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Category Archives: Disability

due to my disabilities, I use quite a few aids: hearing aids, white cane, etc. One of these is a tactile vibrating alarm clock. It’s basically an ordinary alarm, except that instead of going ‘bleep’ or ‘ ring ring’, it sets of a special vibrating pad which is placed under the pillow. Obviously, the idea is that the vibration wakes you up. (Mine also has a plug for a light, but obviously I don’t use this feature). The front cover also comes off, enabling a blind person to feel the hands and raised dots which indicate the numbers.

I’ve had this clock for so long that I just take it for granted. Until very recently that is.
Last week, the vibrating pad suddenly stopped working. I assumed it had packed up due to constant use, so took it home and brought my other vibrating pad from home with me to Bartimeus.
so yesterday I plugged it in to test, and what do you know? It didn’t work. turns out it was the alarm clock itself all along. Brilliant. 🙄

There’s nothing I can do about it until I go home on Friday, so for the next few days at least, I’ll be dependent on the staff to wake me up in the morning. I sleep without my hearing aids in so I’m literally deaf as a plank at night. This means that an ordinary alarm is not an option for me.

I’ve always had a thing about being as independent as possible, so I’m actually rather anoyed about this whole alarm business. I feel like I’ve gone back a step, having to be woken up by someone else, when up til now I could manage fine by myself.
It’s also made me realise how dependent I actually am on all those modern gadgets and gismos I take for granted. It’s a similar story with my hearing aids. they run on batteries, which of course go flat after some time, in my case about a week or so. I’ve learnt the hard way to always have a packet of spares with me wherever I go. Believe me, it’s bloody hard work trying to function normally with only one ear working, when the ear doesn’t work well at the best of times.

but back to the alarm clock: I suppose I’ll just have to stick it out til Friday and hope the staff don’t forget to wake me. And if they do, then at least I’ve got a valid reason for oversleeping 😀

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I’m not talking about restaurant menus, I mean those menus on little screens you get on almost every electronic device nowadays. It may be very user friendly for the average person, but I hate them. You see, to be able to operate anything, you have to be able to read the screen, and being blind, I can’t.
Because of this, I’ve been unable to find a digital multi-track recorder and can only use a very simple mp3 player with far less space on it than I’d like.
It also took me ages to find a (musical) keyboard that I could operate without help, ‘cos most models I tried relied almost entirely on menus to use them.

The only devices that are garanteed to be fully accessible are ones with no screen. The problem is, this screen free hardware tends not to be as good as the stuff with screens. Without a screen, every function would need a seperate button, so the more functions you put on something, the more buttons you have to cram on as well. So of course it makes sense to keep it simple. Most people who want loads of extra options would just go for a more advanced model.
That’s what really frustrates me. Simply because of the stupid screen, I will never be able to use stuff most people take for granted. Take the ipod. I’d love one of those, but I know there’s no point getting one; I would never be able to operate it easily and quickly, like a sighted person. There’s the Ipod Shuffle, which has no screen, but it’s only got 500 MB storage – don’t know how many tracks that is. Since I already have at least four times that much music on my pc, it wouldn’t really work for me either.

Sometimes I just wish I was a designer or something. Then I’d design accessible, functional alternatives to all that inaccessible stuff out there.

This afternoon, I brought up the possibility of going to see a British comedian, Marcus Brigstocke, live this autumn. Obviously this is in England, so we’d have to travel there and stay at least one night.
Now, I know – and so do my parents – that it’s nobody’s fault that I can’t do this indipendantly, but every time I ask them stuff like this, one part of me always feels like I’m a burdon on them. Afterall, they’re the ones who have to give their time and energy so that I can do these kinds of things.
It also made me realise how dependant I actually am in situations like these. It’s my parents who arrange everything – transport, hotels, etc. And if there hadn’t been any convenient locations or dates to choose from I wouldn’t have been able to go, full stop.

This dependance on others really hacks me off sometimes. Especially when the whole outcome depends on how convenient or not it is for the other person.
I get this all the time at Bartimeus. If I want to go into town for something, I never know until the same day whether anybody will be free to take me. There’s no point asking a member of staff the day before. All they say is: “Well, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask so and so on the day if she’s free”.
This can be really frustrating. If I wasn’t disabled, I could just go shopping when I felt like it, and not be wondering the whole week if there’ll be anyone free to take me on the one free day I get.
And I hate that little voice that keeps saying ‘isn’t that a bit too much to ask of them?’ I know my parents don’t see me that way.

Anyway, we discussed going over to England, and my dad’s promised to have a look at the available dates (he’s on tour right through autumn) and let me know tomorrow. So fingers crossed.
And to that little voice I’d say: bugger that. I’ve got just as much right to do stuff I enjoy as anyone else. And if that means bothering a few people who are only too glad to make me happy, then I’ll do it.

Lately, I been trying, hopefully like a lot of other people, to be a bit more aware of the environment. I.E. remembering to switch my computer off when I leave it for a long time, not leaving the tap on for nothing, that sort of thing. And it got me thinking about how being disabled might effect how ‘green’ I actually am.
To be honest, I’m getting a bit confused over this. I mean, on the one hand I think I am more green than the average person: I never have any lights on and I’ll never have my own car. but on the other hand, there are all the electronic gadgets I use because I’m disabled: computer, daisy player (a device for playing audio books, designed for the visually impaired), colour detector (the name is self explanitory) and of course my hearing aids. These guzzle up batteries at the rate of about two a week – one in each aid.

There’s also the issue of braille books. These use far more paper than the average print books. Braille only comes in one size. That is however one thing i can ‘make up for’ by putting read books out to be recycled.
And all my varius electronic devices? Like I said above, I switch off my pc whenever I leave the room for longer than ten minutes. And I give old hearing aid batteries – and eye drops – to my parents to give to a special bus that comes round every so often to collect and dispose of those kinds of things.

So, does not using lights and not having a car really make up for all the energy I use with my other electronics? I really don’t know. There’s probably a way of working it out, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t really be bothered.
I think, that doing your best where you as an individual can, is all you really can do to save the planet.
It’s probably become a terrible clishé, but I’m going to say it anyway: it’s not easy being green.