#IOS #Accessibility How I use an Apple Watch

So the hashtag #BlindPeopleUsePhones went viral a while back after a meme surfaced showing a person with a white cane using a phone… the narrow minded thought was that if someone could use a phone then they MUST be faking there visual impairment.

Since that happened many many visually impaired people have flooded social media with images and captions of them using there phone.

Also since this happened despite efforts for organisations like RNIB I have heard people say:

Look she’s using her phone

I also had one occasion where a random stranger thought it would be ok to take pictures of me using my phone on the bus… in case your wondering that is NEVER ok!

So how do I use my phone… it’s ok to be confused by the title and the link referring to the Apple Watch I’m lumping the two devices together because how I use them is very similar.

Saying that I’m going to separate the Apple Watch for just one minute.

With the Apple Watch I have purchased the largest size, I need that extra few millimetres to make things as large as possible on screen. I then have the system font set to the largest size possible. The final thing that is ‘different’ is I use the XL digital watch face – meaning I have no complications and this is set to a pale colour to maximise contrast.

Now let’s talk about iOS devices as a whole.

I use a combination of VoiceOver, Zoom, large fonts and Siri to access my phone watch and my ancient Mac at home.

Sounds like a lot… kinda complicated? Well it kinda is!

My vision can change from hour to hour very dramatically… not in a good way.

So I may start my day using just larger fonts and the screen brightness all the way up.

I end my day needing to use voiceover unable to use the screen at all.

As an aside I use Siri voice assistant with voice feedback a lot!

I also have my phone set up to read the screen on command.

For more information on Apples accessibility for visually impaired check out this link.

So yes blind people can use phones, computers, (talking) cash machines and smart watches.

apple.news/AbswLIkqJQSG2x67z6bPiAA

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Device Trains Blind People To ‘See’ By Listening | Popular Science

This device is hopefully the start of something very interesting but it is being massively overplayed by the media – there’s a real difference in it working in a lab and working out in the real world.

What’s Considered a Faux Pas?

Never grab me, its my biggest hate, makes me jump and immediately puts me on the defensive.

diaryofamarriedblindwoman

It is understood that people are just trying to help sometimes. But here is a little insight to what should be avoided when in the company of blind people. First, please don’t grab (us or our canes). Imagine being blind folded and being grabbed by the arm. It’s very uncomfortable. Next, it’s perfectly acceptable to offer assistance. One blind person may need it where another may not. If they decline, don’t take it personally. A lot of us wish to do as much independently as possible. Also, there is no need to shout. While blind and deaf sometimes go together, they don’t in every case. Most people who are “deaf-blind” will inform you if they can’t hear very well. Last, if you plan to offer anything, offer an arm. If they want it, they will take it. If not, verbal direction may be what they’re looking for.

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Day 2 – The Simple Things in Life *

*Or NOT!

Today I am inspired by chatting to someone who has  only in the last 2 years become visually impaired. Meeting a relative newbie at the start of learning to live life independently with a sever visual impairment has made me think of all the little adaptations and things i do in a strange way without even thinking about it.

Take for example making a cup of coffee and carrying it over to your faviourte spot on the sofa to curl up and watch TOWIE (or whatever the latest TV craze is).  How do you get that boiling water from the kettle into the cup? Let alone carry the cup of hot coffee from the kitchen to the sofa around relatives, friends and animals without ending up wearing it?

The bottom line is you don’t I regularly spill boiling water on my hand when I make a hot drink, it does not scold me because by the time i have said a naughty word and waved my hand in the air the water is at a much cooler temperature. On Teaspoon going from jar to cup I always spill coffee and sugar. Not to mention just the other day I tripped over a shoe at a friend’s house and promptly redecorated her hallway with my cup of tea.

My mum rang me earlier today to tell me she had polished her shoes with fly killer instead of shoe polish, you find a can in the cupboard how do you know which one is which? The reality is if it’s not where YOU ALWAYS leave it then mishaps happen. In the past I have been washing my hair and accidentally used sun cream instead of shampoo which is a horrible experience because of the greasy nature of sun cream but it happens.

Yesterday I realised how lucky I am that I don’t have any food allergies, I was buying cake for a friend who does and it suddenly occurred to me that if I had been on my own I would have had no clue which cake would make her ill and which cake would be safe.

Best before dates… Need I really explain?

Think about walking down to your local corner shop, now imagine that with your eyes closed, does the thought of walking to the shop with your yes shut scare you? Then add into the mix all the things you could encounter on your journey; Pedestrians, cyclists, traffic, road works, pot holes, chewing gum, overhead branches, children, birds, wheel bins, lampposts, postboxes… There where some shocking statistics released a few years ago that 8 out of 10 blind people never leave the house alone due to fear and lack of confidence if you couldn’t see where you were going would you make it to work on time?

This is a topic I have written about before I realise both here (You know your a blind person when…) and on the BBC Ouch Website (How to **** in the woods) but the point still remains, things I do every day are different to that of a sighted person, for example right now writing this very post I am not poking at the keyboard or my computer screen, I like to write with my eyes shut and without and screen reader software so its just me and my fingers dancing across the keyboard. I type at my fastest when I  and not looking or listening to anything else and its something I really enjoy having the time to do on occasion. Of course when it comes to proof reading and editing my writing I do look at the screen but then still miss half my typos anyway! Sorry blogosphere your just going to have to put up with me writing utter rubbish that is not grammatically correct!

 

Corneal Calamity

Well its been almost 2 weeks now since I saw a corneal specialist at the eye unit, meaning I now have 2 eye constants! For those not in the know the cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye, it plays a role  in shaping the eye and keeping it at the right pressure.

For a while now i have known I have a problem with mine, it all started way back when I started trying to wear contact lenses again, I was getting on fine with them, and gradually increasing the time I spent wearing them, not wearing glasses was great! As far as I was aware there where no problems until I went for a check up and it was found that my corneas on the other hand HATED the change and where dye was placed in my eye they shone back brightly in such a shade of fluorescent orange that the optometrist doing my contact lens stuff was utterly shocked and ran off in search of a camera. She didn’t find a camera but immediately stopped all talk of contacts and reffered me to see my eye consultant, this is probably approaching 2 years ago.

I was diagnosed with corneal oedema, basically flid filled sacks where forming on my cornea as a reaction to having higher than normal intraocular pressure (caused by Glaucoma) a change in medication and no more contacts for me and the general consensus of the consultants I saw was that all would be well.

unfortunately that was not the case, my corneas have continued to be cloudy, and got cloudier. To be perfectly honest I have not really noticed this except maybe when I am very tired I fund I struggled to read even large print as everything is just rather blurry. I was refered to  a corneal specialist.

Now we are back up to me sitting in the doctor’s office a few weeks ago, I was fully expecting on seeing Mr Corneal Specialist that I would simply have another change of medication and that would be that problem solved, what I was essentially told was totally unexpected and a total shock to the system.

It turns out I need a corneal transplant in both eyes, this involves taking the cornea from a donor (yes a DEAD PERSON) and implanting it into my eye, once my own damaged bit of cornea has been removed.

This is because the cells right at the back of my cornea are dying as a result of all the surgery I had as a baby that saved my sight in the first place, apparently it’s happening to everyone who had the kinds of surgery I had back in 1988. My cousin born a few years before me with the same eye conditions has exactly the same problem. So the death of the cells in the back of my cornea is causing them to break away from the rest of my corneal float around and get in the way turning all cloudy and full of fluid.

Cornea transplants are quite common and are more often than not successful and rejection is relatively rare, and if the worst does happen they simply repeat the surgery. However for me there are more risks, my eyes are smaller than average and I don’t have a lens which is normally critical in helping the eye keep its shape during the surgery.

On the plus side the surgery might improve my vision, I say this but too much of an increase of my vision would defiantly be a negative for me. I have always been at very best partially sighted, if I was offered a drug that could get me full sight tomorrow with no risks and a 100% guaranteed success rate – I would not take it! I am happy the way I am being blind is part of my entire identity I have never really known any different to suddenly be fully sighted I would struggle to cope with such massive life change.

On the other hand the surgery might not work, it could all go terribly wrong and might damage my vision further.

However by far the worst case scenario is that I do nothing, slowly the condition of my corneas will deteriorate and I will lose all the vision I have, the amount of pain I experience in my eyes would also increase. This scares me, as much as I don’t want to be fully sighted I don’t want my vision to deteriorate dramatically either, I value the eyesight I have enormously and the thought of going totally blind is heartbreaking for me, it would without a doubt turn my life upside down, as it would with anyone.

It’s been a difficult few weeks trying to work out what I want to do about all this ready for when I speak to Mr Corneal Consultant again in a  few months time, the decision actually seems clear, I have to go for surgery and just hope an pray everything goes to plan. To further complicate matters I am not ashamed to say I am rather phobic of hospitals, them make me incredibly uneasy. I am lead to believe that the surgery requires a 2-3 day stay in Hospital. I can just about cope with a visit to the eye unit the thought of spending time actually IN hospital scares the pants off me – As it would lots of other people I’m sure.

I see Mr Macular Consultant at the end of this month and there was talk when I saw Mr Corneal Consultant that I need to see a Glaucoma specialist as well as things are not to stable in that department at the moment either, apparently I may have come to the end of the road when it comes to glaucoma medication too, meaning I might need more eye surgery to do something for my glaucoma too.

Overall in it’s a particularly unhealthy time for my eyes, but there is still hope!

For those who like to watch disgusting things here’s a link to a Youtube Video of the type of surgery I need, I warn you it’s not nice to watch!

Spurred into action

Well bloggers its been a while quite frankly hasn’t it? In truth I have been rather apathetic when it comes to keeping the blogosphere updated in the world of Jemma Brown, this is in part has been due to sheer busyness but also a slight lack of motivation.

However this morning all that has gone I am ready to blog I am unsure as to whether it is the sleep deprivation, the mixture of caffeine and sugar rushing through my system or just my puzzlement and need to share it with someone who will understand – not that I totally expect this blog post to be understood by the masses. This last view point is not because it is complicated but because i myself am confused.

I’ve just read that NICE is withdrawing funding for the cancer drug Avastin.

The article is sketchy but this is a worry for me, Avastin is the drug that I periodically have injected into my right eye to help prevent the impending explosion of blood vessels that will without being kept in check result in my loosing all the vision in my right eye.

The treatment I have received three times now (I think – it might be two, I honestly can’t remember) without it I would have lost all the vision in my right eye by now. Don’t get me wrong my right eye is rubbish, it has always been the less useful of the two but as i am sure my readers will appreciate any vision no matter how little is precious.

So anyway back to the point in hand I am still researching as to whether the drug is also being withdrawn for its use in the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration… Its a complicated issue so I am going to just ask my consultant when I see him next week.

You Know You’re a Blind Person When…

Last week I read this article by Charlie Swinbourne Titled “You Know Your Deaf When…(Part 1).

This of course got me thinking of the you know your blind when hilarity this is something I have often discussed with blind mates and it stuck me that I have failed to post something like this before. Thanks Charlie for bringing it to my attention!

I must say all of these things you are about to read are true and have happened.

I would also like to add that if you have your own additions to the list you are about to read stick them in a comment with your name, URL and whatever and I will add them in!

Ok so after all that…

You know you’re a blind person when…

  • You accidentally wash your hair in factor 30 sun creme.
  • You don’t have a single pair of matching socks.
  • You hand your sister a container which you think is shampoo, your slightly less blind sister manages to see that it is in fact Hob Bright oven cleaner.
  • You go on holiday and accidentally come back with someone else’s Guide Dog.
  • You persuade a friend to play darts with you and hit your friend in the leg when it’s your turn.
  • The phrase ‘Blind Drunk’ has a totally different meaning to you.
  • You are totally unaware that the city you live in is completely consumed with fog… it always looks like that to you!
  • You HATE the idea of Shared streets!
  • You hate car drivers except when they are driving you somewhere.
  • Because you have some vision strangers refuse to accept that you are blind.
  • You get told off by the Police for walking into a bollard, they think you have had enough to drink already; ON YOUR WAY TO THE PUB!
  • Having a Guide Dog or cane means you never get ID’d in pubs.
  • You have full conversations with what you think is your friend, you later discover she’s not actually there.
  • Walking straight past the person you are supposed to be meeting is a regular occurrence even if it is someone you know well such as a parent.
  • Reading the cooking instructions on the food you purchase is totally impossible so you guess.
  • A person walks up to you says your name and starts a conversation you talk for a bit and they leave… You still have no idea who it was.
  • What colour are my trousers?’ is a perfectly reasonable question to ask a date.
  • You high-five the persons face instead of their hand.
  • Other people tell you to ‘watch out’ and then apologise and get all embarrassed.
  • You don’t care about 3D.
  • You stop traffic… With your cane/Guide Dog.
  • People you meet tell you all about their blind aunt flora (or other relative) and ask if you know her… After all, all you blindies know each other well.
  • The thought of you running scares your off duty Guide Dog so much that he proceeds to jump on you to make you stop.
  • You wear ear plugs to gigs… your ears are very valuable.
  • Walking along you hold on to your friend’s arm EVERYONE assumes you’re a couple.
  • Audio Description gets you VERY excited.
  • You forget that the friends you are meeting can see, you text them telling them exactly where you are sitting instructions on how to navigate to your position and what colour jumper you are wearing.
  • ‘How long is your cane?’ is a totally innocent question.
  • You spread Marmalade on your toast and take a big bite… Only to discover its actually mustard.
  • You walk into glass doors.

I’ve Had A Needle Stuck In My Eye AGAIN!

It’s official on Tuesday I visited the eye unit and had my second injection of a drug called Avastin.

The aim of this needle poking is to make some blood vessels at the back of my eye that should not be there wither and die! It’s these tiny blood vessels that cause hemorrhages that damage my Macular that then lead to vision loss.

The process of being injected involves having lots of rather stingy local anesthetic eye drops placed in you offending eye. Then the whole area is cleaned with orange surgical grade antiseptic including the eye-ball. Then more this time slightly less stingy anesthetic eye drops. It’s at this point things get interesting a clip is then applied to hold both the upper and lower eye lids open, this is not to fun and I did feel some discomfort all the way along with the clip on my eye this time.  The big guns then come out local anesthetic is then injected underneath the cornea in the area around where the injection is going to go, this also stings a bit.  Finally it is time for the final and biggest needle yet the one containing the Avastin. The only way this can really be described is its like someone poking you in the eye with a needle the initial area where it goes in is numb but as soon as it pierces the white area of the eye it hurts.

Upon leaving the hospital I was given the advice that my eye would probably hurt later and that I would probably need to take some painkillers inside my head I was thinking actually I need some right now!

Tuesday and Wednesday my pain was on and off pretty bad its like someone has punched you hard in the eyeball alone, in effect your eye is bruised. I will say this time I looked less like something from a horror movie as my eye did not go blood-red.

Blinder

Well readers as you may well be aware I have, simply for ease of understanding labeled myself as a blindie for some time. When you refer to yourself as a blinky most people of a certain age think you are talking about a cartoon koala bear not describing your visual impairment as partially sighted. So blindie has worked to convey that sense of hey I’m visually impaired it’s not a taboo subject and I am comfortable to talk and even joke about it.

I have been partially sighted since the day I was born, well I was actually born with very little sight at all but after some fantastic surgeons working there magic on my tiny peepers all I have ever known is partially sighted.

Growing up it has been drummed into me, quite rightly by various medical professionals, my parents, teachers and sometimes even friends that I have to be careful about a bang on the head. This is because if I sustain a serious blow to the head I am at a higher risk than your average human being of detaching a retina at the back of either eye or worst case scenario both!

I never expected anything more than this, I am a realist and I am grateful for what I have. I also never really expected anything less for most of my life I thought everything was going to stay stable and  be the same for ever. Oh how naive I was!

Last Monday I went for my appointment after I had the hemorrhage a few weeks ago. The very nice consultant, who incidentally reads my blog here (hello Mr N) confirmed that I have had a bleed and the general state of my eyes,  especially the right one is not good.

We decided together that I could now be registered blind, before that moment I was partially sighted the way I had always been growing up and suddenly I had the new label of a blind person.

The thing is the more I think about it the more I realise that it is just a label but this is very difficult to comprehend.

A tiny part of me is devastated which I think is only natural but in reality the change of terms means almost nothing. I have not changed as a person my life is not going to change much if at all with this new label but it feels very strange.

I guess to sum up everything quite simply its a blow and a shock but it could be worse and it’s not the end of the world.

Positives will come out of it,  I have the joy now as a person registered as blind to a half price TV license so one day when I have enough space and money to buy a TV I can look forward to paying less license fee!