hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
The OCRing of my phonology textbook leaves so much to be desired. I knew it'd be bad at the IPA symbols, but sometimes it's just bad.

One section of this chapter is called "Coronal" (which is a feature of how some speech sounds are made). The screenreader has called it "Corona!" so now the section looks like the name of the musical about itself.

(I've just run into another section called Opacity and Strata! (Yes this does mean stratal is a word; I remember what a challenge that was to decipher in my lecturer's unusual accent when he mentioned it in class.))

90/365

Mar. 31st, 2019 11:41 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I am a fan of daylight savings time but it tested my resolve this year: we got the last possible train home from Brighouse last night (usually I make us go home earlier but it was nice to spend the time with Ozzy and play the Mysterium game he brought) so we got home not long before 1am. I microwaved a ready meal because I'd barely eaten yesterday and by the time I'd eaten it...it was after 2am. I'm someone who can quite happily go to bed at 9pm, and I had to get up for work this morning, so I was not looking forward to that.

It was about as much fun as I expected this morning, but I managed it.

After work I went straight to uni to use their computers for the spreadsheet stuff my laptop still won't do. I had to re-do some stuff, I still don't really understand what I'm doing, and there's a lot left to do before Friday, but I hope I am making some progress. Annoyingly, while of course I saved my work on the uni computers, I forgot to update the Google Drive doc, so I couldn't even attempt to look at it once I got home. If it's only making the pivot tables that makes my laptop crash, and not working with them, it'll be a lot easier for me to get this done. But I guess tomorrow is soon enough to find that out and it meant I didn't have to feel guilty for not doing more work once I got home.

Which was handy because soon after I got home, [personal profile] diffrentcolours asked if I wanted to go see Captain Marvel with them. I wasn't bothered about the movie but thought it'd be nice to see my friends, so I went along. I enjoyed it, despite the audio description not working, a thing the cinema really could've handled better. (Updates on this arrived as I was writing this entry: it's been upgraded from a Could Be Better to a Okay I'm Angry Now.)

I hadn't been to that cinema since it got renovated and it's horrible: very dark with patches of bright neon, huge screens flickering with ads, and a floor that was either busily-patterned carpet or glittery tiles. On our way out of the movie, I needed a wee and [personal profile] mother_bones directed me to which of the neon humanoid symbols above adjacent doors was the ladies. "They look the same!" I moaned about the (neon outlined figures, but clearly this wasn't just a blind-person problem: I followed an older, beardy, very male-looking person into the loos, but he looked around a little confused when he got there and I think left hastily.

Okay, [personal profile] diffrentcolours has just told me that apparently Captain Marvel only had audio description in the fancy, much-more-expensive "Screen X" showings at that cinema, which is some bullshit. So my musings on the way home about how I might get in touch with them in a "more a feedback than a complaint..." kind of way have immediately turned into "no that's an actual complaint now." I'm sure this happened a while ago, can't remember if it was the same chain or not but I encountered one that was only doing audio description in its IMAX-type, expensive, screens. This one projects on the side walls as well as the screen, for "270 degree cinema." Which sounds ghastly to me but also seems utterly wasted at best on most people who benefit from audio description -- it could well be a distraction/migraine trigger, so, worse than useless. And for much more money! How delightful.

But yeah, that's something for tomorrow's to-do list; it's bedtime now!
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
A lot of you know I've had massive trouble with being given inaccessible reading to do for uni. This has been a problem since I started, and trying to ask my disability advisor about it last year got me nowhere (she treated it like a problem of individual lecturers rather than something utterly systemic, and she never really got back to me about it anyway).

This year I've got a new disability advisor, and I finally got around to asking her the same question the other day: what am I supposed to do when this happens? She replied "You were given $software which is supposed to handlethat, have you been using it?" and even copied a bit from my DSA assessment about this.

Which I guess I never read carefully enough. And the training I got on that software was entirely about other things, OCRing actual paper documents. No one told me it'd work with PDFs or other computer files, or showed me how to do that.

I just tried it and it works.

And I'm really upset about it. I can't even read; I can't concentrate because I'm so emotional about how long I have strugged, without enough support. Without anyone going through my DSA report with me. Without good training. (I had to find the CD and re-install the software myself since the training people just re-imaged my computer last summer.) Without this even being mentioned by my previous advisor when I asked her the same question last year!

All my suffering and frustration and struggle, and the means to fix it was on a CD in the desk drawer next to me all this time.

Later I will be relieved and happy that it works (well mostly; it's still buggering up the IPA in my phonology textbook! but that is to be expected). But for now, I'm teary and I can't bear to read anything just yet.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I never did hear of the old one being found but I was able to get a new one from the sensory team and it's better!

My first thought when I picked it up was this seems lighter! I don't know what either the old one or the new one is made of, but continued use (carrying it when it was folded, and especially going up stairs where the technique I was taught is to hold it up and above you a bit so it hits the stair above the one you're standing on until there aren't any more because you've reached the end) has confirmed that it definitely feels a little ligther than I'm used to. That's awesome because it makes it more responsive.

I've got a better tip too, one I've been meaning to try but had always been given another one -- which was okay and free so I never complained, but. This is probably the one I see on the most other people's canes (yes I check out other people's white canes!), it's particularly advertised for "road obstacles" and "pavement cracks" and where I live there are millions of both of those things. I'm happy with it, though it takes a little getting used to because though I know the manufacturers do their best to make them lightweight, it is bigger so it's a little heavier. Combined with a slightly lighter cane, it feels a little like I'm flinging a stocking with an orange in the toe, but I'm sure I'll get used to it soon, and I do really like the tip. (But they're al great at first; I'm interested to see how it'll work as it wears down.)

And this cane folds up smaller! It's the same length as the old one (this is determined by the height of the person using it and sadly I haven't gotten any taller) but that folded up into four sections whereas this one is six.

This is a big deal because it's always determined the kind of bags I can use. My current little one has a hole in it and I was telling Andrew I have to go shopping but don't have the spoons for it. He offered to look for something for me on Amazon and I said I really do need to go shopping; I need to see if/how my cane will fit, because left to my own devices I'd have a smaller bag but I need something that'll fit it when I'm not using it.

The old cane just barely fit into my current bag and I think contributed to the hole it now has in it. If it had fit better, I may have put the cane Away instead of just putting it Down yesterday.

I took a couple pictures, saying "I was so excited I took pictures of the tip and how small it is folded up, even though these probably won't mean much to anyone who doesn't know what the old one was like," haha.

At least, in the unimaginable future where I get one better than this, I will have these as comparison shots.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I managed to lose my white cane today. I am the worst blind person ever, haha.

Well I didn't lose it, I know where I left it: on a chair in the library. I didn't notice until after my next lecture (hey, partially sighted means I don't always use it and it was raining when I went outside so the umbrella took priority). When I went back an hour later it wasn't where I'd left it and it hadn't been handed in to the library staff.

I left my details with them just in case.

And annoyingly, the library is right down the road from where I got the cane in the first place but the sensory team closes at half four and my lecture finished at five so I couldn't even go ask for another one. I will go see them tomorrow if it doesn't turn up.

It was stressful getting the bus home though -- yes I don't always use it which is how I got in this predicament in the first place, but not having it when I want it makes me feel naked -- and I'll have to get to work and back before I can go talk to the sensory team.

I am so grumpy at myself. I'd had a tough day, and when all I had left to do was go home I managed to make this difficulty for myself instead.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I started to furiously write this morning about the inadequate response I got when I emailed my disability advisor about the lack of a sighted guide at the beginning of the semester. But then I ranted a lot at my DSA "study mentor" about it when I had this week's meeting with her a couple hours later, so I've got that out of my system. And like I say, I'm so bored with this being a Holly Complains about Society Disabling Her blog.

So what else? Andrew and I went to the cinema for the first time since...Deadpool 2? Ocean's Eight? Something like that. End of last summer, anyway.

He wanted to see the new Lego movie, which I wasn't that enthused about, after the "girl does all the work, guy gets all the credit" story of the first one, but I was still happy to go and it even addressed that very thing. It was really fun. Andrew's been either working flat out or totally spoonless since he started this podcast so it was nice to get to do something fun together.

I loved that Maya Rudolph had a bit part being basically the same character she plays in The Good Place, and I thought I recognized the voice of the queen but I didn't guess it was Stephanie Beatriz. Andrew was hoping for lots of Lego Batman content and I thought he got it but he still said there could've been more. I said he'd probably think the same about The Lego Batman Movie.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
"You comin' over?" called the old white man from the other side of the road I was waiting to cross.

I was standing, not only with the attentive-but-bored posture next to a crossing of someone waiting to cross a road, but also in the middle of Kingsway. It's one of those big roads with two sets of pedestrian crossing controls. You have to go halfway and then hit another button and then wait for the other lights too.

So I was indeed either going to cross the road or else live in the little concrete median in the middle of a dual carriageway.

Because this wasn't really what he was asking me. He was asking me why I wasn't crossing the road yet. He was crossing as he asked me. I wasn't because I was still waiting for the lights to change.

I like waiting anyway but with the white cane I consider it mandatory. Because if an abled stranger sees me crossing against the light, they'll probably try to intervene. They'll think I shouldn't be allowed out on my own. They'll yell at me or grab me because they won't be able to imagine a world where I am doing this safely. There is no question in my mind that this is an instance where I have to perform my disability to their expectations because if I don't manage their feelings things get harder for me.

But I didn't have time to say that. The man was already crossing the (admittedly empty, but the lights still hadn't changed) road toward me. So I just said "Yep, I am!" in answer to his question of whether I was crossing over. Of course I was stating an intention, not an action that I was then undertaking. But we use the same words for that.

He got to my side and stood next to me. I just kept looking forward (the spinny cone is broken in that particular traffic light so I have to actually look for the actual green man there...but I'd probably have resisted the urge to turn to someone talking to me anyway because I don't want to encourage them in circumstances like this).

This time he said "Do you want me to walk over with you?" I always find this kind of offer amusing, or at least it would be if the people saying it had any understanding of how bizarre it is. I somehow got this far, to the middle of a busy road in this case, on my own but strangers who encounter me always seem to think they've turned up in the nick of time because now I must need help!

I did not need help. Luckily at this point the green man saved me and I strode off away from the old white man.

I missed half of my working hours today because of ableism, because a bus driver didn't tell me what number bus he was so I got on the wrong one so was hella late and steaming mad about it. It may be only lunchtime but I've had more than my quota of ableism for today and this guy only narrowly avoided getting an earful from me about it.

Even with every fiber of my body radiating frustration and anger, it still wasn't enough to make this person leave me alone, or allow that I might have any competence at all. Even having crossed half a street didn't convince him I might be able to cross the other half.

This is why trying to play up to abled expectations is a fool's game, it's impossible, because we can never be that perfect combination of inspirational and yet grateful for the help they, on a whim and only when it's convenient for them, offer.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I fell getting on the tube. I did mind the gap, but I still missed my step.

I started crying because I was so angry. A nice person said they've fallen there too and it happens to everyone. Even if they were lying, I so appreciated it! And someone else actually gave up their seat for me! That's how pitiful I must have looked.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Today is already a delightful combination of the medical and social models of disability.

I stubbed my toe last night and, now that I've had to do more than shuffle to bed on it, I think it might be broken. It hurts a lot. I stub my toes a lot because I have no depth perception: my vision is functionally monocular. I'd actually commented yesterday at work how I'd noticed I was grabbing for things like the fridge handle or the kettle and getting only thin air. It's not like me to miss so drastically. And that lack of depth perception led to me hitting a piece of furniture really hard last night -- I broke the skin and everything. I was on my way to bed and didn't think too much of it, but this morning just walking the dog and getting to the bus stop have made me grit my teeth and wince a lot.

I took my sinus medicine to school yesterday and it must have fallen out of my bag at some point (this bag is getting too small for everything I need it to do). But I didn't even notice until I wanted it again yesterday evening. I had no reason to expect it wouldn't be there, and I checked the bag like three times in my frustration and misery with myself, but it stubbornly refused to appear. Clearly I hadn't even noticed it falling out when I'd got to get something else out of or into my bag.

Losing stuff so obliviously, not being sure if lost things are really lost or I'm just not seeing them, and hurting myself through lack of depth perception are all problems legitimately caused by my impairment. So I think of them as medical-model stuff because the medical model says people are disabled by their impairments. The medical model is all that most abled people think disables us, but really it's the much smaller part.

The big part, the thing disability activists talk about all the time, is the social model of disability. And today, that kicked in for me when I was limping along to the bus stop. A small side street I have to cross was having some road work done or something: there was a barricade across it (to cars, so alongside where pedestrians walk). The road was very potholed and uneven though I don't think that's anything to do with why it's closed; that's just what roads are like around here!

So a guy appeared next to me as we were approaching this road. He said a few words to warn me about these obstacles. I thanked him. He walked more quickly than me, because I could only go so fast with my sore toe, but he turned around a couple times to see if I made it across the bumpy bit all right and avoided the barrier. (I did! Hooray me!)

But then! He saw another obstacle! There was a streetlight pole in my path! Oh noes! So he was actually walking backwards at this point so he could look at me and shout "left! you need to go left!" to avoid the pole.

I said "I'm all right mate, this is what the cane's for!" He said something like "oh, okay," turned back around cheerfully enough and went on his way, but I don't know if what I said convinced him or if it was the fact that I had moved out of the way of the pole by then that reassured him his work here was done.

It's so weird, I felt like I was a Tetris piece, being shouted at to go left!

This is the social model of disability. That guy seemed to genuinely not have any idea that I've been trained to use my white cane to keep me safe from the kind of collisions he was apparently imagining. He didn't consider how distracting or tiring it was for me to have to deal with him -- if anything was going to endanger me, it'd much more likely be the yelling than the streetlight! I could just about forgive it when he was calling my attention to an unusual thing, the barrier in the road, but I couldn't cope with him trying to verbally steer me around every obstacle.

This didn't have to happen. It is very easily avoided: most people I walk past just ignore me and that's great! But this kind of thing happens so often disabled people have a word for it: hlep or hlepiness, because we recognize this is about people wanting to feel helpful to such an extent that they center themselves and their feeling and don't think or care at all about whether it's actually helpful. Sometimes they react really badly if the disabled person resists the hlep, even though it often puts us in danger and is always inconvenient, draining, and dehumanizing.

I was lucky this guy believed me and left me alone after I snapped at him; that is about as good as these interactions can go at that point. (I think it helped that he was happy to just carry on walking at a speed much faster than I could, to be honest!) and it's a damn shame that I have to think "well at least he didn't get mean or grab me or anything." This is a pretty successful interaction with an abled person. This is almost as good as it gets.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I woke up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep. I was at work and uni for a combination of seven hours today. Which I know is only a work day for a lot of people, but it's a lot for me.

Especially when I had to find the new room for my lecture. Which I did manage. It's a weird building, an old one that has been (is being?) renovated. So the lecture theatre was like halfway up a set of stairs. The lecturer did that thing again where he asked us near the end "would it be all right if I kept you till, say, three minutes to the hour?" (we're supposed to finish at ten to) and then just did it. Who's going to say no?

I was sorely tempted to, though. Not only can I not hear anything after 2:50 anyway because the hallways outside get so noisy with students who have been let out on time, not only is it stressful for me to feel rushed when I have to pack up my laptop, make sure I've got all my things in my two bags, and juggle my cane to get out of the room, but today the staircase was lined on both sides with kids waiting to get in for their lecture. I really dislike having to do stairs where I can't hang on to a railing or at least lean on a wall or something. And there was no other apparent exit from the room -- I have no idea what a person who needed step-free access would do.

He also did that "I am neither autistic nor a sociopath" line again. So I'm going to have to say something. I am not looking forward to that but it needs doing. I got Andrew to find me a good link to send him about how autistic people do have theory of mind for fucks sake. Just need to amass some spoons before I can email him.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I think it only says I need "electronic access" to readings in my disability support plan and that needs to be clearer so I can complain better when I need to.

Because the textbook being "available" as images on a website where I can't even download it for more than a few days is not acceptable but it is "electronic."

And after being so relieved that I found everywhere I needed to go this week, I learn (yes on a weekend but that's only because I didn't check my email yesterday)that one of my lectures has been moved to another buliding I've never heard of. It's on Monday so there isn't even really time to find it beforehand. If I work on Monday morning I might not have time to find it at all. I had about five minutes to eat lunch last week and that's when I knew where I was going -- and lunch was necessary as otherwise I have no chance to eat between 10am and 3pm (at which point, I can promise I won't have remembered anything about my lecture because I will be TOO HUNGRY).

I already have to leave work early on Mondays, which last week meant I left without getting an essential task done in order to get to uni in time for that lecture.

Fuck it; I'll skip the lecture and add that to the list of reasons hy the disability services are disabling me. I can always catch up; it's recorded. But I really hate not being there. It's bad for my mental health. Especially when I missed the seminar for that class yesterday. Especially when I'll miss the lecture for the stupid reason that my uni's diability services are disabling me.

I despair. I really fucking do. I do not have the energy to deal with these things that keep happening.

29/365

Jan. 29th, 2019 01:53 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Today the lack of a sighted guide meant I went to uni straight from work, even though it was two hours until my lecture.

It's the worst kind of weather to look for a building: raining and barely above freezing.

A fun thing about being visually impaired is that one of the hardest things to see is puddles/standing water. The first one I plowed through was so deep it went over the top of my shoe. I gasped from how cold it was, and my foot soon started cramping and throbbing.

The best map I could find sent me way in the wrong direction. I wandered a long way before giving up. I spent more than half an hour in the wet and cold. At some point my other foot got wet too, though not as completely. There is mud splashed up to the knee on that leg from the dirty water.

I did find the building eventually. I had to go up a few stairs and walk along to where the building was set back from the path before I could read the sign outside it to find out what it was.

I was dead on my feet by then but I wanted to try to find the room too or I'd still be anxious when it came time for my lecture. The signage inside the building was okay, especially considering how old it is. It sent me up the stairs to the first floor and then was just to the right of them.

I hadn't seen anywhere to sit down or relax (the newer buildings are better at that but the old ones sometimes aren't), so I trudged outside into the wet and cold again, having just started to warm up. It hurt.

I stupidly tried to take a shortcut to the library and save my poor feet some walking, but it didn't work so I had to go back to where I'd started and subjected my sore feet to much more walking, my eyes to more straining to orient myself, my skin and clothes to more rain even with my umbrella and waterproof coat.

I ducked into another building for a wee and sobbed a little in the cubicle. I am just so tired and sore and wet and uncomfortable. And I'm so angry that this had to happen, i still don't understand why the support I need wasn't in place this semester. I haven't chased it up with DASS yet. I mentally composed emails I'll never send as I traipsed around. I'll need to think of something sensible to say once I've calmed down.

I'm sitting in the student union now, with my shoes off. If anybody says anything about that I'll probably cry at them. My trousers are soaked halfway up the legs. I considered just going home but I want to go to the lecture now that I've gone to all this effort, had all this pain and stress because of it.

I've got another hour now until it. I've got some lunch to eat. I will be okay.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I was so so miserable about uni this morning. I was really stressed about not knowing where my rooms were, even though today wasn't too bad (it was two buildings I know, so even though I didn't know the particular room I thought I could find it okay -- and I was only wrong 50% of the time!). Tomorrow and Wednesday and Thursday are going to be the real problems.

I'm still so mad at DASS for answering my email only with "your advisor isn't in today so nothing can be done about this unless you make an appointment." As it turns out, I spent the other four days of last week mired in illness as well as exams and couldn't have gotten to an appointment even if I'd had time to make one before the illness set in, but I didn't. Even if I had, though, it was really too late to get the support in place and that hadn't ever previously been my problem to chase up.

First lecture was phonology. I sat between two friendly people who chatted to me a little (one knew my name but I don't recognize her!). The lecturer seemed okay, he was giving us really good information about the class (the kind I wish was more available when we had to choose the classes!). But then he said something weird, something like "And I am not autistic or a sociopath." I was very confused but he went on to explain that he knows some of the work will be difficult for us, which means he has theory of mind so that's why he's not autistic. Like I can't remember verbatim but he definitely spelled out that he has theory of mind so that means he cannot be autistic. I don't know how obvious my Very Displeased expression was from the front row, but it didn't break his stride anyway. (The sociopath bit was about how he wasn't going to be mean in the work he assigned for us, or something? It was just a totally unnecessary way to frame two perfectly good points (that I only remember vaguely because my brain was too busy Being Angry to record good memories at that point).)

Then I have an hour to kill before my next lecture. I went to buy some chooclate in hopes of staying awake for it -- I'd woken up about five this morning, and I'd gone to work before uni, whihc is a new thing I'm trying this semester. Even the weekday that I worked last semester, it was after uni was done for that day rather than before it, so we'll see how this goes. My job isn't hard but I do find myself really tired a lot of the time afterwards. Hopefully I'm just used to being able to go home and flop and I can be okay without that. If it proves too much for me though, I can always cut down my work days, but I hate to do that while L is still short of PAs.

Anyway, I bought chocolate, Stuart called so I talked to him for the first time in ages (he's been very ill so it was nice to hear he is better), and then...went to the wrong room for my next lecture. Bah.

I didn't know much about this class either but it turns out to be the combination of my two favorite kinds of linguistics: it's historical sociolinguistics! Sociolinguistics does mean a lot of spreadsheets and statistics and stuff, which is pretty intimidating for me. All our tutorials will be on computers so I talked to the lecturer at the end about the logistics of using my own. She asked if I had assignment extensions and since this is another class where there's going to be tutorial work every week I had flashbacks to Theory of Grammar but when I said I did, she said, "Good, I was going to tell you to get them if you didn't." That's better! She also said that whule there are some fixed deadlines (where all the students will be doing little bits of a big task that will then be collected into useful data), they'll just not use mine if I don't get it done in time. And she says maybe she can give me the work for the deadlines earlier so maybe I can have extra time and still meet them. But only because I said I'd like to contribute to the big project if I can. It's nice to know that if those deadlines happen at times I'm too busy/ill, I won't have to worry about them.

She did her ableist thing too: near the beginning of the lecture this loud crackly noise started intermittently coming out of the speakers. She ended up turning off the microphone and saying "Can everyone hear me?" which is bullhsit because it's hard to speak up if you can't! Also it means that the podcast recording won't feature hardly any of the audio (and the slides weren't much information on their own) so I was having to take really frantic notes to try to keep up.

Okay I'm off to a spoken word night with some friends, so that's all I have time for today!
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
My eyes were so sore when I woke up that they teared up right away, and I don't know if that's because of whatever has made them sore, or just my frustration and despair because I have an exam tomorrow that I really need to do a lot more revising for. Usually they get tired and sore as the day goes on; if they're like this already, I'm doomed.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Fucking disabled student's office.

I know DSA [Disabled Students Allowance, for the whole country] will refund my costs for ink and paper for my printer, and a while ago when I had to buy more of both I asked DASS [Disability Advisory and Support Service, at my uni] how to do it. You pick up a form from us, they said. Great, so I did that.

I just got around to looking at it (I left it a while; I got it before Christmas) and it's...just a form to apply for DSA. What the hell. Either the person at reception didn't listen poperly or didn't care or what. Now I feel stupid for not checking more carefully at the time.

But it's okay because I have to go over there anyway. Because I haven't heard anything this semester about the "sighted guide" support I'm supposed to have in finding my classes and they start next week. In my experience so far these people have been useless enough it's taken a couple of weeks to get things sorted out with them. I again feel stupid for not having realized sooner but W from DASS has always been proactive in getting in touch with me, finding out how much support I need, and arranging it with the company this has, inevitably, been outsounrced to. I could try getting in touch with them myself but with no funding agreed, which DASS has to confirm, I don't think they'll talk to me.

So I emailed the main info@DASS address today and just got a reply saying my advisor isn't in today and I should make an appointment. It wasn't my advisor who was arranging this anyway! I don't know if the person who has been doing this isn't there any more either, or what.

Everything DASS does is completely incomprehensible to the likes of me anyway. My advisr changed a few months ago and I've had no contanct at all with the new one. I've never managed to book an appointment successfully; they don't make it easy! You have to either be there in person or ring them, and in my experience you've had to do one or the other of those things at 10am on a Thursday. Ringing at 10:30 was too late. Ringing at 10 and leaving a message, and then having them call you back, was too late. Maybe it's different now during exams, less busy.

I have an exam on Wednesday (in the same buildilng DASS is in) so I might try going along early to get the right form and see if I can make an appointment. But it'll be too late then anyway! I'm looking at my schedule now thinking things like I've never even heard of this building! and oh no this is another bit of the labyrithine Elizabeth Wilkinson building isn't it... I am going to just have to turn up hella early to everything the first week, and I'll be a bundle of stress when/if I do ever find my lectures! I hate getting lost.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Well we're through security at Manchester Airport. It was a pretty miserably ableist experience for us both, unfortunately. It's almost a good thing Andrew arranged for us to get to the airport thinking our flight was at 8 when it's at 9; it meant we at least didn't have to stress about time when everything took so long.

But after that I had a good thing happen that took some of the sting out of the ableism:

I went to the accessible toilet (properly accessible, I didn't even need my RADAR key) and it started talking to me! There was a little speaker by the door that clearly is motion-activated; as soon as you walk in it says "Welcome."

It made me go "bwah, what?!" (I've had three hours' sleep, which probably doesn't help me process unexpected things!) But immediately it carried on, saying something like "If you are visually impaired and would like to hear a recorded description of this room, wave your hand in front of this unit."

I did not need a description of the room, but I was so delighted at this I said "Cool!" almost as loudly as I'd said "bwah!" before. I've never encountered that kind of thing in an accessible loo before and I think it's a great idea.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
(I'm going by date rather than number of posts I've written; I didn't do one yesterday.)

When I asked for suggestions of things to write about, [personal profile] marjorie_bark said she looked up the UN's International action days in December, which I think is a fantastic way of looking for topics! The two that she said I could probably come up with something to write abouit are two of the topics I feel I go on about the most, but she was confident I can find something to say. Today is the first: today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Rather than just talk about about being a disabled person* again, I looked up a bit of information about how the UN commemorates the day. Wikipedia tells me that it started when the UN declared 1981 to be "The Year of Disabled Persons," which amuses me because that's the year I was born, a totally blind baby.
The slogan of IYDP was "a wheelchair in every home", defined as the right of persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.
A Wheelchair in Every Home! I love that. It makes a great slogan because it'll catch people off guard a little: hopefully making them think about things like "Why would there be a wheelchair in my home?" and ponder how inaccessible most of our lives and routines are, and that none of us are guaranteed to be "safe" from disability. Indeed there are theories that some of the animosity and disabling reactions we face from individual members of society stem from their internalized fear of becoming disabled themselves. The answer to why there might be a wheelchair in one's home is going to be extremely uncomfortable for a lot of people, and I am sure that's as true now as it was in 1981.

Apparently a major outcome of the International Year of Disabled Persons was the formulation of the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1982, and this not only was a precursor to the current Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons but also kicked of an International Decade of Disabled Persons, from 1983 to 1993.

It's becuase of that Convention, to which the UK has been a signatory since 2007, that the UN was able to make the criticisms that got some press lately, about how disabled people's human rights are being violated by the way the UK government is treating us. It's nothing that any disabled person didn't already know, but it's important to have this recognized officially by prestigious organizations like the UN too because disabled people are often hugely disempowered and disprivileged.

While I like the slogan of the first International Day of etc.etc. (part of the reason I don't like person-first language is it just seems so much more cumbersome to write out!), I must admit I found the the list of the last two decades' themes pretty uninspiring. Lots about technology, inclusion, empowerment, breaking down barriers...lots of jargon about development and sustainable goals. It is in the nature of organizations like the UN to be vague and maybe kinda dry on these things, but sheesh. This year's theme is "Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" which is literally just a remix of words that have appeared in previous years.

Interestingly (to me, anyway) I also learned from Wikipedia that Ian Dury was not a fan of this Day of Disabled People from the beginning, and his song "Spasticus Autisticus" was a direct comment on it (his "public response to a public gesture" according to a PDF I found in this wikihole I ended up in); he thought the day was "patronising" and "crashingly insensitive." The BBC apparently banned the song...but, oddly,
only until a 6 p.m. watershed, a decision which itself irked Dury. His record label subsequently sought to strike a defiant as well as sophisticated note regarding the record’s failure to chart, releasing a statement which said: ‘Just as nobody bans handicapped people – just makes it difficult for them to function as normal people – so “Spasticus Autisticus” was not banned, it was just made impossible to function.**
The idea that "Spasticus," a sweary song that seems to combine all the awful things a person might have shouted at them in a lifetime of being disabled (as Ian Dury, who'd had polio, experienced first-hand), wasn't worth banning altogether but only until after a watershed dsends the message that disability is something unsightly, or at least that disabled people being anything other than lamenting or nobly suffering is unsightly. Dury called this song a "war-cry" and sounded quite proud of it getting banned and that "people got offended by it – everybody except the spastics." This kind of reclamation, familiar to many marginalized groups, be so powerful.

It seems to me like the social model of disability sticking its head above the parapet and being knocked down by the prevailing medical model which says disabled people are a medical problem to be fixed and a tragedy that other members of society can safely consider themselves helpless to ameliorate -- thereby convienently absolving themselves of any responsibility to make even the tiniest improvements for disabled people.

Anyway, I've just caught myself using "thereby" and there are a ton of footnotes piling up underneath here (I did warn you guys I'd be writing this in between essays, I guess!) so I think that's enough out of me.

Again: please suggest a topic for me to write about in December Days if you like! Still plenty of days left.


* I prefer "disabled person" to "person with disabilities," but opinions on identity-first ("disabled person," "blind person," etc.) vs. person first ("person with disabilites," "person with visual impairment," etc.) vary from one country to another as well as from one condition to another: for instance, person-first language is standard in the U.S. but even there, autistic people seem to strongly prefer "autistic person" to "person with autism," to the point where the latter is sort of a shibboleth that tells clued-up autistic people that the speaker probably has ableist, mistaken or otherwise hostile views on autism.

** I'd hasten to add that we've (more or less!) moved on a lot from the dichotomy of handicapped vs. normal -- "handicapped" is now considered derogatory (in the UK; it startles me to hear it from Americans but there it's still used to describe toilets and parking spaces and similar things called either "disabled" or "accessible" in the UK), and we're better not about not defining marginalized people as distinct from "normal" people but instead from abled people, cis people, neurotypical people, straight people, white people, Christians, etc.***

*** I'm still on the lookout for a good word of this sort for non-immgrant that isn't "native" because native cannot now be separated from its connotations with indigenous people in North America...but that's a topic outside the scope of this piece! It's important to make that distinction, though: between "common" and "normal."

"Victory"

Nov. 19th, 2018 08:06 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I was glad [personal profile] diffrentcolours warned me about the statue before I saw it. He probably didn't think of it as a warning, it just happened to come up in conversation one day: he told me there was this statue of blind World War I veterans outside Piccadilly, walking in a line, each with a hand on the shoulder of the person in front.

It was a very neutral explanation, mentioned because he knows I have an interest in anything about blindness. I only considered it a warning because I was on the lookout for ableism and cripspiration, especially since soldiers were involved.

I was interested to see the thing, but I don't use the main entrance of Piccadilly nearly as often as the other one, so I had time to forget about it before I encountered it.

So when I did, it was first as a nuisance. It's right in front of the main doors. It causes weird eddies in the spacetime continuum as people ebb and flow around it. And worse, as people stop to take pictures of both the statue and the explanatory plaque. Now, fully cognizant of the irony, I'm going to show you a photo I took of it the other day so you can see what I mean (click thumbnail to embiggen):

I took a bad picture here because I was so conscious of how in-everybody's-way I was -- had to be -- to take a picture at all. And I was at much greater a distance than people usually take photos from. You can actually see one or two doing so in this picture.

But all I wanted was to give you some idea of how close to the front doors of the station this statue is. People photographing it thus also tend to be pretty close by. It adds to the eddies and the obstacles. I expected to be in people's way when I was taking my photo because people are always in my way now, not looking where they are or where anyone else is but framing their shot. It's only a matter of time before someone yells at me for bumping into them and ruining their great insta moment with my actual, unlovely blindness.

Knowing I wanted some photos, I'd folded up my white cane beforehand so that...well, I don't know if I wanted to go incognito so that I wouldn't have to worry about "giving away" that I'm not completely bilnd, or so that my cane and I wouldn't end up in other people's pictures!

Honestly, I also didn't want to look like I was approving of the thing (which I assume most photo-takers are and I didn't want them to assume that of me), becuase I wasn't. I trust and hope that the charity that commisseioned it does good work for blind veterans, and as someone who'll never be a veteran I am not going to talk over them, but as a blind person I was pretty unimpressed.

I thought creating a statue that was a hindrance to blind pedestrians was already enough to die of irony poisoning, but on my first real visit to the statue (where I wasn't just hurrying by and cursing the increased chaos outside the station), after a cursory glance at the row of figures, I went over to the explanatory plaque. It is the same color metal as the statues.

And not just the plaque. All the words on it too. I couldn't read them, beyond the title which was a little larger. There was absolutely no contrast to the text. At all.

It was only on my later photo-expedition trip that I had a chance, because (as I said on Twitter this evening) my phone camera has much better resolution than my own optic nerves.

It says
Victory Over Blindness
Joanna Domke-Guyot
Remembering the returning blind veterans of the First World War
More than 3,000 veterans lost their sight as a result of their service in the First World War. Making their way home from the front, they began their journey to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
In 1915 a charity was founded to support them.
Blind Veterans UK, formerly known as St Dunstan's, has continued to support thousands more blind veterans to live independently as they begin that same journey today.

It's not even anything about the statue, just the charity. And what a name! What is a "victory over blindness"? Not being blind any more? Being so good that it doesn't matter if you're blind? Is blindness an enemy to be vanquished in war? I can't think of a reading that doesn't sound ableist, I'm afraid!

There is a Braille version of the plaque too. The best statistics I can find say that fewer than 1% of the two million visually impaired people in the UK are Braille users.

When I got home, now armed with the name of the statue, I googled it. First thing I found was a BBC news page about it that you can't rightfully call an article because most of it's a video (your reminder that pivot-to-video was always based on a lie and sure as hell made the web less accessible) where most of the information is presented as text overlays that are not read out. Even here, blind people are being talked about, not even talked to, much less with. (The only speech is a few disjointed sentences from blind veterans who were at the unveiling or whatever you call it, and that is captioned, so at least our deafie friends can get more out of the video.)

I was also dismayed to learn from the accompanying text that this statue is a permanent fixture now. I hoped it'd be a short-term thing, for Remembrance Day and that -- at least in its current location. I don't mind there being a statue for disabled veterans (apparently this is the first) but does it have to be right goddam there?

I hope people get used to it and I can walk past it without somebody stopping to take a photo. But Piccadilly is the busiest station around; there's always going to be somebody who's just walking past it for the first time. Ugh. (And oh dear lord I hope I never end up in the photos; people would think it was oh so quaint and poignant to have a Real Life Blind Person in the background of their photo of the mythical blind people.)
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Here's what I wrote about it on Facebook this morning:


I had the most horrific anxiety attack last night.

The weird thing about it is I never felt anxious. I was livid with anger.

I was angry because a bus drove past me without stopping, my bus to a nice night out with friends to see a favorite comedian. There wasn't another that'd get me there in time.

I've shared many times my frustration and despair about bus drivers disabling me by not stopping for me, but this time I was so angry my body interpreted the overwhelming emotion the same way that it does anxiety.

This happens to me sometimes with non-anxiety triggers causing anxiety reactions. Even with positive things: I never used to be one of those people who cried if I was happy or relieved but now sometimes I am (most recently when that amendment I proposed at ldconf paased; people were trying to hug me and congratulate me afterward and I just cried at them).

Any sufficiiently intense emotion sends my body into overdrive and wipes me out. I feel nauseous, I can't trust my legs to hold me up, I can't process information at all.

I could still have gotten a taxi to the gig, Emily offered to drive me, but I was in no fit state to go at that point.

I'd been idly tweeting about how bad other buses were while I waited for mine. So I wrote a bunch more angry tweets, though I knew they'd be futile as ever, at Stagecoach (some of which are what I've screenshotted here). Friends, bless them, quoted and RTed them, tagging in Andy Burnham and Manchester Labour because they run the city and Transport for Greater Manchester. And I think Stagecoach's social media person is going to have a few tweets about this to read when their shift starts this morning.

After I calmed down enough to get home, I sat down, not even able to countenance a cup of tea Andrew offered me.

I did want my pajamas but didn't trust myself on the stairs to our bedroom. He had to get them and bring them down to me.

It was an hour before the nausea had calmed down enough to drink that tea.

I went to bed very early. Crashed out for a couple hours but woke up still feeling terrible. Cried until I woke Andrew up.

One of the triggers of the midnight-relapse was also positive. Susan Calman, the person I'd been on my way to see, had gotten tagged into the thread by some stranger. I'd carefully avoided doing that but of course she was kind and offered me a book. Again I was overwhelmed. And embarrassed.

So I've had about six hours' sleep, in two chunks. My eyes are sore, probably both from the crying (there's a reason I never used to cry! it always fucks up my eyes forever after) and the tiredness.

I feel worse than I would expect to, though. I've had a lot of anxiety attacks and they're never this bad for this long. And they're not usually so unrelated to anxiety!

Yes the frustration/despair of being disabled by buses is cumulative, yes I have no hope will ever change because nothing has happened all the other times I've complained. Yes I'd had a long and draining day before that. But this still seems out of nowhere and that's scary.

And inconvenient! I have to go to work! I have a reading quiz to do for my typology class! I have to be able to enjoy Doctor Who by this evening!

I think the most important thing I have to say about this is in one of those tweets from last night: a lot of visually impaired people have anxiety. I wasn't diagnosed until my 20s but once I knew that was the name for it I realized I'd had anxiety from the time I started kindergarten at the very latest. The world is confusing and draining and forever holding you to standards you can't meet and telling you it's your fault when you fail to. Though it may not seem this way to some people it's all connected, from that bus driver zooming past me to how terrible I still feel now.

The vast majority of the time it's not my sight that disables me, it's society, and that's exactly what's happened here. I wish people understood that better.

Cane tip

Oct. 12th, 2018 11:35 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)

I got a new tip for my long cane today.

Because I roll mine on the ground (some people tap theirs from side to side, and some other kinds of white cane don't touch the ground at all), the tip wears away. It's taken a few years for this to happen, but I don't use the long cane all the time: the shorter guide cane is enough for me in the brighter summer months when I can see a lot better.

I noticed my cane felt and sounded weird when I first came back to uni. I chalked it up to having forgotten what the surfaces around there are like, but when I looked at my cane I saw it wasn't fit for purpose any more: it had a chunk taken out of the bottom. It didn't roll right and it was making a really bizarre noise, sort of screechy and rattly. It certainly got people's attention when they were in my way and hadn't noticed me! But that wasn't really worth how annoying it was for me to have to listen to it all the time, and also I hadn't appreciated how much feedback I'd gotten from the sound of the cane until it stopped and was replaced by this terrible, useless sound.

Seeing the old and new tips next to each other made me laugh. I couldn't believe mine had ever been anything but the scruffy dirty thing before me today but it must've started out like this new one!

I'm feeling some kind of a way about this, to an extent that surprises me. I guess I think of myself as someone new to this white cane thing, since I only started...three?...years ago? (and a half). And my sight hadn't gotten any worse, it was just my idea about myself that'd changed. I guess it's still changing.

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