Blind Yoga

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well. I have really been trying to work on me and take care of myself and making that a priority. I also love to try new things so today I am going to tell you about my experience trying yoga for the first time and how it is going.

I am someone who always likes to try new things, I have been wanting to try yoga for a while but I was unsure how it would work with me not being able to see what the instructor was doing. After thinking about it for way to long, I took the plunge and booked 5 private sessions. This gave me the opportunity to learn the moves and have one on one instruction before I went into a class. This was probably the best thing I could have done.

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Rick trying to join me for yoga this morning. Picture of my feet on the green yoga mat and Rick laying with his front paws right in front of my feet. 

I was not sure if yoga would be for me, I mean I am a pretty high strung person. I need to be busy all the time and my mind is going a million miles an hour always. So to say I was nervous for my first session was an understatement.

I made it to my first session and was really surprised at how comfortable the instructor made me feel. We went through what I wanted to get out of my yoga practice and also why I wanted to try yoga. We devised a plan from our discussion about what I wanted to get out of these 5 sessions.

We have been working on breathing and relaxing and some stretching. Then this week we went through a full practice and some basic poses. I have a long way to go but I am really enjoying the challenge and to be honest learning to turn off my mind and focus on only what I am doing has been really nice.

I am enjoying learning to relax and the poses have been fun to do. I think that we all need to take time for ourselves, no matter what you do or who you are. Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others that we forget that we can not give what we do not have.

Being blind has not been a factor in me being able to do yoga in the slightest which is great. The instructor is very descriptive and hands on to help me to get into the pose properly. I think that if you are someone who has a disability and wants to try something new go for it. You are your biggest obstacle when we get out of our own heads and just go for it, we can be pleasantly surprised.

I am looking forward to getting the basics down and going to a group class ! I will let you know how that goes !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

You are so lucky !!

Hello Everyone,

Today I want to talk about a misperception of people who are blind or partially sighted and dating or being married or in a relationship of any kind.

There is this misperception that people with disabilities are not bringing anything to the relationship and that the person who is in a relationship with them is doing them a huge favour by being in a relationship with that person. This is insane ! People with disabilities can bring just as much to a relationship as someone without a disability.

My husband and I have been together for 13 years and married for 11. When we started dating he knew that I had a vision impairment, that never was a factor in our relationship though because I have a personality. I am not just a blind person that is not all I have to offer. We did not start dating because he felt bad for me.

When I lost the remainder of my vision 3 years ago I have had many people say to me and my husband, “you are so amazing for sticking around”. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I have also had people say “you are so lucky your husband stuck around”. Why is it people think that we could not have any sort of “normal” relationship because I have a disability. The comments like “oh, you are married, I never would have guessed” are sickening.

Ignorance fuels these types of comments and misperceptions, if they had taken the time to get to know me or anyone with a disability they would see that I have just as much to offer a relationship and the world as the next person.

I have asked my husband if he feels like I am a burden to him and like he wishes I wasn’t blind. His response is always “no, your blindness does not define our relationship and you are just as capable as anyone else. You are stubborn and drive me nuts sometimes but that is not because you are blind that is because you are Ashley.”

So the next time you think someone is lucky to have a partner just because they have a disability, try looking beyond the disability and to the fact that they are a person who has so much to offer.

Thanks for reading !
Until Next Time !
Ashley and Rick

Adaptive technology for the Blind

Hello Everyone,

This is part 2 of my last blog post on Apps for the blind and partially sighted. Today I am going to talk a little bit about the things that I use daily or almost daily. There are a lot of products out there that are designed for the blind or partially sighted. I have tried many things over the years and these are the ones that have lasted the test of time and I still use. There are times when the technology in theory is good but when the practical reality of life happens and it is not all that convenient to use it.

So the first thing that I use for more than most of my day is my iPhone. I told you about the apps I use in my last post so if you have not read that one check it out. There are more things that I use my phone for that I did not mention such as siri for the weather but I don’t find I am much different than most people now a days with their phones being attached to them.

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The next thing that I use quite a bit is my liquid level indicator, this is good for making tea or anything hot. When it is cold I just hook my finger over the top of the cup but when it is boiling water common sense kicks in and I use the liquid level indicator. If I do not have it with me I will use the echo from the liquid pouring into the cup the is usually successful but has it’s times when it is not.So how the liquid level indicator works is that it hangs over the side of the cup and it makes a high pitched very annoying sound so you stop pouring instantly and take it off your cup just to make the sound stop !

 

Braille is a big part of my life and I use it daily for reading, making lists, and also for labels around my house. I use braille for things like canisters of pasta or a bin of flour and sugar. I have a  braille labeller that makes strips of braille with whatever I need it to say. This is very handy as I don’t need to have anything else with me other than my hands to read what is in the container.

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My Pen Friend is something that I use every day. I have talked about it in my blog before but since this is about the technology that I use I am including it. The Pen Friend is a device that looks like a large pen, it will read and record on the microchipped stickers. I use this for medications, canned goods, makeup, recipes the list of uses is endless. It is very convenient to use and is really one of my top products after my phone.

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I also use bump on dots around my home, these are not really technology but they are very helpful. They come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. I have bright orange ones because I used to be able to see the orange colour. They are helpful on things like microwaves and stoves for marking temperatures or certain buttons.

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GPS this is something I have said that I like to always have with me especially when I am travelling alone. I do use my phone with the apps like Blind Square and Google Maps, but I also use a device called the Trekker Breeze. This is a hand held device that does not rely on a cellular signal and data to use it, which is why I use a combination of the two. The Trekker is handy for marking out bus stops and putting in many different routes and adding in voice memos about your route like construction on the next block or keep left because of sidewalk signs. It will also tell you what type of intersection you are coming up on so four lanes two way traffic. It gives you lots of information which is especially helpful when you are travelling a new route. You are also able to put in a new route by putting in your starting point and end point, you are then able to go in a listen to the route turn by turn so you have an idea of where you are going.

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The last thing that I live on and use more than once a day is my Macbook Air. I am a mac user because it is accessible out of the box and I do not need to purchase expensive screen reading software to use it. I also find the screen reader Voice Over to be very easy to use and navigate the computer from everything like emails to editing my YouTube videos and writing my blog.

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In order to be successful in life as a person living with blindness I have had to make my world accessible. A lot of the time this just means thinking out of the box and using some creative methods. However with the advances in technology I feel like there is nothing in my way for living my life my way. Technology has come so far even from when I was in school back in (well lets not discuss how long ago that was ha ha). In fact had I had the technology there is now I would have been much more successful and on the same playing field as my peers in school.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post today and if you have any questions about how I use any of these and would like a video on it please let me know and I would be happy to do that. If you are curious where to get any of these products I can also provide that information.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Apps for the Blind

Hello Everyone !

I hope you are all well, my family and I have been enjoying our holidays and are dreading going back to reality in a few days, but it was sure nice while it lasted !

There are so many products and apps out there geared towards people who are blind or partially sighted, so today I am going to tell you about some of my favourites. The ones that I use on a daily or almost daily basis are the ones that I am going to focus on.

These are the ones that work for me and that I like, they may not work for everyone. This will be a two part blog post to keep it from being too long. The second post will go up tomorrow. The second post will focus on the products and this post will focus on the apps.

The apps that I have on my iPhone 6 that I use daily or almost daily are:

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Be My Eyes – This is a great app that you are able to ask questions to a volunteer on the other end such as “what colour is this shirt”, “what temperature does this need to be cooked at ?” You are able to do this by the app accessing your camera on the back of your phone. This app works pretty well you are able to ask questions rather than just take a picture, however sometimes it can take quite a while to get someone to answer your call as it is all volunteers. The other downfall is that it is only available for iPhone right now. The app is free for those with an iPhone.

Crowd Viz – This is an app very similar to Be My Eyes and has the same concept, but you do need to pay to use the volunteers help, you get so many free calls when you download the app, then you will need to pay for the rest. Some people don’t like to have to pay for things like this, but the app does have a much quicker response time than Be My Eyes. I like to have options and never be stranded when I need to borrow someone’s eyes. So I am willing to pay for this service if necessary.

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Tap Tap See – This app takes pictures using your phones camera again. After it takes a picture of say a price tag it will tell you what it is in the picture. So it works well if you are looking for say a can of tomato soup and you have two options. This app can be useful but you do have to pay for the pictures after you use up the initial amount you get with the download of the app. This isn’t great because if you don’t have something facing the right way you can use up 3 or 4 pictures trying to get the information that you are looking for depending on what you are using it for. It does pretty well for colour recognition if you are using it to determine say your pink shirt from your black shirt. I have also used it to determine if the bathroom sign is the women or mens when there is no braille, it works really well for that.

FaceTime or Facebook Video Messenger – These are great options when you are out and about and need to ask someone you trust a question about something. For example when I go makeup shopping I will usually ask the store clerk if something looks good and then I will FaceTime my friend and ask her opinion because she knows me and my style and I trust her more than a stranger. Also say you are at the store looking for tampons and don’t feel like using Be My Eyes and asking a complete stranger if the ones you are looking at are super or regular you can video chat with family or friend someone who will just laugh along with you. I also use this when I am clothes shopping if something fits and I think I like it I will call and ask my husband or friend if it looks good. I like that I can go out alone and live my life but have the option to get a little help with the visual things when I need to. I have also used this when I have gotten turned around and a little lost. I called a friend and asked her what was around me and where did I need to go. There are many many uses for these two options.

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Blind Square – This is a GPS app that is intended for people who are blind or partially sighted. It will give you turn by turn directions to a location you have put in, or it will help you to locate what is around you. For instance if you are travelling alone and want to find a coffee shop you can use this app to help you find what coffee shops are around you and then it will give you the turn by turn directions to get there. It is nice to have this right on your phone so that you do not need to carry around another device with you. You can put in your favourite and most used places as well. This app is great if you get turned around or are not sure where you are exactly as well. I think it is always important to have a GPS with you whether it be on your phone or a external GPS because when you can not see where you are going it is not hard to get a little mixed up and no one wants to feel the panic of “I don’t know where I am”. This app has been great and I really like using it.

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Direct To Player / Overdrive – These are apps that I can borrow audio books from the library and listen to them on my phone. This is great because I can still use the library services and read books for free rather than paying for them all. These apps are very easy to use and are geared towards people who have low vision and are using a screen reader.

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Audible – I am sure we all know what Audible is at this point, but for those who may not, it is a audio book app. You can purchase audio books and listen on the go. I may have a slight problem with reading books and needing to have many on the go at once. It is great to pass time and I love to read so this way I am never without a book !

These are the most used apps on my phone that make life easier and more accessible. If you have an app that you love please let me know, I am always on the look out for new apps that will make life more accessible.

Thanks for reading !
Until Next Time !
Ashley and Rick

My Life Matters

“ I would rather die than lose my sight.” “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t.” People’s biggest fear after dying is to lose their vision and go totally blind. I have pondered this for a while now, I hear it so often I think that people think it is a compliment when they say things like “you are amazing I could never do what you do”. I do not take this as a compliment.

The fact that people would rather die than live a life without sight says so much about how people who are blind or partially sighted are viewed in society.

Recently there was a mass killing of people with disabilities because someone thought that people with disabilities should be euthanized. Why ? I feel like there should be a more complex question that I am asking myself but I just keep coming up with why ? I have been utterly speechless for days now. It is just unbelievably horrific. I feel so much pain and sympathy for all of those that lost their lives and their families and loved ones.

I have faced some pretty harsh criticism over the last year because I am in the public eye, and because I have a disability and I am in the public eye people assume I have no feelings. People have sent me emails and messages on social media after running in our provincial election like “you didn’t really think they would elect a blind person.” or “you were simply a pawn for a sympathy vote.” or “you could never be in political office you are blind, you would never be able to serve the people of our province.” or the best one “ who are you kidding, what are they supposed to hire a interpreter just for you at every meeting ?”

I have not said anything about these comments because I feel like 1. they are all ignorant uneducated people who have bigger issues than me being blind and 2. I have pretty thick skin and I do not have time for people like this. However with the lack of media coverage of the incident in Japan where so many people lost their lives simply because they had a disability, I feel like I need to speak up and show people the way others view disability.

My life has no less value than yours or anyone else’s simply because I have a disability. It is not a death sentence, I am not miserable and living a horrible life. I am however; a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend, a volunteer, a writer, an advocate, successful, happy and excited about life. Now why is being blind so horrible ? I feel like the only thing that is that bad about being blind is other people attitude towards my disability.

Until Next Time
Ashley and Rick

Inclusive Greetings

Hello Everyone,

I love to share my experiences and life with you to help you to understand how I am able to live a full and amazing life despite doing it in the dark. Today I am going to be sharing something a little bit different with you. I have found a company that makes greeting cards and not just any greeting cards but fully accessible greeting cards. You may be wondering and why does that matter ?

 

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I love getting cards and the notes people write in them for me, it is something they had to put thought into and it always means so much. However without being able to see, sometimes I feel like I am not able to enjoy this as much as I would like.

With the amazing cards from Inclusive Greetings I am able to enjoy the cards from the raised tactile picture on the front of the card to the braille sentiments in the inside. You are able to customize the cards to your liking with just braille or braille and print.

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Services like this make me so happy to be able to share because they are completely inclusive and see someone who can not see a normal card and want to help them to have that experience as well. Any time a company takes the time to figure out how to include everyone touches my heart.

If everyone took the time to make sure that their products and services were accessible to all we would live in an amazing world. This is not a sponsored post I purchased the cards and key chain with my own money to share with you because I believe companies like this are the change that needs to happen.

 

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Please check out Inclusive Greetings on TwitterInstagram and their Etsy Shop. They are an amazing couple and were great to work with. They have other products like key chains and tactile art which is amazing. Please support this company if you are at all able to.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick