which I usually power-walked with my guide dog. This wasn’t really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it!

Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15-minute walk to the office. Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks.

Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day. Partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress at home than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking Action

When I decided to set up my business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station. I realised at this point I needed to do something more for my fitness.

So I invested in an exercise bike to make sure I got my daily exercise. This was something I could put in my spare room and use it whatever the weather.

Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

Closeup image of a barbell

When I moved in with my boyfriend who owns a cross-trainer, I brought my bike with me. In terms of my exercise routine, I decided something needed to change so now I put it in the diary. Like a meeting, I have to attend—Monday to Friday—every day.

It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away from the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job without the benefit of walking to work. Also, there are considerations with being blind where you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

While I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym. I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in exercise equipment and have it at home, for my personal use. There is nobody who will change the settings making it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue which machines are available or take time to travel to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either. I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

Tools For Tracking Progress

As I can’t use the display on either machine, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer. I use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance and I like to use the app from Withings. The Withings app is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I labeled myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. Personally, I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors. Since you can store your activity, heart rate, and blood pressure measurements in the same place. Whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I tried a wrist tracker device, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps. Also, I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in real-time on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings Pulse activity tracker.

Mixing Up Exercise Routines

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

It’s good to do other physical activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, have been on tandem and canoeing holidays and used to ride horses as a child. However, I see these things as additions, whereas I need a plan to make sure I get enough exercise. Being able to do so whenever I need it, without relying on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regimen with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or YouTube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me, it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However, exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display.

When you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then write them down is also a good workaround.

If I’m away on business and don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However, I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Summary:

Kirsty lives in England and runs a business teaching English to German-speaking adults. You can learn more at her website.

To view the comments associated with this piece and Explore more of Kirsty’s writing, you can visit her blog.

And of course, BlindAlive would love to have you share your comments and impressions with them. You can comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their informative chat list.