Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Skillstep: First Aid Certificate

During the 12 week Skillstep course, provided by Henshaws Society for Blind People, one of the sessions was focused around First Aid training; learning the recovery position, the process of resuscitation, how to correctly treat burns, cuts and wounds, as well as discovering how to support someone with conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and heart issues.

I recently received my certificate in the mail to show that I have qualified my one day training session, and it will valid for the next three years!

You can view all of my previous Skillstep posts, submitted on a week-by-week basis, by clicking here and you can find out more about the course itself by clicking here at the Henshaws website, where you can register your interest to the course via e-mail.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Envision Teleconference:
Comms Sub-Group

The communications sub-group members of the Envision steering group held a teleconference tonight, with discussion focused around the coffee shop survey responses that we circulated recently as well as discussion of the charter that we will be drawing up to present, our use of social media, and so on.

As always, I helped to take the minutes during the phone call to share with everyone else via Facebook and Twitter; to keep you up-to-date with all things Envision!

Mystery Shopper Surveys / Questionnaires
27 responses have been received altogether so far, with one more in the process of being completed (I was contacted via e-mail by someone who had read my article in the Henshaws Hello! newsletter and will complete the coffee shop mystery shopper survey ASAP). More could have been completed by those who undertook the mystery shopping itself, but haven't sent them off to the Envision mailbox yet. Two VCC teleconferences will take place to share ideas on how to promote and gain further responses to the coffee shop surveys.

Future Teleconferences
The Co-chairs of Envision (Nina, Tom and myself) will be having a teleconference on October 1st, and there will also be two VCC (Volunteer Campaign Co-ordinator) teleconferences on October 6th to discuss further survey responses and the charter. I will be attending the second VCC teleconference in the evening.

Coffee Shop Charter
The campaigns planning sub-group had their teleconference on September 15th (minutes from the call will be circulated soon) to hold discussion around the charter. Some members have e-mailed ideas already, and further discussion will be provided by VCC's during their two teleconferences on October 6th.

Social Media
Discussion was had regarding our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter; both of which are doing really well, receiving strong interest and going from strength to strength. They are both interesting platforms to communicate and network with and make our presence known online. Our Twitter account now has 102 followers! The Facebook Friday rota will be discussed during our London meeting on October 23rd. I am also very happy to support anyone who needs help with setting up social media accounts and learning the basics, and could possibly hold a workshop during our London meeting.

London Meeting at Judd Street
The steering group will be meeting on October 23rd at the RNIB headquarters in Judd Street, London. This will be an excellent opportunity to catch up and discuss topics such as social media, the funding application (which is currently being redefined and redeveloped), as well as the charter and survey responses. If there is enough time, ideas for the next campaign could also be discussed and developed.

Useful Links

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

JMW Website Audit

JMW are this year's sponsors for the Henshaws Society for
Blind People Bright for Sight campaign on 9th October, 2014!

I was very kindly asked to audit the JMW website to ensure that it is as accessible as possible to all visitors; including those with a visual impairment using assistive technology. I tested their website using the VoiceOver functions on both my iPad device and my Macbook Air and fed back my findings.

I assessed the JMW website and found it very easy to use on both iPad and Macbook devices using their built-in accessibility functionality. I was able to navigate the website in its entirety; from the embedded Tweet component, to information about the company and their contact details, to latest news and blog posts. You can read more from the press release located at the JMW website here or by clicking on the image above.

Tweet from JMW linking to the press release

Huddled.co.uk, a website for business news and interviews in Manchester, also posted about my findings regarding the accessibility of the JMW website. You can view the article in full by clicking here or on the thumbnail above.

I want to say thank you to JMW for inviting me to be part of their audit and for wanting to reach as many people as possible through the accessibility of their website.

To find out more about JMW Solicitors, you can visit their official website posted above or through their social media websites; their Facebook located here and their Twitter located here.

Monday, 22 September 2014

New Guest Blog Posts

As a resident blogger for Henshaws Society for Blind People, One Man's Vision and Living Paintings, I submit posts regularly to reach as wide an audience as possible. This enables me to share my interests and experiences with other VI people - as well as sighted people too! - to provide an interesting insight into a young severely sight-impaired person's life.

Quite a number of my blog posts have gone live on each of their websites recently, and I wanted to share them here.

Henshaws Society for Blind People

In my newest blog post for Henshaws, I share my recent visit to the Imperial War Museum North with the Art Galleries & Museums group, based at the Manchester resource centre, and our exploration of the 'From Street to Trench' exhibition. I detail our touch and handling session of special artefacts from the First World War, as well as our audio description session consisting of a 15 foot painting by Gilbert Rogers and of a bronze Great Gable Memorial plaque.

You can read my latest blog post with Henshaws by clicking here or on the thumbnail above. All of my previous nine blog posts in total, as their resident blogger, can be viewed by clicking here.

One Man's Vision

As part of my involvement in the One Man's Vision exhibition, I will be updating the blog regularly to keep readers informed of everything from installation and preparation, to my illustration created specially for the exhibition - right up to the opening of the exhibition itself.

You can read my first blog post with One Man's Vision by clicking here or on the thumbnail above. More blog posts will be uploaded soon!

Living Paintings

I also shared my recent visit to the Imperial War Museum North, with the Henshaws Art Galleries and Museums group, to the Living Paintings blog. I share the objects that were discovered during the touch and handling session; which included a munitions medal, a Princess Mary Christmas gift box, a trench art bullet and a trench art ring. I also detail the audio descriptions provided of Ypres, 1915 by Gilbert Rogers and the Great Gable Memorial plaque in heavy bronze set on a plinth.

You can read my blog post by clicking here or on the thumbnail above.

Finally, I shared my experiences of being involved with the One Man's Vision exhibition with the Living Paintings blog and their readers - detailing my Brailled accessible labels to ensure information is as inclusive as possible, installation of the exhibition and creating an illustration specially for it based on the perceptions of blind and visually impaired people.

You can read my blog post in its entirety by clicking here or on the thumbnail above. I will be keeping the Living Paintings community up-to-date with the exhibition in future blog posts!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Installation and Illustration
for the One Man's Vision Exibition

Following on from my previous post about the One Man's Vision exhibition and my involvement with the project - I have now finished my illustration to be framed and showcased at the exhibiton and have helped during some of the installation process at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. I wanted to share my latest piece and experiences with you.

Elephant in the Room

My artwork, created specially for One Man's Vision, is based on an audio file I listened to regarding the social perceptions of and reactions to blind and visually impaired people.

Featured in the background are many logos and symbols associated with myself; disabled, hard of hearing, sight impaired and a long cane user. But to me personally, they are exactly that. In the background. While they are a visual representation of the disabilities that I have, they are not me - the person in the middle of the illustration. A young, confident, fashionable and intelligent young woman with many hobbies, talents and opinions.

When the general public see these logos, they assume that they are attached to older people and are often surprised when they see me in shopping centres or cinemas, just getting on with my life and going about things as any other person would. I've often received comments such as, "But you're so young! Why has this happened to you?" and "You look so normal!". Other times, I receive the opposite reaction - it's an elephant in the room and I can tell that someone desperately wants to talk about my visual impairment but finds it hard to do so incase they offend me by choosing the wrong words. Scope's "End the Awkward" campaign resonated deeply with me was also a source of inspiration behind my illustration.

I used contrasting colours on the top and bottom panels with differing gradients to represent my contrasting experiences with the general public and also the stark contrast of the symbols against the real person associated with them. It took nearly a month to complete the piece and it was created using my favourite mediums of a black fine liner and coloured pencils.

As well as creating an illustration, I also helped with the exhibition itself; creating Braille labels which will be installed to allow all visitors to access the printed information, helping to type up some of the labels to be printed off and placed next to objects inside cases, and creating an object list to keep track of all of the items on display. I had a really interesting insight into how exhibitions are installed and had a fantastic time with the team. A big thank you to Carrie and Laura for having me!

The One Man's Vision exhibition will be opened to the public at Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday, 20th September. You can visit the One Man's Vision website here and can read more about the exhibition at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery website here.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Final Illustration for
RNIB's Insight Magazine

I have now completed my sixth and final illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine, as their Young Illustrator of the Year for 2014. My final piece is based on all of the achievements I have made over the past year; with becoming the RNIB's Young Illustrator contributing to many of these.

My illustration features my interview with Granada Reports and my article in the Manchester Evening News shortly after I became the RNIB's Young Illustrator of the Year, my artwork for John Lewis celebrating their 150th birthday in the summer which was displayed at the Trafford Centre, Salford Mayor Ian Stewart after his very kind tweets of support earlier this year, and an upcoming achievement when I visit European Parliament in November with the European Blind Union.

My illustration took a month to complete and was created using my signature mediums of black fineliner and coloured pencils.

I want to say a big thank you to the Insight Magazine team for their support and for the wonderful opportunities that being their illustrator has presented to me. I have enjoyed my time contributing to the magazine immensely!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Preparation for the
One Man's Vision Exhibition

Cutting the foam Braille labels to size

I've been kindly invited to be part of the One Man's Vision exhibition, celebrating the work of Thomas Henshaw and his story of founding Henshaws Society for Blind People over 175 years ago.

Over the past few weeks I have been Brailling out labels to make all of the information as accessible as possible to visitors who prefer the format (audio description and an audio tour will also be available) and yesterday was spent with Laura Wigg-Brailey, project manager and curator of the exhibition, attaching the labels to foam boards and slicing them to the correct size.

This is just one of the ways I am contributing to the project; I will be helping to install the exhibition next week, producing a piece of artwork to be displayed among the exhibits - based on social attitudes towards visually impaired and blind people, volunteering at the exhibition itself to talk to visitors about my time using the Henshaws services over the past year, getting involved with some art workshops over the half-term and contributing to the blog at the One Man's Vision website!

Completed Braille foam board labels

The One Man's Vision exhibition will be opened to the public at Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday, 20th September.

You can visit the official website here and can read more about the exhibition at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery website here.

I will be posting more about this project in the forthcoming weeks as the exhibition is installed, my art piece is completed to be displayed and about my voluntary work at the exhibition!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

100th Blog Post!

I've now reached my second milestone of 100 blog posts!

It was only at the end of April that I'd reached the milestone of my 50th blog post. Since then, I have gathered almost 8,000 unique page views on my blog - double what I had back in April! - and have achieved some great things in the past 5 months. 

Here are a few of the highlights from the past 50 posts:

Kindly invited by staff members to have my GCSE A* carousel artwork displayed at the RNIB Pears Centre in Coventry.

Completed my birthday composition to celebrate John Lewis' 150th birthday, which was displayed at their restaurant in the Trafford Centre, from 1st June to 27th July.

Designed 4 geometric shape Thank You cards for the RNIB to be given to their donors who donate to the charity.

Designed a Christmas card for Henshaws Society for Blind People to be sold at Christmas and raise funds for the charity.

Attended the RNIB Campaigners' Convention 2014 at Aston Business School in Birmingham, learning a variety of new campaigning skills through the various workshops on offer.

Displayed part of my portfolio at the Positive Eye: Positive Outcomes and Practical Approaches Conference at St. Vincent's School for Blind Children, in Liverpool.

Rode pillion on the back of a Triumph 2012 from Manchester to Knaresborough, Harrogate (150 miles there and back!) for the Henshaws Sausage Run 2014.

Undertook a 2 week work placement with the Guide Dogs Training Centre in Atherton, Leigh as part of the 12 week Skillstep course provided by Henshaws. Also fulfilled the final part of my assessment and harness training; and now waiting to be matched to my own Guide Dog!

Graduated from the 12 week Skillstep course at Henshaws Society for Blind People's Manchester resource centre over the summer months.

Completed my final illustration for RNIB's Insight Magazine as their Young Illustrator of the Year, 2014.

I want to say a big thank you to all of my readers, especially the team at Henshaws Society for Blind People and Irlam and Cadishead Now, for showing their constant support through sharing my blog entries with their wider Twitter and Facebook audiences. Your support means so much to me!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Spotted on Blue Peter!

Spotted on last night's Blue Peter! (left)

I've received a few messages that I was spotted on last night's Blue Peter "Space Competition Launch" episode - which features Iggy the Guide Dog taking her first puppy training class at the Guide Dogs Training Centre in Atherton, Leigh.

Earlier last month, when filming was taking place, I was at my work placement at Guide Dogs as part of my 12-week Skillstep course with Henshaws Society for Blind People. I was lucky enough to watch the filming and take some photos and videos, as well as meet Iggy after her training session had finished! I had no ideas that I'd managed to make it into the filming though, which was a pleasant surprise!

Meeting Iggy, the Blue Peter Guide Dog puppy!

You can view last night's Blue Peter episode on the iPlayer by clicking here (I show up at 23:28 to 23:32) and you can read my blog post about my work placement at Guide Dogs (with behind-the-scenes filming videos and photos of the Blue Peter team and Iggy) by clicking here!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Skillstep Group Photos

At the end of the Skillstep course, the group and I were invited to have some professional photos taken to be used on the Henshaws website and in other promotional material to showcase what the course provides and what can be attained from it; including confidence, independence, social skills, peer support and employability skills.

I received our photos today and wanted to share them with you here on my blog!

A big thank you to Gwen Riley Jones for the lovely group shots!

You can view all of my previous Skillstep posts, submitted on a week-by-week basis, by clicking here and you can find out more about the course itself by clicking here at the Henshaws website, where you can register your interest to the course via e-mail.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Magazine Scan: Fifth Illustration in RNIB's Insight Magazine

I have now received the latest issue of RNIB's Insight Magazine (September / October 2014) featuring my fifth illustration. My newest piece focuses on support at the time of sight loss and the various ways and formats in which to receive aid and assistance.

Young Illustrator

Our young illustrator, Kimberley Burrows, writes: "Support at the time of sight loss is extremely important, and I wanted to depict some of the various forms in my illustration (above right). The most important support network is through friends and family, along with your doctor and ECLO. Helpful information can be sourced through leaflets and online from various organisations and charities including the RNIB, Henshaws Society for Blind People and Action for Blind People - as well as via helplines."

The newest edition of Insight Magazine is available now in large print, braille, audio and PDF formats. For more information on how you can subscribe - please click here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Bright for Sight Fundraising Pack

I have now received my Bright for Sight fundraising pack and wanted to share with you all its contents as well a little teaser as to what I'll be doing with my pack for the Bright for Sight event this year, held on October 9th.

The Bright for Sight pack itself contains a fundraising guide, a poster, a paying in & gift aid form, a bright ideas booklet, a recipe booklet to bake your own Bright for Sight biscuits, a how-to guide to create your own Bright for Sight bunting and 2 balloons!

I will be taking part in the Bright for Sight campaign this year, selling crafted items to raise funds for Henshaws Society for Blind People - helping to benefit other visually impaired and blind people like myself through the services that the charity provides. I won't give too much away at the moment as I'm still in the process of finalising my project, but it is very bright and colourful and will hopefully be a big hit with service users, volunteers and staff members alike!

What is Bright for Sight?

Bright for Sight is Henshaws Society for Blind People's biggest and brightest annual fundraising campaign helping to raise vital funds in order to support people affected by sight loss and other disabilities. Bright for Sight is taking place on October 9th, 2014 - which is World Sight Day.

I would urge anyone and everyone to get involved with Bright for Sight to raise as much money as possible for Henshaws and to help make a difference to the lives of people like me.

How can you take part?

There are lots of ways to get involved with Bright for Sight. Whether you decide to Wear Bright or Bake Bright, the fundraising part is really simple. Bright for Sight can be done at school, work or with friends - it's entirely up to you!

Why get involved?

By taking part in a Bright for Sight activity for Henshaws, you will be helping people affected by sight loss and other disabilities.

There are almost 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss. Nearly half of blind and partially sighted people feel moderately or completely cut off from the people or things around them.

There are 11 million disabled people in the UK. That's nearly 1 in 5 adults who have serious difficulties getting around, experience long-lasting pain or who struggle to communicate unaided.

All the money raised this year will go towards supporting our technology projects across the organisation. These days technology plays a crucial role in most people's lives, but for people who are visually impaired or disabled it can provide a real lifeline.

Share Bright for Sight!

Feel free to send pictures of your activities to brightforsight@henshaws.org.uk or share them through the Henshaws social media websites at: facebook.com/henshaws and twitter.com/henshaws using the hashtag #BFS - the best ones will be shared with online followers of Henshaws!

You can read more about the Bright for Sight campaign as well as stories from service users who have benefitted from the fundraising event by clicking here!