23/12/2010

Not Dreaming of a White Christmas

I’m NOT dreaming of a white Christmas. No its not me being Scrooge, how dare you humbugs assume that lol Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing everywhere white and crisp and even but it’s a pig to get about in when you have a disability, wheelchairs won’t more through the stuff and trying to walk on crutches is a big mistake as the bruises on my back could prove.

No, while the white stuff hits the deck I shall do all my shopping from the comfort of my chair, one eye on the PC screen, the other looking out the window.

So on that note I shall wish you all a very happy Christmas, be safe out there if you are travelling remember, if you get stuck in a jam its not the end of the world, the main thing is you reach your destination safely.

Have a good one and I hope 2011 brings you everything you dream of.

17/11/2010

Buying Gifts for a Disabled Person

I over heard a relative ask my wife “what does your disabled husband want for Christmas”

Call me cynical if you like but Auntie Thelma asking what a “disabled” person want’s for Christmas comes across as a wee bit discriminatory due to the emphases on “disability” may be she was expecting the reply of , well, he would really love a shinny new pair of crutches, maybe even some high gloss polish to make his wheelchair rims gleam.

Aiming those un-imaginative gift ideas at disability only is a bit like assuming we can only buy kitchen device for women or DIY tools for the men or what colour slippers should I buy Granddad! Mmmmmmm thinking about this a bit deeper now, as my Granddad has about 200 pairs of slippers maybe it’s Granddads that are being discriminated against; Grandadascrimination perhaps.

But seriously, all these gifts are great when purchased for a reason or of course as a very valuable necessity in many cases; so this year I am again aiming at being practical so will only buy Granddad slippers if his mysteriously all get stolen in the night by the slipper pixies.

Last year for example I bought him a walking stick, not because I could not think of anything else or even because the slipper shop was closed, no it was given great thought and was very gratefully received and is used everyday, probably because it was neatly personalises and it folded up when he didn't need.

So gift ideas for this year are again going to be practical and if a daily living aid is practical then a daily living aid it will be and I am sure it will be very well received and used rather than sit in a cupboard waiting to be redistributed as a gift for Auntie Thelma next year.

18/09/2010

Accessible Hotel Accommodation

The madness and insanity of trying to book a hotel room to cater for me as a wheelchair user is driving me nuts (OK I was nuts before that so lets say nuttier)

If you want to book anything other than a bog standard Travelodge with no restaurant and a bed made of house bricks you will be stuffed. Most online hotel booking is now done through affiliate websites, they do not give any option to book a disabled room or even tell you if they have one and the last thing they will do is give you the hotel contact details because you might just book direct and cut out their referring fees.

I have started a new category in Ableize that I hope will build over time and help others in my position, its called accessible hotel accommodation.

As an update on ableize, we now have almost 500 local disabled groups and clubs located throughout the UK and have increased the number of sites to nearly 2500, not bad for a one man band hey! Pop in and take a look around by clicking Disability we have disability in the UK and Ireland covered.

27/08/2010

Ableize Directory Update

Not had much time for blogging lately, been working away far too much for my liking. As well as working away in the background building up areas of the Ableize directory. We now have almost 500 Disabled Clubs and Groups listed by county so feel free to check it out, oh and if you know anymore please throw the url at me via the contact us link over at www.ableize.com

Well, our so called summer seems to have left us before it got going, and there was me hoping we were going to have an Indian summer, nearest I got to an Indian summer was spending over an hour on the phone trying to sort my mobile!

26/07/2010

Disabled Soldier Loses Benefit

OK, let me get this right, a soldier fighting for his country loses his leg and bDisabled soldier imageecause he can now walk with the ‘aid’ of a prosthetic limb he cannot claim disability benefit.

What is our country coming too, benefits can be claimed if a person has a limp and able to walk 5 miles with a stick because a stick is classed as an aid but a prosthetic limb is not classed as an aid.

OK, lets take the soldiers prosthetic limb away from him and see if he can walk unaided, of course he won’t be able to, his prosthetic limb is an AID, that AIDS him to walk!

We need a serious shake up of the benefits system in the UK and giving disability benefits to those that are actually ‘disabled’ might just be a start!

22/06/2010

Disability Living allowance and the Budget

Today’s budget in the UK announced that disability living allowance will continue as is for the time being but come 2013 there will be medical assessment made of all those currently claiming as well as new claimants.

Don't know your views on this but my take on it for what its worth is GREAT, shame its not immediate, yes those of us genuine cases will have to put up with a bit a hassle but my guess is those of us with lifetime disabilities will be given permanent acceptance without the need of refresher visits to the GP.

Why am I so pleased about this? Well, I am sick of hearing about the thousands of people that have in the past had some kind of disability (or pretended to have a disability) but have now either recovered naturally or recovered fully after an operation but still think they have the right to continue not only claiming to be disabled but claiming money to boot and no checks on these people has for many years let them carry on cheating the system.

I can only hope those that have diddled the system for years are now searching the papers for a job ready for when they make a miraculous recovery just before their assessment.

15/06/2010

Big Brother & Disabled Housemates

Ableize was approached last time round before the Big Brother line up was chosen (Dec 2009) by the producers of Big Brother to help find a disabled housemate, we spent a great deal of time and effort publicising their search and low and behold, no disabled member was included in the show.

We vowed not to assist them again if we were contacted because we knew many disabled members applied, as none get through we felt it was purely Channel 4 attempting to be ‘seen to be’ politically correct and sending out the message that they intend to include a disabled person on the show but never got round to it!

Well, we are now at the final Big Brother show (thank god for that I hear you cry)
In the line-up of potential disabled housemates were:

Jenna (19) – A student from Pontypridd in Wales, says she has 'disabled arms'. (Channel 4's description, not ours)

Leanne (29) - an author who lives in London and has had most of her leg removed due to cancer.

Amin (19) - he's a club dancer and actor of Iranian origin, profile describes him as a 'dwarf'. (Channel 4's words, not ours, we prefer to refer to such people as those of a 'small stature')

Steven (40) - ex-forces man from Leicestershire, he's double amputee (legs) and also lost of one eye in service.

So, are there any disabled housemates that made it onto the show this time? Well yes, there is, Steve the ex-forces amputee injured while on patrol in Belfast. OK, call me cynical but has he been chosen because he is an ‘ex-serviceman’ injured representing for his country and he will of course and rightly so be representing our brave boys on TV to the world, he openly states to ‘lobby for the rights of soldiers who have been injured’ and why not, it’s a dam worthy cause.

I’m not for one second suggesting that Steve does not deserve his place and publicity on the one eyed monster that sits in the corner of my lounge, no but I do ponder on the question of:

Would there be a disabled person in the Big Brother house if he was not an injured soldier?

24/05/2010

Mobile Phone Perks for the Disabled

I have been having problems with my mobile phone lately and sent it back for repair, 5 days later and still no mobile. Hell, how did we survive without our trusty mobile? For the disabled its not just the convenience of rattling out text messages by the dozen about the weather or what we had for tea, will leave that to the kids of today that can’t seem to amuse themselves unless it involves hitting buttons in some shape of form.

No, for the disabled its more about a lifeline, security and knowing wherever we are we can get somebody on the end of a phone to help if needed.

Anyway, back to the heading subject, I learnt today that many mobile phone companies offer preferential services to their disabled customers. Example: I’m with 3 mobile (well someone has to be) and after the 5 days of not having a mobile I’m told by my friendly guy in Mumbai or wherever he is that if I am disabled and get a form filled in by my GP to prove it, then when my phone goes wrong they will replace it immediately, no more sending it off and waiting days on end without a phone, they just replace it with a new phone. You can also get:
mobile phone image
  • Free use of their directory services if unable to use the printed directory
  • Large print or Braille bills
  • Text benefits for the deaf etc
  • Priority repair service as mentioned above

If you are disabled and on a monthly contract I’d strongly suggest you check out your provider's special deals for disabled customers. You might have to ask for details or dig deep on their websites (no they aint going to make these freebies easy to find!)

The info above is if you are on the 3 network but other providers offer varied services. Application form for 3 disability services is tucked away on their site but I will save you looking click Application for disability services on 3 three.co.uk


03/05/2010

A few Accessibility PC tricks

A couple of quick tips for making your PC more accessible. If you know of any good ones please POST them and I will get them added.

1: Enlarger your web broswer:
Most vision impaired people know this one but for those that don't and want your web browser/web sites to appear larger simply:

Hold down the Ctrl key and press + to enlarge, Ctrl - to make smaller again.

2: Pressing multiple keys:Accessibility Options logo
For those of you that have problems holding down multiple keys, Alt, Ctrl, Delete for example do the following:

On your PC go to Start then Control Panel click Accessibility Options then put a tick in the box that says Use Sticky Keys click OK. and close the page. Then try it out by pressing the following 1 at a time Ctrl then the - key (next to the 0 zero key) as described in the 1st thread.

Got anymore, please share them.

27/04/2010

Disabled WC’s – A DDA Claim in the Waiting

As a wheelchair user I find it hard to understand why in 2010 many hotels, restaurants and shops offering disabled WC’s facilities are still failing miserably under the requirements of the DDA, many are so badly fitted out, cramped and offer poor transfer aids that they are putting disabled people at risk of accident or injury.

A disabled WC I recently used in a hotel room I booked from a well known hotel chain, well, these are called ‘lodges’ and aimed at those that ‘travel’ Come on this isn’t rocket science put the two words together and you will know who I’m talking about, no, sDisabled WC imagetill not got it? OK, let me start again! A disabled WC I recently used in a Travel Lodge lol was so high that when sitting on it not only could my feet not touch the ground for balance, but I could not even reach the loo roll or any of the badly installed grab/support bars. (Not the image shown)

A disabled WC needs to meet the needs of all people with disabilities and at the very least offer safe transfer on and off the WC from a wheelchair position as well as colour contrasted grab rails to assist our friends with vision impairments.

OK, at the risk of boring you, here’s a run down:
Apart from offering safe transfer, all facilities such as soap, washbasin, paper towel or hand dryer need to be reachable from sitting on the WC, this is for obvious personal hygiene reasons that I’m sure I don’t need to go into! Emergency pull cords need to be reachable from both the WC seated position and the floor area in case of falls. Doors should be outward opening in standard 1500mm x 2200mm compartments and be a minimum of 750mm wide (1000mm preferred)

The regulations for a WC are very specific and there for a reason. However we still continue to find newly fitted disabled WC’s in a dangerous state and most are simply not updated to meet DDA standards due partly to cost but mainly down to ignorance.

This will continue into the near future, however, time will come and I’m sure that won’t be far off when sadly a disabled person will either be very badly injured or heaven forbid die because these standards are not met, this will be closely followed by a massive court case that results in the company (or local authority council) being sued for a great deal of money, probably courtesy of our no win, no fee lawyers that are just waiting to jump on the backs of those guilty parties.

Note: The disabled WC image above is a reasonably good example but as far as the DDA is concerned it actually has a minimum of 7 that's SEVEN major faults, how many can you spot? Our friends at Access All Areas have promised to drop in the answer in at a later date so please bookmark this page to return.

Basic facts supplied courtesy of Access All Areas – DDA specialists

26/04/2010

Funny Website Addresses

I came across these web addresses that may give the site owners a shock when they read them back as one word, just though i'd share a few chuckles with you all as a break from disability stuff:

Enjoy:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents‘ where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is
www.whorepresents.com

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at
www.expertsexchange.com

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at
www.penisland.net

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at
www.therapistfinder.com

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…
www.powergenitalia.com

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:
www.molestationnursery.com

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always
www.ipanywhere.com

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is
www.cummingfirst.com

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:
www.speedofart.com

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at
www.gotahoe.com

19/04/2010

Blogger alt image text for the blind

On a note most visitors here will find mind numbingly boring but very much worth a mention is how the blind and vision impaired see/read images in websites and blogs such as this one. This blogger template is supplied by good old Google but does not allow us and other webmasters to automatically include the VERY important alt text or alt tag to images on the new blogger system, old system yes but the new one nooooo.

OK, I hear most of you screaming at your monitors asking 'what the hell is this guy on about' Let me explain before you go off and hide in a darkened room.
Cute puppy picture
Image alt text (or for the techy minded alt="your text here") is an html web code used to place text over an image when you run your mouse over it, or more importantly what blind readers see to tell the blind user what the image is. See image right when you put your mouse over it. (note: if viewing through Firefox you won't see the text but blind readers will)

The posts entered below this one will not offer this but from now on I shall add the html alt code manually because I know how important this is to the blind and visually impaired, just a shame Google missed it but as this post will be popping up in search engines perhaps our kindly friends over at Google will be kind enough to include the alt="your text here" command on future new versions in the Google blogger template coding.

Gripe end! :)

17/04/2010

Remember the 'Acedes invalid Car'?

Anybody out there remember the dreaded ‘Invalid Carriage’? (full name Acedes invalid car) Thankfully now defunct along with that distasteful word used to describe those unfortunate enough to own one!

Three wheeled with or without hand controls, (well handlebars actually) two stroke 147cc and later 500cc engine with one seat and room for a folding wheelchair accessed via a large sliding door. At top speed it had enough power to cut the entire grass housed in a window box.
Available in any colour providing it was blue but if you were really lucky you could get one with a white roof. Built in Thundersley in Essex they were a real Essex bird babe magnet but only if you were trying to pick up Babe the pig from the movie of the same name!

The shell was made of fibreglass and they were built and supplied by the Health Services from 1933 up until 1977 when government came to their senses and scrapped them. By 2003 government agents crushed all they could lay their hands on, I say ‘crushed’ but I do believe all was needed was a pair of Christmas nut crackers and a strong hand.
Anyway for those interested a run down of these and other disabled motoring beasts can be found here HERE

OK, I'm being a bit strong on the little blue beast, it did at least get the less mobile out and about, to work, shop etc but i'm sure those that remember them are thankful we now have Motability supplying disabled adapted vehicles.

Anybody brave enough to tell us their experiences with the Acedes invalid carriage I’d very much like to hear them, click 'comments' below to leave your post.

Is Disabled Access All Bad

As disabled people we nearly all complain about it, most of us can tell horror stories, however, as a wheelchair user of some 30 years plus but still young enough to have a long memory I can positively say ‘things as far as access is concerned are definitely on the up.

OK before you bombard me with your valid claims of ‘I can’t access this place or that place', please let me explain from where i'm sitting.

Many moons ago at the ripe old age of 16, I left hospital after being in for just short of a year. I couldn't cross many of the roads due to very few having dropped curbs, these were a rare thing back then. Going into my local hostilary (you could get away with underage drinking then) was just about impossible and as a disabled person, you would be frowned upon for doing so, disabled people drinking, whatever next!

I was denied access to many public venues such as cinemas as I was considered a Health & Safety risk’ in case a fire broke out. Booking into a hotel was no better as very few had disabled rooms, as for flying, I would have had more luck trying to grow wings.

Disabled people did not drive standard cars either, they had (Bright Blue) ‘invalid carriages’ that stood out like a sore thumb and screamed out ‘Look I’m disabled’ See invalid carrige article here.

Thankfully there have been many improvements and changes over the years but more importantly the attitudes of people in general have changed a great deal and I really do mean a GREAT deal. As disabled people we now have a rightful place in society and in the big bad outside world.

OK so there are still many places we cant get access to and to be honest there always will be but if you look at the whole picture, access has evolved in leaps and bounds.

Putting right all the worlds access issues is a lengthy and somewhat mammoth task, especially in many older countries and cities like London etc but i'm please to say we are getting there, slowly yes I grant you but we are getting there, disabled people are no longer denied access to cinemas, booking into (most) hotels is now possible and yes, they even have disabled friendly rooms if not always DDA compliant ones, not only have we got rid of the‘Invalid carriages’ but society has gone one step further and got rid of the word invalid along with them, UK anyway, the Americans are behind us but they will soon follow.

So there we have it, in a nutshell, we are getting there access wise, we just need to start seeing see it and comparing where we have come from.

Supplied by: Access All Areas - DDA Audits

Blind leading the blind

I saw a lady with a guide dog pass my window. After a minute or so I watched as she signalled her dog to walk forward, the dog just sat there and refused to budge. (stupid dumb mutt I thought) This continued for a minute or so until I was so puzzled by it that I went out to see what was happening.

Sure enough the woman was still standing and trying in vain to get the dog to move forward.

I asked what the problem was and she explained that a car a few yards ahead had its wheels on the kerb and its motor running. In a situation like this the dog (not so dumb after all) is trained not to proceed but will wait for the car to either move on or have its engine turned off.

As I looked at the car I was able to tell the blind lady that in fact there was no one in it (the driver had mounted the kerb, left the engine running and popped into a shop for something, I waited another 2 or 3 minutes until the driver (I wont say whether a man or woman driver) returned and hopped into the car totally oblivious to the inconvenience she had caused.

I pointed out what had happened to the driver who seemed a little embarrassed and shot off in the car. (dumb driver) Only a week or so later I saw the same thing only this time I had the answer.

Some yards from my office is a dirt track crossed by a footpath? Once again the same blind lady and her dog were on one side of the path, the dog sat on the pavement and the lady signalling for it to move forward. This time a van driver was parked at the side of the dirt track reading a newspaper with his engine running to keep warm.

As this is a dirt track there is no kerb or pavement so once again the dogs training meant it would not take its owner in front of a car with its engine running whilst not entirely on the road.

Makes ya think hey?

Learning Difficulties - Disabilities

Imagine having something very important to say but you just cant get your thoughts across or make the person understand what you are trying to convey. You may feel bombarded by sights and sounds, unable to focus your attention.

You may not need to imagine this, you may understand it. You might be the parent or relative of a child experiencing learning problems, or have a loved one in your family diagnosed as learning disabled.

Although different from person to person, learning difficulties are common daily experiences of many children and adults. Those with a learning disability may experience a feeling of failure and low self-esteem.

OK, enough doom and gloom. It is important to understand that those with learning disabilities can and do learn and learn well.

This type of disability usually only affects certain limited areas of development, rarely are learning disabilities severe enough to prevent a person living a happy and normal life. This can effect a persons life a lot or very little. One thing is sure and that is our understanding, reaction and response to the person with learning difficulties, drastically effects that person.

Being patient, trying to understand and treating the person with respect greatly reduces their frustration and anxiety, helps them relax, feel less tense but most of all gives them time to think without pressure or fear of failure.

This type of disability usually only affects certain limited areas of development, rarely are learning disabilities severe enough to prevent a person living a happy and normal life. This can effect a persons life a lot or very little. One thing is sure and that is our understanding, reaction and response to the person with learning difficulties, drastically effects that person.
Being patient, trying to understand and treating the person with respect greatly reduces their frustration and anxiety, helps them relax, feel less tense but most of all gives them time to think without pressure or fear of failure.
This article is not designed to tell you all about learning difficulties, it is merely here to help you understand and relate with confidence and in doing so ease the pressure for the learning disabled to better cope with their disability.
For more details on learning difficulties and how to assist, see Mencap at www.mencap.org.uk