Zero To Hero:”Out Of The Whirl Pool” By Sue Martin

I haven’t posted for the Zero to hero in a while but to be fair it’s been just about tweeking your layout and such.

I finished a book the other day called “out of the whirl pool” by Sue Martin. In the early days, i’d read some of the chapters of the book and was hooked. Normally i don’t like audio books, especially ones read by the authors, but Sue has a nice drawl to her voice. The book grips you right from the start. At the start i didn’t want to read about it because it dealt with sucide but i am glad i did stick with it. Sue has had a hell of a roller coaster of a life and i think she still has much more to write. I caught myself smiling when i read about her orientation and mobility training. I thought of my own training i had when i first learnt to use the cane. I can still remember that day. I even thought back to school when i learnt braille.

When i read her early chapters there were different details, but the audio book now has the little details smoothed out. It must have been so hard for Sue to write her story. I thought it was cool she remembered all the details.

I am so glad i read it. If you would like to read the book, or buy it, i should say,
You can go to her website
Where you can read more of her blog.

Can’t wait for the next book, Sue.


Zero To Hero:Why Do We Fear The Blind

Todays post was only really about getting blogs to read so i thought i’d post
This article
Abbout the fear that seems to surround blindness. It is quite a shocking article about how blind people are still treated in the likes of India and Affrica.

I always think it is so important that people know that we’re not scary. I would always say that if you have any questions it’s better to get them answered rather than being scared and believing things you read about blind people. I do a lot of talks to schools about having a guide dog and i think the the kids should be allowed to ask questions. Kids will ask questions adults are afraid of like “how long have you been blind?” or “how do you cook?” for example. The amount of parents that will rush their kids away from a blind person, or anyone with a disability for that matter is just horrible.

When i am out on the street the amount of adults who would ask me a question then trail off when it comes to the horrible b word. I once had someone who nearrly ran down the street when she asked me how long i’d been blind. It was actually she asked me if i saw something. I told her to wait and explained that i used words like “See” or “look”. IIt’s so annoying when people pussy foot around with certain words they should use in case they offend me.

I remember one woman who came up and was chatting away to me when i was waiting for a train. She started telling me about her cousin who was blind. I asked her if he would considder getting a guide dog. She informed me that he had passed away and then just burst in to tears. I told her that i didn’t mean to upset her. She said that i hadn’t upset her but she was so thankful that she had sight. I could have cried myself so i just hugged her.

I think what i’m really trying to say is that blindness isn’t something to be feared. We won’t explode if you mention the b word, and underneath the blindness is a person just like everyone else. You might even find you can relate to us once you get past that barrier of us being blind. If you ever see a blind person in the street, ask them if they need help, for example. Most of the time we will decline politely, but of course you do get some ignorant blind people like everyone else. Don’t let that put you off. Don’t put us up on a pedistil either. Yes it does take a bit of adapting if you do lose your sight, but we’re not brave or couragious just because we do things slightly differently.

I know this is kind of preaching to the converted, but really there is nothing to fear from us.

I hope this post maybe makes you realise that all you can do is ask. I would say ask away, in fact.

Sorry this post is kind of flown together and it doesn’t sound that good, but i hope it helps someone out there who fumbles for the right things to say or do when they meet a blind person.


Fife Society For The Blind Needs Your Help

I got this sent to me in an email the other day and thought it was a brilliant thing. I don’t live in Scotland but i think this would be extremely useful to help teach people to cook in a safe and secure environment. I would love to get back into cooking again but haven’t done it since about 4 years ago. So i’m badly out of touch. One day my sister asked me to stirr pasta and i totally panicked at the heat. I was going to get bump ons to stick on the cooker but don’t think they would last too long with a 3 year old brother!

Anyway here is the email. You can vote as much as you like i think.

From:***
To:***
Sent:Tuesday Sept 4
Subject:
Update from News: Fife Society for the Blind need your help!!
Dear ******

An unusual News item, but one I feel is worth circulating.

Fife Society for the Blind are currently competing to win a house worth up to £250,000 courtesy of Persimmon Homes. They are representing the East of Scotland
against 23 other charities from across the UK and they are the only sight loss charity in the running. If they win, they would like to convert the house
into a bespoke demonstration and assessment home for blind and partially sighted people not only locally, but nationally, but they need your help to win.
You can vote for them by going to the link below:

http://www.40.persimmonhomes.com/

Their application is below:

Serious sight loss affects 1 in 6 of us over the age of 60 and with more people living longer we face an increase in the current 2,200 blind and partially
sighted people we serve in Fife. The average person is age 85 years, lives alone and struggles to retain independence in the home.

We are committed to helping individuals to find solutions to everyday living and there are so many low cost and effective ways we can do this. Improved
lighting in the home, reduced glare from surfaces, lighter decoration to reflect good light, effective use of colour and tonal contrast to aid visibility
as well as a barrier free environment. In the kitchen we encourage tactile and high visibility marking of cookers, washing machines and microwaves.

If we won the house, we would be able to develop an assessment, demonstration and teaching environment based on a traditional domestic environment. We
would install controllable lighting in the living, kitchen and bathroom areas to enable us to advise and demonstrate to individuals how to modify their
own home. Decoration would be varied in different rooms showing how to enhance safety and ease of access for those with poor sight.

Individuals can learn how to cope, not in a classroom but in a home that similar to their own. For those younger clients needing to learn to cope living
away from home we will be able to provide an experience of shopping, storing, cooking, cleaning, bed making in a real home.

— END OF MAIL —


Two Talks To Two Schools

Today and yesterday i was doing two talks to two schools. It was great. The first was
Carninny primary school
Where the fair was back in November, and the second was a school in Ballymoney.

Carninny

My rehab worker had rang me last week to see if i would do a talk to his sons P1 class. Of course i said yes. I rang our fundraising branch organiser as i was running out of badges which i give to the kids. I think they say “i’m a guidedog hero” or something. I like each kid to get something though when i do a talk. I got another 30 badges so that was good.

So my rehab worker dropped his son off before going and getting me. My rehab worker talked a bit about what his job was and i had braught my cane to show them. I then talked a bit about Ushi and what she did. We explained about how much it cost for me to get a dog and used the 50P as what a bar of chocolate costs.

I explained that Ushi learning to be a guidedog meant she had to go to school then bigger school when she knew a bit about how to guide.

We then got them to ask questions. One little boy asked me how ushi helped me see. I explained that Ushi was like their mum or dad holding their hand. She took me round things that were on the pavement. I explained that some people thought the dog crossed the road but i had to be the mum or dad and tell her when to cross. I explained that Ushi’s harness was like her coat and she only wore it when we were going out.

Another kid asked the same question so to explain it my rehab worker got up and closed his eyes. He then walked into a couple of the kids chairs. He then took my cane and showed them how he didn’t hit the chair that time. They seem to understand that.

I explained to always ask when wanting to pet a guidedog and that they can’t have human food as it would make them very sick.

I think it was pets after that. I can’t remember any questions anyway lol. They all surrounded her basically. Ushi of course loved every minute, but one little kid fell on his bum because Ushi was wagging so hard lol.

I then gave them all badges and their teacher a copy of the braille alphabet as the kids like to learn how i read.

We then had a bit of a fiasko as i didn’t remember putting my cane away after showing it to the kids. I had put it away though so that wasn’t too bad.

The P 6 teacher then came down to ask the kids what they had learnt before getting his class settled. (We only found out the day before that we were doing it as the kids in that class wanted to fundraise for us).

This was a much smaller class. We were going to just do where we talked before questions, but we launched straight into the questions.

The first question took me by surprise really. A little girl asked “can we visit the care place?”. I thought she meant the guidedogs office up in Belfast and was all ready to say yes when my rehab worker whispered that that wasn’t what she meant. She had thought that we lived in a carehome or something but i said i lived with my family just like they did.

After that awkward question, we got onto more things like what things i found difficult since i couldn’t see. They had written out instructions for making a cup of tea, and i explained that i first of all filled the cup with the amount of cold water first to make sure i could carry it before it was hot. I would then put that cup into the kettle and that way there were less chance of scalds. I then said i couldn’t really just reach out and grab the cup-i’d have to find it first. We said that there was liquid level indicators that beeped to let you know when the cup was full.

I said that cooking was a chalenge and that i could cook but hadn’t done it in about 4 years so am probably a bit rusty. We got them to describe what would be dangerous about cooking if you couldn’t see.

We then talked a bit about how much a guidedog costs, why there was no age limmit any more, why it was lowered, and some ideas about fundraising. Ushi was then taken round each student.

We talked about the
Sponsor a puppy scheme
The class having a readathon, a non uniform day and we even talked about bringing the exhibition vehicle down and having a few more guide dog owners there too.

That was basically it and we were taken to the staffroom for some tea.

It was a great talk to both the classes and the P6s seem pritty keen to do something for us which would be brilliant. I hate asking for money but it’s a charity so you have to bring it up at some point.

Balnamore Primary school

This school was in Ballymoney. Orrigionally the classroom assistant had asked us to be there for half 9 but thankfully the teacher said that that would be too early and she would do the talk at half 10 instead.

When we got out of the car a teacher came up and said to us “Would you mind talking in the hall?”. We didn’t know what she meant but then she informed us that the school had had a non uniform day last week and all the children were so excited to hear that a guide dog was coming so could we talk to the whole school. We explained that we only came with badges for the little P1 and 2s, but the teacher said that was okay. The branch organiser said to me that she was a bit annoyed. It would have been nice to be told before today but oh well.

We went in and got settled in the hall while all the kids came in. We were wondering how we could make it interesting for all so what we did first was get the little ones to wear a blind fold and pick something up to see what was in there. They all enjoyed it and everyone in the school wanted to do that bit.

The papers were there and the teachers were taking photos too.

We talked about what a guide dog did, how she helped me, how it was trained and the fact she couldn’t have have any human food etc.

There wasn’t time for any questions unfortunately but we did get more pictures with the little kids. They couldn’t really pet ushi but some of them managed a sneaky one lol. Slightly encouraged by a wagging Ushi tail lol. One little kid whispered to me “i like your dog”. I said i liked her too.

The kids had held a non uniform day as i mentioned earlier. The P7s also held a bookmark and card sale and we were presented with a cheque for…£205! I thought this was brilliant! Thank you everyone!

I wasn’t as keen on this school but that could have been because we were thrown in at the deep end. I was pleased with the donation though!

After that, we went to the branch organisers mums house. We sat and had a chat to her mum who is a very nice woman and then we took Ushi out into her garden to run about. I forgot to bring her whistle with me outside but Ushi ran quite a bit. We didn’t let her go too far as the woman didn’t have back gates and she was right in the middle of a farm so i don’t think that would have been good letting her run through the farm.

We went back into chill after that.

The woman has invited us back again and totally loved Ushi.

When we were leaving, the branch organiser roled down the window to see a horse. Ushi didn’t know what to think when it decided to stick its head in through the window lol.

It was a great couple of days. I’ve another talk on Monday night and am off to Belfast tomorrow.

So it’s been quite a busy week! Thank you again both schools!


Guest Posting:My Journey Of Resiliency….

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.

So anyway,
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!!!!


Infant Is Returned To Blind Couple After State Places Her In Protective Custody

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.


The Outrage!

I got this from a community I used to be part of when i had my old blog. I still read it, and just had to post this. This is…………………like jesus christ!!!
This is the site
I got this from. I’m not a parent, but if both parents are capable, and are independent, i don’t see why they couldn’t look after a child. I mean oh my god!!! They obviously wouldn’t have “done the deed” if they couldn’t look after the child!!! I’m sure there are plenty of blind parents about, so why the hell should a blind couple not be able to look after a child? I mean it’s 2010! Jesus christ!! I thought all parents, or most of them had problems with a child breast feeding and all? I’m fucking annoyed now!!!! I mean fair enough if they aren’t capable then yeah i understand what they did, but foster care? What?

Anyway……..here’s the article. What do you all think? I hope it’s not just me who thinks it’s really crap, and is kind of discrimination. What do you think?

On May 21, 2010, a blind couple in Missouri gave birth to their first child, Mikaela.
A few hours after Mikaela was born, the mother experienced some difficulty breastfeeding,
a common problem for first-time mothers. She asked her nurse for advice, but instead
of offering guidance, the nurse called Child Protective Services. That evening, newborn
Mikaela was taken into foster care. Why? Not because the parents used drugs, showed
signs of abuse or were found to be living in substandard conditions. The only reason
CPS cites for their intervention is the mere fact that the parents are blind and,
therefore, are not fit parents. This in spite of hundreds of blind parents, including
single parents and blind couples, who have successfully raised children to adulthood.
Leaders in the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri also interviewed the
parents extensively and determined that they are indeed skilled in the adaptive techniques
needed to parent without sight.
Amazingly, no federal laws exist at this time to protect disabled parents from this
kind of blatant discrimination. So the burden of proof now rests on the parents to
demonstrate that they are capable of taking care of their daughter. With the help
of the NFB of Missouri, they have hired an attorney at $250 per hour to represent
them in court, and are also paying to get official evaluations showing that they
are fit to raise a child. We are optimistic that with a sympathetic judge, baby Mikaela
will be able to come home. But we need money to continue fighting this battle, not
only for Mikaela’s family, but also so that people like me will be able to have kids
one day without fearing that this tragedy could happen to us as well.
If you would like to make a donation to help defray the tremendous legal expenses,
and are going to convention, you can stop by the NFB of Missouri table in the exhibit
hall. If you aren’t going to convention but would still like to contribute, please
send a check to:
Carol Coulter
1613 Blue Ridge
Columbia, MO 65202-1759
Please make checks payable to “National Federation of the Blind of Missouri” and
write “baby Mikaela” in the subject line.