Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Sixing It Up

They grow up so fast! Calvin is six today! He has unfortunately had to work through his birthday, as I am currently doing some work experience at school to help with my long-term goal of becoming a teacher. I have to give Calvin credit, he plays his Guide Dog role very well at school until he spots left overs from break or lunchtime. He is generally attentive in lessons, although the odd attempt has been made to thieve from pupils school bags and one pupil alerted me to the fact that he was trying to give himself lead poisoning by chewing a pencil in class the other day. Equally, the pupils are great, knowing not to fuss or distract him, it’s the teachers in the staff room that can’t help themselves!

Health wise, Calvin is still having seizures from time to time, but not regularly enough to warrant daily medication. However, he is currently on tablets, as he has developed a rash in his never regions. I’m sure if he knew I was sharing that information, he would be dying with embarrassment right now! It is just a result of an allergic reaction to cement dust since we are currently doing some house renovations. His crown jewels will be back to sparkly condition in no time.

At six years old there are no signs of Calvin slowing down. He still has his adorable puppy dog habits whilst growing into a mature, confident and assertive character.

Happy Birthday Calvin

Thursday, 6 March 2014

World Book Day

As an English graduate, it is only natural that I have a passion for books. At primary school age I could often be found with a book pressed up against my nose and I was very proud to have a pin badge stating I was a school librarian. When I was ten my vision dramatically deteriorated resulting in me no longer being able to access standard print. However, I have vivid memories of reading the Harry Potter series under my CCTV despite the massive eye strain and gradual increase in magnification over the years, as my sight continued to fade away.

From the age of eleven, I was encouraged to learn Braille, but I had no real interest in learning since as far as I was concerned I could still read print and Braille was for proper blind people, which I certainly was not! My attitude changed when I went to The Royal National College for the Blind In Hereford. I began to learn Braille again and by the January I was no longer able to access print even under my CCTV. The final Harry Potter book was due for release later that year and I had to read it no matter what. My first plan involved trying to train my eyes to see again. I spent countless days, weeks and months attempting to read under my CCTV praying that the blurred text would come back into focus once more. This plan unfortunately failed, but I still possess the strong belief that if we are not proactive with our senses they will not work to their full potential. Even though I only have light perception remaining, I will regularly make a conscious effort to locate windows in a room, count headlights on cars or generally have a look around to find any sort of light source. Back to my Harry Potter dilemma, I felt Braille was my only option in order to discover if Harry could conquer Lord Voldermort or not. It took me two long hard months to read The Deathly Hallows in Braille, but I did it!

Thereafter, I became a member of RNIB’s Library Service, loaning various titles in Braille, which to this day take me an age to read. It wasn’t until I began my degree that I started to make use of audio/talking books. Being a book snob, audio/talking books never appealed before, as I felt that they take away from the reading experience. The interpretation of characters is that of someone else’s imagination and not your own. However, purely for speed purposes, I turned to the dark side.

Now, I am also a member of RNIB’s Talking Books Service. Admittedly, the majority of my reading these days is done via listening rather than touch. It is a convenience thing. Audio is faster and much easier to transport, so ideal for extensive train journeys or holidays. Nevertheless, Braille has its advantages too, the reading experience is more personal and new books are usually produced in Braille, sometimes years before it gets recorded into audio. It is nice to have the choice.

There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book (Josh Jameson)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Life's A Drag

Last week I was at the theatre again, this time to see the ‘feel good’ musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It was jam packed with karaoke hits and camp comedy. There appeared to be lots of visual humour, as the audience often erupted with laughter and I sat confused until one of my friends whispered some audio description to me. Now I have seen a professional audio described performance, I think I was made more aware of how much I miss out on by not being able to see. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show and it wouldn’t prevent me from seeing future productions. In fact, I hope to see Fame next month.