The fight goes on to victory

Sometimes, campaigning is exhilarating: we are doing fun and exciting things and getting quick results. For example, when I was a student, I was involved in a campaign that arranged for a wheelchair user to abseil down a building in tandem with a senior manager from a sister organisation to highlight its inaccessibility. Just six weeks later, a lift was installed. But, most of the time, campaigning is hard work, slow and a bumpy ride.

When you have been campaigning for something for years, it is easy to lose the will to live, never mind to keep repeating the same points.

It is at times like this that we need to reflect on, and draw strength from, what we have achieved, no matter how small these successes may be.

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The wonders of my new toy

Lynda JonesLynda Jones

Earlier this year I had a very difficult decision to make.  Should I continue with my mobile phone and its tactile keys and TALKS software, or take the plunge and get an iPhone given that TALKS is no longer readily available? I was comfortable with my Nokia and TALKS and very nervous about using a touch screen and more complicated technology, but after much thought I took the plunge. I visited a couple of local mobile phone shops and found the O2 shop assistant was the most helpful and set up my new phone with voice over and phonetic alphabet.  On a frivolous note, I bought a bright pink one!

I had to wait two weeks before getting one to one instructions on how to text and make phone calls but in the meantime I was told about Siri and could ask my iPhone to send texts and make calls.  I learnt that I had to be careful though as Siri sometimes didn’t get it right. Once I sent a text saying “Say hello to everyone XXX”, but unfortunately Siri sent “Say hello to everyone except sex.” Ooops!  It did give everyone a good laugh and I shall never live it down.

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Sense Active’s first football session

a deafbling girl and her communicator guide playing football at a Sense Active football eventOn a cold December morning in Sandwell, 17 very enthusiastic participants – complete with scarves and gloves – took to the football pitch to take part in what was Sense’s first ever football session.

Although for many, it may have been the first time they have ever had a football at their feet, there was plenty of excellent dribbling, passing, shooting and catching on display.

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Window Eyes Screen Reader

Chris Fox

Window Eyes logoWe have some really good news for those of you who use a screen reader on your Windows based computer. G W Micro the maker of Window Eyes screen reader and Microsoft have announced that as long as you have Microsoft Office 2010 or above, either as a standard DVD install or a subscription to Microsoft 365 you have access to a free fully functioning copy of Window Eyes.

You will also need a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1

The only differences between the free and paid versions are as follows:

The free version does not have:

  1. Braille & Large Print instruction manual.
  2. You have only the standard Microsoft voices (others are available for £40.00 excluding VAT).
  3. Technical Support is provided for initial setup only.

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Book review: He Is Not me: a Deaf Childhood, a Hearing Adulthood

Steven Morris

Steven Morris

I was delighted when I was asked to review Stuart McNaughton’s account of his life both before and after receiving a cochlear implant.

As a recent recipient of a cochlear implant myself, I was fascinated to read of someone else’s experience with this potentially life-changing technology. At this point, I should probably briefly outline what a cochlear implant actually is. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

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Stop blaming blindness

Rehabilitation services enable blind, and deafblind, people to develop skills to increase independence. They include, for example, training in orientation and mobility, cooking and other household tasks, reading braille, and using specialist equipment and software. They reduce, sometimes eliminate, the need for long term support.

A recent report published by RNIB revealed a worrying drop in the number of visually impaired people receiving rehabilitation services. It also showed that, when such services are provided, they are often restricted to six weeks, which is woefully inadequate to learn the complex skills, and the confidence needed.

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Product review: Sonido personal listener

Ian Capon holding his Sonido personal listenerIan Capon

Personal listeners are portable listening devices that can help you to hear with or without hearing aids.

The Sonido personal listener is one such device available from Action On Hearing Loss. This is the description of it on their website:

“The Sonido portable amplifier is designed to help you hear conversations and other sounds (like the TV) more clearly. Simply point the Sonido in the direction you want to listen and it will amplify the sound you want to hear and reduce the background noise from everywhere else.

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The impact of 'bedroom tax' on deafblind people

Kari Gerstheimer, Head of Legal Support ServicesKari Gerstheimer

It has not been an easy year for disabled people. Local authorities are squeezing social care support to the bare bone, living costs are spiraling and many disabled people are worried about the changes in welfare benefit from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The ‘bedroom tax’, a term routinely used to describe the governments ‘under occupancy charge’ or ‘spare room subsidy’, is a nationwide change in the way housing benefit entitlement is calculated. If tenants are assessed as having a ‘spare room’ they will see a reduction in their overall housing benefit of 14 per cent, or 25 per cent if the tenant has two ‘spare rooms’.

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In praise of the Braille display

by Steven

Not being able to see means that, for example, I rely on audio output to access my computer via something called a screenreader, (I use JAWS by Freedom Scientific) that literally does what it says on the tin and tells me what is on screen. Using the keyboard and various shortcut keystrokes, I can easily move around the screen, browse the internet, read emails etc.

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Who will join me on my Mission to Mars?

Katie Vecina, Sense Activist

Once upon a time, my sole ambition was to become an astronaut. Fuelled by an overdose of scifi books and films beamed at me by my older brother, I engineered my spaceship out of discarded kitchen worktop and spare car parts; it even had its own hydroponics system. For most of the summer holiday, I travelled in it, across the universe, in a space oddity that only a nerdy six year old with an overactive imagination could dream up.

When my brother gleefully tried to shatter my dreams by informing me that I could never be an astronaut, I zapped him with my super-powered laser, which consisted of a washing up liquid bottle filled with cold water.  My obsession with becoming an astronaut was short lived, which is just as well: my brother was right, my impairments did mean I could never become one. Or, so I thought, until I came across this article in the Guardian about the likely psychological impacts of the Mars One mission, concluded that my life is remarkably like that of an astronaut and that, therefore, deafblind people would make perfect astronauts.

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