Two professional speakers with disabilities were recognised at last month’s annual conference of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.
Motivational speaker Nicky Abdinor, who has spoken at events globally, was recognised with the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame award for 2022. This award is presented to professional members of the association who have delivered excellence over a period of years speaking to diverse audiences as a keynote presenter. And Nicky certainly has done that in her many local, national and global speaking appearances.
As an aside, Nicky was the first person I knew of who presented internationally online, way back in the 2010’s.
Disability advocate Nick Smit was awarded first place in the annual Speaker Factor contest, where he competed against the top associate level speakers from the PSASA chapters across South Africa. Nick’s speech, called D.A.N.C.E Your Destiny was well received by both judges and audience.
Nick, also known as the Rebel Ninja, is a passionate disability advocate and teacher and his company Smergos is active in promoting disability awareness and inclusion.
Another link between Nicky and Nick is that they have both been guests on my A Different Way of Seeing podcast, back when I was focusing primarily on accessible travel.
I featured Nicky Abdinor back in January 2019, on episode 05 of the podcast, and Nick and his wife were my guests on episode 50.
You can find those episodes, as well as my full library of past shows, at https://iono.fm/rss/chan/3715
If you’re looking for a fantastic speaker for your next event, you can’t go wrong with either Nicky Abdinor or Nick Smit. Here’s where you can find out more.
Nicky Abdinor: https://nickyabdinor.com/
Nick Smit: www.therebelninja.com
Over the past few years I have noticed that more characters with disabilities have been appearing in works of fiction. In many ways this is wonderful to see, as we have been a largely under-represented group when it comes to fictional characters. But, as with so many other facets of life, there is also a shadow side – I seldom feel that the characters with disabilities are accurately drawn. Instead, they tend to be depicted as either inspirational or tragic figures. Which, like most other polarities, results in a highly simplistic view of what life with a disability is like.
On a recent episode of my A Different Way of Seeing podcast, I raised the topic with fellow author and advocate, Elizabeth Sammons. Together we explored the way blindness is represented in fiction and the often harmful consequences it has for us as persons living with a visual impairment. It was a fascinating conversation and I’d encourage you to take a listen and think about some of the points raised by Elizabeth.
Here’s where you can find the conversation: http://iono.fm/e/1173132
I also loved the advice that Elizabeth offers to authors wanting to create believable characters with disabilities. Her suggestions on how to research and test the accuracy of the depiction of the disability are great and can be used by writers with and without disabilities.
Here are the books mentioned by Elizabeth, as well as the speech she referenced during our conversation, in case you feel inclined to dig a little deeper into the subject.
“Blindness: Is Literature Against Us?”
By Kenneth Jernigan, July 3, 1974
“Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism”
By Elsa Sjunneson
“There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness”
By M. Leona Godin.
You can learn more about Elizabeth’s own writing at https://www.dldbooks.com/elizabethsammons/
And, if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to receive these newsletters as soon as they come out – they will drop straight into your mailbox! It’s the best way to stay in touch with my news and events.
Creating a new podcast is exciting. There are so many fun decisions that have to be made – what topic to cover, the format of the episodes, who to interview and on what subjects, the look and feel of the podcast, the description, the title. And, of course, the all-important first episode.
As I’ve been working on the new format of my podcast I’ve been lucky that so many people from my Facebook community have been willing to help me answer these questions. It has been great to hear people’s thoughts and opinions on the various questions I’ve asked them. And, if you were one of those who chose to be part of the conversation, please know you have my sincere thanks.
If I were Fiji I’d be wagging my tail and jumping up and down right now as I share with you that the first episode is finally here. You can listen at http://iono.fm/e/1164792
My plan for the A Different Way of Seeing podcast is to interview guests on a range of topics related to disability. But I wanted to do something different for the first episode, so asked friend and fellow podcaster Jeff Thompson, of the Blind Abilities podcast to interview me about my plans for the new podcast. It was fun being in the hot seat and facing the questions on my own podcast.
If you’re interested in a podcast that discusses all things disability, you’ll find the A Different Way of Seeing podcast wherever you usually listen to your podcasts, or you can find us at https://iono.fm/rss/chan/3715
I hope you’ll join me and my guests as we talk all things disability. Whether you have a disability yourself, know someone living with a disability, or are simply curious to know more about the tools and techniques we use to live our lives, then you’ll want to give A Different Way of Seeing a listen. Because there is lots of great content coming up!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who grabs for her phone whenever I hear a notification. Or who hunts around to find it when the phone alerts me that I have an incoming call. Or dash into the kitchen to check on supper when I hear the oven buzzer. In all of these cases we are making use of our hearing to gain useful information.
I rely on sound to help me navigate the world because I can’t use my eyes to tell me what is happening around me. It’s the only way I know what’s beyond the range of my hands or white cane. When I’m travelling around with my guide dog I use sound to help me orientate myself. I know the houses where dogs usually bark at us. I listen to the direction of traffic, to the sound of trains passing – anything that can help me pinpoint my location.
Have you ever consciously paid attention to the information you’re gathering with your hearing?
How often are you aware of the sound of the traffic that surrounds you? Have you ever realized it sounds different when you drive into a tunnel? Have you ever wondered whether your reactions are informed by sounds like these, even if you’re not consciously aware of them?
I’ve been thinking about the ways I use sound as a blind person. And how much being more aware of sound could add to a sighted person’s perceptions if they could tap into it more often. And that’s what I spoke to Brian Bushway, of Acoustic Athletics about in my latest podcast.
Brian, who is himself blind, travels the world training people, both with and without sight, about ways that using input from the sounds around them can add to their lives. It’s a skill called echo location.
Brian and I discussed what echo location is, how it can be used, and the neuroscience of how the brain interprets both sight and sound. I found it a fascinating conversation.
We even chatted about how Brian uses echo location to ride a mountain bike independently, rather than with a sighted pilot on a tandem as most blind and partially sighted mountain-bikers do.
If you’d like to learn a little more about ways you could be using sound to add a different dimension to your world, give my conversation with Brian a listen at http://iono.fm/e/1160293
Or search for A Different Way of Seeing on your usual podcast player to listen to the conversation. Oh, and while you’re there, why not follow the podcast. That way you’ll have our episodes drop into your feed automatically.
It’s rare that I meet other people named Lois. So it was fun for me to discover a fellow Lois when we both attended an online meeting a year ago.
It turns out that Lois Wagner and I have quite a lot in common. Like me, she is a speaker, writer, coach, and activist. And we work in similar fields – helping people overcome challenges and move forward with their lives. Admittedly, we arrived at this destination through very different experiences – for me it was losing my sight as an adult, and for Lois it was surviving a horrific attack in her workplace. But it is uncanny how much we do that is similar.
Earlier this month Lois Wagner launched a podcast, called Walking without Skin. That’s also the title of her first book, which she released at the same time I published my memoir, I was excited when Lois invited me to be a guest on her podcast, and jumped at the chance!
What I love about the Walking without Skin Podcast is the diversity of Lois’s guests and the messages they share with the listeners. Some of the lessons are simple and are wonderful reminders of things we already know. But some are moving and profound.
If you’d like to get a taste of what Lois’s podcast is like, why not listen to the episode with my interview. You’ll find it at here.
And then you can always follow the podcast if you choose to.
A few days ago I found myself wondering how many podcast interviews I had done relating to adaptive sports and activities. When I looked back through the podcast feed I was excited to see how many there were. Today I’m going to share a few past episodes with you in the hope they might inspire you to discover how various activities can be adaptive to become more inclusive for persons with special needs.
Our first foray into accessible activities was in episode 5 (December 2018), when I spoke to Angelique le Roux of Ceres Zip slide Adventures. I found it fascinating to hear how they make ziplining available to persons with a wide range of different disabilities. And, even with my atrocious head for heights, I found myself wondering what the experience might be like. Find out for yourself by listening to the interview at http://iono.fm/e/638621
On episode 14 I interviewed Roxy Davis of Surf Emporium about the adaptive surfing clinics she runs. That was all the way back in June 2019. You can listen to the episode at http://iono.fm/e/696018
In other episodes I’ve spoken to people about accessible safaris (Episode 32 – http://iono.fm/e/828914) and ocean cruising, (Episode 34 – http://iono.fm/e/845329
Then, in my most recent episode I chatted to a team who run an adaptive scuba diving organisation. Again, I was excited to hear how they are able to accommodate people across a wide spectrum of abilities. So much so that I am hoping to give it a go myself in the next few weeks. You’ll find that interview at http://iono.fm/e/1110127
I have always maintained that I constantly learn things from the podcast interviews I do and certainly my eyes have been opened to so many different opportunities and activities that are available to those of us living with a disability. And I think that is wonderful.
Want to know what my next interview on an activity will be about? Well, I know that the first South African adaptive paraglide took place in Cape Town recently. And I’ve already reached out to the people concerned to see if they’re interested in being interviewed. So maybe that will be next!
Hosting a podcast on accessible travel, I often have the opportunity to chat with interesting people about a wide range of topics. My last few podcasts have been no exception.
I recently interviewed Michael Hingson on the topic of long-distance air travel with a guide dog. Michael has had extensive experience on the topic, having travelled not only for work but also following his experience escaping from the World Trade Centre during the attack on 9 September 2001.
Together Michael and his guide dog Roselle walked down 78 floors of the World Trade Centre and navigated their way to safety. Michael tells the story of that day in his book “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero”
Michael and his guide dogs have subsequently travelled around the world sharing their story. So he was the perfect person to interview on the subject of air travel with a guide dog.
You can hear some of Michael’s experiences in the podcast – http://iono.fm/e/1103477
While you’re there, why not listen to a few more exciting travel stories. And subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. With 53 published episodes so far, there is plenty to enjoy!
Here is another podcast interview I did recently, this time with the Eyes on Success podcast.
It’s not often that the interviews I give are based primarily on my illustrated children’s series, “The Adventures of Missy Mouse”. This was a refreshing topic for me to focus on, made even more fun by having the opportunity to answer a few questions put to me by two charming young boys, the grandsons of the podcast presenters.
You can hear the questions they asked, and my attempts to answer them in a way that would make sense to them, in the interview. You can also hear my thoughts on why it is important for persons with disabilities to be represented in literature of all kinds.
Listen to the interview: www.EyesOnSuccess.net/eos_2127_podcast.mp3
You can also find out more about The Missy Mouse books on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/loisstrachan
Here is a recent interview I did on how I became a writer. If you are one of the people who would love to write a book but do not know where to start, the PublishHer Podcast might be a great starting point for you.
The PublishHer Podcast is the brainchild of Alexa Bigwarfe, who runs the Write_ Publish_ Sell and the Women in Publishing communities. I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry and marketing books from Alexa and her team and the resources they share. So I was excited when they offered me the opportunity to talk about my experiences as a writer.
Here’s my interview:
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about my writing and the publishing industry.
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.