What I’d Like You to Know about My Blindness07 – Sight-related Words

The image shows Lois speaking in front of an audience

A few days after I was declared blind, I chatted on the phone with my grandmother. During the conversation she asked me if I’d seen an article in the newspaper. Then her voice tailed off into silence. I waited for her next words, wondering why she had suddenly gone quiet.

When she next spoke it was to apologise profusely for her thoughtlessness in using the word “seen”.

This has happened to me regularly since losing my sight. when talking to me, people try desperately to avoid any word that is related to sight. Because they feel it might be insensitive for them to use those terms considering my blindness.

In some ways it’s sweet of them to try so hard. But it often makes a conversation a lot more stilted than it would otherwise be.

And, in truth, I have absolutely no problem with words relating to sight. Few of the blind and visually-impaired people I know do. We use them all the time. And most of us are totally okay with others doing the same.

Most recently a few people who have read my book have mentioned they initially felt a little uncomfortable with how often I use terms relating to sight. And people occasionally also mention it when they hear me speaking at conferences and events. But gradually, as they become more familiar with my style, they come to understand that my view of sight is simply a little different from what they are used to.

For me sight includes insights I gain from my remaining senses. Which is the reason my book is titled Ä Different Way of Seeing”

Because in a way I do still see… just a little differently from how I used to.

To get hold of a copy of my book, hop onto Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Different-Way-Seeing-second-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B08L1VFYS9
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Some International TV and Podcast Exposure

the image shows Lois speaking into a microphone

One of the best ways an author can introduce their books to new audiences is to talk on podcasts and media stations. I’ve had the opportunity to do so twice in the past few weeks.

The first interview was with one of my favourite podcasts, Blind Abilities. It was my third time being featured on the podcast – the first being back in 2017, and the second being a few months ago. This time the interview focused on the release of my book and a little of my background.

Jeff Thompson, from Blind Abilities, is a skillful interviewer and I have learned a lot about conducting interviews from listening to him. Which, in turn, makes me a better podcast interviewer… At least, I hope so!

You can listen to the interview at https://blindabilities.com/?p=6317

The second interview I did was with Accessible Media Inc – AMI for short – who are a cable station based in Canada. This one was a little more nerve-wracking as it was both a TV and radio interview. The team at AMI were fantastic in guiding me through what would be expected of me, even running a test call to check everything would work properly with the video and audio transmissions.

I am immensely grateful I’ve had the opportunity to become comfortable with platforms like Zoom and Skype in the last 3 years, so I was comfortable with the technology being used. It was just the concept of appearing on TV that made me anxious.

You can hear the podcast from the NOW with Dave Brown Show here.

I hope you enjoy listening to the interviews –they gave me the chance to answer questions about the book that don’t often come up when I talk about it.

Paws for Thought on Birthdays

the image shows Fiji kissing Lois on the nose

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

I know it’s meant to be mom’s turn to write an article, but I thought I’d sneak in an extra post this week.

Because it’s soon going to be mom’s birthday. And it’s quite a significant one, or so I believe.

Human birthdays confuse me a little – mom says she’s getting old but, in my calculation, she’s only just over a year older than me. But she was already grown up when I met her 4 years ago. I was really only a puppy then and it feels like a very long time ago. So maybe mom just ages differently from me.

Anyway, I hope mom has a very happy birthday on Saturday and I hope she gives me a very special treat so I can also celebrate her special day with her. And I guess she’d better also give my doggy sisters a treat as well, or they’ll be sad. And I don’t want my doggy sisters to be sad.

Anyway, happy birthday from me, Emily and Allie, mom! And I hope we do lots of walks and go to lots of interesting places in the coming year – after all, this year has been a bit quiet…

Paws for Thought on Other Dogs

the image shows Lois and Fiji walking along a street

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with other dogs. On the one hand, there are my doggy sisters and other doggy friends. Then there are dogs I’ve never met and who I encounter when mom and I are out and about.

When it comes to my doggy sisters and other doggy friends I know I am allowed to be a dog. I can play fight with them, chase them around the garden and be chased in turn, or just snuggle up with them and sleep. And I love being able to do that – after all, it’s part and parcel of being part of a family of dogs.

But, when it comes to dogs mom and I encounter on a walk, well, that’s a little different. Because I know I’m working and need to focus on what I’m doing so mom and I can be safe. Sometimes those dogs try to distract me by barking or by trying to run up to me, even if they are on leash. And that’s okay. I know I just have to maintain my focus on what I’m doing and mom and I will soon be past them.

I wish it were as simple when it comes to squirrels. But somehow squirrels just engage my chase instinct and I have to struggle against the compulsion to abandon my guide dog training and just run after them. It’s really hard for me to fight that instinct and mom can obviously feel the battle that goes on in my body, making me shake with restrained excitement as we walk past.

Mom is very understanding when this happens. She ensures she has a firm hold of my harness and soothes me with gentle words. And that really helps me. But sometimes it feels like an eternity before we’ve walked past that squirrel.

So, basically I wish squirrels were just like other dogs so I could easily ignore them when we walk. And then get back to my doggy sisters so I can have a rowdy game!

Final Warning and Another Song

the image shows a book cover, with Lois hugging Fiji and the text A Different Way of Seeing (second edition): A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an Ordinary Life in an Extraordinary Way

Today is the start of my birthday month – my birthday is actually 14 November and I’ll be turning… well, a year older than I am right now. This month I want to share a very special song with you, from out of the archives of songs I’ve written over the years.

But, before I do, I just want to give you a warning that today is the final day you can get hold of the Kindle version of my book, A Different Way of Seeing (second edition) at the special introductory price of US$1.14 – from tomorrow the cost will go up!

Here’s where to buy it: https://www.amazon.com/Different-Way-Seeing-second-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B08L1VFYS9

Now, back to the song lyrics…

the image shows Lois singing into a microphone

This song isn’t finished. It doesn’t have a tune. I’m not even sure if I hear it as a guitar or keyboard song. But, nonetheless, it has always been a song that I’ve really liked the feel of.

Hope you enjoy reading it – if you have any ideas of where the song might go next, please feel free to share them with me…

TUESDAY’S CHILD

Cross my palms with silver
Cross my palms with gold
Cross my path, my Tuesday’s child
And we’ll go on

She moves through her history, leaves the past behind
She’s impulsive, vivacious, and quick with her smile
Gypsy woman, born wild and free
She answers to no-one

Temperamental and daring, she speaks her mind
She lives for the present, cares nothing for time
She puts all the might-have-been’s out of her mind
Leaves all the Could-have’s and should-have’s behind

Cross my palms with silver
Cross my palms with gold
Cross my path, my Tuesday’s child
And we’ll go on

Verse 2???

Cross my palm with silver
Cross my palm with gold
Cross my path my Tuesday’s child
And we’ll go on

Bridge:
Could I be like her?
Radiant as the fire
Could I be like her?
Could I be a Tuesday’s child

Could I be like her?
Dancing in the light
Could I be like her?
Could I be a Tuesday’s child

Chorus

Third verse???

Curious about the iPhone Apps I Use?

an image of someone holding a phone with two icons of an eye with a no-entry sign over and another eye open in a circle icon

I’ve been asked to share a list of the apps I use on my iPhone. So here it is, divided into blindness-specific apps and those that you probably also use as a sighted person. I haven’t listed all the apps that come standard on an iPhone, only those that I’ve added to my phone.

But, be warned – it’s quite a long list!

Blindness-Specific Apps:

  • Aipoly Vision – though it has other functionality, I use this mostly for colour identification.
  • Be My Eyes – connects me to a sighted volunteer to interpret visual items.
  • Clew – indoor navigation app. 
  • iMove – GPS navigation app. Lazarillo – GPS navigation app. 
  • Seeing AI – image/text to speech converter; barcode reader, other functionality but these are the ones I use most. 
  • Voice Dream Reader – book and document reader of multiple formats. 
  • Voice Dream Scanner – image/text to voice converter 
  • Voice Dream Writer – document editor. Voice OCR – text to voice converter.

Other Apps:

  • Clever Clues – a word game. 
  • Currency – a currency converter. 
  • Downcast – my podcast player of choice. 
  • Dropbox Facebook 
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Internet Banking app. 
  • GoodReads 
  • Google Maps 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Load Shed CT – app to track scheduled power outages in Cape Town. 
  • Otter AI – a voice to text transcriber. 
  • SayHi – real-time language translator. 
  • Seven Little Words – a word game. 
  • Shazam Skype Speedtest – wi-fi speech checker. 
  • Spotify 
  • TripAdvisor 
  • Twitter 
  • Uber 
  • WhatsApp 
  • Woven Words – a word game. 
  • YouTube 
  • Yr – my weather app of choice. 
  • Zoom

Of course, I also use many of the in-built apps that come with an iPhone. Just because I haven’t listed them doesn’t mean they are not accessible for me to use – they are. At least, for the most part.

You may see that I often have more than one app that does the same or similar things. Mostly that is so I can double-check the information that is being generated by an app using AI. Because I prefer for different apps to give me the same information as a process of double verification. Just to be sure.

If you’d like to know more about how I use the various apps and how I’m able to access them on my iPhone, please drop me a mail or leave a comment

I also talk a lot about the way in which apps help me accomplish tasks in my book A Different Way of Seeing, which is being published on Amazon on 28 October.

My Book is Finally Available! My Book is Finally Available!

the image shows a book cover, with Lois hugging Fiji and the text A Different Way of Seeing (second edition): A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an Ordinary Life in an Extraordinary Way

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am! I am practically jumping up and down with glee!

The second edition of my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing, is finally available on Amazon.com

The Kindle version can be pre-ordered at
https://www.amazon.com/Different-Way-Seeing-second-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B08L1VFYS9

For now, it’s available at an introductory price of US$1.14.

The actual publication date is Wednesday, 28 October, where all those who have pre-ordered the book will be able to access it on their Kindle device or in their Kindle library.

But,

If you want to take advantage of the $1.14 special price, you only have until 1 November to do so. From 1 November the price will go up.

So, again, here’s where to grab a copy of the Kindle book
https://www.amazon.com/Different-Way-Seeing-second-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B08L1VFYS9

And, happy reading!

What I’d Like You to Know about My Blindness 06: #JustAskDontGrab

The image shows Lois walking with guide dog FijiI was walking to the shops on Main Road in Plumstead. Suddenly, an elderly lady grabbed my arm and pulled me to a stop. She very kindly told me that the traffic was heavy and that she would guide me across the road. Which she proceeded to do, despite my repeated protestations.

You see, I hadn’t needed to cross the road at all.
But there was no way for me to disentangle myself from her grip without possibly hurting her.

When we reached the other side of Main Road, I smiled and thanked her. Then I waited for her to go on her way and crossed back to where I’d originally been. And continued on my way.

Why is it that people feel it’s perfectly okay to reach out and grab me? Even worse, why do they feel it is a good idea to grab my guide dog’s harness and pull her – and me – in whatever direction they think we need to go?

For one thing, grabbing us and pulling us around is dangerous – it disrupts our balance since we are unable to control what is happening. For another thing, few people are trained in how to safely guide a blind person and guide dog. And those who are trained would know better than to grab us and pull us. And let’s not even get into the topic of how on earth you know where we do and do not need to go without actually asking us.

An effective guideline when engaging with a blind or visually impaired person is #JustAskDontGrab.
This is a phrase that was first used in social media by UK blindness activist Dr Amy Kavanagh and quickly spread around the globe.

What this means is that if you see Fiji and I walking around and feel we may need help, #JustAskDontGrab. If we’re navigating our way round a room and you think we might need help finding the doorway or anything else, #JustAskDontGrab. And if you think we may be wanting to cross a road and may like assistance – please, please #JustAskDontGrab!

Because the reality is that we probably don’t need any help at all. But, if we do, then we’ll really appreciate your asking if we’re okay.

Paws for Thought on Mom’s New Book

the image shows Fiji

Hello everyone! It’s me – Fiji!

Some of you already know that mom’s releasing her new book later this month. It’s full of stories about me and my doggy sisters… Well, it’s full of stories about mom and her life as a blind person as well. But I know the stories about me and all my doggy sisters are the best ones!

When mom’s back was turned I sneaked a look at the book and thought I’d share an extract with you – about me, of course. So, here it is…

“When my previous guide dog, Eccles, retired, I hesitated about applying for a new dog. I had just started working from home and wasn’t sure how much I’d be out and about or, in other words, how much I would need a guide dog.

When I was asked if I wanted my name to be added to the application list, I said no. The next few months proved what a bad decision that had been. So I added my name to the list. Or so I thought.

Then my niece Megan started raising funds for a guide dog as a school project. And when she and my sister-in-law, Sally, went to the training centre to meet some dogs in training, they asked how my application was going. The trainer was confused. Which resulted in a panicked phone call from me to the training centre.

Then Craig and I went to Greece and visited the ancient site of Delphi, where the Delphic oracle foretold the futures of many legendary ancient Greeks. As we wandered around the ruins, a stray dog ran up and started tugging at my white cane as if trying to steal it. I jokingly told Craig that maybe the Delphic Oracle was trying to tell me it was time to pack in my white cane because my new dog was on the way. We both laughed.

Imagine our surprise when I got a phone call shortly after we returned from Greece asking if I was available to train with my new dog?””

I especially love this story, because it sets the stage for the first meeting between me and mom. As you can imagine, I’m just about to enter the story – but you’ll need to buy the book to find out what happens next!

Digging into the Archives: Summer Rain

The image shows Lois standing with her guitar

I moved to Cape Town at the start of winter. My impressions of that long ago first winter in Cape Town was that it poured with rain every day – for weeks on end. And it was a very cold, very wet sort of rain. Totally unlike the warm summer rain I had known when living in Durban.

Summer Rain is a nostalgic reflection on the gentle warm rain of my previous home city – hope you enjoy it!

Summer Rain

Summer’s here again
Brings with it the rain on my window.
The air outside is still
Summer rain drifts, cool, through my window.

I know it’s not enough
To sit inside and watch.

Chorus:
Feel it, hear it, taste it, touch it
Believe in the summer rain.
Feel it, hear it, taste it, touch it
Free yourself to the summer rain.

Oil slicks all around
Dance with rainbows on the ground beneath my feet.
The stillness of it all
Makes no sound at all.

The warm mist on the road
Reveals the way to go.

Guitar break – one verse.

Like a summer kiss of grace
The warm rain on my face.

Chorus:
Feel it hear it, taste it, touch it,
Believe in the summer rain.
See it, feel it, hear it, taste it
Free yourself to the summer rain.

Lightning crashing down
Thunder rolls the ground – feels like home
As the storm clouds rise
A pale light warms the sky – brings me home.

The pale grey light of dawn
Makes sense of it all

Repeat chorus to end.

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