Skip to main content

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Loch an Eilein (a few months late)

You might remember that we had a holiday back in October. We spent a lovely week in Aviemore, hiking and sight-seeing.

One of our days out was a hike round Loch an Eilein. I wasn't feeling too good when we set out and didn't think we'd get very far but we ended up having a fantastic day out and a lot of laughs. I meant to post this video earlier but it's taken me ages to edit it down from 2 hours of headcam footage down to about 7 minutes.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

It's bin day

Bin day happens at least once a week... sometimes twice. It often means I'm trapped. I get part way down the street and then the path is completely blocked by a bin... or several. If it's full, I don't stand a chance of moving it. I just have to turn back and take the car instead, or abandon my plans.

How to be good bin-citizens

This morning, I had a rare moment! It was almost as if someone had set the bins out, ready for a perfect bin-citizen photo...

Photo shows one side of the street. There is grass between the pavement and the road and hedges down the side of people's properties. It's blue bin day and each house has their blue bin set as close to the hedge as possible, leaving the path free for wheelchairs and buggies. It's all very neat and tidy!

Today's challenge: be a good bin-citizen. Don't block the path!

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Say nice things...

You'd be amazed at some of the things that I hear as I go around just doing life. I don't think most people mean to offend but some people (me included) do tend to open their mouth before engaging their brain. Sometimes though, people say really nice things. Here are some of the things people have said in the last few days (either to me or near enough for me to hear):

  • Your dog is so well-behaved!
  • I love your wheels!
  • It was lovely to meet you!
  • We're a team.
  • I'll move my car; you can have my space (when visiting a client).
  • Thank you for your help/your hard work.
  • What a beautiful/clever/amazing dog!
  • That (chair) is soooo cool!
  • You must have serious arm muscles!
  • I love you!


I'm challenging myself here too! Every day this year, try to say something nice to or about someone. At school, we were never allowed to use that word. "Find a better word," teachers say. Actually though, no... just be nice!

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Alternative text for images

At work, I've been doing a lot of work to ensure that people with screen readers can access everything we produce. Like I said the other day, it's not a binary state. You can't say it is fully accessible or fully inaccessible. Like with many things, we can all do our bit. Start somewhere. Don't do nothing, just because you don't know everything.

What can I do?

1. Whenever you post an image of any kind online, always give it a text description. Usually there is a specific place to add this, called 'Alt text' but if it's on social media, you could just add it into your post. The only time you probably don't need to do this, is if you are sure that only a known number of people will access it, and they can all see. For me, I know that all my Facebook friends can see, so I don't tend to do it. However, on Twitter, I have followers who are blind. It wouldn't be very friendly to post stuff that they can't enjoy, would it?

2. Ah, that's for another post!


Post a photo and write a text description of it, that a blind person could use to imagine your image. I wonder how many people will do this!

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Accessibility is not a binary state

Believe it or not, this has come has a bit of a revelation to me!

What is accessibility?

Of course there are certain things that we associate as being accessible or not. For example, step-free entrances are accessible, whereas a flight of steps isn't. Poor contrast on a website isn't whereas good contrast is. 

We have guidelines, which tell us what various places/services need in order to be classed as accessible, and that is helpful... to a point.

So what's the problem?

The problem is, everyone is different. I have three people in mind. We are all wheelchair users. I also have a ramp in mind. One of my friends would definitely NOT be able to get up it. I would (with some difficulty). The other chap would get up it, no problem. 

There are so many disabilities and they all have different access needs. A blind person (I presume) quite likes all those little pavement bumps that let you know there is a road, crossing, steps, etc. As a wheelie with a spinal cord injury, they really cause me a lot of pain. So we have to compromise all the time.

You think you've got access as good as possible but then find there is a new problem. Things change. People change. Equipment changes. So accessibility is a bit of a moving feast.

Is there a solution?

Yes. I don't expect everyone, everywhere to get it right all the time. What I do expect, is for people to listen and acknowledge the issues. If a solution is immediately possible, then do it. If not, let me know what you will do in the short and long term. 

I've just discovered a new issue with some eLearning. It's an issue that will be in every package I've produced. I'm aware of it now but I can't fix them all immediately. I can thank the person who let me know about it, ask if they have had any other issues, listen and try to understand... and put a plan in place to get it put right. 

I wouldn't dream of laughing it off and saying, "Oh yeah, that's silly, isn't it?" and then doing nothing (with a gormless expression on my face). Yet some do. Fortunately most don't. Most want to get it sorted.