All Wired Up Take Two

I had already posted this, or thought i did. I think i deleted it. I wondered why it didn’t post to Twitter :(. So here’s take 2. Hopefully it’ll post this time.

On Wednesday, I was taking part in a research studdy at Queens University. The research was being conducted by the school of psychology at the university. They do quite a number of interesting experiments. I took part in one once where you had to catch a ball as it came down a ramp. It was put down at different speeds. It was to test movement and reflexes i think. Wednesdays experiment was all about audio description and how peoples brain waves reacted to it.

On Wednesday, I was picked up at the train station before being taken to the university itself. Two students who were with the head researcher took me up to where the experiment would happen, while the researcher got parked.

First, the researcher read through a consent form which i needed to sign, before she measured my head to fit the cap that would have the electrodes attached to it. I was taken in to a small booth where all the equipment was. Gel was then put on my head to help the conduction of the electrictity before more individual electrodes were added. I was told i had a very conductive scalp lol. There were also two electrodes placed above and below my right eye to isolate the movements of your eye muscles.

Once all that was taken care of, i was played 4 10 minute segments of audio description. The pieces were written by the students themselves and described by them. There were two stories, but they were repeated with different sound effects in the background, and different things described to see how the brain waves reacted when something was being described that wasn’t happening in the sceen being played. It was quite interesting, and i wanted to know more about what happened in the stories and what happened to the characters.

When i was finished listening to all the segments, i was given the opportunity to wash the gel out of my hair as it can leave your hair quite sticky. The area where the shower is is mainly designed for children, as apparently they would bring a lot of children if they need to have tests for something. Because of this, the sink was quite low, but thankfully we were warned about that before so knew what to expect.

I then returned to the main room where i had to rate each piece of audio description and explain which segments i thought were better. I was also asked how often i watched something with audio description on it and how long i was visually impaired. I was then taken back to the train station.

I would like to thank queens for having this opportunity and it’ll be interesting to find out the results, especially as they are doing it with sighted people too. I look forward to the next interesting experiment they conduct.

Unplanned Social Occasions

Yesterday was our anual outing with the Acorn Arts group that i am a part of. This year, one of the volunteers had raised money so we were able to hire a bus to take us to and from
The donkey sanctuary
In Templepatrick.

The bus collected us all from Divis community centre where the art group is held, at 10 o’clock. Unfortunately when the bus came, they didn’t have a ramp for some of the people to get on, but we eventually managed to get everyone on and we were off. I didn’t realise it was such a short journey as it only took about half an hour to get there.

When we arrived, we met some of the staff and were taken off in pairs to lead one of the donkeys and groom another. In the main reception area they have a sensory room for children and nice comfy sofas for people to wait. You can also see the donkeys in the areena through the glass. There is also a gift shop and a kitchen.

Ushi’s nose was going 10 to the dozen with all the donkey smells. We first of all took Ushi over to sniff some of the donkeys that were in pens too. When we went in to the areena, the donkey wasn’t too keen on Ushi and stomped his hoof at her. The donkey was called Redmend and was quite young so wasn’t used to dogs. One of the volunteers from the art group held her while i walked Redmand around the areena. Redmand was very light walking. He kept a very loose tention. He was slightly bigger than a german shepherd dog. The one thing i noticed about the areena was that it was a hardspungey floor, rather than the sand/wood shavings that it used to be when i went horse riding.

I didn’t bother grooming any of the donkeys, so i just pottered about until it was lunch time. We had home made vegetable soup with sandwiches and tea or coffee.

The sanctuary don’t charge for any of their riding sessions for disabled children, so they rely on donations and their “adopt a donkey” scheme. They would also get money from the gift shop and the lunches i think. There was a donation bucket sitting so we all chipped in a little something for them.

After lunch it was just pottering. The sanctuary has recently got a sensory garden installed which has buttons which people can press to hear all about how many donkeys they have and things. They also have donkeys in the fields too.

Finally, we all headed down to see where the donkeys slept and to get a few photos. Ushi tried to jump up and lick one of the donkeys lol.

It was a lovely day, and the art group have adopted 3 donkeys. We’ll get to follow their progress for however long the adoption runs for. I would liek to thank the staff and the art group for taking us. I bought the art group some biscuits as the volunteers keep us all fed and watered which they don’t have to do.

When i arrived back at the train station, i had missed my train home litterally by 2 minutes so i waited until the next one. As i was just about to be taken out for my train, i met the branch organiser for the Limavady branch. She told me she was going to a piggy racing event. She asked if i would like to come along too, so i said yes as long as it was okay with the people who were organising the event. So we both headed off to Bangor instead. Thankfully the train staff didn’t mind the change of trains lol.

When we arrived When we arrived in Bangor, we got picked up by one of the puppywalkers. They have a little 11 week old pup i think called Oakly. He was tiny. Ushi made herself at home and played with all his toys and inspected his bed.

Around 7 o’clock, we headed off to the 45 club in Belfast where the piggy racing would happen. Basically, you have 6 battery opperated pigs. They go on a race track and you have to bet 50P and pick a pig from 1 to 6. Which ever pig wins, 40 % of the money goes to guide dogs and the winner gets to keep the remainder of the money. The pigs wear little coats with a number from 1 to 6 on them. Between each race, some prizes are raffled off. At the end of the night, the pigs are auctioned off or else they are kept for the next race. It was great craic and was finished by about 10 o’clock. I would like to thank the pininchula branch for letting me gate crash their event, and ofcourse the puppywalker and the branch organiser from the Limavady branch for inviting me along in the first place!

I must also thank Ushi for being so adaptable and waiting for her food until we got home which was about half 11ish. I love totally unplanned social occasions :).

Melleneum Volunteers Awards Again

On Thursday night, I was envited to receive my Mellenium Volunteer award for completing 200 hours with guide dogs. I had received this certifficate for completing my 200 hours with
The Cedar foundation
When i was 18 so was quite surprised that you can get it twice. Apparently it’s for people aged between 14 and 25 so you could get it loads potentially if you really wanted to.

So on Thursday i headed up to the titanic centre in Belfast which was where it was being held. First of all everyone had a buffet. I must say the titanic centre do a gorgious buffet. The cocktail sticks i noticed seemed to have wee flags on them lol. I thought that was cool.

When we went to where the main awards were being held, there was a dj playing music until everyone came in. Well playing wasn’t really the word. More having it so loud the floor vibrated and of course i was put in the front ro. I was helped through out all this by one of volunteer nows staff who were the ones organising the whole evening. I must email and thank her as she was going to take me up for my award but there was a member of staff from guide dogs who i didn’t know was there so i must thank her as i felt a bit awkward. Anyway someone had to go up and tell the dj to turn the music down as it was so so super loud. Thank god he did. I wanted to leave with my hearing intact not be so deafened you couldn’t hear a thing.

The evening started soon afterwards. The chair of olunteer now said a few words, before an mp called Mervin Story said a few words. He was the person who was presenting our awards. I must say there was no faffing around once the awards got going. What happened was people were called up by organisation, which i don’t remember happening the last time. You were then handed a dummy scrole before getting your certifficate later on. It worked brilliantly and we were finished by 9 o’clock. Considdering there were over 300 volunteers receiving their awards it went very smoothly. I think there were 600 people altogether as most people had brought guests with them too. Volunteer now were actually saying they had to turn some peoples selections away until another date because the titanic centre isn’t big enough for everyone.

After the awards, Conor Scott from last years The voice sung a few songs. I’d heard him before at the NCS talk i did in January.

It was a great night and i’d like to thank Volunteer Now and guide dogs for nominating me for my 200 hours certifficate. Well done to all the young people who got theirs too.

English Issues

I waited until today to post this, but actually it happened on Monday. I just was so mad, that I wasn’t sure how bad the entry would be.

On Monday, I was at one of my English classes. I decided to buy a dictaphone, as there is still no word of my equiptment. I asked the English teacher if I would be able to record the class, and he turned round and was like “This is a breech of the data protection act.” He asked the other students, and they were fine. I could understand if it was a debate or something, but a bog standard class? I felt like asking him if he had any other ideas of how I could take notes. There was no mention of it after that.

After class was finished, however, I decided to have a word with him about the coursework etc. Apparently, one of the pieces we will be doing is Mcbeth. He goes to me “You’ll need an audio tape of it.” I didn’t say anything, as I was already pissed. He also said that the spellchecker would have to be disabled if I was using my laptop for exams. Is this true? I wrote a piece about myself the other week, as he wanted it from everyone. I have to redo mine, because my grammar was too good, and he thinks that I was using the spellcheck. I’m not gonna deliberately spell something wrong just to please someone else!!!!

He seems to have misconceptions about blind people. I think he thinks that all we do is sit and listen to audio tapes. I’m perfectly capable of watching a DVD just like anyone else.

I was telling my mentor for Maths what happened, and he said that it would be worth considering getting a scribe for English to take notes. Do any of you use these? At the moment, other students have been taking notes for me, which isn’t that practical long term. Should I get a scribe? Will it not be a bit late to get one? Will it not be pointless getting one when the coursework starts in a couple weeks? Plus, is it not like they are doing the work if they’re taking notes while I sit on my bum?

What are your experiences of these?

Thanks for any help. Also, should the english teacher be like this? Or is it just me over reacting?


I nearly died the other day when I got a certain letter.

I got a letter the other day about me having to do jury serviceStarting from the first of September 2009. I’m crapping myself!! the thing is, could i do this as i’m blind? I’m not using this as an excuse, just curious. I’m just wondering if there is some kind of visual evidence, could the other jurers describe it to me? I’ve got my doctor to write a letter to them,but should i have done this? Apparently if i did not do it, i could get fined, unless i had stated that i could not for some reason.

pleas let me know your thoughts.