I am regularly startled by the mails that arrive in my in-box. Thankfully I’m not referring to adverts for things that I neither want nor need, though I do receive a few of those as well – but remarkably few thanks to my anti-spam software.
Rather I’m referring to a number of incredible opportunities that have come my way over the past few months – like an invitation to appear on national TV… but more about that as the details emerge. And opportunities like guesting on some wonderful podcasts. Like the Phemale Phoenix Podcast with Lauren Deal.
The Phemale Phoenix is a podcast about women who have overcome challenges and, to quote the podcast show notes, “turned their mess into a message”. It turns out that Lauren read one of my Beyond Sight blog posts and decided I would be a good fit for her audience.
It was wonderful to chat to Lauren earlier this month. Her podcasts are usually 15 minutes since she wants her audience to be able to slot the episodes into their busy lives without too much difficulty. And the topics she covers address a number of issues faced by women across the world.
Here’s the interview we did: https://thephemalephoenix.podbean.com/e/episode-20-lois-strachan-unseen-ambition-in-a-sighted-world/
If you have a story to share with Lauren’s audience, why not reach out to her and see what is possible.
It was such an honour for me to be asked to participate in last month’s Shift Online art festival hosted by the Unmute Dance Co from Artscape Theatre. I’ve been impressed by the online performances shown on the YouTube channel throughout November. They have featured some talented artists from across Africa and the world and, of course, from here in South Africa. So it was really special for me to be asked to contribute to the festival.
There were two segments focusing on my work. The first was a mini-documentary that was premiered on Sunday, 29 November, which featured videos of me talking about my work as a singer/songwriter, author and motivational speaker.
Themba Mbuli, Creative Director of Unmute Dance Co, was responsible for putting the content together into a mini-documentary, and he did a really great job.
Here’s the link to the mini-documentary: https://youtu.be/l50KD6d8f5o
A second segment was released on the penultimate day of the festival, Wednesday, 2 December and featured me talking about how I wrote one of my songs – Here Be Dragons – and a little about how I play keyboard. Also featured in that segment was a solo performance from Lone Loh.
Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/f0CUpXmC0J0
I can’t even begin to think of how challenging it must have been to produce a month-long art festival online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full respect to Themba Mbuli and his team at Unmute Dance Co for such an amazing show! And congratulations to all the artists for their creativity in adapting their art to an online space.
PS: Don’t think that the festival is aimed solely at persons with disabilities – we are artists first, sharing our art with you. Our disabilities are just a minor part of who we are.
PPS You can also hear the first paragraph of my audio book on the mini-documentary.
It’s about time I shared some of my experiences from when I went to Makhanda to perform in the National Arts Festival in June.
And where better to start than with a clip of an interview I gave for Algoa FM shortly before heading out of Cape Town.
The clip explains a little about what I was going to be doing at the National Arts Festival, and the show in which I was playing some of my music – hopefully it’ll give you an introduction to my next few articles.
One of the other performers, pianist Michelle Nel, and I were also interviewed on SAFM and I’ll try to share that interview with you as soon as I get a copy from the radio station.
I still find it difficult to find words to explain exactly what the experience of being selected to perform in a show at the National Arts Festival meant to me. But I’ll try to do so over the coming weeks.
I hope you’ll join me for the remainder of my amazing adventure!
Let’s take a short break from the heat of Kolkata and return briefly to Cape Town…
Here’s a recent interview I did with Andre du Toit, the Big Positive Guy on Smile FM. The interview was broadcast on the Honest Truth Show with Benito Vergotine shortly before I left for India.
Hope you enjoy it.
Next time we’ll be returning to India for a cricket match… or maybe a rock concert. You’ll have to join us next time to find out which it was.
Sometimes we receive the gift of insight from the most unexpected places…
Before I started the Accessible South Africa Travel Podcast, I researched what other accessible travel podcasts were out there. My research led me to the Have Disability, Will Travel Podcast. Once I found it, I started chatting to the host, Josh. And he asked if he could interview me for his show.
Even though I’ve only been podcasting for a few months, it felt really weird having questions fired at me rather than doing the firing myself. But what was really interesting to me was how much I learned from the process. As Josh took me through my own travel experiences and my thoughts on the travel industry, he really got me thinking about the broader concept of accessible travel. And how much I still have to learn.
One thing that really stood out for me was when Josh pointed out how many of the online resources for accessible travel focus on physical access. Sure, I’d noticed it in my own research, but I thought it was just me. So it was kind of gratifying to realize I’m not the only one who’s noticed it.
I guess it’s only natural for us to approach accessible travel from the perspective of our own disability. And, admittedly, what I need when I’m traveling is very different from what someone in a wheelchair needs. Accessibility is a complex issue, which may make it challenging for those in the hospitality and tourism industries who are trying to meet our needs. Which makes it even more important for us to share our experiences and educate people on how to accommodate us.
Which is why platforms like Josh’s accessible Travel Forum and his podcast Have Disability, Will Travel and my own work here in the Beyond Sight Blog and the Accessible South Africa Travel podcast and our parent platform Accessible South Africa are necessary. But I’d love to see accessible travel getting more exposure in mainstream media as well.
I’m definitely going to write more on accessible travel in the future. But Fiji’s just reminded me that it’s her turn to publish an article so I guess mine will have to wait!
In the meantime, I’d love for you to listen to and share my interview with Josh: https://www.accessibletravelforum.com/atf-admin/lois-strachan-s01-e09/
As some of you know, I’m getting more and more involved in accessible travel, both through my writing and the Accessible South Africa Travel Podcast.
I’ve now written seven articles on travel as a blind tourist for the Blind Perspective e-newsletter. These articles are written for a visually impaired audience to inspire them to go out and see the beautiful and diverse world we live in. I also try to answer some of the questions and concerns that blind and visually impaired travelers may have. But, my point is, I’m writing for a visually impaired audience.
A few months ago I spoke to a sighted audience and shared a little about how I use my other senses to experience travel and places I’ve never been before. I was completely amazed at how many people came up and spoke to me afterwards saying how fascinated they were to hear what I had to tell them.
Which makes me wonder if other sighted people might also be interested.
So I’m asking for your help – I’d like to find out the names of magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, podcasts, and any other publications that have articles about travel. Obviously, if you can give me contact details of who at the publication I should approach, that’d be great, but it’s not a necessity – I can do that myself.
Can you help me take accessible travel into the mainstream? I really hope you can!
I have absolutely the best friends and colleagues! This was proved yet again when not one, but two people forwarded me an interview request from Media Alerts. It seemed that a journalist from People Magazine was wanting to interview women who are leading a successful life despite a disability.
Of course I replied…
And here’s a link to the article that appeared on 2 August this year – hope you enjoy it!
I was really excited to have an article about my recent Toastmasters award published on page 3 of the
Cape Times newspaper on 18 July, 2017.
Here’s a photo of the article.
And for those who can’t see the photo… or would prefer to read it online, here’s the link to the article:
Some people are completely comfortable in front of a camera. I’ve always believed that I‘m just not one of them – especially not when it’s a video camera!
So, when I agreed to record a short video for the Toastmasters club leader training for the training sessions that’ll take place across Southern Africa over the next two months I was slightly…. Umm… shall we say anxious?
Here’s the thing: I knew my topic and was happy with the specific information I’d chosen to share. So that’s not what was making me nervous. And one would have thought that I couldn’t be camera shy since I couldn’t see the camera. So, to all intents and purposes, speaking in front of a camera should have been no more nerve-wracking than my usual presentations. And yet it was.
Of course there was the pressure of trying to ensure I kept looking at the video – remember I don’t have a physical point of reference to look at so “straying” was a real possibility. And that certainly added to my stress. Ultimately though, I think my anxiety was due to the uncertainty of it all – how was it all going to work out, was I going to remember everything I wanted to say, and would it be “good enough” to satisfy everyone involved… well, realistically I know that we’re all usually out own worst critics, so I guess that should be ‘would it be ‘good enough’to satisfy me?
Thankfully, Bruce Wade, of EMS, where we were recording the video was great at helping me think through many of my concerns – we chatted before shooting the video so we were both clear on what was going to happen and what our preferred outcome was. Then we went into the studio and Bruce oriented me to the position of the camera so I knew where I should be looking.
And then we did a take…
And then a second take…
And then we were done. In just two takes. And I was happy with it… well, sort of, mostly, kind of happy (dratted self-critic!)
Admittedly the fact that my guide dog Fiji was perfectly content to snooze in the corner also helped ease my anxiety- can you imagine if she had felt compelled to make her on-screen debut – or if she had started snoring – but by far the factor that most helped me relax and just concentrate on the message I wanted to get across was the level of professionalism shown by Bruce in talking through the process and resolving the concerns I had.
So, next time I need to get a video done, guess who I’ll be calling on?
Here are Bruce’s contacts, in case you have need of his video production services:
Chief Entrepreneur Officer
Northern Block, Upper Eastside
31 Brickfield Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
Tel: 021 839 2281 | www.em-solutions.co.za
I was recently interviewed for one of my favourite podcasts, Blind Abilities – you can listen to the interview here:
Blind Abilities is a podcast focussed on empowering people who are blind or visually impaired. The podcast is presented by Jeff Thompson and Pete Lane. I first started listening when a friend, Chris Venter, aka Blind Scooter Guy, was interviewed and then started looking at what else they had to offer.
They cover several different subjects, which appear to be split into two main categories:
* Assistive products/skills
The assistive products and skills episodes usually either show us how to use our assistive technology better or showcase products on the market for people who are blind or visually impaired. It’s amazing how a few simple techniques can make a real difference in speeding up what I’m doing on my iPhone or my JAWS screenreader. It also makes sense to keep up with what is out there in the market– you never know what apps or gadget may come along and revolutionise your life. Well, okay – I never know what apps and gadgets may come along and revolutionise MY life, but you know what I mean.
Jeff and Pete also conduct interviews with blind and visually impaired people who are out there doing amazing things in the world. I regularly find myself nodding in agreement since the interviews resonate with me so much. As you can imagine, I was overwhelmed when I was offered the chance to be interviewed – thanks, Jeff!
If you’re interested in hearing really inspiring stories of how blind and visually impaired people live extraordinary lives, then give Blind Abilities a listen. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
You can find Blind Abilities on www.blindabilities.com or wherever you download your podcasts.