Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The VIP Daily Living Tag

William and Leif sit facing each other, Leif wears a red bandana and leans forward and looks as if about to kiss William who is on the right kneeling wearing a Chicago Bears Shirt.
William and Leif
Last week I was tagged to answer this series of questions by fellow VIP and Blogger Luke Sam Sowden. This was the first time I have been tagged to join in a series of posts, so a big thank you to Luke for thinking of me, I hope this may be the start of some new phase of my blogging life with some more co-operative projects.

If anyone out there would like to chat about that then please let me know.

So here it goes.

Beauty and Make-up

1.When preparing an outfit, do you have your clothes set out in a specific way so it makes it easier for you to choose an outfit yourself?

Not really. My wife and I moved house last year and my wife arranged my side of the wardrobe in colors to help. Then she allowed me to put back shirts after they had been laundered so you can imagine, her careful considered layout is now a jumble.
2. When you want to buy new clothes, do you shop online on your own, or go shopping with someone?
I do some clothes shopping online, mostly for T-Shirts. I buy my T-Shirts from zazzle, an online store that I know produces quality items and I know their buying procedure quite well. I also design T-Shirts there and post them to my own store Bretsuki's Fun Tees so some of my purchases are from my own store for quality control.

. I buy more fitted clothes in stores with my wife and or mother-in-law to advise.

3. When shopping with friends and family, is there anything you ask them to do for you to help choose clothes or makeup you may like?

I ask them to check for sizes and the best colors for me.  Though I do have a little vision I am to all purposes color blind, only being able to see washed out or muddy colors. They also need to help me pick sizes in stores because I cannot read labels clearly.

4. Do you find it difficult to pick out an outfit due to your visual impairement?

Living in California means that my day to day outfits are more for comfort, so T-Shirts and shorts or lightweight trousers are everyday wear.

If I am going  to a more formal event, a public presentation or to productions of my TV show 'Blindside Fresno', I will ask my wife to advise me on what I should wear. I did this before I lost my sight anyway, and I don't think she has ever put me on the wrong track, dress sense wise.

5. Do you find online shopping accessible?

I do for the most part. I refer you back to answer in  question 2.

6. Does your visual impairement stop you from applying make up, if so, why?

To be honest I don't wear make-up, even on the television if I host.  I should perhaps try it someday. LOL

7. How do you organize your clothing or beauty products?

A major discussion point between my wife and I. Quite simply I don't. See also answer 1.


8. Do you have any kind of mobility aid, if so, what is it?

My main mobility aid is my Guide Dog, Leif. He is a four year old male black Labrador Retriever from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael California.

If I am only working a short distance, taking out trash or it is very hot, Summer days here can be in excess of one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, Then I will use my white cane.

9. Do you prefer using this or be sighted guided?

I am very happy using either of my mobility aids or be sighted guided.  It all depends on where I am, for instance navigating a restaurant  or store with very narrow aisles it is often simpler to use a cane or be sighted guided than to work a dog. In wide open spaces or moving crowds then for me dog is best.

10. If you use a cane, do you feel self conscious while using it?

I never feel self concious using a white cane. Before I was trained to use a cane, I spent too much time falling over, tripping or falling off kerb edges. Now lying in the street cut and bruised made me self concious.

11. When it comes to transport, do you go on the bus, train, etc, by yourself?

I do use all kinds of public transport alone. I have always loved to ride a bus or train, even when I was sighted so for me, not using public transport as a VIP is like punishing myself by deprivation. I will even ride a bus to just ride the bus, see where it goes and learn a new route, anything to just enjoy the experience.

12. How do you feel about traveling independantly?

I feel it is a skill that VIP's should learn.  In my town there is a disabled ride share service and when I used it, on first moving here, I found it difficult to know where places were in relation to each other.  Getting out and about independently has allowed me to learn spacial relationships of important buildings and safer walking routes. Plus I don't want to give up my own independence, that is just not me.


13. Do you, or did you attend a mainstream or specialist school?

I was sighted into my mid forties. So I attended a main stream school.

14. If you had a choice, which one would you prefer to go to?

I know, as a friend, a VI Specialist teacher, she too is VI and a guide dog user. She teaches at High School and is very dedicated to her work. I admit bias here but I feel that she provides her students with a good education within the main stream.

But there again I have no experience of specialist schooling.

15. Overall, was your experience of education as a visually impaired person mostly positive or negative? How could it have been inproved?

As a child in England I was not visually impaired.
16. Did you carry on into further or higher education? If so, how did you feel about this transition? If not, why?

Coming to the United States in 2006, I did go to college and I found the experience very satisfying. At the time I was also rapidly losing my sight too. Between 2007 and my graduation with a Bachelors degree in 2011, I went from sighted to being Legally Blind. I took advantage of disabled student services, things like extra time if needed on exams and essays, note takers and use of text reading machines. I did not often require extra time, planning in advance made submitting work easier. I think that my Professors appreciated this too, not having to take extra time to wait for "The blind student" so hopefully their experience with me in classes made it easier for VIP students who came to their classes later.

Assistive Technology

17. What is your opinion on assistive technology for blind and visually impaired people? Do you think it is vital?

Having to adapt to blindness in my mid forties, I thank God for assistive technology. I was a bit of a computer geek going back to the early 1980's in England. I built my own first home computer in 1980, it was primitive back then, but it was a computer that worked. I moved on then through a series of home computers, learning BASIC computer programing and doing the accounts for my families corner store.

I though blindness would take all that away, but my blindness coincided with the latest technology and accessible technology. I am a geek reborn. Today I can do so much, even blog and make videos , write an e-mail or text from a phone by just talking to these items and they talk back to me too.

So my advice would be to learn any piece of adaptive technology that you think will be of use to you. So  having some knowledge of adaptive technology is vital to VIP's

18. Do you use assistive technology?

Yes I do. Lots of it. From screen readers to barcode readers. Apps are also very important.  I have also been helping a group of app designers make their latest app accessible to the visually impaired.

19. What assistive technology or specialist apps could you not live without?

My Apple Products.

While training at Guide Dogs for the Blind, I was training with a fellow student who is a programmer at Apple. I complained about my then Android phone and he took me aside and showed me what Apple products could do for me. I became an instant convert to ALL things Apple.

20. If you could recommend one piece of assistive technology for a blind or visually impaired person, what would it be, and why?

An iPhone.  Any of the iPhones after the iPhone 5 s. The combination of Siri to help you get information by simply speaking a question and Voiceover to help you read e-mail, texts or webpages is pretty good in itself but then the ability to add apps that can tell you the color of a shirt or read a barcode at the grocery store is something else. I love my iPhone.

21. What’s one piece of assistive technology you would really like?

I would like access to a Google Car. Though I love to use public transport I also used to love to drive. So the idea of having a car  which I could travel independently in would be a dream come true.


22. Do you mainly have sighted or visually impaired and blind friends?

I have a broad mixture of friends. Most sighted friends come from the time before I lost my sight, all my visually impaired friends were found after losing my sight.

23. If you have blind and visually impaired friends, how did you meet them?

My blind and visually impaired friends came into my life through Guide Dogs for the Blind, I keep in touch with some of my class. My other blind friends came to me through attending meetings of California Council of the Blind or through blogging.

24. Do sighted peers understand your disability and try to help you?

My sighted friends often tell me that they don't always understand my vision loss. They understand the reasons for my vision loss, damage to the retina caused by blood clots, CRVO, but they  just don't get the extreme variation of my vision from very poor in good light to non existant in darkness. Also some have gone so far as to say that I am faking just because I use the word "see" or "saw"

Some do try to help. Reading menu's in restaurants, opening doors and such. I don't mind this well meaning help, though at times it may not be needed as I often know what I would like to eat at a favorite restaurant or my dog is perfectly able to show me where a door is and I am able to open it myself.

But I still thank them it shows they do care about me in the end.

25. What’s one thing you wish your friends understood about your disability?

I wish my friends and people in general would understand that I am not a walking talking disability. I happen to be visually impaired but I am still able to participate in the world. I would love to have a full time job, but employers see the blindness, not the thirty years of work experience in retail, managing a business or the skills that I have learned since losing my sight.

After all. How many employers would have an employee fluent in inter-species communication? I a. I don't have to imagine a voice for my dog, telling me something. I have to know that he is telling me I am at the top of a flight of stairs with my next step.  That is a learned skill. But no they see a blind guy with a dog.

26. Who do you tag to do this tag next?

This is the hardest question to answer. I don't know any VIP bloggers who are active at the moment, other than Luke that is.

So How about some of my readers. Take up the tag and spread the word by sharing your post back here, just add a link in the comments section.

Thank you again Luke

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