Imagine Helping Thousands with One Shovel!

Here in Canada and many other places winter is upon us. It is this time of year that I am reminded of how much my independence relies of the generosity of strangers to shovel the snow.

Being blind many people think is such a barrier to me living the life that I want and that my life must be so hard and awful because I am blind. However my life is just like anyone else’s, I have to do things differently in some cases but I work, I am a mom, sister, daughter, and so much more just like you are.

I love winter it is a beautiful season, I love the sports that come along with winter as well. I am itching to get to the ski hill if we are being honest and strapping on my snowboard. As much as I love winter, it can also be a challenge.

When I travel with my guide dog or my cane I am relying on the built environment around me to give me clues and landmarks to tell me where I am and that I am on the right track to where I am going. If I feel grass under my feet then I know I have veered from the sidewalk. Or I feel the dip in the side walk and the tactile cuts in the curb, I know I am at the intersection. There are many things that I use to help me navigate independently.

However, when the snow starts to fly, as beautiful it is it also covers up the built environment and erases everything tactile that I use to navigate. It can make is really stressful to get around and to be independent.

Black lab Danson walking through snow on the sidewalk.

I am not someone who wants to sit around and not be able to go out because there is no one around to come with me. And I am not alone in this in the blind community. There are so many blind individuals who are fiercely independent.

When I walk around my neighbourhood and people take the time to shovel the sidewalk in front of their home, I am so grateful. It means that I can enjoy my walk and relax just a little bit.

A shovel can give some individuals the ability to go out and enjoy a walk or get groceries independently. When I was a cane user I was not able to travel alone in many cases because the snow and unshoveled sidewalks made my world too inaccessible.

Black lab Danson walking on a sidewalk that has been cleared of snow.

If you take the few minutes to shovel your sidewalk in front of your home it will mean that someone who is blind or partially sighted is able to get out of their home more easily and be more independent. It helps so many and is always very much appreciated.

Imagine how that would impact your daily life if you needed to rely on the hearts of strangers to run your errands or enjoy a walk independently.

If you want to check out how Danson and I are able to navigate this weather check out my latest video on my YouTube channel https://youtu.be/YwygEegRfIY

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Danson

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