A Petition And A Statement

A couple of days ago, I posted about
The Twitter Campaigne
That was started by a young guide dog owners mother after her daughter was discriminated against by her school. The Twitter campaigne is still ongoing.

Since then, the girls mother has set up a
Petition
To stop this happening again to any other guide dog owner. It has got over 500 signatures already and it was only set up on Tuesday! Sorry for you all seeing this on twitter already, but i think everyone who can should sign this.

The mother has contacted various radio stations etc, and ironically as soon as she contacted the media, the principle of the school,
Released this statement
Which to start with had the guide dog owners name in it, but that has since been removed. It does sound convincing if you hadn’t followed the story, but it just seems weird that it keeps changing. It also just seems rather weird that as soon as the mother goes to the media, this statement is released.

I think in this day and age this should not be happening to be honest. Especially as there will probably be more and more younger guide dog owners around since guide dogs dropped the lower age limmit from 16 to nothing back about a year or two ago.

In comparison, here is an article about
Another young guide dog owner
Who has had a much more positive experience at school.

I really hope that something can be done, and that the girl can continue her studdies pritty soon. She is doing lots of exams so it is a pritty important year for her!

Please feel free to sign the petition. It shouldn’t still be happening!


The Guide Dogs Talking Busses Campaigne Pilot

Today I was invited to take part in a pilot project for the
Talking Busses
Campaigne that guide dogs are running. This is a campaigne to make busses have audio and visual information onboard to announce upcoming stops. I think it is operational in London and Notingham in England I think.

My rehab worker picked me up at about 9 o’clock. We headed up to Belfast, but on the way we had to pick up another guide dog owner. She had a guide dog called Willo. (Willo was 10 and a half and was still working! The normal age for retirement is usually about 8 or 9 years, but Willo is still wanting to work and is showing no signs that she needs to stop. Pritty cool!).

We arrived at a church hall. This was where we would find out what was happening throughout the morning, then how the pilot would work. There were a number of other organisations there including The RNIB, Guide Dogs, Translink, and the Department For Regional Development. (Not sure what they do).

We were then split into two groups. One group was going to go out for a short ride on a bus that Translink had braught for us to try out to see what the announcements were like. The other group were going to look at the
React Systim
Which is being installed at three local bus stops in Belfast. These will coincide with the route the bus is going to be taking.

I went out to the bus with the first group as we needed to leave early. The bus was like a town service bus. It was a Metro bus I think they are called. I was expecting the bus to have alot of room, and whilst the isles had room in between the seats were really cramped.

I kept Ushi’s harness on as I wasn’t sure how long we were going on the route, but then took it off again once I discovered that we would be on for about 15 to 20 minutes. Ushi kept trying to get out from in between the seat to see the other dogs that got on. Eventually my rehab worker got on too and sat beside me. Ushi just lay down then and was nose to nose with another guide dog called Ivie.

As we drove along, we were told what stop we were coming to. It only told you once though, and didn’t tell you where it would eventually end up. When it did tell you the stops it said just before the stop. I thought it would be helpful if on a long journey for it to say it more, but I suppose once you heard the name of your stop, you could just ring the bell or something.

The voice that was used was one of the Realspeak voices that come with JAWS.

For it being a pre pilot, it was quite good. It could do with improvements which i’ve already mentioned, but apart from that it’s great! Unfortunately if after the pilot translink run out of money, then it will stop. They can’t garuntee that it will be made available on other routes too.

After we finished on the bus, we headed back to the hall again so that the second group could have their turn on the bus.

While the other group were on the bus, we looked at the React systim that was going to be installed on three of the local bus stops. First of all, the guide dogs campaigning officer showed us the speaker that would go on a pole or something. It is like a small games console. You have a little keyring that has two buttons on it. Whenever you get into range of one of the poles with the system on it, it will speak to you. You can press the buttons on the keyring to hear more information like the time of the bus etc. It was also a good systim, but has been out for quite a while.

We left after that. My rehab worker had to do some work up at the guide dogs office, so we went up there for a while.

It was a good day I thought.

Side Note.

In other news, I had Ushi off to the vets for her front line treatment and to get her eye checked out as she had been scratching it quite a bit. It wasn’t affecting her work or anything, so I wasn’t too worried, I just didn’t want it to get infected.

When we were sitting in the waiting room, Ushi saw a couple of other dogs and wanted to play lol. She kept doing little whining noises every so often lol. The vet looked at her eye and said that because it was healing up, that there was nothing he needed to do. He even went and got a light to shine in her eye and made sure that the actual eye wasn’t irritated. He said it should just heal naturally.

I decided to get her front line and worming tablet while there. Our vets like the dogs to get weighed before each front line, so I popped her on the scales.

Ushi’s working weight is 27 Kilograms. Her Optimum weight is meant to be 29 Kilograms but she has been over that. At her last weigh in three months ago, she was 33 Kilograms. I put this down to me slacking and not walking her enough. I said that I would exercise her twice a day instead of once a day. Each walk was a 20 minute or so walk, and that wasn’t even into town. Town was probably a 30 minute walk.

So most days we’ve been doing a walk twice a day. She has a free run once a week, and gets a milk bone broken up every time she comes back to me on a free run. (We do this so the dogs come back, and we are allowed the milk bones). She would very ocasionally get a treat on a walk if she needs an incentive, like if she is doing a new route, for example. She would get a frozen kong filled with about 5 pieces of her food and 5 bits of broken up milk bone. I then would have taken 10 bits of food out of her breakfast the next day to make up for that. She would have gotten a dental stick maybe two or three times a week.

She is on 150 grams twice a day for both her feeds. (She was on 200 Grams in the mornings when I got her, but that was cut in November to 150).

Today when I weighed her……….she was 36.1 Kilograms. This was a huge shock. I asked the vet if that was okay and the vet said that was normal, but guide dogs probably won’t like her at that weight. Apparently, a guide dog is classed as obese if it is 15 % over its optimum weight. I have worked out that Ushi is 5.415 % over but not sure If I did that right.

Anyway whatever way I worked that out, it’s not good. I am extremely disappointed. She doesn’t feel fat, and she doesn’t look fat, but I need to get on top of this as soon as possible. I was told that you cut the dogs food by 50 grams. So I am thinking of bringing her food down to 100 grams in the morning and keeping her at the 150 in the evening which is what she is getting twice a day.

I guess there will only be treats for coming back from a free run! That means no kongs or anything like that.

Should I be doing this? I am extremely worried. I can still fit my fingers in between her belly and the girth strap of her harness. Dad said that it could be muscle rather than fat.

Oh and by the way, do any of you know how to get a dog to step down off a down kerb? She won’t do it unless I move the lead forward. (She used to do it until the day that it rained really bad and the cars sprayed all over the road). I give a nice strong hand signal and tell her forward, and I do it a couple of times, but if it’s not working I will use the lead. Could I have been using the lead too much?

Thanks for any suggestions, and sorry for the long post! I started it on Wednesday lol. I went to the vets today though (Friday) but thought i’d add that in. The kerb thing isn’t that much of an issue though. I really hope I can get the weight off! Thanks again for your help.


Disability Living Allowance-The Budget Announcement

I found this article on the
RNIB
Website. Well it was through the
Eye Matters
Facebook page. I think it is good news anyway. No doubt there will prob be more cuts on the way though, so i don’t think i’ll hold my breath that we are going to get the higher rate of Mobility by next year. Who knows really. It’s interesting anyway. I was expecting more cuts though.

Anyway here’s the article after all that ramblement.

RNIB is receiving a number of enquiries about the Budget speech and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

In his Budget on 22 June 2010 the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that from 2013, DLA claimants (both new and existing) will be required to undergo a medical assessment to determine their eligibility to claim the benefit. We would expect it to take some time to assess existing claimants. Each case would then be reviewed from time to time.

The new test is intended to reduce the numbers on DLA. Savings of over £1 billion per year by 2015 are envisaged. We do not know whether or how blind and partially sighted people will be affected by this – it depends on the details of the test. RNIB will be watching this closely and if necessary making representations to the Government.

No announcement was made regarding a decrease or increase to DLA rates in 2013. There is no reason to suppose that there would not be an annual inflation increase, as usual.

2011 higher rate mobility increase RNIB and Action for Blind People continue to work with DWP officials on the extension of eligibility for the higher rate DLA mobility component to people with a severe sight loss.

We understand the regulations needed to bring the change into effect will be laid before Parliament in the next week or so. This allows enough time for their approval before the summer recess. The re-assessment of visually impaired claimants on the lower rate of the mobility component will start in the autumn with the objective of completing the process before April 2011 when payments will start.

We are confident that the change is going ahead despite the very difficult fiscal environment.

Further Information For further information or to discuss the implications and what we can do as the leading UK charity for blind and partially sighted people, contact the campaigns team on 020 7391 2123 or campaigns@rnib.org.uk
Contact: campaigns@rnib.org.uk


Eye Matter Conference

You’ll remember,
Before Christmas
I asked for help with a presentation for the Eye Matter group? Well today was the conference that i needed it for.

Well the conference started at about 10 o’clock. While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, we had Tea and coffee to pass the time. What a great start to a conference!!!!!! Anyway we got a chance to catch up with everyone, and to talk to a few people we hadn’t saw in ages.

At about half 10, we went in to the main conference room.

First, there was a presentation by the chair person of Eye matter, and introductions.

Next, a politician got up to speak, and tell us why he supported the project.

After that, the manager of the RNIB got up to talk and thank the lottary for funding the project for three years already.

Next, a woman got up who was from the
Big Lottary Fund
She said that 28 P goes to good causes, so that is how Eye matter was funded. We were only meant to last for the 3 years and finish in June, but we are starting another year thanks to the Big Lottary in July 2010, so that should be good.

Anyway, after this, it was my turn to speak. I was really nervous and thought that everyone was sighing at me. I think it was just me though, as whenever i made a mistake in the braille when i was reading, i kind of sighed. Everyone told me later though that they liked it.

By the way, i had to present on my experiences of Eye matter.

After that, there was a couple more presentations, then a Tea break. I was quite shocked at the crowd outside at the Tea break, and couldn’t believe that all those people were probably in our conference!!!!!

During the break, people were able to explore some stands that the RNIB has set up showcasing different services that they offer, such as the resource centre, employment, transcription, and ICT.

At about half 11, the break was over. Two eye matter members got up to speak on the campaignes aspect of the project, and what each campaigne involved.

Tying in with that, there was a 5 minute DVD shown highlighting past campaignes, particularly the Education campaigne, which was to look at how well our colleges were equipped to deal with visual impairment, and whether they provided the right equipment and such.

Next, a woman presented on the Children And Youth service, and what they did.

At about 12 o’clock, we got presented with certificates from the courses we took part in during the project.

After this was a Question and answer session, and a closing speech. I thought the Questions and answers was never going to start!!!!!!!!! It got very interesting at one point when one of the members was having a conversation with one of us on the pannel lol. He was talking about transport, and i thought he was never going to stop.

We just got a quick photograph after that, and then off to lunch!!!!!!

Lunch was a lovely chicken and leak thingie with rice and boiled potatoes. I had profitter rols after that.

There is a local audio magazine here called
Sound Vision Ulster
Which is produced by the RNIB. It keeps up with the work of the organisation and such. I and a couple of other people were asked if we would like to do an interview for it. We just talked about Eye matter and what we hoped would happen in the futur etc. It was good.

I thought the day was brilliant. It flew by!!!! Hard to believe that we had been planning it for so long. I would just like to say thanks to all the guys who organised it behind the sceens. It was awsum!!!!

I’m on the January/February eddition of the magazine by the way.


Campaigne For Blind And Partially Sighted People To Get The Higher Rate Of The Mobility Component Of DLA

I’m a bit….ashamed of these entries, bt want to publish the blog from the start. I’m glad my writing has matured over the years.

While reading the RNIB’S website a couple of months ago, I came across
This Link
This is a campaign to make blind and partially sighted people get the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA (disability living allowance).

A lot of you are probably wondering: what the hell is she on about? Let me explain…

There are 2 components to DLA: the care component (This is for people who need extra care, for example, people who cannot feed and dress themselves) and the mobility component (for people who have difficulty getting around). The care component has 3 rates: the higher rate (60 pounds per week),the middle rate (40 pounds per week) and the low rate (16 pounds per week). The mobility component only has 2 rates: the high rate (about 43 pounds per week) and the low rate (16 pounds per week).

Currently only people with physical disabilities like wheelchair users get the higher rate of mobility. The RNIB is trying to change this because blind and partially sighted people have to rely on taxies and people to take them everywhere.

LET’S CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE THIS. Sorry this is in capitals but i want to highlight it. I’m not shouting at anyone.

I’ve also created a petition about this. Please sign it. It’s at:
This Website

Let me know your comments about this issue. Do you think it is unfair that blind and partially sighted people don’t get the higher rate of mobility?? Do you not care? All views welcome!!!!!!