Saturday, 19 October 2013

Salford Talking News

I had a visit from the Salford Talking News this afternoon. A volunteer called Anne visited me after I returned home from a full day, at Henshaws Society for Blind People in Old Trafford, learning Braille in the morning and making arts & crafts in the afternoon.

I was given a player in which to play the USB memory sticks containing the weekly news from my local newspaper (the Salford Advertiser), a pouch to return the USB stick in when I've finished each article, and some information leaflets. New USB memory sticks will be sent to my home each Saturday morning in a yellow pouch. After listening to the news, and monthly magazine containing articles of interest, I will then post the USB's back each week in the allocated pouch with my label inside. It's such a great idea, and much easier than trying to struggle reading the newspaper with my magnifier!

You can visit the Salford Talking News website here
to find out more information.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Braille Update!

I have now completed Book 3 of the Fingerprint course books, and will start start Book 4 in my Braille class today at Henshaws Society for Blind People, in Old Trafford.

In Book 4 I will learn the following contractions:
  • the
  • ing
  • quick (qk)
  • today (td)
  • tomorrow (t m)
  • tonight (tn)
  • together (tgr)
  • your (yr)
  • blind (bl)
  • braille (brl)
  • of
  • with
  • a comma
  • a question mark
  • gh
  • which (wh)
  • ble
  • for
  • ed
  • out (ou)
  • ow

Friday, 11 October 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a compiled list of my most frequently asked questions, as a useful resource for those of you who would like to learn more about the girl behind the blog!

If the question / answer you are looking for isn't listed here, you are more than welcome to post to my ask.fm profile or tweet to my Twitter account. I will try to answer you as soon as possible!

• Have you always been visually impaired?
Yes. I was born as a premature baby, 2 months too early, and contracted my condition in the womb. I have been severely sight-impaired all of my life; though my sight condition was overlooked until I was 4 years old. I spent the majority of my childhood at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, in London, having various procedures and operations.

• What is your sight condition?
I was born with underdeveloped optic nerves, due to being premature, and suffered from Congenital Cataracts that affect only 3 or 4 in every 10,000 babies and can cause blindness if left untreated - as was my case. I have amblyopia where one eye is much stronger than the other as well as Nystagmus where my eyes are constantly moving to seek out the light.

• How much vision do you have?
I have 10% central vision in my left eye and only light perception in the other. It has deteriorated over the past 5 years or so but appears to be stable for the time being.

• What can / can't you see?
Having only 10% central vision in my left eye I have no peripheral vision, so have a very limited scope to see with. Generally everything is very dark to me and I struggle to make sense of what's directly in front of me. I cannot determine depth or distance of objects as they appear two-dimensional and blurry, and colours are faded and washed out. Imagine looking through a very dark veil placed over your left eye and that is what my vision is like.

Why do you wear UV glasses?
I wear the darkest UV lenses possible, in a dark green shade, blocking out roughly 80% of the light because I struggle with it so much in various situations; whether that be on a sunny day, a cloudy day where the sky is completely white, and in artificial lighted situations such as in supermarkets or hospitals. I struggle with the light constantly as I suffer from glare and receive frequent migraines from it. My glasses also hide my Nystagmus in both eyes and squint in my blind eye, and are also a great protection from low-hanging branches - which I seem to have a constant battle with! You can read more about my UV glasses here.

• Do you have any siblings? Do they have a visual impairment?
I have a younger brother, who is 1 year, 1 month and 1 day younger than me, called Daryl. He isn't visually impaired and has fully-fuctioning 20/20 vision. My mum, however, has recently started to develop her own sight problems, where she is now partially sighted, suffering from Cataracts, Posterior Vitreous detachment, and scar tissue at the back of the eye.

• Why did you decide to make a blog?
I wanted to create my own little corner of the internet, in late 2013, where I posted about my life as someone who is nearly blind; from my illustrations as a severely visually impaired artist, as well as my Guide Dog training and qualification process, campaigning work with Envision, volunteering and fundraising work with Henshaws and Guide Dogs, Braille progress, mobility sessions with a long cane, weekly trips to Henshaws in their various groups and courses, and accessible visits to museums and art galleries. I felt like I had interesting stories to tell that hopefully would provide a unique and personal insight to my readers.

• How did you create your blog?
My blog is hosted on Blogger, partnered with Google+, using the Awesome Inc. template. Header image and all graphics were created by me using Adobe Photoshop CS5. The majority of sidebar components are of my own HTML creation and not available on Blogger. Photos are owned by me unless otherwise stated.

• Do you blog for anyone else?
As well as maintaining my own blog, I'm a frequent blogger for Henshaws Society for Blind People, Manchester's oldest charity and an organisation I am a service user of and volunteer for, as well as Living Paintings who help to create touch-to-see books for blind and partially sighted people.

• What are your hobbies and interests?
Art and illustration, first and foremost! I also enjoy various crafts such as knitting, crocheting and looming as well as volunteering, listening to audiobooks, walking, baking, writing and travelling.

• How long have you been drawing?
For as long as I can remember, drawing has been my main passion in life. The very first thing I did when I entered Reception class, on the initial day of Primary School, was head straight for the easel to draw with the multicoloured chalks! As a child struggling with very little vision, I enjoyed giant print children's books and pouring over their beautiful illustrations. Having spent the majority of my childhood in hospital attempting to stabilise the little vision I had left, in another city a long way away from home, my only constant was drawing and colouring with the paper and crayons they had in the waiting rooms. My interest developed from there and I built up my portfolio and materials ever since. Art remained my favourite subject throughout school life, receiving an A* in my GCSE's, and well into adulthood as a now-commissioned illustrator.

• What mediums do you like to use?
I love all materials and mediums but mainly favour coloured pencils, as I feel I have more control over the distribution of their colour. I also like using fineliners to outline my work and help me to determine where the shapes are on the paper. I previously used Crayola pencils and Berol fineliners, but have now invested in Prismacolor Premium coloured pencils and their anime-style fineliners.

• How do you draw with such little vision?
As with everything, I have learned to accept what little vision I have left and adapt with it to each individual task; whether that be cooking, travelling independently or drawing. I draw and colour in by using my hands as a 'barrier' to prevent the unwanted overflow of colour outside the lines, and use black fineliner to outline my work to help define it better. I have labelled all of my tools, from pencils to paints and brushes, using a Dymo Braille labeller to identify the ones I want to use. I swatch each colour on a scrap piece of paper before working to ensure I'm using the desired shade in my piece. I use additional aids such as bright lighting provided by a Daylight lamp and a foldaway table to help elevate my work, much like an easel, to bring it as close to me as possible. The rest is down to practice!

• How do you use a computer or mobile phone?
I use an accessibility function on my MacBook Air, found in the 'Universal Access' area of the main settings, called VoiceOver. The same is standard across all Apple products, including the iPad, iPhone, iMac computers and Apple Watch. I have been using Apple products for 14 years now, receiving my first flower power iMac G3 in 2001 when I was 11 years old. I have witnessed first-hand the accessibility features on their devices going from strength-to-strength. On the iPhone I use something called the Rotor, when using the VoiceOver functionality, to switch between handy features such as handwriting on the screen, rather than struggling with the keyboard, and the Braille Screen Input. 

• Do you have a Guide Dog?
I do! Her name is Tami and she is my first Guide Dog. I trained and qualified with her in December 2014 and I've had her for 5 months now. She's a 2 year old Labrador Retriever Cross with a delicate nature and lovely temperament. She has made a massive difference to my life in the short time I have had her and feel so much more confident and independent when out and about.

• How does your Guide Dog help to support you?
Contrary to popular belief, my Guide Dog doesn't look at the lights and know when to cross and she certainly cannot read the bus numbers! Guide Dogs are trained to walk in a straight-line principle, stopping at each down-kerb positively allowing you to determine when it's safe to cross each one, judging by the sound of the traffic. The dog will cross when there is no sign of near traffic but will not cross if a car is passing by. They are trained to avoid obstacles, like A-boards, bins, cones, safety barricades and so on, and to find items of interest such as a postbox, stairs or the lights to cross. Over time they will remember your regular routes and you won't need to command them as often. My dog helps me to find an empty seat on the bus, tram and train but she cannot determine where they are going! I have to ask, or use a timetable app on my phone, to ensure I'm on the correct route. It's a combination of this training, along with having a mobility aid and a companion, that helps to instil confidence and independence in someone who is blind or partially sighted.

• What is Braille and do you read it?
Braille is a tactile form of communication, or code, made up of 'cells' that contain 6 dots. Each arrangement and combination of the dots help to create letters of the alphabet, numbers, punctuation, short-forms and contracted words. I've been reading Braille for over 2 years after completing a course, in just under 5 months, at the Henshaws Resource Centre in Manchester. This has been a vital skill for me as I am now able to read my own letters and menus in restaurants, for example.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

My Sight Loss Story

I was born on November 8th, 1988 at Hope Hospital in Greater Manchester. I was a premature baby of two months, weighing no more than a small bag of sugar. Quite surprisingly no tests were done to see if my sight and hearing were in perfect order - something that is compulsory nowadays for newborn babies, especially premature ones - despite being in an incubator for quite some time and being monitored constantly.

When I was a toddler, my mum knew that something was wrong. I was always walking into doors and walls, falling down the stairs and barely responding to her when she would talk to me or say my name. She would persistently contact our local doctor, who would tell her that everything was fine and that she was worrying too much as a young mother. 

When I turned 4 years old, my mum went back to my local hospital and it was discovered that I had both sight and hearing loss, suffering with cataracts in both of my eyes and perforations in both of my ear drums, that were overlooked when I was born. After some discussion between doctors, it was decided that they did not want to operate on my cataracts and wanted to wait until I was an adult in my early twenties.

Unhappy with this, my mum paid privately to see a Specialist for a second opinion who identified that I had congenital cataracts in both of my eyes, that were formed in the womb and present at birth, and needed to be operated on as soon as possible to improve my quality of life. The Specialist referred me to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, where I would stay for weeks at a time having operations to remove my natural eye lenses and attaching interocular implants, or plastic lenses, instead. Operations had to constantly be repeated, as clusters of Elschnig's Pearls would continuously grow behind my implants, causing a further decrease in my vision. I also had an Iridectomy, removing part of my iris, to further help with the removal of the pearls and to allow light into my weaker eye for the first time.

I also had additional appointments at Great Ormond Street Hospital for my ears. I had regular hearing tests to measure my hearing loss and numerous operations to improve my hearing as much as possible. I had grommets inserted into both of my ear drums on two separate occasions to relieve the build-up of pressure and fluids, and a myringoplasty performed on both ears to close the perforations in my ear drums. Unfortunately, the perforations formed again until they started to heal naturally when I was a teenager.

My mum and I continued to travel down to London to Great Ormond Street Hospital, and later Moorfield's Eye Hospital, for my appointments until I was almost 17 years old. In late 2006 I was then discharged back to Manchester as I no longer fit into the age bracket to keep visiting Great Ormond Street. I will never forget the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses there, where I spent a huge portion of my childhood, and my mum and I donate to them whenever we can. They did everything they possibly could to help improve my vision, my hearing, and my quality of life.

After being discharged back to Manchester, my ears were left unseen to for a year and, in early 2007, I noticed that I was suffering from a terrible pain in my left ear. After visiting my GP I was forwarded to Trafford General Hospital - where they discovered that I had Mastoiditis - an inflamed and infected inner ear. It needed to be operated on as soon as possible, as I would have suffered paralysis and other life-threatening complications, including; blood clots, meningitis, and brain abscesses if left untreated. I had a cortical mastoidectomy operation to remove the infected mastoid bone, ear drum and the majority of my middle ear structures. A new ear drum was created using skin from behind my left ear.

In early 2008 I had an operation to correct the squint in my left eye, a squint caused by the almost total blindness in that eye, making it hard for my brain to control where it moves. I had to be awake while the sutures were tweaked and pulled around and, unfortunately, the operation was not a success and my squint started to emerge again after only a month.

I received my first hearing aid for my right ear in July 2011, and I will never forget the first time I placed it into my ear and switched it on. I could hear so many new sounds that I could never hear before. It was a long time coming for my first hearing aid, as I was 22 years old at the time and Great Ormond Street Hospital could not permit hearing aids to me, as I did not live in their local area - having always travelled to London from Manchester.

A mould was taken of my left ear in early November and I received my second hearing aid, for my left ear, on the 18th of that month. Having both the left and right hearing aids working together, and having my hearing amplified for the first time in my life, was the most amazing experience and something that I will never forget. I felt like I was living in a brand new world full of exciting and colourful sounds!

In early 2013 I returned to Manchester Eye Hospital, to discuss having further treatment for the squint in my blind eye, and my mum pointed out a Henshaws side-room near to the main waiting area. I'd never heard of Henshaws before, so thought it would be interesting to talk to someone inside the room and see what support would be available. I met a patient support worker, called Maggie Harrison, who upon ringing Social Services found that they had no record of me. This, unfortunately, was the truth. Since being registered blind at only 4 years old, I had received little to no help or support. I had, pardon the pun, stumbled blindly through my life up until that point for 24 years. I only ever had my mum to support me.

Thanks to Maggie, Social Services were finally aware of me having slipped through the cracks for so long,and in need of as much support as possible, as soon as possible. I received a home visit not long afterwards and had a hearing loop fitted into my living room - allowing background noise to be eliminated when listening to the television with my hearing aids - as well as a new smoke alarm fitted that connects to a device under my pillow that will let me know when it sounds off,  as I wont be able to hear the alarm without my hearing aids at night, along with some other useful aids around the house. I was very pleased with their visit and couldn't thank them enough for their help!

In the summer of 2013 I attended a Living With Sight Loss enablement course at my local community centre, forwarded to me by Maggie. This was the first time I was able to properly meet and talk with other people visually impaired people. I was extremely shy and very nervous to start with, having a few minor panic attacks beforehand, as previous to the course I rarely went out of the house - especially to new places. I was so isolated and felt very much alone with my visual impairment as I got older and left high school, so it was a huge shock to be in a room full of new people I had never met before, without my mum by my side! She wanted me to do the course independently to help build up my confidence and make new friends. After high school had finished, I didn't have any friends at all as I mostly stayed in the house apart from when I had to attend hospital appointments.

Over the course of the 6 sessions we found out about all sorts of new things such as; LED magnifiers that are available to aid with reading, equipment for in the kitchen and around the house, useful computer aids and magnification programs, information regarding public transportation, a session with local police officers, a visit from a Guide Dog owner describing her experiences and how her life has changed dramatically from her working partnership with her Guide Dog, and so on. I enjoyed myself immensely, much more than I thought I would, and it was something I began to look forward to every Thursday morning. I managed to find a little bit of confidence along the way, and was able to speak more freely to people towards the end of the course.

I also met quite a few important people at the enablement course who are now integral to my life. Lisa Young, who ran the course, is now my Daily Living Skills enablement officer. She supports me and helps me to learn kitchen skills safely and independently on a regular basis. These skills include; pouring liquids safely using the liquid level indicator, using the kettle, microwave and other appliances independently with the help of bump-ons, and then progressing towards peeling, chopping and spreading to prepare meals for myself for the first time. Lisa introduced me to the Henshaws charity and forwarded me onto some of the courses that I now attend every Friday, including Braille and arts & crafts sessions.

Lisa was helped on the enablement course by a volunteer called Sarah Strutt, who is also visually impaired and volunteers with Henshaws. She is my closest friend and helps me with my Braille progress. I also met Debbie Carmichael on the course too, who brought in a range of different canes and mobility aids, to show us what can be used to help identify obstacles when out and about. I now have my mobility training with her using a long cane.

In September 2013, I visited the Guide Dogs' Open Day at the Atherton Centre in Manchester. I was so inspired by the story of the volunteer at the enablement course, that I wanted to visit the centre and the kennels to witness the work that they do first-hand. I met a patron of the charity along with the boss of the Atherton centre, Richard, who filled in my application form for me, as well as a puppy walker and boarder who helped me to locate the centre - as it was very busy and I couldn't get my bearings! I met with another Guide Dog user inside the centre, whose experience echoed that of the previous lady who had visited the enablement course in the summer. She explained how she was now brimming with confidence and could go anywhere she wanted in the knowledge that she had a constant companion - things that sound like a dream come true. I applied that day and will receive my first home visit very soon!

My life has dramatically changed over the course of this year thanks to Henshaws, my daily living skills sessions with Lisa and my mobility sessions with Debbie. I am slowly becoming more confident in everything I do, and am learning so many new and exciting skills. I have friends for the first time, since leaving high school 7 years ago, who all understand perfectly my situation and who are understanding and supportive. I am so thankful for the support I am finally receiving and I hope to one day much more confident and return my gratitude through fundraising and volunteering for sight loss charities, especially Henshaws Society for Blind People.

I am a completely different person to who I was at the beginning of the year, and I feel like I'm finally starting to live my life with my visual impairment.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Post Directory

Here is a useful post directory to help filter and browse posts more easily. They have been divided into the following sections:

Artwork & Illustrations
The main reason I created my blog was to help highlight and platform my illustrations as a severely visually impaired artist. Becoming the RNIB's Young Illustrator of the Year in 2014 enabled me to reach an even wider audience and I was incredibly grateful to have been chosen. As well as my RNIB illustrations, you can view my card designs, tattoo designs and work on other projects such as the Scouts Get Active! supplement and the Memory Makers Project as part of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

• RNIB's Young Illustrator 2014 Competition for Insight Magazine
• Second illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Third illustration for Insight Magazine
• Fourth illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Fifth illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Final illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Magazine Scan: First illustration for RNIB
• Magazine Scan: Second illustration for RNIB'c Insight Magazine
• Magazine Scan: Third illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Magazine Scan: Fourth illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Magazine Scan: Fifth illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Magazine Scan: Final illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine
• Artwork donation to RNIB's Pears Centre
• Artwork displayed at RNIB's Pears Centre
• John Lewis Birthday Composition
• John Lewis composition displayed at the Trafford Centre
• Christmas Card Design for Henshaws
• Henshaws Christmas Cards now available
• Tattoo Designs for my Brother
• RNIB 'Thank You' card designs
• Illustration for the One Man's Vision exhibition
• Scouts Magazine's Get Active! Supplement Cover
• Memory Makers Project: Holocaust Memorial Trust
• Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

As well as illustrating, I am also extremely passionate about campaigning; especially for the accessibility and equality rights of blind and partially sighted people. As Co-chair of Envision, a young person's campaigning network working alongside RNIB, I am able to help create this change by meeting with key people and influencing change.

• Visit to the Houses of Parliament and RNIB HQ
• Parliamentary Gifts and Follow Up
• Envision Masterpost
• Coffee shop mystery shopper results
• Campaign Skills Training Day
• RNIB Campaigners' Convention 2014
• Steering Group Meeting in London: February 2014
• Steering Group Meeting in London: October 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 29th April 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 3rd July 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 19th August 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 24th September 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 6th October 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 17th November 2014
• Envision Teleconference: 24th February 2015
• Envision Steering Group Results 2015
• Visit to the Police and Crime Commissioner office
• Conference with the Police Crime Commissioner
• EBU Event at European Parliament in Brussels
• Swap With Me Event at First Bus Bolton

Interviews & Articles
Since becoming RNIB's Young Illustrator of the Year and volunteering for Henshaws Society for Blind People, I have received a lot of media interest. You can view my magazine and newspaper scans, website articles and video interviews by visiting the links below:

• Interview with Salford News
• Salford Advertiser & Manchester Evening News scans
• Article with Daily Mail Online
• Interview with ITV Granada Reports
• Spirit of Salford
• Article with Quays News
• Interview with Henshaws (audio provided)
• Article in The Core magazine
• Feature in the Henshaws Vision newsletter
• Bright for Sight article
• Interview with Fashioneyesta
• Article in Puppy Tails Magazine
• Transitions Article for Trafford CIL
• Interview with VI Talk
• MaMoMi Initiative Interview
• Salford Advertiser Pavement Parking Article
• Interview on Salford City Radio
• Double Feature in Irlam and Cadishead Times
You'd Never Guess That... Spotted in Marie Claire UK!

Volunteering & Fundraising
As a volunteer for Henshaws Society for Blind People and Guide Dogs, I have had the wonderful opportunity of being a part of some incredible events; from giving speeches at events like the Fashion Fundraiser and Dinner in the Dark, to riding pillion on the back of a motorbike from Manchester to Harrogate, to collections and crocheting bunnies to raise vital funds. Most of my projects are listed here.

• Tesco collections for Henshaws
• Champagne & Chocolate Evening
• Henshaws Fashion Fundraiser
• Henshaws Sausage Run: Practice Run
• Henshaws Sausage Run 2014
• Bright for Sight Fundraising Pack
• Preparation for the One Man's Vision exhibition
• Installation of the One Man's Vision exhibition
• Bright for Sight: #No MirrorMakeUp Challenge & Projects
• Bright for Sight Dog-Friendly Walk
• Pride of Henshaws Ball 2014
• Manchester Beer and Cider Festival 2014
• Henshaws Annual Review: 2013-14
• Volunteer for Guide Dogs
• Dinner in the Dark event for Henshaws

Guide Dogs and Mobility Training
Mobility is extremely important to me and I strongly believe that improved mobility helps to elevate independence and confidence. Read my posts about mobility training with a long cane and being assessed for and training with my Guide Dog, Tami, to get a better understanding of what I mean. I now feel a huge amount of freedom when out and about with Tami and am incredibly proud of our partnership together!

• Mobility Training
• Guide Dogs Home Visit #1
• Guide Dogs Home Visit #2
• Guide Dogs Home Visit #3: Assessment
• Guide Dogs Match: Introducing Tami!
• First Walk with Tami
• Guide Dog Residential Training
• Guide Dog Home Training
Spotted in Forward Magazine: Summer 2015 Issue

Skillstep is a 12 week employability course provided by Henshaws Society for Blind People with the aim of getting people back into further education or work, whether paid or voluntary. Over the course of the 3 months I learned a plethora of new skills which I documented in a weekly series of posts. My work placement, in anticipation of being matched to my own Guide Dog, was at the Guide Dogs Training Centre in Atherton, Leigh. I now have certificates in First Aid, accessible computing and vocational studies centred around confidence-building, self-aawareness, assertiveness and decision-making.

• Skillstep: Week 1
• Skillstep: Week 2
• Skillstep: Week 3
• Skillstep: Week 4
• Skillstep: Week 5
• Skillstep: Week 6
• Skillstep: Week 7
• Skillstep: Week 8
• Skillstep: Week 9
• Skillstep: Weeks 10 & 11 (Work Placement)
• Skillstep: Week 12
• Skillstep: Group Photos
• Skillstep: First Aid Certificate
• Skillstep: Accreditation Certificate

Accessible Visits
As part of the Henshaws Art Galleries and Museums group I enjoy visiting various museums, art galleries, heritage sites and other places of interest, in and around Manchester, for an accessible talk and tour of the various exhibitions on offer. Accessible visits provide audio description, sometimes even a touch and handling element, to enable blind and partially sighted visitors to experience the same level of enjoyment at the exhibition as a sighted person.

• Visit to the Imperial War Museum North
• Visit to One Man's Vision exhibition
• Something Blue: Wedding Fashions 1914 - 2014
• 'Election! Britain Votes!' Exhibition at the People's History Museum
• Visit to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool
• Eastern Exchanges at Manchester Art Gallery
• Season's Best at Gallery Oldham

Here are some of the milestones currently on my blog. In a year and a half I am very grateful to have achieved almost 20,000 unique page views and 160 blog posts. Take a look back at some of my previous milestones:

• 1st Birthday!
• 50th Blog Post
• 100th Blog Post
• 10,000 Page Views
20,000 Page Views

Henshaws Blog Posts
I frequently blog for Henshaws Society for Blind People, as their original and resident blogger, about a variety of different subjects, relating to; my illustrating, campaigning, mobility training, daily living skills, and visits to accessible museums and art galleries. You can view all of my entries by visiting the links below:

• A day in my life
• What can I see?
• I'm slowly becoming more confident in everything that I do
• My experience as a severely visually impaired illustrator
• How do I create artwork as a visually impaired person?
• Arts, crafts and Living Paintings
• Braille has provided me with independence and freedom
• I now have more independence in my own kitchen
• Visit to the Imperial War Museum
with the Art Galleries & Museums group
• Bright for Sight 2014
• Mobility training and Guide Dogs assessment
• After completing the Skillstep course I feel
extremely optimistic about my future
• What does your sight mean to you? Take the
#NoMirrorMakeUp challenge to find out!
• High Speed blind dating at European Parliament
• It's about talking to the individual on how they
perceive their walking skills and needs
• I walk with a confidence I never used to have and
now can't imagine not having Tami by my side
• I quickly felt how spacious and relaxed the environment
was despite the constant buzz of activity inside!
• Introducing TechTalk: the perfect opportunity
to discuss all things technology
• Touching Olly Murs: a visit to Madame Tussauds Blackpool!
Volunteer Week 2015: "Volunteering for Henshaws gave me
back my feeling of self-worth"
Why Daredevil is Important
VI Talk: Sharing ideas, information and support

Living Paintings Blog Posts
I also post for another sight loss charity, called Living Paintings, who create embossed touch-to-see books for blind and partially sighted people. You can view all of my entries by clicking on the links below:

• Kimberley Burrows, Young Illustrator 2014
• John Lewis Birthday Composition
• Visit to the Imperial War Museum North
• Kimberley Burrows at the One Man's Vision exhibition
• Elephant in the Room by Kimberley Burrows
• Preparation for the One Man's Vision exhibition
• The #NoMirrorMakeUp challenge and how I apply make-up
• Visit to the One Man's Vision exhibition
• EBU Blind Date event at European Parliament

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Hello and welcome to my personal blog
detailing my sight loss journey!

This will be the place where I post about my illustrations as a severely visually impaired artist, my Guide Dog training and qualification process, campaigning work with Envision, volunteering and fundraising work with Henshaws and Guide Dogs, Braille progress, mobility sessions with a long cane, weekly trips to Henshaws in their various groups and courses, accessible visits to museums and art galleries and upcoming events.

I created my blog in October 2013 through Blogger, partnered with Google+, as I already had an existing account and found it to be rather easy and accessible to use with the VoiceOver functionality built-in to my MacBook and iPad. Since starting my blog I have amassed over 170 blog posts and 20,000 unique page views.

I've worked very hard to ensure my blog is as accessible as possible to other blind and partially sighted visitors reading my stories; using large bolded text, contrasting colours of a light font on a darker background, and alt text (wherever I possibly can) to describe any images used. Due to my blog being hosted by Blogger, some accessibility issues may be beyond my control. If you do have any problems please don't hesitate to contact me via the links located in the left-hand column, and I will try my very best to rectify the coding as soon as I can.

I hope my posts will provide an enjoyable and interesting read.
Thank you for visiting!