Here we have the latest of my coffee break series, interviews with bloggers and interesting people I think you will love. Today I am chatting with a blind blogger called Sassy.
First things first we can’t have a good chat without a cuppa. Are you a tea or coffee lady? How do you drink it? And importantly what is your biscuit of choice?
Tea for me, from as small as a toddler I was drinking tea! I probably drink far too much, but I love it! I have it strong, white and no sugar. But I make up for it in the biscuit department by eating half a packet of chocolate digestives.
I absolutely love your blog and have lots of questions for you but firstly can you share with my readers a bit about you and your life?
I’m 27, extremely petite and blind… although not from birth. I broke my arm at the age of seven and arthritis was triggered, it has spread through my whole body, and more ferociously to my eyes. It’s not a sad story though because I have a cute as cupcakes guide dog who is my 24 seven companion, and a lovely fiance who adores us both.
As a disability lifestyle blogger you write about a variety of things from your perspective and experiences and a blind lady. Can I ask why you decided to start a blog?
I started my blog as a way to educate the public, almost every time I leave the house I encounter strangers who asked me questions and are generally very curious. I’ve always been a chatterbox and a teacher at heart so I was happy to answer their question. In the midst of depression at the end of 2015 I started the blog as a way to document these questions and challenge public perception. It’s a bit all over the place and not a structured as I initially intended, but I’m very happy that I’ve got a great readership and Love that if I can change one person’s perception or support another person in a similar situation, then it is all worth it!
I have been fascinated learning how you take on the world and the little hacks you have to make life easier despite not being able to see. You are certainly more organised than I am! What would be your biggest trick you think the rest of us could benefit in trying too?
Well thank you for the compliment! Most men will probably grown at this, so I apologise in advance. I would say order your wardrobe from light to dark, and seasonal too. It’s much easier to find a specific top, or create a look/outfit when it is already organised for you. I did this for years before I even lost my site, and it comes in handy now buying new clothes, because I forget what colours I’ve bought things in.
I would definitely describe you as a very determined person from what I have found knowing you for a while now over social media. Do you find it frustrating that in so many ways there are not enough adaptions made to help the blind and partially sighted?
Yes and no, but if I’m having a tough day, everything from inaccessible apps, I’m looking at you Snapchat! Or no braille on/ in hotel lifts and bedroom doors can be really disheartening. It reminds you that you are not seen as an equal within society. I generally try and find the positives from it all, it means I get to spend a lot of quality time with my fiancé, or meet lots of kind, friendly and helpful people that will support you in any way they can. I’ve met some fascinating people in my life and I definitely put that down to my sight loss and asking for assistance.
If you could ask everyone to do one thing that would make life easier for you and others like you what would it be?
I was in the blind community for a long time before I lost my site completely, and I appreciate even more how websites can deter you if they are not accessible. For anyone that runs a website of any kind, whether that be for business, blogging or something else. I would please ask that any images you have on your site you label them as if you had your eyes closed and wanted a friend to describe a picture to you. In my opinion there can never be too much detail. Even just the simple context of “MacBook on coffee table ” gives people such as myself the opportunity to feel included as a user, like anyone else on your website.
You are getting married soon and sharing the preparations for that over on your blog too. Have you got the dress yet? How hard is clothes shopping for you particularly buying a wedding dress? I can’t wait to see the pictures.
No I haven’t got the dress yet, but I do have one in mind… I’m actually going to be on TV picking out a dress! But due to its cost we shall see if it truly is the one. This is something I’m particularly keen to tackle on the blog, I don’t think that the wedding industry is geared towards people with disabilities, everything from having steps leading into a shop (not accessible for wheelchair users) to trying to pick a dress that is your style, on your own is practically impossible . Therefore you are always asking others opinions: what your family/assistant thinks you look good in.
I have been very fortunate that in the few bridal shops I have attended, the staff have been extremely supportive in not only explaining what the dress looks like, but whether the shape suits me. Relying on others to be your eyes for something so particular such as a wedding dress it’s kind of scary!
Talking of all things girly how do you do make up and paint nails do you rely a lot on help for these kind of things or are there little hacks you use? You always look so lovely.
Ahh thank you! I was very fortunate that I had sight in my teenage years, and a mum that was great at make up so she taught me how to apply it and what colours did/didn’t suit me. After losing my site I didn’t want that to become yet another thing that made me feel different, so I have learnt the shape of my face and through muscle memory know how to apply everything. I have written a very detailed post on how to apply make up as a blind person, because I wanted to show that beauty is for everyone.
I have little ways/hacks I do things, for example I always apply my mascara first… Because you can guarantee that I will splodge my nose at some point and having small eyes mascara tends to cover my eyelids. So doing that first means I can wash my face and get rid of any mistakes. Getting eyeliner perfect on both sides can be pretty difficult, so I count how many strokes and get someone to check my make up before I leave the house. I’m sure there has been plenty occasions where eyeliner has been much thicker on one eye than the other, but the public have never had the heart to tell me so. I’ve always been quite rubbish at doing my nails, but when I do give it a go I slap on lots of Vaseline around the nail so if I inevitably paint my finger, it doesn’t stain it.
As does your gorgeous dog. Can you tell us about her?
Her name is Ida and she’ll be three in May. Guide dogs are spread specifically to have the right temperament and intelligence, they then get trained over the course of two years by lots of volunteers and staff that will help them to become a working dog. Guide dogs mapped you on personality, lifestyle and the pace you walk, to give the partnership between the two of you a reason to succeed. As a character, she is very stubborn, cheeky, and confident, she is also full of affection and enthusiasm, whether she is working, or at home cuddled into me on the sofa.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing youngsters growing up blind or partially sighted today?
It sounds cynical but it is the publics’ perceptions of being able to achieve anything. I’ve been congratulated on leaving my house, congratulated on going to university, congratulations on making this blog my career… There is this misconception that being blind means you have multiple disabilities, and for the majority of the population that is completely incorrect. I do want to share the positives though, being the age I am, or a blind child who may be born tomorrow we have never had it so good in terms of technology, Access to that technology and living as independently as you want to. There are programs, equipment and apps out there that can actually help you do anything as a blind person. It’s just about having the confidence to being able to do it in the first place.
Do you find there is a lot of prejudice and you constantly feel different or are people generally very supportive and you feel you are treated equally? We sometimes hear stories in the press of people being refused access to places illegally because of a guide dog but I guess it’s hard to know how common place this is?
As I said previously, in terms of technology, we have the world at our fingertips just like anyone else. Unfortunately it’s more to do with the systems in place that are meant to support us, but don’t. I went to a specialist college for my A-levels, because my school could not support me adequately, although I believe there is a place for specialist schools, I think the education system needs to encourage integration rather than segregation. That way public perceptions wouldn’t be as miss placed as they are. Unfortunately, access refusals are common, even though it is illegal to refuse me access on your premises because I am blind/have a guide dog, some places, such as restaurants can be quite apprehensive at allowing you in. It’s just about standing your ground, and knowing the law. It sad that in 2018, disability in society is still seen as uncommon and sadly this is where confusion arises.
If you could tell your younger self anything now what would you say?
Losing site is shit, but you’ll cope; and you will be the happiest you have ever been in your life. Key skills such as Braille and keyboard navigation is something you should get stuck into.
I have learnt a lot about how screen readers help you to access the internet and the importance of using ALT text on photos when building websites so that you can see the pictures through the words of the alt text with a good description. Is there anything more we can do to help make it more accessible to you?
I guess, just be open to the possibility of who may view your content. Anything image-based, whether that is a meme a gif or a Screenshot will never be fully accessible to screen readers. Taking that into consideration when you share things on your website or social media for the rest of your audience, you may have people such as myself asking you what’s so funny? What is the screenshot of?
I am sure my readers would love to read more about you and follow your blog so can you share your links with us?
Thank you for being part of my coffee break series is there anything else you want to share?
Thank you for the opportunity to be a chatterbox on your great website! I hope to return the favour by having you guest post for me! I hope you have learn something new, and I am always open to questions or considerations you may have. Don’t be shy, throw them my way.
To read my previous coffee break interviews just click here.