I was orriginally going up to an eye matter meeting today, which i had arranged for my rehab worker to take me to. We would be doing a route in Belfast anyway. On Monday he sent me an email telling me what was going to happen and what time he would be out to get me. He also said that one of the GDMI’s (guide dog mobility instructors) was going through my area anyway, and that they could let me walk with a dog if wanted. I was so excited!!! Had to re read the email a couple of times just to make sure i wasnt just imagining it lol.
Well we first of all did the route down to the college as usual. It went without a hitch which was good. I think i really know the route now.
Anyway about 10 minutes after that, we met two GDMIs. Well i had both met them at the hotel lol. Anyway i went with one of the instructors who is in her training still first. We just walked around the college car park with the
Just to remind me of the commands and such. I was amazed that i would remember the foot positions since it had been a while since i had done them. I was actually quite firm with the corrections today!!! Considering that was the part that i needed the most work on. I then went with the first instructor after we walked back to the car as she noticed that my speed had increased, so wanted to see if she was right, and it had actually increased. I didn’t notice that it had, but apparently it has!!! I asked if that was a good thing, and she said that it was grand. She was pleased with my voice too which was also good.
After coming back to the car again, they got the dog out of the back. She was called Ushi. I’m not sure how you spell it, but you pronounce it ooshey. She was a dog that was just in training. Well she was about halfway through her advanced traning. She was gorgious. She was just a little nervous at some points though, and wanted to make sure that you really wanted her to go forward. So i think she tested out the old voice a bit which was good.
Instead of going back from the college, we decided to do a longer route, just to get Ushey used to working, and to get her used to new people. I didn’t realy kknow the route we did, but i still found i was able to trust the dog.
Anyway getting ahead of myself lol.
We just walked with the trainee instructor attached by another lead while i had the other lead and the harness. Ushey was a bit fast for me, so i had to keep telling her to “Steady”. It was hard to get the tention through the harness handle as it was quite long. There was one part of the route where there was a tree on the kerb, and there wasn’t room for me and her to get round it. The kerb was quite rounded, so it felt weird to get into the “Number two position” which is the forward position, as it didn’t feel straight. The instructors explained that it was because of the shape of the kerb. So for us to get round the obsticle, the dog had to step down onto the road, and then go along a bit and step up. I just gave her the “Forward” and then told her “Over” which was pointing to your left side, and then “Find the kerb”. She then got me back up on the kerb, so i could just walk along straight on again.
At one point the instructor took my lead just to give the dog a bit more confidence. I just had the harness. I found it easier than having the lead, as the lead with the harness felt kind of awkward. The instructor said that the lead was a bit longer than the lead that we would get as guide dog owners, so that was why it was so awkward.
At one point, i thought the dog was going to “Spend”. It took me onto some grass and just stopped. I sort of panicked, but the instructor said that it was because there was a kerb, and she wasn’t sure where to go.
About halfway through the route, they changed the handle of the harness, as i was finding it hard to get the tention still. They said it would be easier with a shorter handle though which was good. I found it was far easier with that shorter handle lol.
We decided to go for a coffee in a coffee shop after a while, just to give the dog a break, and to update my paperwork that was done on the guide dog assessment. This was just to make sure that nothing had changed, and to give the trainee GDMI a bit of practice at doing this sort of thing. We couldn’t find it at first, as my rehab worker had went to his car to get something. So we spent a bit of time going around a couple more streets before we discovered where the coffee shop was. It meant that i got to do a bit more work with the doggie which was good.
I learnt that when you are sitting down with the dog, like on a bench or in a restaurant or what ever, that you take the harness off the dog. You still have the lead on the dog, which they said that you could wrap around your finger, or put it under your leg to make sure the dog wasn’t sniffing or anything. I didn’t think you would do that. I would have thought that when the harness was off, then the dog would kind of go mad, and think it could do what it wanted when off harness, but apparently the dog will still know that it has to behave. That’s probably why you need to be the boss lol, so that the dog doesn’t decide to behave badly.
Ushey lay quietly while we updated my paperwork, and chatted. Before we left the coffee shop, i got to hold the dog on her lead just to make sure she wouldn’t run off, while the instructors went to the little girls’ room. She still just lay there which was good. The instructor said that some dogs will be a bit more stubborn though.
We decided to go back to the college after that. There is an alley wway going up to the college, which me and my rehab worker have affectionately called “Suicide alley”. This is because it isn’t really a straight line, and there are loads of obsticles and stuff there. Plus, there are alot of delivery lorries there and all sometimes. I think the instructor nearly died when we said that that was what we called it lol.
I would have thought that it would have been quite complicated to get the dog to go up this alley, as you would have to “find the kerb”, and then sort of turn round and go up it that way. It’s hard to explain, though. But we just told the dog to “Find the way”. I’m not sure if we used the “Over” command, but I just pointed to the left, and said “find the way”. She was going to go into a shop that was just beside it though lol. I just told her straight on though, and then “Find the way”. She got it this time. The instructors had said that I would sort of have to get her to stay in and find the way. This would be done by moving your right hand to the right and saying “In” and “find the way”. I would then have to get her to find the kerb, then tell her straight on, and then to find the kerb again. I think it was something like that anyway. This was because there was no real straight line the dog could follow.
So i told Ushey to “find the way” and to stay “in”, all prepared for the complicated way i was told. She just found her own straight line and went straight up, and got me up on the kerb!!! I thought that was brilliant!!! She got lots of praise there.
The rest of the way i just told her straight on and then got her to find the kerb for crossing. When she crossed, She automatically turned the corner which was good. When we got to our last road crossing on the way back to the college, we sort of had to do it differently. There is like a little island thingie in the middle of the crossing, which is because there are like two car parks. So i had to tell Ushey to “Find the step”, because it wasn’t really a kerb. When we crossed that, she was grand and just went straight, until i told her “over” and “find the bus” which is what you say to a guide dog for any vehicle that you want to get into, or find.
Once we got to the car, I gave Ushey a hell of alot of praise. Even if she was a bit hessitant at first to do what i told her. I asked loads of questions at the car, like how you would get the dog to find steps, and how it would do this? Apparently when going up steps, the dog will put its two front paws up on the first step, so that you could find it. Going down, it would wait at the top step. They said that because the dogs balance would be affected going down steps, that you would hold the lead on its own, and not the harness. This means that you are in control, and if something happens where you or the dog stumble, then you both won’t end up in a heap at the bottom of the steps. That was interesting to know. I also found out that if a car drives out in front of you when you are crossing the road, that the dog will stop, until it is safe to cross again.
Before the instructors left, they let me try a wider harness handle. This is a “side fitting” handle, whereas the first one was a “Top fitting” one. I walked up and down the car park, and immediately noticed how good it was. I was able to feel the tension much better. I was going to say “Find the way” but was thinking about how much i could feel her move, and was like “find the bum!” Lol i quickly corrected that though lol. It was much easier to get the tension too.
We headed back to the car again after that. To get the dog to find something, the instructors said that i could use “Where is it?” to get the dog to find it and incourage it.
It was another great walk. I found that i could kind of switch off when working with her. Well not switch off, but i didn’t have to concentrate as much as what i would have had to do if using the cane.
That little voice at the back of my mind was saying that i maybe wasn’t ready for a dog, well not ready but was i ready for the work, but i know i am. I think that was just me starting to worry again.
I hope to god that it won’t be too long now until i get the dog.
I’m so glad they let me work with her. I was surprised at my confidence!!!
*I would have posted this yesterday, but i lost half of it, as JAWS went into “Overwrite” mode. I think that was all i wanted to write.
Oh by the way, here is the picture of Ooshey.
A blogger friend of mine has a section on her blog inviting people to
Share Their Story Of Resiliency
I was a bit hesitant at first to submit my story, as i thought that not many people would think of the journey of blindness as a resilient one. So after reading a few posts, I decided that I may as well do it. The most that would be said would be No.
So about a month ago, i submitted my story. I’m so glad I did!!! I mean I think it was good that i decided to do it, as otherwise i would never have known if it was a good thing or not.
Here Is My Story
I particularly like the funky title I have been given, as “Resilient Torie”! Makes me sound like a super hero!!! “And here we have Resilient Torie”! I just thought it was funny lol.
Thanks Becky for letting me share my story, and thanks for not thinking it was stupid or anything!!!!
Check out many other posts on Becky’s blog at
Cruisin With Cricket
And every Monday read about other peoples journey of resilience. Don’t forget to share your story!!! You never know what could happen!!!!
Remember I told you about how
Two Blind Parents
had their child taken off them because the hospital didn’t believe that they could look after the child because they were blind? Well they now have her back.
Here Is theWebsite
I got the article from. I am so glad that she is back with her family but it would have done wonders for sighted people’s perceptions of blindness unfortunately. It is still horrible that such a thing could happen. Anyway here is the article. Congratulations to the parents again. And what a load of balls about them needing “24 hour care by a sighted person”? Jesus christ!!!! Anyway……..
Erika Johnson will never be able to see her baby, Mikaela.
But for 57 days she couldn’t keep her newborn close, smell her baby’s breath, feel her downy hair.
The state took away her 2-day-old infant into protective custody — because Johnson and Mikaela’s father are both blind.
No allegations of abuse, just a fear that the new parents would be unable to care for the child.
On Tuesday, Johnson still couldn’t stop crying, although Mikaela was back in her arms.
“We never got the chance to be parents,” she said. “We had to prove that we could.”
Tuesday, she and Blake Sinnett knew their baby was finally coming home to their Independence apartment, but an adjudication hearing was scheduled for the afternoon on whether the state would stay involved in the rearing of the baby. Then from a morning phone call to their attorney, they learned that the state was dismissing their case.
“Every minute that has passed that this family wasn’t together is a tragedy. A legal tragedy and a moral one, too,” said Amy Coopman, their attorney. “How do you get 57 days back?”
Arleasha Mays, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services, said privacy laws prohibited her from speaking about specific cases. But she added, “The only time we recommend a child be removed is if it’s in imminent danger.”
Johnson said she knew the system eventually would realize its horrible mistake, but she often was consumed with sadness. Sinnett tried his best to keep Johnson hopeful.
For almost two months she and Sinnett could visit their baby only two or three times a week, for just an hour at a time, with a foster parent monitoring.
“I’m a forgiving person,” Johnson said, but she’s resentful that people assumed she was incapable.
“Disability does not equal inability,” she said.
Representatives of the sightless community agreed that people were well-meaning but blinded by ignorance.
Mikaela was born May 21 at Centerpoint Medical Center of Independence. The doctors let Sinnett “see” her birth by feeling the crowning of her head.
For Johnson, hearing Mikaela’s whimpers was a thrill. The little human inside her all these months, the one who hiccupped and burped, who kicked and moved, especially at night, was now a real person whom she loved more than anything else she’d ever imagined.
In her overnight bag was Mikaela’s special homecoming outfit, a green romper from Johnson’s mother, with matching bottoms and a baby bow.
Questions arose within hours of Mikaela’s birth, after Johnson’s clumsy first attempts at breast-feeding — something many new mothers experience.
A lactation nurse noticed that Mikaela’s nostrils were covered by Johnson’s breast. Johnson felt that something was wrong and switched her baby to her other side, but not before Mikaela turned blue.
That’s when the concerned nurse wrote on a chart: “The child is without proper custody, support or care due to both of parents being blind and they do not have specialized training to assist them.”
Her words set into motion the state mechanisms intended to protect children from physical or sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions, neglect or absence of basic needs being met.
Centerpoint said it could not comment because of patient privacy laws, but spokeswoman Gene Hallinan said, “We put the welfare of our patients as our top priority.”
A social worker from the state came by Johnson’s hospital room and asked her questions: How could she take her baby’s temperature? Johnson answered: with our talking thermometer. How will you take her to a doctor if she gets sick? Johnson’s reply: If it were an emergency, they’d call an ambulance. For a regular doctor’s appointment, they’d call a cab or ride a bus.
But it wasn’t enough for the social worker, who told Johnson she would need 24-hour care by a sighted person at their apartment.
Johnson said they couldn’t afford it, didn’t need it.
“I needed help as a new parent, but not as a blind parent,” Johnson said.
She recalled the social worker saying: “ ‘Look, because you guys are blind, I don’t feel like you can adequately take care of her.’ And she left.”
The day of Johnson’s discharge, another social worker delivered the news to the couple that Mikaela was not going home with them. The parents returned the next day to visit Mikaela before she left the hospital, but they were barred from holding her.
“All we could do was touch her arm or leg,” Johnson said.
The couple began making calls. Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, had trouble believing it at first.
“I needed to verify their whole story,” he recalled. “We had to do due diligence. … I found the couple to be intelligent and responsible.
“We knew this was an outrage that had taken place.”
He notified Kansas City chapter president Shelia Wright, who visited the 24-year-olds. Hearing about the empty crib, the baby clothes, Wright recalled, “I felt as helpless as I’ve ever felt in my life.
“I hurt so bad for them. This is unforgivable.”
They rallied other associations for the blind nationwide. More than 100 people at a national convention in Dallas volunteered to travel to Kansas City to protest and testify, both as blind parents and as the sighted children of blind parents. (Mikaela has normal sight.)
They also hired Coopman, who watched the young couple with their baby girl on Tuesday.
“I’m sorry,” she said, wiping tears. “But this should not have happened.”
Johnson kept a journal that Coopman is keeping closed for now. She indicates that legal action will be taken.
“Whether a couple is visually impaired or deaf or in a wheelchair, the state should not keep them from their children,” she said.
Now breast-feeding is a lost option. And the beautiful newborn clothes hanging in the closet went unworn, because their baby was growing bigger in the arms of someone else.
The couple said they had tried to prove themselves to the sighted community since their early years. Sinnett rode his bicycle on the street with the help of a safety gadget. Johnson graduated from high school with honors. But all the challenges they’ve endured over the years shrink compared to the responsibility of caring for 10 pounds of squirming baby girl.
Johnson cuddled Mikaela. Gave her a bottle. Patted her back until she burped. Mikaela gave a tiny smile.
In their 24 years, the couple said, they’ve both endured prejudice from others. They don’t want any other blind parent to suffer the same obstacle they did.
Fifty-seven days are too precious to lose.
I was recently reading someones Tweets, when i came across this article by
It’s an awesome read, and i hope it was alright for me to share this with you. I really hope the author doesn’t mind me sharing. I know it’s hard to do, but i think reading this can help if you are having negative thoughts. I kind of needed this tonight.
Enjoy the article, and the blog has other great articles that are great reads too! Thanks
And for anyone wondering, i’m grand now.
10 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts: Positive Thinking Made Easy
by Michelle Uy, That’s Fit.ca
Even though I’m a yoga teacher, I still find it’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking. Having negative thoughts play out like a movie can only bring you pain, something that I’ve experienced many times throughout my life.
Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment. The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become. I like the imagery of a small ball rolling along the ground, and as it rolls, it becomes bigger and faster.
That’s what one small negative thought can turn into: a huge, speeding ball of ugliness. On the contrary, a small positive thought can have the same effect blossoming into a beautiful outcome.
I’d like to share with you an example of how one small thought can turn into a very negative experience.
For the last ten years, I have lived on my own. Obviously during this time, I’ve grown accustomed to living in a particular way; I have my routines with cooking, cleaning and living happily in my place.
My boyfriend of two years who I have had a long distance relationship with will soon be moving here and we will be living together. Lately, I’ve had negative thoughts of moving in with him knowing that my living routine will have to change and we will have to create a new routine together.
Unfortunately, I’ve already jumped into the future and have had thoughts that we will not be able to come up with a living arrangement that will make us both happy. In my mind, I have seen myself already getting angry about our cooking and cleaning situation.
He came for a surprise visit this past weekend and boy, was it a surprise for him. We had a miserable weekend together. I did not enjoy his company because I was already angry with him and he was confused and equally frustrated with me. What could have been a really fabulous weekend ended up being a painful and heavy weekend.
When we start to have negative thoughts, it’s hard to stop them. And it’s much easier said than done to shift your focus to positive thoughts. But, it’s the only way—especially if you want to avoid going down a path that is painful and unnecessary.
Here are 10 things I did to help overcome my negative thoughts that you can also try:
1. Meditate or do yoga.
One of the first things I did was head to a yoga class. It took my focus away from my thoughts and brought my attention to my breath. Yoga is also very relaxing which helped ease my mind. Yoga helped me stay present to my experience so instead of jumping to what could happen, it brought me back to the now—the only moment, the most important moment.
I didn’t do much of this during the weekend so I literally had to bring myself in front of a mirror and force myself to smile. It really does help change your mood and relieve stress. I also felt lighter because it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.
3. Surround yourself with positive people.
I called a friend who I knew could give me constructive, yet loving feedback. When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.
4. Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive.
For example, instead of thinking We are going to have a hard time adjusting to our living situation, replace that with We will face some challenges in our living situation, but we will come up with solutions that we will both be happy with.
5. Don’t play the victim. You create your life—take responsibility.
The way I was thinking and acting, you would think I was stuck. Even if our living situation becomes unbearable, there is always a way out. I will always have the choice to make change happen, if need be.
6. Help someone.
Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. I decided to make a tray of food and donate it to the Salvation Army. It took my mind off of things and I felt better for helping someone else.
7. Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward.
It’s easy to dwell on your mistakes. I felt terrible that I acted this way and that I wasted our weekend. The only thing I can do now is learn from my mistakes and move forward. I definitely don’t want to have a weekend like that again.
I don’t remember lyrics very well and it’s probably the reason that I don’t enjoy singing, but every time I do sing I always feel better . When we sing, we show our feelings and this provides an amazing stress relief.
9. List five things that you are grateful for right now.
Being grateful helps appreciate what you already have. Here’s my list: My cats, health, a six-week trip to Asia, a new yoga class that I’ll be teaching, and for my mom’s biopsy coming out clean.
10. Read positive quotes.
I like to place Post-It notes with positive quotes on my computer, fridge door and mirror as reminders to stay positive. Also, I’d like to share with you a quote by an unknown author that was shared in a meditation class that I attended:
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Happy positive thinking!
A while back, I wrote about how i wasn’t sure what
To do next year. I was talking about the text processing course, but i still don’t think i’m going to get much from that.
I emailed my mentor who i had for
The GCSE Maths
And the Essential skills ICT course. I told him about what i was considering. I only did this since i was asked what i wanted to do next year by the IT officer in
The Cedar Foundation
Anyway, the IT officer said that he had to do qualifications for working in ICT, but he wasn’t sure what they were, since it was a number of years ago that he had done it.
Here’s where the confusion starts. My mentor said that i could either do an access course, which would take two years at the college. With this, you need to pick 3 subjects i think it is, and then you do those, and it’s equivalent to three A levels. My mentor says it’s alot of work though.
After this course, i would need to do a
Post Graduate Certificate In Education
(PGCE). This would last a year. This could also be done through the college. I would also need 60 hours of teaching, with a class of sighted people. My mentor says that he was assessed as he was teaching.
The only thing is, i would need a C in GCSE maths, and i got a D in mine. I don’t fancy doing the GCSE again!!!! Hate maths. Teaching the sighted people sounds scarey too.
There is also the option of me doing an accredited course by
Who are the makers of JAWS, but i would need to have that teaching course first. Plus, it’s £1000 for the course, because you have to travel and that, and i’m certainly not ready for that!!!!
The other thing i could do would be computer programming. Well not computer programming, but programming for the assistive technology. But would i not need alot of maths and that? Plus it sounds rather complicated!!!!
I’m not sure what to do at all.
mentioned a scheme that i could use for paid work. It is called
Which stands for “Ulster Support Employment Limmited”. I think it supports people to get into work, by putting you in contact with places that you would like to work in. I might email them and see what the craic is. Although they will probably want to know about qualifications and such.
So i’m in a bit of a pickle really. A small part of me doesn’t really want to studdy this year, and just focus on maybe becoming a bit more independent?
So yeah, i’m rather confused and don’t really know what to do. My mentor has suggested that i write down a list of things i want to do and go from there. I will have to have a hard think about that one. I don’t think i’ll do that tonight though.
Any thoughts, etc would be great. I wish there was a qualification for assistive technology or something, but i don’t think there is.
It’s back to the drawing board I think…
It’s usually around this time of year, that
The Queen Alexandra College
hosts the “sight village” exhibition. This is an assistive technology event for blind and partially sighted people. It usually takes place in Burmingham, but recently, it has been in London, Dublin and Kork. I’m ever so hopeful that it will come to Northern ireland!!! I just love all that technology lol.
Anyway loads of companies come for the three day event, such as
Who are the makers of JAWS and such,
Who made the Trekker breeze Gps Systim for the visually impaired, and
T and T Consultancy
Who make products like J-tunes, which i think is a program to help blind and partially sighted people use JAWS, but have never used it, so am not sure. These are just a few exhibitors that will be there, but there will be lots more i would say!
It is a free event, and from what i can gather, it is really good.
Over the years, the guys at
T and T consultancy
have done a podcast each day letting people know about all the things they saw and such. It had great chat, as well as presentations and such. This year however, they are doing a live show each day! This will also be a podcast, but they are going to be on
Which is a new internet radio station that has been launched. Well it was launched a couple of months ago i think. It has some really great shows, including
Mad For Trad
Which Digital Darragh
presents. It is full of great iresh music, which is great for filling long boring days!!! Anyway you can check out his blog
Getting side tracked lol. Anyway for those of us who can’t make it to the Sight village exhibition (like me), T and T consultancy along with Mushroom FM are going to do a show each day as i’ve previously said. Here is the article from T and Ts website:
Sight Village Podcast with a Difference!
The Sight Village Sensation!
We have become well-known over the years for producing our Sight Village podcast containing fun and informal chat about the event, product news, interviews with exhibitors, and much much more. Thousands of people download the podcast every year and we are pleased to bring it to you!
This time, we are going one step further! In partnership with the Mushroom FM internet radio station, we will be streaming radio shows about Sight Village all next week starting on Monday 12 July.
Mushroom FM is a high quality internet radio station containing shows produced by broadcasters who are excellent communicators, who love radio and present great music programmes!It enjoys a very high profile on the internet particularly within the “blindness community” and is well-known for the fun, innovative and interactive ways in which the presenters interact with their audience.
Sight Village sensation is going to be a lot of fun and we are really looking forward to bringing to you the sounds of the event live this year! We hope the shows will be very interactive with lots of room for you to participate whether you live in the UK or not!
•A special show before Sight Village where hopefully you will tell us what you are looking forward to seeing at the event or seminars you would like to attend;
•A “special guest” each day from key access technology companies who not only will want to tell you about their product range but who will also be keen to take your questions via E-Mail or Twitter live on the air;
•Contributions from listeners and ourselves concerning the highlights of Sight Village 2010!
If you are interested in how internet broadcasting works using accessible technology, you can always drop by the T&T Consultancy Ltd stand, located at zone 4 just as you walk through reception, and experience it for yourself as it happens!
How You Can Get Involved
If you are an exhibitor at Sight Village who would like to encourage people to visit your stand, someone who plans to attend or if you are just interested, there are lots of ways you can get involved to make this a truly interactive experience!
During the programmes, you can send e-mail to:
Throughout the shows, you can use Twitter and send messages to:
If you are interested in taking part in the show which airs on Monday evening about Sight Village, perhaps by Skype or on the phone, you can let us know in advance by writing to:
All shows will be available as podcasts too, so you can download them if you cannot listen live. Hearing the programmes live however will ensure you can get fully involved in the interactive experience!
Live Show Times
In the event that show times should change, you should always check the “What’s On When” page on the Mushroom FM web site for the latest information.
•Monday: 5 PM to 8 PM.
•Tuesday: 3 PM to 5 PM.
•Wednesday: 3 PM to 5 PM.
•Thursday: 2.30 PM to 4 PM.
So come on! Lets make this a fun and interactive virtual experience wherever you are in the world!
I can’t wait to hear it!!!! Although it’ll make me more jealous lol. Each year i always say i should go, but never manage it.
So go on, spill, are any of you guys going to go?
Make me jealous!!!