Pushing Stereotypes and Living Life 

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well and having a fabulous summer. 

We have been on holidays for the last couple of weeks and have really been relaxing and just spending lots of time with the kids. It has been a welcome break from the 4 a.m alarm. We didn’t go anywhere fancy this summer but enjoyed a staycation this year, it has been nice. 

While enjoying our staycation this summer it has reminded me of some of the things that I love to do that so many people think are not possible if you are blind or partially sighted. I never like to conform to stereotypes so I thought I would share them with you. I think when we hear blind or partially sighted we right away go to the fear of the unknown, and focus on the things that we assume one would not be able to do with vision loss. However with determination and creativity usually there is a way to do most things that one would want to do. 

One of the things that I really enjoy and it is my favourite relaxing activity is crocheting. I am not overly good at it and I do not make any fancy creations I stick to squares and rectangles. I love to make cozy blankets, scarfs and my specialty dish cloths. I will have dishcloths for the rest of eternity. I love to sit on the couch and watch TV or a good movie and give my hands something to do. That is the nice thing about being blind I don’t have to look at the TV to watch it and I don’t have to look at my hands to crochet. There truly are perks like reading in total darkness !! 

I have always liked baking and that is definitely still something that I love to do, it is something that brings me joy and makes me feel connected to my dad. But I also really enjoy canning and making pickles, or pickled beans and carrots. I enjoy my time in the kitchen preparing meals for my family, and friends.  There are many times when people ask if my husband does all the cooking and well that just would not work for me, I enjoy it too much. 

I really enjoy make up and fashion, a good day of shopping with my friends or my husband is always a good time for me. I like to try out new make up trends and see what I can make work. Just because I can’t see myself in the mirror does not mean that I don’t want to look nice or care about my appearance. I also have my husband paint my nails I feel much better when my nails and toes are painted and looking nice. Who am I kidding I love any kind of pampering. When I am shopping for clothes the only thing I need to take into consideration is dog hair,  man does Rick (my guide dog) shed. 

Social Media, I like to take part in Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, I enjoy social media and how it has made it possible to educate society on the abilities of those living with a disability from my living room. Advocating has taken a whole new role and I love being a part of it and using social media to propel change. From publishing my blog posts and posting super cute instagram photos, following the latest hashtags and showing the world my life, and what it truly is like to live life as a person who is blind. 

We have talked on my blog before about how I love to snowboard, and this is a given. I also enjoy other sports like swimming, I am very comfortable and in my element in the water. I like to hike and ride a bike, and a good game of golf is definitely right up my alley. I love so many things that one does not typically think that osmoenoe with vision loss likes to do. 

There are so many things a person who is blind or partially sighted likes to do, that we only briefly consider our vision loss before we dive in. We are all multi faceted people with varying interestes and skills. The more we push the stereotypes that are out there the more our abilities will shine through. 

Until Next Time, 

Ashley and Rick 

Audio Described Theatre Performances 

Hello Everyone, 

I am someone who has loved the theatre and going to the theatre for a long time. It is always a great experience but I have always wished that it was possible to have it audio described. As someone who is blind I love going to the theatre but there is always things that I miss with the performance. I have always had someone there to describe things to me but that takes away from them enjoying the performance. 

When I heard that the Globe Theatre in Regina was going to be doing a performance of the Little Mermaid that was completely accessible from audio description to ASL to less lighting changes for those with autism, to say I was ecstatic is an understatement. I was not able to attend the show due to a scheduling conflict however after speaking with my friends who are partially sighted who attended the show, they said it was amazing. The Globe Theatre did an amazing job of describing what was going on as well as describing the amazing costumes. 

Cast members in a variety of brightly coloured costumes depicting sea creatures dancing around Ariel, the mermaid.
With places like The Globe Theatre trying to make their shows more accessible it means that I am able to enjoy the theatre even more than I have in the past and I will be able to attend any show not just the ones that rely heavily on dialogue. 

In this day and age inclusion is key, if you are not making things inclusive you are excluding a huge audience that would love to come and support you and enjoy the show. There is a misperception that people who are blind or partially sighted do not enjoy things like the theatre and the arts and that is very far from the truth. I love to experience all things art galleries, museums, land marks, theatre, film and when I see people trying to make these things easier for me to experience it makes me feel just like anyone else. It is an amazing feeling to be included. 

I encourage you to check out The Globe Theatre and support what they are doing it is not an easy feat to take on but they did an amazing job. 

Ariel, the mermaid, admiring her         Ariel, the mermaid, dancing on the stage. The lights make it look like she is underwater and giant pieces of seaweed hang from the ceiling around her furthering the illusion.
Inclusion in all aspects of the arts can be done and will make a world of difference. 

Until Next Time, 

Ashley and Rick 

The Right to Read 

One of the things that I have always loved ever since I can remember is reading. It is amazing to sit down and just escape into a good book. There were always things that I missed on TV and in movies growing up due to my sight loss, but I never missed anything in the stories I read.

When I was younger, I was able to read large print, but so many of the popular books that my peers were reading I could not get in large print. There was not a lot of access to audio or eBooks then either. Due to this, I did not read as much as I would have liked because those options did not exist yet.

This issue also affected me in school because the books that we read in school were never in large print or audio. As a result, I had to have a teacher or teachers aid read them too me which made me feel singled out. I could read and I wanted to read independently. I remember being in grade nine or ten and thinking this is ridiculous. Why do I not have the same access to literature that the rest of the world does?

I came across the issue of not having the same access to text books in university. Today this is still an issue as I want to take a course to gain some skills for my job but I can’t take the course because there is no accessible version of the text book. This makes me crazy that in this day and age we can make cars drive us around by a computer, but we can not provide everyone of every ability EQUAL ACCESS to print materials.

I read a lot. I use audio books, eBooks, electronic Braille and print Braille. On more occasions than I can count, when I want to read the latest hot book I can’t because it is not produced in a format that I can access.

There are more than three million Canadians across Canada that are living with a physical, visual or learning disability. The fact that only 2,000 of the 10,000 books being produced across Canada are in accessible formats is disappointing. I find it even more upsetting that many of those titles are being produced by a charity, CNIB. A charity should not be faced with producing accessible materials, it should be something that is required by law and funded by the government.

Access to literature is a basic human right, it is the only way that someone who is blind or partially sighted will have the same access to education and employment. If I told half of the people I knew that they could not read the things they needed to for work because the books were only produced in Braille and not in print that would never be accepted so why are we allowing it the other way around?

Don’t be ashamed…….

Hello Everyone, 

As I get ready to do some travelling for work, and go to some training I am reminded of my anxiety and worries as they sneak up on my again. I am a very independent person and I pride myself in being able to live a life that I want to live without letting my disability or people’s perception of capability dictate how I live my life. There are times though when we have to face anxiety, fear, worry and all the ugly. 

When I have to go somewhere new a lot of the ugly shows up for me. I am someone who needs to know all the details, everything from the set up of the venue, the layout of the course, if there is a buffet for meals. The more information I have the better I feel. Now that is not always possible and realistic. So that is when I find myself dealing with anxiety, I worry about all the logistical things like, is there going to be someone to assist me with orientation to the new space, will I have assistance with the buffet (buffets are a blind persons worst nightmare), will I seem like I am incapable if I need to ask for help, will I have access to all the materials being used. There are so many things that people who are not blind or partially sighted don’t think about that we have to and the biggest anxiety for me is making a good impression. What I mean by this is when you are at an event you want to meet new people and network, make a good impression. I find it really hard to network in a large group when I am alone because I can not tell where people are, it makes it hard to approach someone and strike up a conversation. I have been in situations where I am left standing there and probably looking a little pathetic because I can not figure out where people are and if they are alone or who they are or any of these things. Then there is the issue of people thinking I am being rude because I am not looking them in the eye when I am not I just can’t see. 

I have anxiety about these things but it does not stop me from doing the things I want to do. It makes me a stronger person on the other end, I used to be embarrassed to talk about it and I felt so alone when I had anxieties like this. Now I know that I am not alone and if I talk about it, it makes it better because I hear myself and can realize I am going to be fine. My friends are also a great support to reassure me that I will be fine it will all work out and that I am more than capable. 

We all doubt ourselves and have anxiety around different things. People who don’t have a disability struggle with anxiety and worry. It is not something to be embarrassed about it is something to own and know that the more you deal with it, the stronger it will make you. The only thing having the ugly show up every once in a while says, is that you are human.

Until Next Time, 

Ashley and Rick  

If you can I have no excuse……

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well. I have been trying to write this post for a while now, in fact, I have sat down to write it about 3 times. I have been struggling with a comment that I keep running into, and the only way to change things is to bring them up and have those tough conversations. Education is key to change, and that is what I work for.

The comment that I keep running into and have for a while is. “I really need to get out there and do x y z, if you can do it there really is no excuse why I can’t” I usually get these comments around things like snowboarding, golfing, making YouTube videos etc.. The thing that these things all have in common is that a lot of people do not think that it is possible for a blind person to do.

In most cases, I am sure that people do not even realize what they are saying. When you make that statement you are saying “well since you are less than me, I should be able to do it with no problem and no excuses”.

I want to inspire people to do things out of their comfort zone and push the barriers that we feel exist. However, I do not believe that I am less than anyone. I think that language is a very powerful thing and we need to be aware of what our words say in someone else’s head.

We hear this comment a lot even in media, like the commercial where they show a bunch of athletes with disabilities doing things and it says at the end “what is your excuse”, now I am not a rocket scientist but how is that ok. Really take a moment and think about what that statement says about people with disabilities. How would that make you feel if that was you, and someone looked you in the eye and said that statement?

It goes to the same thing when people say someone is inspirational for doing a mundane task like putting on makeup, getting dressed by themselves or taking the bus. These things are not inspirational at all. These are normal everyday tasks that we are more than capable of completing.

I think the one thing that I want people to understand is that people with disabilities are equal on every level and your language can be very powerful in both a positive and a negative way.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all those women out there that are moms, aunts, supports for the people in their lives. We all have a support of women in our lives that play a part in helping us be the people we are today.

I know I am blessed to have a great network of women that stand behind me and support me and inspire me to keep going and be the woman I am today.  I want to say Thank You to all those women today and a Happy Mother’s Day to you as well.

I also want to say a Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, she has stood behind me and helped me become the mother that I am today. I am beyond grateful for her and everything she has done for me over the years. She advocated for me when I was in school, she loved me and supported me when I had my first baby at 18. She has always stood by my side even when I am sure she just wanted to shake her head and say “REALLY”. She has always thought my opinionated, outspokenness was a quality to own even when I am sure she thought ” I wish she had a filter”.

I love you mom more than words !!!! Happy Mother’s Day !!

And again I hope you all feel loved and supported in your journey as a mom, it isn’t easy and you are not sure what you are doing and that is ok. We are all feeling the same way, we will make mistakes and that is fine.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Rick

How A Blind Mom Cleans

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

I get many questions around whether I clean my house or if I have a cleaning person or does my husband do it. The answer is I wish I had a cleaning person but unfortunately, it is me who does the majority of the cleaning. I do have a husband who helps out and three kids who have chores (I know I am a horrible mom) but the bulk of it falls to me.

The main thing that people don’t think that I do is clean the bathroom so today we are going to discuss how I am able to do this. First of all, I know the set up of the bathroom so I am able to locate the loo very easily same with the bathtub and sink.

I have a caddy that has all my cleaning supplies in it, I carry that to the bathroom and then start the process. I really hate cleaning the bathrooms just thought I would throw that out there. I usually start with the mirrors and I touch them and then spray the cleaning on the mirror. I am sure I leave streaks behind every once in a while but I am not using them so that is ok they look clear to me.

 

In the pictures above you can see my caddy as well as how I tell apart the two bottles that feel identical. One is Windex and one is Multi-purpose cleaner, I have two bump on dots on the multi-purpose and one bump on dot on the Windex. This really helps to make sure that I am using the cleaner that I want. The other bottles have a shape or defining feature that I have memorized so I am able to tell which one is which.

Next is the sink and counter, I spray the sink and counter surface with cleaner and then I wipe it down systematically. I start at the one side and work my way down and over the counter in small sections so that I get the whole thing.  I do it almost like a search and rescue crew would search for someone who is missing it is very methodical.

Next is the toilet and I do the same as the sink I just spray down the part of the toilet that I want to start with and work my way around the toilet. Toilets are nasty, I wear gloves to do the toilet because I am blind so I do use my hands to check if I missed any cleaner or if I can feel anything. The bathtub and shower are done the same way.

I try to clean the bathrooms more often so that if I did miss something hopefully I will get it next time. It is possible to do all the cleaning in the house if you do it systematically.

I know it may seem impossible to some that a person who is blind cleans and does all of these “normal” tasks but when blindness is your reality it really isn’t that out there; it needs to be done and we do it. The way we do it is probably different but we definitely do it. In fact, my husband will tell you even though I can not see the world around me, I am a clean freak, it drives him and the kids nuts. If it is out of place I will find it, it must be my super power!

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Rick