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