#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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Spyro The Dragon Remake Excludes Deaf Gamers

Ok I’m going to wade in and out this point across on the flip side.

There are many games that ONLY have subtitles and no narration this thus excludes blind gamers.

There is no one size fits all to make gaming accessible to everyone.

I’m currently playing Let’s Go Pokémon and for me given it’s a RPG driven by text I’m really genuinely surprised there is not the option to change the text size or text contrast.

I think what we need to take away from this is that game developers need to do more and think more about the accessibility of the content they are creating.

Spyro The Dragon Remake Excludes Deaf Gamers

Spyro The Dragon Remake Excludes Deaf Gamers
— Read on samedifference1.com/2018/11/20/spyro-the-dragon-remake-excludes-deaf-gamers/

If I Had A Million Dollars…

I’m a Christian so I don’t gamble so there is no chance of me winning the lottery but yes I often think this given my physical disability too… There are a couple of other things too one of the latest video magnifiers that can both magnify things and read the text out loud would be really appreciated. Although these things can be amazing for many who can afford them there are many who have to just make do and get on. 

I was assessed for a personalised budget to help me with these kinda things a couple of years ago it was assessed that I would need an average of 6 hours of support a week. Months of filling in forms and assessments and being asked very personal questions and after it all my local council awarded me £6 of funding a week which would pay for less than an hour of support. 

When I become a rich and famous copyeditor (stop laughing, damn it), I know exactly what I will do. Forget the posh beach vacations and the shopping sprees and the sumptuous dinners (okay, I’m keeping the dinners). When (not if) I have a million dollars at my disposal, I’m going to get … a personal […]

https://wheresyourdog.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/if-i-had-a-million-dollars/

Fragility

I’ve become aware over the last few months just how fragile the human body is and what a God given miracle it is that the majority of people have a fully working body – it may have its individual quirks but generally speaking works ok. Everything from the cells in our liver to the way the ball and socket joints in our shoulders and hips fit together was so perfectly created by God our creator.

Increasingly mine doesn’t work how it should, and of late its been hard to accept this and deal with the frustrations it causes.

Aside from being a bit blind I’ve got hypermobility syndrome it affects the connective tissue in my body it means my joints are very loose, I’m very double jointed. My joints are under significantly more strain than your average joints, they less stable  and more prone to dislocation and injury. As a quirk it also makes LA less effective so for recent surgery i had to have 5x the normal amount injected into me!

Since the beginning of june I’ve sprained my ankle (for the millionth time), I had just got back on my feet after that and then I developed sciatica and had crippling nerve pain in my leg and then I’ve spent the last 3 weeks in constant pain every day with some kind of back/neck/shoulder problem.

Its all brought to my attention just how fragile the human body is – particularly mine!

Most recently I’ve had knee problems I injured my medial cruciate ligament back in December, we are now well into <arch and although my MCL is feeling a lot better I injured the burser just as it was starting to improve. The result I’m in pain every day at the moment some days are better than others but I’m very limited as to what I can do physically. I can’t even run for a bus let alone play football or cricket, I can’t handle uneven pavements or stairs but I’m thankful every day that I’m not on crutches and I’m able to walk.

I’m not going to lie there have been times over the last few months when I have really thought ‘God why’? Its a totally human reaction to living in pain and suffering. The way I think of it is simply this: Nothing bad (pain) comes from God on top of this we re all born in the image of God and are perfect in his eyes regardless of what physical or psychological disability we are born with. God also has a purpose for all this as he has a perfect plan for my life – for example my recent knee injury has seen me start wheelchair basketball and its been fantastic I plan to continue playing when/if my knee recovers. It has been a totally liberating experience!

The other thing of course is that its quite difficult to explain this to people unlike my blindness people can’t see it, when people look at me they see someone that is 6ft1 that looks strong but in fact my joints are incredibly weak. Someone bumping into me in the street while i was caring a bag of shopping (which wasn’t even very heavy) caused my elbow to pop out of joint and then back in a couple of months ago. I sometimes feel like i need a fluorescent sign above my head warning people that I’m coming, as if a guide dog wasn’t a big enough sign!

I have to make a conscious effort to tell people my limitations and trying to articulate whats wrong with me tends to be quite tricky – I don’t want to moan at people all the time and i think its quite hard for people to imagine what goes on inside my joints even when i do explain.  Like everyone I find it hard to admit to my vulnerabilities so it can be a real challenge.

Bid to kill #CAPTCHA security test gains momentum

Bid to kill CAPTCHA security test gains momentum

This is great since CAPTCHA’s started popping up blind and visually impaired people have faced huge issues accessing anything online that needs a CAPTCHA. This has lead to people having to ask sighted people for help sometimes having to give out there log in details and other secure information.

Since they were initially launched there have been access improvements – many now have scrambled audio where numbers are spoken alongside what I can only describe as noise. Unfortunately this has not gone far enough the audio versions don’t work on mobile platforms and are often just as unintelligible as there written alternatives.

From the early days of the CAPTCHA there have been viable alternatives and quite frankly it’s about time code writers and designers start using them.

#DWP & #ATOS at it again please read! – #disability #ESA & #ATOS

I just read an article that has hugely saddened me, please keep reading and follow the link to get the full story.

A blind woman has been made seriously physically ill by ATOS and the DWP working in a way that totally disregards the Equality Act.

Having just read the facts of what happened I am so stunned that I really don’t know what to say.

The matter boils down to one of what’s sometimes called a print disability. The term print disability can be used to describe anyone who is unable or would struggle to read standard print. It’s an umbrella term and can be used to describe conditions such as total blindness, dyslexia and intellectual disabilities.

In this case the lady in question uses Braille or audio instead of standard print and ATOS & DWP are unable to produce this.

They then told her that she would have to find someone to fill out the form for her.

The stress of this landed her in hospital.

As I said at the beginning this saddens me you might think that’s a strange reaction, maybe it is but for me it’s personal.

As I’ve mentioned before my mum is almost totally blind her way of dealing with written correspondence is Braille.

My mum requested the same form as the woman in this story in Braille and got the response at the other end of the phone that said ‘I’m not sure if we do Braille but we should I will try and get it for you’.

The form the arrived in standard print with a deadline to have it completed and the threat that missing that deadline will result in loss of benefits.

My mum is lucky she got help from my dad and a local charity but for thousands of other people this is not the case.

I have also had help to fill out the form in question. I’ve also had the stress of trying to get it done in time for the deadline bearing in mind I get one hour of support a week!

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!

 

Guide Dogs Are Wonderful

I know you knew that already probably if you are reading my blog – But Gus my guide dog is not actually featured here that often as he is useualy to busy on his facebook to bother with blogging imagine if you where trying to type with paws, you would go for the short option too!

As I think most poeple who have any regular contact with me will already know Gus has had an on and off limp for the majority of this year, nobody was too worried because although it kept reaoccouring it was not a bad limp and as long as we did not go too heavy on his workload and avoided stairs and to much jumping about he was largly fine. He was oftern excited and wanting to work even when he was limping – He loves his job of coming everywhere with me.

It just kept coming back and I was worried about Gus working even though he wanted to if he was in pain.

So about 5 weeks ago now he underwent a CT scan of both his front legs and later surgery to look inside his joints with a camera, I was dreading the outcome as the problem has persisted for so long I had convinced myself that it was going to be really serious and end his carrer there and then. I was warned of all the horrible things it could be and just had to pray that it was something that could be fixed or if no treatment was avalible that Gus could get good pain managment and have a long and happy retirement. Althugh the thought of Gus retiring breaks my heart, I felt I had to do what was right for him and I would not want him to carry on working with me if he was in pain.

When I got Gus back after 2 days in the specialist vets we got the news that a ligament in his shoulder was almost totally tourn, he must have at some point over the last 9 months been in a great deal of pain, but he never showed it! whenever I took him to see the vet he seemed to not limp at all and really didn’t show any great discomfort when they examined his joints. More to the point he kept working with me even though some days it was probably sore, he still guided me safely, we had no accidents, he still went mental whenever he saw me put my shoes on – He still wanted to work even though working was painful!

The recomendation from the vet was at least 3 months of total rest and gradual rehabilitation but that he would make a full and total recovery. Four days later Gus left for the guide dog hospital in Lemington Spa he is expected to be there until April. I get regular updates about his progress and know he is in the best possible place where there are people looking after him 24/7 for cuddles and careful play time. As the weeks go by he will start physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and eventually going for gental walks on the lead.

So I have no guide dog and I feel like a massive part of my life is missing and my heart is breaking for him! My mobility has taken a massive knock too, because of the christmas shopping period I am really restricted as to where I can go on my own. Town is a total NO and even if I do venture out further than the local corner shop I have to make sure I am back in my flat by dark.

I’m normally a totally confident cane user, I’ve traveled too and from central london on my own with just a cane before but as I did my cane training when I was 15 I never did night work or work in busy places like the Janurary sales! Further knocking my confidence a few months ago I was knocked down by a cyclist whilst out with my cane. It was not my fault and there is nothing I could have done differently to stop it from happening as the maniac went through two read lights before hitting me leaving me in the middle of the road before cycling off!

The whole expereince of being without Gus has really made me reflect on the work of guide dogs.

When Gus left my confidence and independance left with him as well as my companion and friend. I would not go as far to say that I took Gus fro granted but suddly loosing him although only being for a short time has really made me think of how wonderful Guide Dogs UK are.

So I end this post with a plea, next time you see a guide dog collecting tin pop some change in it or even better organise an event to fundraise for Guide Dogs or Sponsor a puppy.

Guide Dogs get no money form the govenment and rely totally on donations from members of the public – there work is amazing and you don’t have to take my word for it check out the video below.

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!