Nothing is Impossible...
REINVENTING THE WHEEL MEET THE STYLISH SISTERS HELPING WHEELCHAIR USERS STAND OUT
Have you heard the one about the blind comedian?
Mik Scarlet falls in love with the Eurostar
YOUR CRASH GUIDE TO THE WINTER PARALYMPICS
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MADE FOR PEACE OF MIND
THE VOLVO MOTABILITY PACKAGE Remove obstacles and you’re free to enjoy more. Choose the V40 Cross Country and drive a car that’s been built with you in mind. With an unrivalled choice of standard features, like Hill Start Assist, ABS and Electronic Climate Control with Pollen Filter, driving is made to feel effortless in every way. VISIT VOLVOCARS.CO.UK/MOTABILITY
Fuel consumption and CO2 figures for the Volvo V40 Cross Country in MPG (I/100 km): Urban 33.2 (8.5) – 67.3 (4.2), Extra Urban 54.3 (5.2) – 78.5 (3.6), Combined 44.1 (6.4) – 74.3 (3.8). CO2 emissions 149 – 99g/km. MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results. To be eligible to join the Motability Scheme you must be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment, War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment, which will be taken in lieu of the four-weekly rental for 36 months’ duration. 60,000 mileage allowance over 3 years; excess mileage charges may apply. For full terms and conditions, visit www.motability.co.uk. Motability Contract Hire Scheme is administered by Motability Operations Limited (Registered Company No. 1373876), City Gate House, 22 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HB.
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31/01/2018 05/01/2018 12:39 11:16
WELCOME February/March 2018
Editor: Rosalind Tulloch Staff Writers: Colette Carr Katie Campbell, Niall Christie Designers: Abbie Bunton & Stephen Flanagan Marketing: Sophie Scott Sales: Val Speers, Julie Coleman
CONTRIBUTORS As the days grow longer and the sun begins to show its face a little more often, we can happily put the grey, cold climes of January behind us and look forward to the year ahead with anticipation. Our vibrant cover should help set the tone as we leap into the spring months. The image showcases Irish sisters, Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, founders of Izzy Wheels, a trail blazing company that is working with designers from across the globe to produce stylish and personalised spoke guards to help wheelchair users celebrate their wheels and stand out. We had the chance to catch up with both sisters to find out more about the success of the company and what they have planned for the future. Read the full interview on page 13. Chris McCausland is a blind comedian who recently appeared on our screens in popular comedy show Live at the Apollo. On page 21 he reveals how he got into comedy, what scares him most about performing and admits he had to have a pint before performing on Live at the Apollo!
the Eurostar, Mik has been converted to a full blown fan. Read about his experiences across Europe on page 36. We have also showcased a new app that is deisgned to help disabled rail passengers in the UK access rail travel in a simple and effective way, find out more on page 25. During December last year you may have come across a great campaign on Twitter, #LooAdvent. This campaign was highlighting the need for improved changing facilities in disabled toilets and involved one mum tweeting a toilet selfie each day in December to raise awareness of the urgent need for better facilities. Sarah Brisdion is mum to seven-year-old Hadley who has cerebral palsy, and her campaign was picked up by celebs, including Hannah Cockroft and The Last Leg trio! We hope you enjoy this issue and as always, we would love to hear your stories, ideas and thoughts.
PosAbility Magazine is published by 2A Publishing Limited. The views expressed in PosAbility Magazine are not necessarily the views of the editor or the publisher. Reproduction in part or in whole is strictly prohibited without the explicit written consent of the publisher. Copyright 2018 ©2A Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. ISSN 2049-2251
Contact Details: Caledonia House, Evanton Drive, Thornliebank Ind. Est., Glasgow, G46 8JT Tel: 0141 465 2960 Fax: 0141 258 7783 email@example.com www.posabilitymagazine.co.uk
Nothing is Impossible...
REINVENTING THE WHEEL
Mik Scarlet has a new love that he is keen to share with as many disabled people as possible - European train travel! Following a seamless trip on Like us on Facebook Search for ‘PosAbility Magazine’
Janet Myers, Sam Renke, Mik Scarlet, Dan White & Rio Woolf
MEET THE STYLISH SISTERS HELPING WHEELCHAIR USERS STAND OUT
Have you heard the one about the blind comedian?
Mik Scarlet falls in love with the Eurostar
Follow us on Twitter @ PosAbilityMag
YOUR CRASH GUIDE TO THE WINTER PARALYMPICS
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Cover image: © Conor McCabe, SpokeOut Magazine
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018| ISSUE 41
FEATURES 07 FYI
Learn more about the adventures on offer at Calvert Trust Lake District
13 REINVENTING THE WHEEL
29 TOILET HUMOUR
Galway girls Ailbhe and Izzy Keane talk to PosAbility about their mission to help those who can’t stand up, stand out
17 SAM RENKE
Columnist Sam Renke on her hopes for greater understanding in hospitals
19 MIK SCARLET
Mik looks into the dating game
21 DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE BLIND COMEDIAN?
09 04_Contents_RT_AB.indd 4
27 HOLIDAY PROFILE
News, stories and updates from around the world
Blind comedian Chris McCausland on riding the high of BBC’s Live at the Apollo
25 TRAVEL SAFE
We speak to Transreport about their revolutionary new travel assistance app
Meet the mum using toilet selfies to raise awareness of poor changing places
33 HOT STUFF
A look at the most innovative, must-have products on the market
36 LET THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN
PosAbility’s Mik Scarlet tracks his favourite way to access the continent
41 PICTURE THIS
We meet the group campaigning for better cinema access for the Deaf community
45 TREADING THE BOARDS
Raising the curtain on accessible theatre
54 26 45 72
48 MONKEY BUSINESS
75 WINTER PARALYMPICS
We explore the history of Lung Ha Theatre as they prepare to open their new show
Get PyeongChang ready with our comprehensive guide to the Games
51 THE BLIND SCHOOL
Liverpool Museumsâ€™ exciting new attraction
Keeping the mind active
52 MARSHA DE CORDOVA
All rise for blind MP Marsha de Cordova
54 WELCOME TO SICILY
Uncover the jewel of the Mediterranean
59 KIDS' CORNER
We explore the representation of children with disabilities on screen and in books, as well as discovering great kids' products
35 31/01/2018 12:23
£195 THE NEW ECOSPORT ZETEC
A DVA N C E
PAY M E N T
New F o r d EcoSp o r t Zete c w ith re ar p ark ing s en s o r s an d SYNC 3 DAB Nav igatio n Sy s tem fro m o nly £195 * Ad van ce Pay m ent. To find out m ore, v isit ford.co.uk /m otabilit y or call 0345 60 40 019.
T O G E T H E R
F U R T H E R
Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the New Ford EcoSport range: urban 39.2-62.7 (7.2-4.5), extra urban 56.4 -74.3 (5.0-3.8), combined 48.7-68.8 (5.8-4.1). Official CO2 emissions 134-107g/km.
The mpg figures quoted, sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience.
*£195 Advance Payment available only on New Ford EcoSport Zetec 1.0T EcoBoost 125PS Manual. SYNC 3 DAB Navigation System is subject to availability. No cash alternatives are available. This programme is subject to the standard conditions of the Motability Scheme hire agreement. Full written details and quotations available on request from a Ford Authorised participating Dealer of Motability Operations Limited. Motability Scheme vehicles are leased to customers by Motability Operations. Motability Operations Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference number 735390. To qualify you must be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) and applications must be made with participating dealers between 1st January to 31st March 2018. Prices are correct at time of print, are subject to availability and may change.
News and stories from around the world
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
BLUE BADGE HOPE FOR PEOPLE WITH HIDDEN DISABILITIES People with hidden disabilities
Five-star visitor attraction The Scotch Whisky Experience has become the first in Edinburgh to offer whisky tours in British and American Sign Language. In a bid to enhance accessibility, the Royal Mile attraction has invested over £50,000 into multi-functional audio guides which feature interpreters conducting tours in both BSL and ASL. As 80% of visitors to The Scotch Whisky Experience come from overseas, subtitled tours in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch and Swedish will also be launching, allowing Deaf visitors from these countries to enjoy the tour in their own language. The addition of the new BSL and ASL devices means the attraction now offers whisky tours in a total of 20 languages. Lenka Whyles, Head of Operations at The Scotch Whisky Experience, said:
“Careful consideration has been given to the background colour of the screen on the new devices, as well as the clothes of the interpreters to make them as userfriendly as possible, and we also flew one of the American signers over from the USA. “We are really excited that this project is ready to go live and very much look forward to welcoming our first BSL and ASL customers.” In 2017, the visitor attraction continued its commitment to accessibility and made upgrades to allow increased flexibility for wheelchair users, enabling them to experience the new audio-visual tour elements in full. A wheelchair was also purchased for visitors to use on a free of charge basis. scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk
could soon have greater access to blue badges under new plans from Transport Minister Jesse Norman. The proposals, which would herald the most significant changes since the blue badge was introduced in 1970, would help remove barriers to travel for people with conditions such as dementia and autism, allowing them better access to work, shops and amenities. This could also further help create parity between physical and mental health, and means everyone can take advantage of every opportunity. Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “Blue badges give people with disabilities the freedom to get jobs, see friends or go to the shops with as much ease as possible. “We want to try to extend this to people with invisible disabilities, so they can enjoy the freedom to get out and about, where and when they want.” The changes could also see a variety of healthcare professionals, who are better placed to identify if mental health causes mobility issues, carry out assessments to determine if a blue badge should be given. Councils have different interpretations of the existing rules with some recognising hidden disabilities, but the changes proposed would give clear and consistent guidelines for the whole of England.
CHILDREN INSPIRED BY INCLUSIVITY FESTIVALS National children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust and Allianz Insurance are celebrating a successful partnership which brought together 2,580 young people with and without Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND), in a bid to get primary school children thinking about how they can be more inclusive at school. Since June 2017, a national series of 20 mixed-ability, inclusive, multi-sport festivals have been held in the UK to build on the legacy of the Paralympics and ensure all children have access to sport and physical activity. Ali Oliver, chief executive of Youth Sport Trust, said: “Our aim through these festivals was to collectively strive to challenge attitudes and perceptions of SEND amongst young people and within their local communities. We brought together more than 100 primary schools to do this. “Through Allianz Dare to Believe we have achieved so much in the past year in helping to ensure that all children and young people have the opportunities to enjoy sport and the wider benefits of an active lifestyle, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of volunteers, our partner Allianz, and the willingness of all the young people involved.” The Allianz Dare to Believe programme saw 149 volunteers donating 1,043 hours at the festivals. The festivals comprised talks from inspirational Paralympic champions, ‘sport and breakout stations’ where they could try Paralympic sports like boccia, guided athletics, sitting volleyball and goalball, as well as have time for informal play and to form new friendships. For more information about the Allianz Dare to Believe festivals visit youthsporttrust.org or follow on Twitter using #DareToBelieve
children living with a disability in the UK
2580 100 kids of all abilities got involved
seated volleyball games played
primary schools were involved
boccia balls thrown
volunteers donated 1043 hours of their time
PURPLE PYJAMA PARTY March 26 marks Purple Day an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. Every year on this day people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness. The Epilepsy Society are inviting everyone to their huge sleepover and they only have one condition – you must wear purple pyjamas. Purple Pyjama Parties offer the comfiest way to fundraise and raise
awareness and the Society can set you up with a fundraising pack to get you started and provide recipes for purple popcorn and purple punch to help set the tone. Make your evening even ‘purpler’ and download their posters, purple selfie props and counting sheep ‘sheepstake’ and even order Epilepsy Society wigs and t-shirts. Share your photos with #purpledaypjs epilepsysociety.org.uk
“BUT SINCE I HAVE BEEN HERE, I HAVEN’T BEEN HAPPIER, BECAUSE THE SUPPORT HAS BEEN THERE FROM ALL LEVELS – FROM AMONG MY COLLEAGUES, MY IMMEDIATE SUPERVISORY TEAM AND FROM THOSE ABOVE ME.”
BLIND ‘K’NEXPERT’ RECREATES LONDON SKYLINE A blind factory worker at Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC) has constructed large-scale K’Nex models of London’s most popular landmarks using nothing but his acute sense of touch. Sean Read, who lost his sight as a result of a degenerative condition, used more than 40,000 individual pieces to make Tower Bridge, the London Eye and the Shard at Aylesford-based BBMC – a social enterprise which employs more than 100 people, 70% of whom are either veterans or have a disability. The 52-year-old, who was assisted by colleague Graham Cherry, spent a total of five weeks making the models which have since been displayed at toy fairs around the country. Sean, who was unemployed for 13 years before being employed in 1999 by BBMC, said the organisation has given him a second chance at life. He added: “At the time, when I was unemployed, I was aimlessly trying to find any work basically. “I had such low confidence that I was willing to take on just about any job that I could - just for the sake of getting a job. I wasn’t particularly bothered which job it was, as long as I had one.
“But since I have been here, I haven’t been happier, because the support has been there from all levels – from among my colleagues, my immediate supervisory team and from those above me. “Life has been given a purpose since I’ve been here.” Despite being without his sight and using only a keen sense of touch, Sean now makes point of sale K’Nex models for toy shops, high-profile department stores and various exhibitions around the world.
THE ‘DISABLED’ LABEL Comedian Laurence Clark, musician John Kelly and make-up artist Umber Ghauri have all taken part in a campaign run by mobility bathroom specialists, Bathing Solutions, exploring their individual relationships with the word ‘disabled’. Each have a different disability and a different take on how it shapes their lives, making an interesting watch. Visit posabilitymagazine.co.uk to see the videos in full.
CELEBRATION TIME The National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards are open for entry. They celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations who excel in providing quality care. These Awards offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the successes of individuals, teams and businesses throughout the UK – people who really do make a positive impact on people’s lives. Organised by Care Talk the awards have already received support from across the sector and are supported by the Department of Health, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG). There are a total of 15 award categories available for nomination, which represent all areas of care for people with learning disabilities and autism within the care sector, whether it be young or older people, supporting people in their own homes, the residential care sector or the voluntary sectors. From frontline staff such as care workers and care managers to people who have made an impact in other ways such as training and innovation. This year sees the Awards expand into four regions: • Northern Ireland 14 June, Belfast • Scotland 21 June, Glasgow • Wales, 28 June, Cardiff • England 29 June, Birmingham Category winners from each of the four regions will go through to a National Final in the autumn of 2018. If you know someone you would like to nominate please visit nationalldawards.co.uk to find out more.
HELP MAKE HISTORY The National Paralympic Heritage Trust is calling on the help of the public to help make their first regional exhibition at Norwich Cathedral a success. The Norfolk exhibition is to run from Sunday 3 March until Tuesday 22 May to coincide with the Winter Paralympics in South Korea and is looking for donations of stories and memorabilia to help illustrate Britain’s long and successful history of Paralympic sport. Learning and engagement manager Katy-Jayne Lintott said, “We would love to record interviews from past Paralympians, athletes, coaches, officials and families who have been part of the Paralympic and disability sports journey so far.” paralympicheritage.org.uk
A LITTLE BIRD TOLD US… About a great new children’s book that helps explain a child’s disability to siblings and family members. When you finally receive a genetic diagnosis for your child how do you tell them or indeed their brother or sister? When does that conversation start, how do you even begin? This was the inspiration behind a recently published children’s book, Avery which was written to support families and help to begin that difficult conversation. One family received a copy of Avery and said: “Mum, have you read this book? You’ve got to read it! It’s just like me and Aiden. The little bird finds things difficult like Aiden does but the brother bird is always with him, helping him, just like I help Aiden. There’s even a picture of the bird in hospital, just like Aiden! I think the person who wrote this book really knows what it’s like to be autistic and what it’s like to have a brother like Aiden. It’s a really lovely book!” With its beautiful illustrations by Marta Altes, Avery both recognises and celebrates differences in children as well as the impact this may have on other family members. For more information about Avery please visit imagine-id.org/avery-book
DURABLE, LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORT PORTABLE The new i-Go ffrom Pride Mobility ProductsÂŽ Ltd advanced folding technology, enabling features advan v van it to be quickly transported with ease. The i-Go features front susp suspension, durable seating system, under seat at sstorage at to and much more.
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MITSUBISHI MOTABILITY OFFERS OUTLANDER DIESEL 3
MIRAGE JURO CVT AUTO
ECLIPSE CROSS 2
Rear view camera
Heated front seats
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Electric heated front mirrors
Pop in and see us | Visit mitsubishi-cars.co.uk to find your nearest dealer. The Motability Contract Hire Scheme is administered by Motability Operations PLC (Registered Company No. 1373876), City Gate House, 22 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HB. To qualify you must be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of the Personal Independence Payment, War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment which will be taken in lieu of the four weekly rental. Models shown are the 17MY Outlander 3 2.2 diesel manual, Mirage Juro CVT automatic 1.2 petrol, Eclipse Cross 2 1.5 petrol manual and ASX 2 1.6 petrol 2WD manual. Terms and Conditions apply. Please ask the dealer for full details. Rentals valid for applications placed between 1st January and 31st March 2018. 1. Please note that Mitsubishi cannot guarantee compatibility with all mobile phones and Bluetooth devices with the handsfree system fitted to this vehicle. Please check with the mobile phone manufacturer for further information on compatibility. Fuel figures shown are official EU test figures, to be used as a guide for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results.
Mirage CVT Auto fuel consumption in mpg (ltrs/100km): Urban 57.6 (4.9), Extra Urban 72.4 (3.9), Combined 65.7 (4.3), CO2 emissions 99g/km. ASX 2 fuel consumption in mpg (ltrs/100km): Urban 38.2 (7.4), Extra Urban 57.6 (4.9), Combined 48.7 (5.8), CO2 emissions 135g/km. Eclipse Cross 2 fuel consumption in mpg (ltrs/100km): Urban 34.4 (8.2), Extra Urban 49.6 (5.7), Combined 42.8 (6.6), CO2 emissions 151g/km. Outlander Diesel 3 fuel consumption in mpg (ltrs/100km): Urban 40.9 - 45.6 (6.9 - 6.2), Extra Urban 54.3 - 58.9 (5.2 - 4.8), Combined 48.7 - 53.3 (5.8 - 5.3), CO2 emissions 139g/km - 154g/km.
pos_ads_feb-mar18.indd M43918 Q1 2018 Motability12 PosAbility Mag 297x210.indd 1
31/01/2018 19/01/2018 12:41 11:30
Designer: Kim Sielbeck Photographer: Ailbhe Keane
Words by Colette Carr
Galway sisters, Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, have taken the wheelchair industry by storm with their beautiful bespoke designs
Photographer: Conor McCabe, SpokeOut Magazine
s taglines go, “if you can’t stand up, stand out” is a pretty good one, especially when the product demands and draws your
immediate attention. And standing out is something Galway girls, and sisters, Ailbhe and Isabel (Izzy) Keane have nailed down to a fine art. Born out of an art school project, their company Izzy Wheels has allowed the dynamic duo to share their passion, craft and creativity with the whole world, helping
change wheelchairs to be seen as an expression of self, rather than an extension. Producing and selling beautifully created spoke guards and donating part of their profits to Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland, the sisters have brought together a community of ‘spokes people’ all proud of their wheels. 20-year-old brand ambassador Izzy is a French, sociology and politics student back home in Galway but serves as the smiling face and inspiration for 24-year-old Dublin-based founder and creative director Ailbhe. Their stunning work was showcased on the Irish Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy, where they discussed how they have grown since the
company’s inception in September 2016. “We absolutely loved it,” Izzy began. “The Late Late often celebrate different Irish stories and businesses so we were on to celebrate the year we’ve had,” said older sister Ailbhe. “I created all the first designs, but as we grew as a brand, we have worked with 25 different artists from around the world, so they were all tuning into the fashion show on The Late Late,” she added. A live fashion show of their ‘roll models’ presenting their ‘be-spoked’ wheel guards captivated the audience while Ailbhe commentated, connecting the personality of the user with their chair. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
Izzy is the bright and smiling face of the expanding company
Designer: Jess Phoenix Photographer: Ailbhe Keane
Sisterly love - best friends Izzy and Ailbhe brighten up dull clinical chairs
Designer: LouLou and Tummie Photographer: Conor McCabe, SpokeOut Magazine
“It was brilliant. The reason why we do what we do and why it means so much is the designs in motion. Seeing something you’ve created on someone’s wheelchair is a really nice feeling. It’s a really special feeling for us,” Ailbhe explained. “They’re my friends so it was so nice to even just share the experience with them, but also to showcase that our brand is for everyone male, female, young and old, it was great to show we aim to please and enable everyone to feel and look good in their wheelchairs,” Izzy agreed.
CREATIVE FLAIR Arty Ailbhe and Izzy have always been enamoured with bold and beautiful colours and patterns and celebrating their individuality with it, so spinning a creative way to roll that into Izzy’s wheelchair was, in hindsight, inevitable. Using Izzy as a model and muse spans far further back than art projects for college. One of the girls’ biggest childhood memories was pimping Izzy’s ride, matching her wheelchair to her outfit like you would a handbag. At the time it may have appeared as nothing more than childhood fun, but it provided a basis for a company to roll on from. “It was always in the back of my mind, I loved decorating Isabel’s chair. “For any occasion, it was always the first thing we would think about – ‘what will we do with the wheels?’ All our family got involved, I loved it. I then went to art college and in my final year I had nine months to work on whatever I wanted to. That’s when I decided to give this a proper go and see what I could come up with. We came up with loads of different products for wheelchairs that work well but also look really good, so things like umbrellas, but the part that was most fun to design were the wheels. “They were like a big blank canvas and you could do so much with the wheel. We had loads like pop-up wheels and animated ones that spun around like a cartoon,” Ailbhe explained. And from there spun a new direction for Ailbhe’s creative flair. After a video of Izzy showing off her wheels went viral in the States, they were inundated with messages from wheelchair users all over the globe wondering how they could get their hands on a pair to transform their own chair into something that represented them. Ailbhe said: “When I started I never thought it would become a business, but people really wanted them. “We launched the website in September 2016 and we’re getting dozens of messages every week from designers asking to get in touch with us and they really believe in us and
want to be a part of it. “At the beginning I was designing to go with Izzy’s different outfits, so the first collection is quite girly and then as we launched the online store, we had men, women, people of different ages and styles, boys and girls who wanted these in their own style so that’s when I started reaching out.”
TACKLING PERCEPTIONS Izzy, who was born with spina bifida, is tackling the awkwardness around her wheelchair for some. “I’ve always had a really positive relationship with my wheelchair but the only thing they’ve always fallen behind on is the aesthetic,” the student explained. “When a person doesn’t know me, the first thing they notice is my wheelchair, so people
INTERVIEW “I always really wanted people to talk about my chair so that they don’t feel awkward. It comes with me everywhere so having something so pretty on it that’s a piece of art opens the gates to questions and positive comments - it’s the best!” she smiled. “The wheelchair isn’t their disability – it’s their enabler,” Ailbhe added on. And with that, working so closely with designers she admires who invest time into her love is a huge part of the process for designer Ailbhe, who said: “It’s so exciting having amazing designers on board, but they do become our friends and part of our community. This whole project obviously means so much to me and my sister but once the designers are on board and base them on other users, it means so much to them as well.”
Photographer: Aisling Kenny
“I ALWAYS REALLY WANTED PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT MY CHAIR SO THAT THEY DON’T FEEL AWKWARD. IT COMES WITH ME EVERYWHERE SO HAVING SOMETHING SO PRETTY ON IT THAT’S A PIECE OF ART OPENS THE GATES TO QUESTIONS AND POSITIVE COMMENTS” should be able to show that their wheelchair is a positive thing and they love it and can make it look beautiful. “I’m by no means unique in the fact I want to embrace my disability. “It’s so important to nurture that from the very beginning. In the teenage years you become self-conscious anyway, so you need to keep up the momentum of keeping the positive relationship and showing everyone else.
The ambitious fashion-lovers aren’t done yet though. Having cracked the wheel guard market, Izzy Wheels is just at the peak of the iceberg, rolling with the punches and looking to explode onto the fashion scene for wheelchair users. “What we aim to do is to be the go-to fashion brand for wheelchair users. We want to expand to cater for everything to make them feel amazing about themselves and their wheelchairs so we’ve lots of great ideas in the pipeline that we can’t wait to make reality,” Izzy told PosAbility. “This is the beginning of a bigger picture,” Ailbhe added. “We want to be a place where wheelchair users have been considered. If you go into any high street shop clothes aren’t designed with the sitting person in mind, so we want to create one place where all needs are considered and beautifully designed and fit well,” she enthused. But with designers falling over themselves to get involved and countless designs at Izzy’s fingertips, can they have a favourite pair? “Because I have all of them at my disposal I can change mine on a daily basis so I couldn’t pick but it’s so nice to be able to choose depending on my shoes or colour scheme on a day. That would be like choosing my favourite child, it’s impossible!” Izzy joked. “’Picking a favourite child’, that’s good!” Izzy laughed along. “It depends on the time of the year. Our most popular for girls is Jess Phoenix, the one Izzy was wearing on The Late Late that is pink with big red flowers and the space one is most popular with boys.”
Attention anyone who has served in the Armed Forces... Blesma is the leading charity for limbless veterans AND those veterans who have lost the use of a limb or limbs. Many of our Members have lost limbs since leaving military service, but Blesma is also there for all ex-Service men and women who have lost the use of limbs in a traumatic incident after serving. Our Blesma Support Officers are available to offer advice and answer your questions about mobility or living with the loss of use of limb.
Call: 020 8548 7080 email: email@example.com or get in touch via the â€˜Contact Usâ€™ page at www.blesma.org
Columnist Sam Renke
Our favourite teacherturned-actress, Sam Renke, brings you her take on life and the colourful experiences it throws her way.
“MY LIFE MANTRA IS ALWAYS TRYING TO TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE AND BE PROACTIVE EVEN IN THE DARKEST TIMES”
You can follow Sam on @samrenke
BROKE AND A B*TCH
ecently, I had a nasty fall which resulted in my collar bone breaking in two places, a cracked skull and bruised ribs. Not my finest moment I can assure you and contrary to popular belief including the paramedics, I wasn’t drunk! Broken bones are just a way of life when you have osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone condition). So any slight bump, fall or awkward movement can result in severe fractures. I’ve been admitted to hospital for fractures more times than I’ve had hot dinners, however, this time was slightly different as it was the first ‘major’ fracture I’ve had since living independently in London. In other words, I didn’t have my mum, who luckily is a nurse, taking charge of the situation as she often did. Those who know me best know that when I’m broken I become a different person. I’m snappy and abrupt, my patience is nonexistent and dare I say I can be rude at times. This particular incident conjured up the devil within in a big way and left me not only suffering with physical pain but also with overwhelming guilt for my behaviour in hospital towards staff, friends and family who came to visit. I despised the person I’d become and started to spiral into self-loathing, embarrassment and depression. You can allow a little grumpiness, but I wasn’t sleeping, I was on edge constantly and my anxiety was through the roof. Even when discharged my behaviour didn’t waver. This wasn’t me at all, so why this drastic personality change?
It was only when I came across a tweet by Dr Christian Jessen that everything became clear and I reflected upon my fall and the events that followed. He tweeted, “One thing that is becoming distressingly clear to me: in most areas of medicine we do not treat disabled patients very well. We assume too much, ask too little and all too often patronise.” Most of the hospital staff had never heard of my condition and failed to detect my multiple fractures in A&E. I had to beg them not to send me home as I knew I had severe fractures and couldn’t move at all. Because my chart didn’t state my fractures I was only given paracetamol as a form of pain relief and when I was being transferred from bed to bed without correct support or a hoist it resulted in me not only wetting myself from the agony, but I could hear my own broken bones crack and grind together. I was even at one point told to keep my noise levels down when crying out in pain as it was upsetting other patients. I realised my rudeness and anxiety was simply a coping mechanism. In a world that still falls short of understanding and respecting disability as Dr Jessen highlighted, hospitals that should be a nurturing and caring environment actually end up being terrifying and traumatic - I was experiencing PTSD. My life mantra is always trying to turn a negative into a positive and be proactive even in the darkest times. I recognised the lack of knowledge of rare diseases such as my own therefore, I’ve put my name down to help junior doctors with their final exam training. Maybe this way future generations of doctors won’t assume too much or ask too little and all in all leave the patronising at the door! WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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Columnist Mik Scarlet
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FIRST DATE NERVES? FORGET THEM!
was originally going to write a grumpy rant about poor access, but to be honest I’m growing tired of writing them and I bet you are bored of reading them. All disabled people have awful stories but we also have positive stories. Yes, this is going to be a happy Mik article! I was booked to do a promotional photo shoot for Somerset House as they test out fully inclusive skating for wheelchair users that opens next winter. As I skated round with the assistance of Imogen, one of the wonderfully friendly and helpful staff at Somerset House, it struck me what an amazing first date skating would be. Arranging a first date can be worrying. How do we get it right? Will we scare our date off? Skating seemed perfect as your date would need to push you, but in return they had the security of holding on to the back of your wheelchair. They avoid falling on their bottom, while you get to experience the thrill of shooting round the ice. I had a great time laughing with Imogen, my ‘plus one’ for the photo shoot, and she had a great time driving me round like a race car. If this was a date, without us even knowing, we’d feel much easier about the elephant in the room - disability. Imogen has never helped a wheelchair user on the ice before but she thought it was great fun. Most of my first dates have been in nightclubs or pubs because that’s where people went when I was young and a musician and DJ. I tended to suggest a
“ARRANGING A FIRST DATE CAN BE WORRYING. HOW DO WE GET IT RIGHT? WILL WE SCARE OUR DATE OFF? ”
beautiful countryside of the north of England among many other things. More activities, once closed to disabled people, are becoming inclusive. Whatever your impairment or passion, share that and you can’t go wrong. Whatever you do, you say goodnight, maybe even with a kiss and go home with a great memory, hopefully with the desire for another date, soon. I hear so many horror stories about online dating, which to an old duffer like me sounds awful. If you do the things you enjoy, you meet people who also enjoy them, get to know them and love can blossom. I met my wife in a nightclub, because we both loved music. We formed a band together and fell in love over a synthesizer. And yes, I have taken her synth shopping. In fact, we’re going for a romantic shop for a new keyboard later this month. See, there’s someone out there for everyone.
venue I could be confident of being let in or not requiring too much help. I also did other things I was passionate about to allow my date an insight into what made me tick. The key is to think of the things you love or always wanted to try, and to share them but also to consider if it allows you to dispel any fears about disability your date might hold. My good mate Craig Grimes is involved with Experience Community, a company that arranges accessible rambles out in the WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE BLIND COMEDIAN? Words by Katie Campbell
Fresh from his appearance on Live at the Apollo, Chris McCausland talks to us about comedy, disability and trying to get on QI
I CHC Rs A M CaUs a l n
blind comedian walks onto the stage at the Hammersmith Apollo. It’s not a joke – the UK’s only professional blind comedian Chris McCausland speaks to us about his recent appearance on Live at the Apollo, the Edinburgh Festival, and gig nerves. Chris McCausland decided to give stand up a go in 2003, after being signed off work during a bout of shingles. He’d always been a fan of stand up, and he was bored of sitting at home all day. Chris thought he’d try writing something funny, then dared himself to perform at an open mic night in Balham, South London. “I went out and watched a few lowlevel open mic pub gigs,” said Chris, “and saw some good people and some absolutely awful people, and on the way home, I realised that I already couldn’t remember the names of the awful people, because you’ve got that fear haven’t you? You think, ‘if I’m awful, 15 years from now, people are going to be pointing at you in the street going “that’s the bloke!”’ But you just leave people’s minds. That was a bit of damage limitation, validation in a way, that it wouldn’t haunt me for the rest of my life if it was awful.” The gig went well enough for him to confidently continue, and 15 years later, he would appear on the BBC’s flagship stand up show, Live at the Apollo. For Chris, the opportunity to perform on the show was one of the highlights of his career, but it didn’t come without some nerves. “I was nervous, that would be an understatement,” Chris said. “I was nervous and excited. I don’t drink before I do gigs, but I made a decision
21_23_ChrisMcAusland_RT_AB 2.indd 22
beforehand that I was going to have one pint of lager, just to take the edge off, just to allow me to smile a little bit! I’d also never played in front of 3,500 people, so not only do you have that initial experience of having that many people facing in your direction and not being familiar with that, but also being filmed for the telly, it’s not good to depend on alcohol, but sometimes, it’s the lesser of two evils. “I stood in the wings and I had a pint, then I went and stood behind the sign. Do you know, my brother-in-law actually said to me - we were talking about self help books, we’re both consumers of a lot of popular psychology crap - and he told me about an experiment where people had to do some public speaking, and one group had to say ‘I’m gonna do really well! I’m gonna be enthusiastic!’ and the other group had to repeat, ‘I am excited. I am excited’ and the people who had to say ‘I am excited’ did a lot better than the others who got themselves psyched up. So I was standing behind that sign saying ‘I am excited. I am excited.’ “As I walked out and felt the audience applause kind of hit, it was literally after the first one or two jokes, I was unsure, because there’s obviously a different rhythm for playing in front of that kind of audience, it’s not like playing in front of 400 people in a comedy club, it’s a bigger room, and the laughter takes longer, and I worried that I wouldn’t have that right rhythm, but it’s amazing how quickly you just fall into it.” The experience for Chris is slightly different though: he can’t see the audience he’s performing to. Born with retinitis pigmentosa, Chris’ sight slowly deteriorated as he got older, which has rendered him almost completely blind. His blindness has never affected his stand up, with him preferring not to base his comedy around it, but it does cause issues with logistics for a travelling comic. “The main issue is the logistics, and getting to the stage, or moving around the stage. I also don’t have to go into the audience with “where are you from,” “are you with her,” “look at your shirt;”
“IF I SAW SOMEBODY GETTING GUIDED UP ON STAGE, I WOULD PROBABLY THINK ‘OH BLOODY HELL, WHAT’S THIS FELLA DOING?’”
that’s quite visual and relies on seeing the audience to have that kind of banter from them. Unless people from the audience kind of instigate something with me, I tend to stick to what I’ve thought of or what I know I’m going to say. A lot of comedians also do that and choose not to go into the audience for a two-way with them. “A comedian might be nervous about the gig, but I tend to be more nervous about the logistics, like getting to the microphone. Once I’ve got there and I’ve said something and people have laughed, I’m fine. The nerves of the gig are usually less than the mobility issues. A lot of us walk out of the wings of a large theatre, like Live at the Apollo, you’re kind of weaving your way through tables and crowds who’re drunk, stag dos, and things like that. “As well, maybe I need to give the public more credit, but I don’t think I do, because I think, if I wasn’t doing comedy, I would be an audience member, and if I saw somebody getting guided up on stage, I would probably think ‘oh bloody hell, what’s this fella doing?’ There’s quite an apprehension – like ‘Jesus, what are we going to be sitting through here?’ I feel that, and it gives me a little bit more trepidation than the actual gig. Once I’m up there, I can tell them a joke, make them laugh and then move on to other stuff, then it’s all good, you know?” Travelling is the main point of issue in Chris’ career as a comic. He’s used the governments Access to Work scheme since 2005 to aid in lifting the restriction that comes with travelling. The scheme helps provide him with someone who
can drive him – in his car, using his petrol – to gigs. The difficulty comes in the problematic nature of finding him a guide or social worker who is able to work inside the unsociable hours and random days he works. International work is also a problem – an invitation to come assist him in Australia for a month sounds like a great offer, but working within their schedule makes that almost impossible. However, the scheme works well for Chris, and when it does come together, it’s a great help for him. What does the future hold for Chris? He’s planning a return to the worldrenowned Edinburgh Festival after a six year absence due to the birth of his daughter, and the realisation that “you could keep a human being alive for about the same cost of doing the Edinburgh festival.” As much as Chris enjoys Scotland, the Festival can become mentally taxing for him. “I don’t like being 100% dependent on somebody else,” said Chris, “and at home I’m not. I can have somebody support me and help me with work as and when I have that work and I need it, whereas in the Edinburgh Festival, I have to be completely dependent on someone for a month. And that becomes a little bit mentally draining, in a way. “You’re working every day at the festival, you’ve got promotional things to do, and you’ve got little shows you might pop up and do, so I have somebody with me who stays with me in the flat, so you’re a lot more dependent on someone for a whole month, and I find that mentally draining after a while, you know? A month’s a bit too long for me, but you know, needs must and all that.” Coming off of this year’s Live at the Apollo performance, Chris has a busy year ahead of him. He’s got a full diary of shows booked until August, when he starts the month-long residency at the Fringe. He’s hoping that his appearance on Live at the Apollo can raise his profile enough for more television work or a national tour. “At the minute,” Chris said, “the short term goal is to sort the Edinburgh show out, and see if they’ll stick me on QI!”
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WITH PASSENGER ASSIST Travelling on public transport can be extremely difficult. It’s a stressful experience regardless, and can cause undue anxiety, but the extra preparation and reliance on travel organisations and companies required when a disabled person travels is even more so. That’s where tech start-up Transreport’s Passenger Assist app comes in.
isabled rail passengers are not happy with the current system. It’s too complex, and often, despite informing rail companies that they will be using a service and require assistance, disabled passengers are frequently left on trains without assistance at their station. The government has given train companies until 2020 to come up with solutions to this problem, knowing that the current system does not meet the needs of disabled travellers. Transreport feel that this is too long. In response to this, they have created Passenger Assist, taking full advantage of modern tech to provide a smooth and comfortable way for disabled people to travel on trains, without the anxiety and uncertainty that the current system causes. The app is an all-in-one experience: it can request assistance, help with journey planning and eventually be used to buy tickets with ease. “The passenger assist app is the app we’ve developed for people who require specific assistance at stations and on trains to request assistance in an easy and simple
KEEP UP TO DATE Follow @Transreportuk for updates on the app’s release or on how you can take part in trials.
way, to improve the ease of their journey,” said Ara Shikhalislami, project manager at Transreport. “It’s designed for any passenger who requires any form of assistance, whether that means wheelchair access or guidance through stations, or even someone elderly who might need a helping hand with their luggage.” The app is incredibly easy to use: the TurnUp-and-Go feature means passengers can simply enter the station, open the app, and select the “I Need Assistance” option, which alerts station staff via their mobile devices that a passenger needs assistance. Once a member of staff has accepted the request, the user will receive a notification informing them that an assistant is on their way, or that their request for assistance has been confirmed. There’s also an option to book in advance, which is much like the current system, but simplified considerably. Once the user has signed up for the app, providing their details and an optional photograph, station staff can see who they are and communicate with
them via message or call, ensuring they’re able to talk and travel safely. After being showcased on the BBC, there was a fantastic reaction to the app. “We’ve had a great response,” Ara said. “We’ve had amazing support from organisations such as the National Deaf Children’s Society who got in touch with us, pretty much immediately after finding out about the app, and it’s important for us to work with organisations like that, so we can understand the needs of passengers, so we can accommodate everything that they think is a necessity within our app, and we can find a way to allow all passengers to travel equally. “It’s an app designed for everyone, and we want to encourage passengers, organisations, and the industry to get involved and help us to provide this national system that is there for anyone to use who needs assistance.” Visit transreport.co.uk for more information on launch dates and downloads. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
HOLIDAY PROFILE WHO WE ARE Based on the shores of Lake Bassenthwaite, we are a residential outdoor centre with over 40 years of experience in delivering challenging outdoor adventure holidays for people with disabilities. We offer exciting residential breaks for schools, groups, families and individuals along with their friends, family or carers. Our breaks are accessible to people of all ages, including those with the most complex needs for which most outdoor centres cannot cater.
OUR FACILITIES AND STAFF Catering for up to 60 guests, every aspect of the centre is fully accessible and rooms are specifically designed to enable the care of everyone, including those with profound and complex disabilities. Rooms are mainly twins, but family rooms are also available and all have en-suite wet-rooms. A full range of additional specialist equipment is available on request. Residents also have access to our stateof-the-art Water Centre, which includes a hydrotherapy pool, multi-sensory room, poolside sauna and mechanical poolside lifts. There is also an on-site games room, sports hall and a small bar. Our experienced staff and adapted
Justin Farnan tells us about how Calvert Trust’s Lake District breaks are accessible to all equipment allows guests to really experience a range of activities including (to name a small selection) sailing, climbing, abseiling, horse riding and bushcraft. Safety of our guests is paramount and our instructors hold relevant national governing body awards, with the centre fully licenced by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). Our team of chefs provide all guests with three meals per day, which are freshly prepared on-site using local ingredients and can be adapted to accommodate most special dietary requirements.
For those who would love to make use of our fully accessible accommodation but don’t want to take part in a full programme of activities, we also offer ‘Full Board Plus’ dates, when you can use the centre as a base to explore the area, as well as take part in a couple of optional light activities.
WHAT OUR RESIDENTIAL BREAKS OFFER Whether you come to stay with us for a weekend, a mid-week break or a full week, all our courses offer those with and without disabilities the opportunity to experience challenging, yet achievable activities in a safe environment. The combination of activities during the day and a communal residential setting in the evenings help develop confidence, independence and social skills. Although many of our visitors come as part of a large charity or school group, we do also offer a variety of dates through the year for smaller parties of adults (all participants over 18) and families (one or more participants under 18). We also offer dates for young adults (aged 16-25) and our ‘Active Plus’ breaks are for those who are more confident in their mobility and wish to do more challenging activities.
FIND OUT MORE If you would like to know more about what the Lake District Calvert Trust has to offer please get in touch! Our office is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm so call on 017687 72255 or email enquries@lakedistrict. calvert-trust.org.uk. More details can also be found on our website www.calvert-trust. org.uk/lake-district/introduction.
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arah Brisdion was in the supermarket buying shopping with her husband and twins, Erica and Hadley – who has cerebral palsy – now seven, when her son needed the toilet. When they entered the disabled changing place, they discovered the floor was soaking wet with water, urine, or a combination of the two; Sarah isn’t sure, but whatever it was, there was no way of drying it off. The changing place featured no bench or hoist, so to change her son, she would have been forced to lay him on the soaking wet, unhygienic floor, which she was understandably unwilling to do.
Hadley needed changed, and the family were not
Disgusting accessible toilets were getting Sarah Brisdion down. She decided to tackle the issue with selfies Words by Katie Campbell
close enough to home or a friend’s home to pop in and change her son, so they were instead forced, on a dark and freezing winter’s evening, to change their son as he lay on the boot of their car. A part of Hadley’s condition is that he burns off calories extremely quickly due to the overworking of his muscles, and he retains no body fat – he is skin and bones, and he gets cold very quickly. Sarah’s husband stood shielding him from other shoppers, attempting to keep some of the warmth from the car’s heaters around him, while he was cleaned and changed in the supermarket carpark. All of this had to happen because the supermarket’s changing place was disgusting and unfit for anyone’s use. This, Sarah says, is one of the worst situations she has ever found herself in while trying to change Hadley. In an attempt to change attitudes towards changing WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
places – their frequent lack of cleanliness and lack of appropriate equipment – Sarah started the #looadvent campaign on Twitter. “I was chatting to another friend of mine who is also a campaigner and has a disabled son,” said Sarah, “and we were just having a bit of banter and saying how fed up we were of the fact that we’re constantly fighting the same old battle and that people don’t really want to talk about toilets. It’s so unglamorous, and not just talking about businesses, but about the media, and how it’s so hard to try and get their attention, because it’s just not a sexy topic. “Poo, wee, periods: no one really likes to discuss it, we’re all quite embarrassed, all quite British. We were having a chat, and I said, ‘do you know, I’ve had enough of this, it’s just going to the toilet, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, everybody has to do it in one shape or form, so why are we so frightened about talking about it?’ and so jokingly, I said, do you know what? What we really need to do is have photos of us on the loo that try and break a bit of the taboo. Let’s just show that we all wee! We all have to go to the loo about eight times a day, let’s stop worrying about it, talk about it, and then maybe perceptions will change, and we might get a bit of traction and a bit more attention because it’ll be a more
common topic to openly discuss.” Sarah decided to post a photo of herself on the toilet every day in December, thinking that after a few days if it hadn’t gained any traction, she could simply drop it and go back to her Christmas shopping. What did she have to lose except a little dignity? On the first of December, she posted a photo of herself on the toilet, holding a candle, alongside a caption: “Lighting a candle for advent: We all need to pee. It’s nothing to be ashamed of! Some people just need more help than others. For 24 days [in] December, I will be taking a festive toilet selfie to raise awareness of the need for changing benches and hoists in disabled toilets.” By day three, Sarah started to get a lot of attention, and the pressure simply built from there as her audience
“EVERY SPARE MOMENT SHE HAS AWAY FROM WORK AND HER CHILDREN, SHE SPENDS FIGHTING FOR THE HADLEY’S HEROES AND CHANGING PLACES CAMPAIGNS.”
widened. She was over the moon to be featured on Channel 4’s The Last Leg, with hosts Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker taking their own toilet selfie. Sarah loves the picture so much, she’s going to frame it and put it in her toilet. As well as The Last Leg hosts, #looadvent holds the distinction of being the subject of Paralympian Hannah Cockroft’s only selfie. More importantly, she feels the involvement of The Last Leg and Hannah Cockroft brought a sense of legitimacy to her issue: being featured on The Last Leg made people take her campaign more seriously, and showed people that it’s a difficult issue that we need to do something about. As overjoyed as Sarah is that people are paying her and her cause attention, everything she does is for Hadley. She fights hard now so that Hadley does not have to spend his adult life doing it. Every spare moment she has away from work and her children, she spends fighting for the Hadley’s Heroes and Changing Places campaigns. Her twins were born severely premature at 27 weeks, and as a result of that, Hadley has cerebral palsy. He has spastic quadriplegia, making his limbs tight and
stiff, but his trunk floppy. He is a fulltime wheelchair user, unable to walk unaided or stand to use the toilet. Hadley’s legs default to a tightly crossed position, meaning that in order to remove his trousers, he has to be lying down in order to separate his legs. Hadley needs changing places to use the toilet. If he can’t access one, he has to relieve himself in his nappy. If the changing place has no hoist or bench, Hadley has to lie on the floor, which Sarah says is often abysmal in terms of its cleanliness. It upsets him a lot: he is aware that he is treated differently to his sister, and the act of lying down on a cold toilet floor hurts his back. “When it comes down to it, it’s physically hurting him, as well as putting him at risk of disease, and his mental health, it can’t be good for it at all, can it?” Sarah said. Her campaign has raised the image to a wider audience, with positive effect. “There’s not been as much as I hope, I suppose,” said Sarah. “But then, you know, I wasn’t really expecting there to suddenly be an influx of supermarkets or retailers installing them. The amount of coverage it’s getting is so much bigger, and it’s really positive
coverage, it’s not just little snippets here and there, it’s big features, it’s people actually going more in depth about exactly how it affects people and how many people it affects. “There is one bit of great news: the oldest pub in England are doing a big refurb at the moment, and as a result of the coverage on Sky, they got in contact with myself and Sky and are now going to install a changing place in the pub as a result of this week’s coverage. You can’t ask more than that. And being such an old building – if they can do it in one of the oldest buildings in the country, then there really isn’t any excuse for any retailer building a brand new complex or cinema to not include one. I think that’s probably the best thing that could have happened really, because it goes to show that where there is a will, there’s a way. “We’ve got a big cinema in Southampton that’s only just been built
– it’s one of the really nice, deluxe ones, it’s got big reclining seats and people bring drinks to your chair and all that, but no toilets we can use as a family, so we can’t go. It’s a brand new complex, it was only put up last year, but nobody has intervened at planning stages and asked why they’re not catering for everybody? In the big scheme of things, however many millions it cost to build it, a hoist in a slightly bigger toilet would have been peanuts. It would hardly have made any difference whatsoever.” Sarah’s fight is with those not enforcing the Equality Act at planning stages, where it’s not a legal requirement to include hoists and benches in toilets, and on a moral ground. But with all of the attention that her toilet selfies have brought to the plight of changing places users, there is a hope winning her fight might get a little easier.
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Flying getting you down? Try seeing Europe by train instead Words by Mik Scarlet
ike many disabled people, I find flying so, so stressful. The whole experience fills me with panic. Trying to book the front seats as they are the only ones I can easily get to, getting to the airport, getting assistance, being boarded correctly, making sure my wheelchair is put in the hold, the rising fear as I reach our destination about the state my wheelchair will be in when we land, getting off the plane, let alone the panic over trying to get to the toilet while we’re in the air. I have lost count of the number of times my wheelchair has come back to me broken but last time I flew I ended up with a broken leg due to an incident caused by poor cabin crew training. This was the straw that broke the disabled flyer’s leg
- literally. I have officially had enough of flying. If I’m not going to fly anymore, is there another solution when travelling abroad which I do both for my job and for fun? Luckily, after I got the cast off my very badly broken leg, my wife and I ventured to Paris for a conference on the Eurostar. In that one journey I found my answer. Forget flying, let the train take the strain. The main wonder of going abroad via train is that you stay with your chair. On the Eurostar you can stay seated in your chair with a companion, or you can transfer out and sit on opposite sides of the train carriage. You also get discounted tickets and a rather tasty onboard meal. The toilets are huge too, so if you fancy an easy way to visit Paris, Euro-Disney, Brussels and other European destinations, the train is a stress free, luxurious way to travel. Once I’d discovered the joys, my wife Diane wanted to test this newfound love by taking the TGV to Barcelona. Gulp. I needn’t worry though, for it soon became clear that not only is
“IN GARE DU NORD STATION, YOU ARE MET WITH A HYDRAULIC LIFT, SO YOU ENTER PARIS WITHOUT ANY EFFORT AT ALL. IF YOU’RE PLANNING TO STAY IN PARIS, YOU’RE THERE AND THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY IS YOURS FOR THE TAKING” getting to Europe easy by train, but the journey from France to Spain was a dream too. Our journey to Barcelona started as we checked into the assistance desk at St Pancras International. The desk is right next to the main Eurostar entrance so it’s easy to find. From there you are whisked off to security, which is like an airport but friendlier and less invasive, no hands down my trousers this time, thankfully. Then to passport control, which is so fast that in a blink of an eye I was on French soil, while still being in London. The passport control both ends is like this. You get your passport checked at one desk, move forward a metre and have it checked again. Et voila, passport checks
and security done. When you arrive in Paris, you just get off the train and that’s it. When the train starts boarding you just scoot up in a lift, find your carriage and wheel up the ramp into your allocated space or seat. If you need help with luggage there are staff to help. This applies to all types of impairments, as well as older people and families too. Once on the train you sit back and enjoy the ride, as you rush through the Kent countryside, through the tunnel and into France. In Gare Du Nord station, you are met with a hydraulic lift, so you enter Paris without any effort at all. If you’re planning to stay in Paris, you’re there and this beautiful city is yours for the taking. It’s also not as inaccessible as people might believe, so if you’ve not tried European travel by train before, Paris is a perfect way to ease in. If you’re feeling more adventurous, this is your first stop in the journey. To catch the TGV to Barcelona we had to travel across Paris to the Gare de Lyon. We did this using a fantastic taxi company called G7, who have a phoneline dedicated to English speakers and a fleet of WAV taxis. I don’t need a WAV, so we ordered a cab with a large boot, jumped in and set off to our hotel. On the outward journey, we stayed in the Mercure next to the Gare de Lyon station, meaning WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
we could lie in a little before the next leg of our journey. On our homeward journey, we did the trip in one go, but I would advise breaking it up for both directions so you get to spend two nights in Paris. On the morning of the next leg we went to the assistance area of the station, a large room with really helpful staff who spoke amazing English. Another myth about Paris we found was wrong was that most people do speak English. At boarding, a member of staff came and accompanied us to the train, put a ramp over the gap and on I wheeled. Suddenly the floor of the carriage lowered, as I discovered it was a lift. What a genius idea. The TGV trains are double-deckers, with the wheelchair spaces being on the bottom deck. I wheeled to the wheelchair area, which is a seat and a space, so you can again stay
“I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH EUROPEAN TRAIN TRAVEL AND HAVE A LIST OF OTHER TRIPS WE ARE PLANNING, INCLUDING A HOLIDAY ACROSS GERMANY TO BERLIN” in your chair or transfer out as I prefer to do. Diane sat on the other side of the carriage and we were set. There were a few issues of people blocking the aisle with luggage, but when we explained I needed access to get to the toilet they were all lovely, well except the two English travellers, which says something about the English public, eh? Without any stress we were off, with a journey of six and a half hours ahead of us. This is the one drawback of travelling by train, it takes much longer. The great thing is, if you come prepared it allows you to read a book, watch a film or two or just watch the beautiful scenery go rushing by. I even grabbed a nice nap and despite a short delay it wasn’t too long before we arrived in our favourite city - Barcelona. Again, with a lift to raise me to platform height it was easy to disembark and we arrived at Barcelona Saints station in time for a nice dinner after checking
into our accommodation. I’ve never travelled to Barcelona with so little stress or difficulty. The journey home was equally easy, although we did do the whole thing in one day. This did make things a little stressful, mainly as we had to get from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord in time to catch the Eurostar home, and it makes the journey really long, about 11 hours door to door to our home in London. If you were travelling from there, I would definitely split the journey as we did on the way out. I have fallen in love with European train travel and have a list of other trips we are planning, including a holiday across Germany to Berlin. I expect you’re thinking this article is a little short on the how, but I must admit I didn’t book any of it. No, I left all that to my poor wife, Diane. I thought I had better ask her how she organised the trip so it was seamless. The first thing to get in place is the booking for the TGV. There are six companies in the UK that arrange assisted travel. Diane used Travel Bureau, and as well as booking our tickets they organised all the assistance we required, and translated our needs into French for us. Once the TGV was booked, it was onto the Eurostar website and that’s really straightforward. You can book the accessible seats online and you get an upgrade to premiere business and a discount. Because we were staying overnight on the outward leg of our trip, Diane also booked a hotel.
She did this by doing a basic search of hotels near the station and then contacting them about their access. For great advice, tips and up to date news on using trains in Europe check out the Man In Seat 61 website, which Diane used as a guide for our trip. To get to St Pancras, buy your rail tickets online via the rail company that serves your area and then book assistance with that company. If your local station is not accessible, the assistance line should book you a taxi to the nearest station, for your outward and return journeys. Even if you love flying, travelling by train is worth a try. It opens up a whole new way of seeing the world, and you might become hooked like I have. Maybe see you on the rails?
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Long has this been the scourge of the UK’s cinema industry; the lack of provision for those with hearing difficulties. Now, the country’s Deaf community have had enough, and a leading Deaf writer and filmmaker has taken the matter into his own hands, with a little help from 25,000 others. Words by Niall Christie
harlie Swinbourne, founder and editor of the world’s most popular deaf blog, the Limping Chicken, less than two months after posting a petition calling for all multiplexes across the UK to dedicate one screen to showing nothing but subtitled showings, is now leading a group of 25,000 signatories gained on change. org. Charlie, however, believes that even if this were to happen, this would not be far enough in the fight for equality in front of the big screen. He said: “To be honest I feel cinemas have let Deaf people down for years, and after covering the issue a lot in 2011, I’ve posted a lot of articles on Limping Chicken by Deaf people who have had poor experiences. It feels like enough is enough and cinemas need to vastly improve what they offer Deaf people. “Around 25,000 people have signed the petition which is beyond my expectations and just shows how many people feel strongly about this issue. We had a lot of social media coverage and the story was also on several BBC local radio stations. “The initial goal is having a subtitled screen in multiplexes as that would give me and other Deaf people the chance to go to the cinema any day, any time, which is far from the case at the moment. The end goal for cinemas should be offering full access to Deaf customers who need subtitles, and finding acceptable solutions to make that happen.” Having gathered these OPLE 5,000 PE “AROUND 2 N WHICH O signatures TI TI PE THE AVE SIGNED H NS AND O TI online, it is now Y EXPECTA IS BEYOND M OPLE PE Y AN M time for him S HOW JUST SHOW ISSUE” THIS GLY ABOUT FEEL STRON
to deliver this to the masses. Planning on sending this to the UK Cinema Association, as well as the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) and a number of specific companies who dominate the UK’s film industry, it may be tough to get bosses on side. That being said, the ICO are making changes for the better, having already worked with Charlie on previous projects on occasion. Duncan Carson, marketing and communications manager for the ICO, said: “We’re glad that Charlie’s petition continues to highlight the demand for cinema from Deaf audiences. We hope, and are taking steps, so that more cinemas make use of our resources, made with and for the Deaf community so that can happen. At the ICO, we are committed to making sure the widest group of people has access to the widest range of cinema. We know there are big gaps in provision for Deaf audiences. “When we partnered with the British Deaf Association to release the documentary Power in Our Hands in 2016 (the first documentary covering the history of British Sign Language) we were given renewed focus on the lack of opportunities for Deaf people to go to the cinema. For many cinemas, this was the first time that they understood the size of
the Deaf audience keen to attend the cinema, when the content is right, and they have done the work in understanding the particular needs of the Deaf community.” The Independent Cinema Office have Campaigners are also put together demanding greate r access to cinem as resources to aid cinemas in improving their provision of accessible film screenings. One of the major problems with subtitled The call has also been backed by screenings, apart from the lack of them, charities who, like Charlie, feel that is the consistent trouble with projection the rights of Deaf people and those and interruptions in the subtitles during with hearing impairments have been the film. This is one of the five focuses neglected for too long. Comparatively, put forward by the ICO in attempts to there are a fraction of the amount of develop Deaf audiences in cinema. screenings that have subtitles when put Training sessions were also provided beside the thousands upon thousands for businesses on the topic, led by Deaf of screenings which everyone else can groups with resources created by Deaf attend. graphic designers. They say, despite the Janis McDonald, chief executive of shortfall, they are striving to improve. the Scottish Council on Deafness, said: This move forward in policy was “We fully support the instigation of more kickstarted by a large-scale consultation subtitles, note takers and visual displays. by the ICO, which identified that subtitled We just want Deaf people to live the same showings were not a fix all for the life as hearing people.” minority community who have hearing The UK Cinema Association was not problems, especially those whose first available for comment. language is British Sign Language. Work like this is aimed at strengthening the link between cinemas and the Deaf community, and when integrated with an improved range of showing times, will slowly improve the problems identified by the online petition.
“WE FULLY SUPPORT THE INSTIGATION OF MORE SUBTITLES, NOTE TAKERS AND VISUAL DISPLAYS. WE JUST WANT DEAF PEOPLE TO LIVE THE SAME LIFE AS HEARING PEOPLE.”
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The accessible vehicle specialists saw the opening of their bespoke new premises in Birmingham, located close to junction 7 of the M6, opened by Simon Weston CBE, who was voted one of the Nation’s Favourite Heroes and honoured as one of the top 100 Welsh Heroes, stemming from his charitable work. The new premises are wheelchair accessible, with accessible parking, and features a stunning new demonstration room for customers to view and try any of the vehicles Mobility Vehicle Hire has in the showroom. Simon was joined by the Mayor of Walsall, Marco Longhi, and Graham Footer, chief executive of Disabled Motoring UK. Vehicles on offer sport many adaptations, including infra-red controls, left foot accelerator, boot mounted scooter hoists, push pull hand controls, drive from and ride upfront vehicles, extended pedals and much more. In addition, Mobility Vehicle Hire can provide all sizes of WAVs, with either a rear ramp or an electric tail lift on larger vehicles. All Mobility Vehicle Hire rental vehicles are provided with a full 24-hour breakdown assistance service in the UK. The company will endeavour to beat any other quote you may receive and provide a high level of service throughout your hire.
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When you think of a theatre, you likely think of an old, beautiful, but inaccessible building. Don’t let this misconception put you off – here is our list of the best accessible theatres in the UK. Words by Katie Campbell
TREADING THE BOARDS HULL NEW THEATRE, HULL
The grade II listed building closed in 2016 for a major refit, and has now re-opened following its £16m refurbishment, which has greatly improved accessibility in the theatre. The theatre now hosts a programme of accessible performances, which includes captioned performances, and touch tours. The theatre also regularly puts on relaxed performances for patrons with sensory issues, who may be affected by regular stage and room lighting. With performances of classic Shakespearian tragedy Hamlet, 2015 Olivier Award-winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, and Broadway sensation Jersey Boys featuring accessible performances at the theatre this year, there’s something for everyone at Hull New Theatre. hulltheatres.co.uk 01482 300306
FESTIVAL THEATRE, EDINBURGH
One of Edinburgh’s staple venues for touring shows, and a cornerstone of the Edinburgh International Festival. All front of house staff in the venue have received disability awareness training and Dementia Friend training. Level access is available, and parking spaces at the venue can be booked before the performance for ease, or alternatively, the theatre runs a drop off and pick up service. The Festival Theatre shows an excellent mix of new and classic theatre, comedy and opera: several upcoming showings of Miss Saigon will feature captioning, audio description, and BSL interpreters and each of the Scottish Ballet performances will have audio description. Look out for additional performances announced for the Fringe. edtheatres.com 0131 529 6000
RUN THROUGH There are so many different types of access performances – find out which is best for you.
An additional narration track that is played over the top of the performance’s audio, where a narrator describes what is happening in the gaps between dialogue.
A performance where sensory aspects of both the show and surroundings are reduced, designed to give autistic people the opportunity to see the performance without sensory overload.
THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE, STRATFORDUPON-AVON
AYLESBURY WATERSIDE THEATRE, AYLESBURY
Recently renovated, the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is a striking modern theatre, which plays host to everything from theatre to opera and comedy. The state-of-the-art theatre offers sign language and captioned performances on many shows. Hearing and guide dogs are welcome in the theatre – just inform the box office at the time of booking. See a showing of Blood Brothers, one of the longest running musicals of all time, and recipient of the prestigious Tony and Olivier awards, Blood Brothers will feature audio description or a captioned performance of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, as made universally famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful movie masterpiece. atgtickets.com/venues/aylesburywaterside-theatre 0844 871 7627
The Royal Shakespeare Company have committed to put on at least one accessible performance of every play that the theatre shows. The theatre has a number of front row seats available for patrons with accessibility requirements, features a number of wheelchair spaces and allow assistance dogs to be taken into the auditorium. The theatre also provides BSL interpreters on its theatre tour for those who have hearing impairments. The theatre is known for its connection to the classics: a contemporary interpretation of Macbeth featuring Christopher Eccleston and the harrowing John Webster classic The Duchess of Malafi, both of which will have captioned, signed and audio described performances. rsc.org.uk 01789 403493
NEW THEATRE, CARDIFF
The stunning Edwardian theatre is dedicated to ensuring the performances they put on are accessible to all. Wheelchair users will find a number of ground-level entrances and a dedicated lift. Season brochures are available in CD, braille and large print, and for those who wish to see a performance, a carer’s discount and reduced price wheelchair seating is available.
These will feature a British Sign Language interpreter on the stage, who will interpret the dialogue and audio cues for individuals with hearing impairments.
Captioned shows feature closed captioning for people with hearing impairments, which allow them to identify audio cues and dialogue they may not be able to hear.
These performances will feature clear signage and visual markers, which help people with dementia follow the performance with ease.
Allow visually impaired patrons access to the theatre space before the performance, where they can touch the theatre, stage and costumes to provide tactile information for the show.
See The Voice star Lucy O’Byrne as Maria in the Rogers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music, or the Northern Ballet adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, with a performance in association with Hynt, which seeks to provide support to arts patrons with accessibility needs across Wales. newtheatrecardiff.co.uk 029 2087 8889
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MONKEY Formed in the 80s, Lung Ha Theatre Company provides a creative and dramatic outlet for people in Edinburgh with learning disabilities. Words by Katie Campbell
ormed in 1984, the Lung Ha Monkey Theatre opened their first ever performance at Adam House in Edinburgh. They took their name from the play they put on: Lung Ha’s Monkey, an adaption of the cult classic Japanese television show Saiyūki, known in the west simply as Monkey. Its Japanese title is a more literal translation of its source material: the 16th century Chinese epic, Journey to the West. Lung Ha was simply a made up name for the titular monkey. And so, from this, Lung Ha Theatre was born. What makes Lung Ha, and what made Lung Ha’s Monkey different, though, is that its ensemble cast is composed entirely of disabled actors. The actors came from various hospitals and rec centres, and marked the first time Scotland had seen such a project open to the public.
“Originally, it was founded by a man called Richard Vallis who was involved in disability sport at the time,” said Michael Fraser, creative director at Lung Ha, “and he brought in someone called Pete Clark, who started various theatre companies as well, to direct a show. That was largely because the people who Richard was working with wanted to do some theatre. In the first show, there were about 60 performers, and it was all voluntary. “Then, people got a bit hassled and wanted to do it again, so we did another production every twelve months until 1991, and at that point, I think there was a feeling that they couldn’t keep calling in favours and that sort of stuff. “They incorporated into a company called Lung Ha Theatre Company, and became a registered company and a charity, and that enabled them to raise funds from various sources to start paying people properly and producing work, and keep producing work. In a
BUSINESS sense, the company is run along very similar lines: we still have a full company production even now.” Based not far from the famed Traverse and Lyceum theatres in the heart of the Scottish capital, the theatre now has a group of 20 performers, each of whom have a learning disability of some kind, who rehearse with the theatre for between 12 and 35 hours a week to perfect their role in the theatre’s upcoming show. Lung Ha encourages the nurturing and development of their actors, who are not expected to have any prior experience with acting, ensuring that the actors are ready and fully prepared for their role. As much as the theatre concentrates on the ultimate goal of the performance, it is about the players, and the support that can be given to them. “I think support is important,” said Michael. “Our focus is enabling people to be the best they can be, and part of that is to provide a safe and supportive structure around the work, so that people can just get on and be creative. They come to be performers, so our job is to create a base which enables that to happen. “Second to that, I think ensuring everyone has a named person, be that parents or a family member, or a key worker, and that relationship is
important to us as well, to make sure if we ever have any challenges, or the performer is feeling challenged by something, we can all talk together and work through this challenge with that person’s named support. That relationship is important too.” Lung Ha regularly commissions writers to adapt or create plays for their large troupe, ensuring that everyone has a role. They perform a mix of original plays and classics. The cast delivered a hugely successful performance of Antigone in 2012, which received favourable comparisons to a parallel production at the National Theatre of London. Michael believes that the theatre’s crowning achievement, however, was a piece created with the Grid Iron theatre company and performed in 2010, Huxley’s Lab, which was loosely based on Aldus Huxley’s seminal science fiction novel Brave New World. The play challenged the notion of genetic perfection, questioning how quickly we as a society are walking into the mass engineered, mass produced perfection of Huxley’s class-based society, where imperfection lowers caste. Presented in association with the Infomatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the play was a huge success.
“We did nine performances and sold out all of them,” said Michael. “An astonishing play. And then we were nominated and won the Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland award for Best Ensemble Production. In the awards, I think there’s ten or 12 categories, and we’re in with every professional company from across Scotland. “To be in their company in categories was a wonderful achievement. The whole company went on stage at the award ceremony, it was just fantastic. To be in that company is such a validation of people’s hard work, the commitment and hard work. That was certainly our crowning achievement by far.” Lung Ha are currently preparing to put on their latest performance, a new version of Anton Chekhov’s classic play Three Sisters, by Adrian Osmond, which will open on 15 March at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. A collaboration with the Sibelius Academy of the University of The Arts in Helsinki, the play will be directed by Finland-born Maria Oller. The play is an ambitious foray into the Russian classics. Michael notes that this will provide an excellent opportunity for theatre goers to evaluate the work of the troupe: “It gives our audience a frame in which to judge our work compared to other companies. Chances are our audience will have seen Three Sisters by someone else, and if we’re doing Shakespeare, there’s no doubt they will have experienced that with somebody else.” Three Sisters will move to Perth Theatre on 23-24 March, and then finally to the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow for a performance on 28 March. As Martin said – Lung Ha is always looking for volunteers, but there’s a more important role to fill: “We’re always on the look out for audience members too! Come see a show! That’s why we do it! There’s no show without punch!”
26 January to 15 April 2018
Pioneering People and Places
FREE ENTRY liverpoolmuseums.org.uk @museumliverpool #BlindSchool
‘Carol France and her dog’. Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool The Royal School for the Blind, Hardman Street © National Museums Liverpool (Stewart Bale collection, 9747-1)
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Strangers on a Train
SAT 24 MAR
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Meet Me in St Louis
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ACCESS LINE 0800 912 6971 TYPE TALK (Textphone user) 18001 0844 871 7677 TYPE TALK (Hearing person) 18002 0844 871 7677
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THE BLIND SCHOOL: PIONEERING PEOPLE AND PLACES School: Pioneering People and Places, explores what the architectural legacy of the School can reveal about the lives of those connected with it. The Liverpool Blind School was founded by the blind abolitionist and human rights campaigner Edward Rushton, along with a number of his blind and sighted associates. Rushton had first-hand experience of slavery through working on slave ships. His compassion for, and proximity to enslaved people led him to contract a disease which cost him his sight. As a result of his experiences of blindness and poverty and realising the poor treatment and life chances of many less wealthy blind people, he founded the school to offer training and skills.
THE HISTORY OF THE UK’S FIRST SCHOOL FOR BLIND PEOPLE Personal stories and objects reveal the history of the UK’s first school for blind people, in a new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.
The exhibition gives us a moving insight into the daily lives of the pupils, the strict rules that they had to follow, how they crafted superb objects for sale and their leisure pursuits.
Founded in 1791, Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind, in particular its buildings and the everyday lives of students, is central to The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places, running at the Museum of Liverpool from 26 January until 15 April 2018. The exhibition features unique objects from the Museum’s own collection alongside loans, personal stories and a film made in partnership with visually impaired and blind students from St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment. The exhibition is curated in partnership with Accentuate’s History of Place project, which explores 800 years in the lives of Deaf and disabled people, the exhibition
includes accessible interpretation: audio description, BSL and multisensory features.
Central to the story are the three purposebuilt buildings that housed the school during its history and how changing attitudes reflected the changing architecture to meet the needs of pupils.
It is estimated today that there are one billion disabled people in the world. Yet the history of deaf and disabled people continues to be overlooked, despite their stories being intrinsic to the environments we live in and around every day. The Blind
The Blind School: Pioneering Places and People is part of History of Place, a national project run by Accentuate, to explore the deep connections between the histories of Deaf and disabled people and the built environment. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
MARSHA DE CORDOVA Representing both her constituency and blind people, Marsha is making waves in Westminster Words by Niall Christie
raditionally, the doors to Westminster’s hallowed halls have been less open to those with disabilities, with only a handful of MPs, past and present, part of the wider disabled community. However, the snap election in June provided more than a choice of government, it gave the public an opportunity to increase representation of the disabled community in Parliament. After June’s results were counted, six MPs with disabilities had been elected. Among those was Battersea Member of Parliament Marsha de Cordova. Registered blind, Marsha has Nystagmus, a movement in the eye which causes reduced or limited vision. After graduating from South Bank University, the 42-yearold has worked for a number of charities and campaign groups, fighting for greater rights for disabled people. After seven years working for Action for Blind People, first as a welfare rights officer, before moving into management positions within the organisation. After a spell working poverty with Turn2Us, she then worked as the chief executive of South East London Vision and then as a director at the Thomas Pocklington Trust before taking up her seat in Parliament. With so many years of representation under her belt already, the community that Marsha was so enshrined in was naturally ecstatic when she took office in the middle of last year. Speaking in June, chief executive Peter Corbett said: “On behalf of everyone here at Thomas Pocklington Trust, I would like to congratulate Marsha on being elected as an MP. She has been a great asset to Pocklington, and indeed the wider Eye Health and Sight Loss Sector. We’re sure she will represent her constituents very well!” This should come as no surprise, with her attempts to change things for the better now taking place within the walls of power. But, unlike a Trojan horse, the Battersea MP’s entry into Parliament was no trick but the result of hard work and earned respect. She has now, and will continue to, transfer this attitude to both her constituents and the public across
MPS WITH A DISABILITY
Marsha de Cordova Labour – Battersea First won seat in 2017
Conservative – Harlow First won in 2010
Liberal Democrats – Eastbourne Regained in 2017
Conservative – Blackpool North and Cleveleys First won in 2010
Labour – St Helens South and Whiston First won in 2015
“ACCESSIBILITY IN OUR PUBLIC PLACES AND ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT STILL FALLS SHORT OF WHAT IS REASONABLE. I WILL USE MY TIME IN PARLIAMENT TO LOBBY FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN THESE AREAS. ”
the whole of the UK. For instance, one of her flagship pledges for her term in office is to provide step-free access to all train stations in her constituency, bringing together a local commitment with the passion for accessibility that seems to have been evident throughout her career. However, this is by no means Marsha’s first foray into politics. Having sat on Lambeth Borough Council since 2014, representing the Larkhall area, her track record, as well as the Labour surge in the run up to the election, helped her overturn an 8,000 person majority and take the seat from a Conservative minister. In her victory speech in June, Marsha said: “As a visually-impaired person myself, I feel passionately about the rights of disabled people. Accessibility in our public places and on public transport still falls short of what is reasonable. I will use my time in parliament to lobby for improvements in these areas. In the fifth richest country in the world, there can be no excuses for leaving behind a large number of our citizens.” As part of the opposition, Marsha was selected as Shadow Minister for Disabled People in October last year, yet more evidence that her campaigning and policy experience for the good of people with disabilities could be utilised in Parliament. But work for Marsha is made harder, with much still to be done to improve access for people with visual impairments, even in the Houses of Parliament. In an interview with the Guardian last year, she revealed that government papers and briefings reach her much later than her fellow MPs, sometimes as much as a day later. This has not stopped her making the most of her opportunity to represent disabled people in the House of Commons. So far, she has addressed everything from access to mainstream education for those with visual impairments to social security provision. Currently, Marsha is battling on a number of fronts, but with the next election not due to be held until 2022, there is still a great amount of time to win ground from the opposition benches. However, given her track record of campaigning and overturning odds, most notably her victory to win her parliamentary seat in the first place, this will not deter her from fighting for change. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
WELCOME TO SICILY Jewel of the Mediterranean
Everyone should visit Sicily at some time. From its rich history, dazzling landscapes to its volcanic excitement and glorious food. It offers as much to disabled visitors as Giovanni promised, and the trip to Stromboli to see the lava eruptions was just one of its highlights. The best times to visit are April to June or September to October, so this is a great time to contemplate if 2018 might be the year you discover it for yourself. We unlocked just a few of its treasures but you will find many more and although the mafia might still be alive and kicking, they won’t get in the way of your enjoyment.
Words by Janet Myers
TOUCH DOWN As we neared Taormina with its breathtaking coastal scenery our eyes glanced to the mountains. Mount Etna was easy to spot but nearer to us houses clung like limpets to other lofty pinnacles. “Fancy living up there?” we mused. The sat nav directed us away from the coast and onward to our first location. We knew Castelmola was set above the town, but we did not expect the narrow twisting road to finally arrive at that group of houses set high on that mountain top.
The coastal area of Taormina is breathtakingly stunning
The views from here were breathtaking. From the apartment balcony Mount Etna peeped between the houses opposite and as we dined outside at a local restaurant later that evening, Taormina twinkled far below us in a clear night sky. We seemed so high that I doubt whether it would have appeared any different had we still been airborne!
SALT FLATS AND FLAMINGOS
The bright light reflected by the vast salt pans to create a feeling of space and a kind of serene quietness. The sun shone and the crystals sparkled in the sun light. Standing proud from the flat white landscape old windmills and mountains of salt reared up. We climbed one of these windmills to get another perspective. In the afternoon, we took a boat out onto the shallow lagoon to visit the ancient remains on a number of off shore islands. There were flamingos, spoonbills and black heron. A great way to relax before our journey home. 54
MOUNT ETNA This is the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most frequently erupting volcanoes. It is 10,900 feet (3,329 metres) tall with a base circumference of about 93 miles (150 kilometres). On the southern side cruise boats gorge thousands of visitors into a vast over-commercialised area to ‘experience’ Etna. A cable car and a specialised vehicle take you towards the main crater but I am sure these visitors miss so much. We explored on our own due partly to bad visibility at a higher level. The landscape is eerie - black dust is everywhere and the giant black lava flows from past eruptions abound.
“FOR MANY, SICILY IS SYNONYMOUS WITH THE GODFATHER TRILOGY CREATED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA WHOSE MOVIES ARE IMMORTALISED IN THE PLACES WHERE FILMING TOOK PLACE”
Nothing quite prepares you for witnessing a real magma eruption from an active volcano and when we rounded the Aeolian island of Stromboli in the early evening the following day to witness the brilliant scarlet lava tossed into the air in the dark sky we were delighted. The day started early with an hours drive to Messina, followed by an hours boat trip to our first stop on the island of Panarea with its white buildings clustered around a black sandy beach. Here, colourful fishing boats were drawn on shore after the early morning catch. Bars, restaurants and cafes offered plenty of refreshment and time to sit and soak up the awesome view. We opted to take the opportunity to explore with the aid of a golf cart and driver - around 30 euros. After another hour back on board we reached Stromboli. We stopped off shore to witness the bubbles from under water eruptions and smelt the sulphur before we cruised between giant islands of basalt, thrust up during activity many years ago. We spent an hour ashore and then as dusk fell, we boarded the boat again to sail round the island to witness the pulsating pyrotechnic display that Stromboli offers its visitors.
Hire a car to have your very own Godfather experience
For many, Sicily is synonymous with the Godfather trilogy created by Francis Ford Coppola whose movies are immortalised in the places where filming took place, Savoca and the surrounding countryside being the number one ‘shrine’ to their memory. There are many tours on offer but we hired a car to explore the Godfather trilogy ourselves. At the Bar Vitelli, we sat and drank a lemon Granita. It was the location where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) met Mr Vitelli (the bar owner) to ask his permission to court his daughter Apollonia. It was also the location for the official engagement and the party after the wedding ceremony. Some of the interior was stuffed with memorabilia and images and opposite the view showed the Church of Santa Lucia where the wedding between Michael Corleone and Apollonia took place. Next stop was Forza D’Agrò, then back to Taormina where we met our host for our Sicilian gourmet food and wine tour.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Here our host was Alfredo. He was a great character, he had lived on Sicily all his life and from him we learnt so much about Sicily. Diners spilled out onto
the pavements, musicians played and friendly cats greeted us as we enjoyed countless regional dishes which included cold meats and cheeses, swordfish, blue sardines, gratin mussels and seafood risotto. We topped it off with five desserts and plenty of fine wines. I must admit I was a little worried about the waistline! It is difficult to separate Sicily from its abundance of glorious food. Whether it was the fish and chips in Ortygia where the ‘fish’ came as a gourmet assortment in a small wooden box to freshly made pizza cooked in traditional ovens, every meal seemed to extol local ingredients and highlight one of the reasons why we love Italian cuisine so much. When visiting local restaurants where the menu was in Italian we found a phone app, which proved invaluable as it translated the text when held above it. Should I venture into the realm of booze, the wine tastings and my enjoyment would fill a book, but when a good local wine is cheaper than a lemon soda and when one suitcase on our return was filled with bottles...I say no more! WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
Take in Sicily’s rugged beauty
CONNECTING WITH HISTORY
We left Taormina for Syracuse taking the coastal road which took us through Catarina. Our location here was very central with views over the city. Its old mellow baroque architecture is shabby chic but inside sophisticated and elegant. It echoes with the feel of ancient civilizations - the Romans and Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, Swabians and Aragones have all left their mark. Sample the delicious local cuisine
The finest area today is Ortygia – Greek for quail – the tiny island on which the first Corinthians settled in 733 BC. It is an absolute gem, dense with a gorgeously crumbly feel but also with beautifully restored Baroque buildings, boutique shops and super restaurants. The following day it rained but luckily we were able to tour the great archaeological Park Neapolis before the heavens opened. The Roman Amphitheatre was enormous and the Orecchio di Dionisio - the lime stone cave shaped like a human ear into which we wandered was also great. It twists like the inner ear and the further we went the darker it became.
A long early morning drive ensured we were on the steps of the opera house in Palermo for 10:30 where several tour groups were acting out a scene from the Godfather trilogy as dogs lay sleeping they had seen it all before! You may have seen Marco Romeo with Rick Stein or Paul Hollywood if you watch too many cookery programmes. He was our guide on a five hour street tour of Palermo. It is the best way to get a real feel for a place. We walked through old narrow walkways where washing hung out to dry overhead and where the bread boy delivered loaves by placing them in baskets so that the women could haul them up to their balconies. Men pushed
Explorers are not short of interesting discoveries
carts with chimneys in which they roasted chestnuts and the ‘lottery man’ sold tickets for a box of fresh fish.
All the while we stopped to try Palermo’s street food - entrails in buns, veal lungs in bread, fried chickpea paste and potato balls. It sounds a little off putting but it was all served by Sicilians passionate about their food and an experience not to be missed. The stop for Marsala wine was most welcome and I enjoyed the fact that the tour included several of Palermo’s major sights.
interesting with hundreds of dead bodies. No, make that 8,000 dead bodies! Within a short space of time the remains became well lit. Arranged in categories, they were surprisingly interesting.
We found the Sicilians great at adapting activities to meet the needs of disabled people and they made us feel that we had no disability at all. A phone call ahead was all that was needed to ensure our needs were taken care of. Many activities may seem beyond limits but as Giovanni proved on our trip to Stromboli, everything is within your grasp.
After our day with Marco and an early morning visit to the city’s famous catacombs we opted for the less crowded road to Marsala and Trapani. An early morning start meant that we were at the catacombs before the full lighting was switched on! Very spooky and very
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Kids’ CORNER Resilient kids seem to be a trend in this issue’s Kids’ Corner.
traversing treacherous conditions and crossing over river rapids on a log in a bid to become the Ultimate Warrior. Meet this true warrior on page 72.
Kids growing up with a disability naturally do face different and more complex challenges than some of their friends, but one thing that PosAbility always admires in these youngsters is how they thrive and show a level of resolve and grit that we can sometimes only dream of.
Dan White of the Department of Ability lets us in on his jealousy of his daughter Emily’s ability to deal with the Christmas bug better than him on page 61, while Rio Woolf catches us up on his last few actionpacked months. Find Rio on page 63.
This issue we meet the brilliantly brave Hannah Morrison who appeared on CBBC action adventure show Raven. Hannah, who uses a prosthetic leg, threw herself into the physical challenges,
So while we’re all feeling a little sorry for ourselves following coming back to the office after the Christmas holidays, the kids in this issue are definitely giving us some food for thought.
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Columnist Dan White
You can follow Dan on @DeptOfAbility
SEASON OF ILL HEALTH Dan White, creator of the amazing Department of Ability superheroes and dad to Emily, who is 10-years-old and has spina bifida, is a regular face in PosAbility as he shares his experiences of life as a family with a disabled child.
“OUR CHILDREN HAVE A WILL THAT WE CAN ONLY ENVY BUT BE SO PROUD OF WHILE THE REST OF US BLUNDER THROUGH LIFE LIKE WE ARE EXTRAS IN CHUCKLE VISION THE MOVIE”
hristmas is gone,
and forgive me for a moment of Grinchlike misery, but the festive season partially contained all the fun and joy of listening to an endless loop of Sting albums. Some of it was fantastic, but some of it was essentially a retelling of the legend of man flu filmed in glorious self-pity-o-vision. It had started well. Meetings at C4 and Nickelodeon, Superhero Tri, World Health summit, having the happy company of disability champion Sally Phillips and her amazing family for a night, working with Scope on how Christmas excludes disabled children with inaccessible grottos and finally meeting new cohorts in the shape of Graeme Whippy MBE and toilet campaigner Sarah Brisdion, which led me to doing a Sky interview, appearing to be smartly dressed whilst still in my Marvel pyjama bottoms - yay! Middle aged revolt. Then it began to fall apart quicker than a cabinet reshuffle. Australian flu came at me like a pantomime villain, firstly robbing my body of taste (if you have seen my wardrobe you may think I am a permanent sufferer) and secondly stealing all my strength and imbedding in me aches and man moaning. Christmas germs are nothing new to anyone, especially our children, but having this perpetual, pointless illness only affirmed to us as a family again, that no
matter how weak and horizontal you wish to be, the routine of care continues. As Emily approaches the teenage pinnacle of grunts and screen obsession, she has also taken the liberty of becoming taller and heavier! And over the Christmas period as I drifted between bed and sofa, the usual essentials of lifting and care had to continue as we do not qualify for home care. My dear wife, as brilliant as she is, had succumbed to an early present of a back more painful than a visit to a Red Bull infused dentist with the shakes. We do have a hoist, but I have seen continents shift faster than this thing, and if Emily needs to get to the loo or even to the living room floor for leg stretches, then it’s up to us to provide the hands. Emily herself caught the bug after me, but she has a resilience and force to continue that makes me feel so ashamed of myself. Our children have a will that we can only envy but be so proud of while the rest of us blunder through life like we are extras in Chuckle Vision the movie. The juncture ended on an empowering note however, reaffirming my absolute belief and pride in all children. Emily just took receipt of her new RGK wheelchair, making another chair redundant and every friend who visited over Christmas sat in it and rolled around as they were so jealous Emily had one! Kids can make you humble, but are a better medicine than a litre of Calpol. Happy New Year.
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THE END OF 2017 WAS GREAT!
Words by Rio Woolf
n December I did the 1km Lakeside Dash at the Superhero Winter Wonderwheels at Dorney Lake - it was the first time I’d done it without a Superhero sidekick (my prosthetist Matt was my running buddy at the Superhero Tri last Summer) but I kept running all the way to the finish line! I got a fantastic snowflake medal which I took into school and my head teacher presented it to me in assembly.
HANGING OUT WITH THE LAST LEG'S ADAM HILLS
RIO AND HIS BLADE BUDDY JONNIE PEACOCK
It was amazing to see so many of my ParalympicsGB heroes in one place! I hadn’t seen my blade buddy Jonnie Peacock since London 2017 so it was great to catch up with him. We talked about Strictly and I told him my favourite dances were the ones he did on his blade - the jive and the quickstep. He explained to me that he had a special dance blade made as his running blade would have been too big! I also enjoyed talking to David Weir, Dave Henson, Kadeena Cox and Sophie Christiansen and I met Sophia Warner who created the Superhero Series. It was great to see Adam Hills again - he was dressed as a reindeer! I first met him at Rio 2016 when I was on The Last Leg Live From Rio. I was so excited to see the deepest snow we'd had since I was in Reception five years ago! I loved playing with Rosso in the garden as it was his first time in deep snow and I was so happy to have another snow day when school was closed! Luckily, it reopened in time for the Key Stage 2 Christmas Show, The Christmas Alphabet. I was in the band playing my imaginary drums to Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry! I had a great Christmas holiday - on Boxing Day we went to see Diversity in Dick Whittington at the London Palladium as I wanted to see Ashley, Jordan and Perri again after I did the Blade Kids’ Dance Class with them for The Pride of Britain Awards. They were brilliant in the panto! 2018 started with some very exciting news - I've been shortlisted from hundreds of nominees for the Young Hero Award at The Night of Heroes at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London on 19 February. I can’t wait to meet David Walliams who will be hosting the Awards - I love his books and shows! My favourites are Billionaire Boy and Ratburger! Even if I don't win, it's a huge honour just to be nominated! I went to Dorset Orthopaedic at the start of January so Matt could check the fit of my Ottobock day leg with the 3R67 knee and my 1E93 Runner Junior Blade. I’m going back in half term for him to cast my new sockets so I need to decide on new designs! My next event is the WheelPower Primary Sports Camp at Stoke Mandeville on 10th February. I've returned to Harrow Athletics Club to continue my training. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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£9.99 BOON SQUIRT SPOON A feeding spoon that takes the stress out of mealtimes. It has a soft hollow handle that holds 85g of pureed food. Simply fill the handle and squeeze as required. Allows for easy, one handed feeding and less mess. amazon.co.uk
PADDED TOILET SEAT
This padded toilet seat attaches to your toilet with a set of easy to use straps. It is designed to provide comfort and security to children transitioning from a potty to a regular toilet. It reduces the seat size to help prevent the child from slipping, is comfortable and easy to clean. Two heights are available: 50mm or 100mm.
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KIDS “THIS TACTILE FIDGET TOY IS AN IDEAL TABLE TOP ACTIVITY FOR LITTLE ONES AS IT HAS A SUCTION CUP TO KEEP IT IN PLACE ON A TABLE OR TRAY.”
STROLLER CARDS Encourage fruit and veg identification while out and about in the supermarket with your child with these colourful cards, or use them as a way for your child to communicate what they want. These sturdy and bright double-sided cards can be easily attached to your baby’s pram or bag and are a great way to encourage picture association at home or on the go.
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SOUND PRISM SET
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This tactile fidget toy is an ideal table top activity for little ones as it has a suction cup to keep it in place on a table or tray. Made from colourful wood and elastic cord it can be stretched and squashed and springs back to position, keeping kids entertained. The beads attached rattle and slide to keep little ones interested, making it a fun addition to any toy box. Suitable for six months and above. 01905 670500 sensorydirect.com
KIDS COLOUR CHANGING PUTTY Available in four styles, this putty reacts to body temperature, changing for a fun sensory experience. The putty can be pulled, stretched, cut and is bouncy. If left alone, the putty will return to a shapeless puddle of clay. Non-toxic, latex, phthalates and wheat free, it is suitable for ages 3+. 0203 695 7754 coolstuff.com
SENSORY RAINBOW SOUND & LIGHT BALL
This toy features a number of sensory faces of multiple colours and textures. Rolling the ball and allowing it to land on one of these textured faces will cause the ball to identify the face, and light up in the corresponding colour. It also plays music. kidly.co.uk
ARK CHEWABLE PENCIL TOPPERS Designed to fit comfortably over a #2 pencil, these pencil toppers are infused with a calming citrus scent to help focus children and add extra sensory input. The pencil toppers add weight to pencils, helping to further increase hand awareness, and help encourage correct pencil grip. 0800 009 6022 cheapdisabilityaids.co.uk
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ANNUAL CONFERENCE 16-18 MARCH 2018
LANCASHIRE COUNTY CRICKET CLUB Orthopaedic will be covering the prosthetic FRIDAY PROGRAMME fitting of TMR prosthetic limbs. Alice Hannah On Friday morning, the MSK team will run a much requested update for the popular BAPO short course “Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Foot and Ankle Problems for Orthotists”. This 3 hour session will provide Orthotists with an update on recent evidence pertaining to MSK foot and ankle pathologies, as well as a practical session demonstrating clinical assessment techniques, which will be easily transferable to clinical practice. We are delighted to now offer this opportunity as part of their full weekend registration to all Orthotists attending the BAPO conference in 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!
VICKY’S STORY: WITHOUT LIMITS
Together with her Physiotherapist and Prosthetist from Pace Rehabilitation Vicky Balch will give a patient perspective of her prosthetic Vicky Balch rehabilitation journey since she was involved in a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers in 2015.
SATURDAY PROSTHETIC PROGRAMME
In this prosthetic session Targeted Muscle Reinnervation will be explored through a surgical and prosthetic point of view. The potential referral routes for our NHS patients will also be discussed. Dr Norbert Kang a Consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free will be presenting on the functional benefits of TMR with case studies and potential NHS pathways. Prosthetists Matt Hughes and Moose Baxter from Dorset
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a Prosthetist at Nottingham Mobility centre will be presenting a case study of NHS patients using the S2 Route to Europe for TMR. Ossur Keynote Andy Bache & Jóna Sigurðardóttir will join us to present on Capturing User Need and User Intent.
SATURDAY ORTHOTIC PROGRAMME
The Saturday Orthotic programme will hear from Diana Currie who will provide us with an insight to challenging hernia prescriptions and problem solving tips. Karen Edwards, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Neurodisability at Great Ormond Street Hospital will present on Spasticity or Dystonia? Now that is the question!! The OETT Keynote speaker Dr David Armstrong will be joining us via Live Webinar from Los Angles to discuss diabetic foot assessment, including emerging technologies, diagnosis - including pre-ulcerative treatment diagnostic techniques, and treatment - from conservative methods to the most invasive surgical reconstructions. Upper Limb Prosthetic Therapy, Rewards and Challenges This presentation by Melissa Jacobs will explore upper limb prosthetic rehabilitation from an Occupational Therapist’s perspective. The presenter will examine some of the techniques and strategies used when training upper limb amputee/ limb deficient patients to use a prosthesis.
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Kidz to Adultz Middle Thursday 15th March 2018 9.30am—4.30pm Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE One of the largest FREE UK events supporting children & young adults up to 25 years with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. FREE Entry FREE Parking 100+ Exhibitors FREE CPD Seminars Equipment
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Visitors are also welcome to register at the event. www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk Organised by Disabled Living: Email: email@example.com or Tel: 0161 607 8200
PICTURE the Children are introduced to world through picture books. Why not introduce them to disability this way too? Words by Katie Campbell
icture books are, for many of us, our first large-scale attempt as children to understand the wider world around us. With simple words and bright, bold images, they encapsulate huge concepts, which can be digested easily by children. From tangible things like animals and continents, to heavy concepts like death acceptance, divorce and sadness, story books take these difficult concepts and frame them in such a way that children can understand. As noted by literary critic Perry Nodelman: “Picture books are a significant means by which we integrate young children into the ideology of our culture. Like most narratives, picture book stories most forcefully guide readers into culturally acceptable ideas about who they are through privileging the point of view from which they report on the events they describe.” Books are a window to the world, and picture books are a window designed for children to look through, to see the work and understand how it works from a position of safety. For children with a disability, childhood can represent a strange time where they attempt to process
the understanding that they are ‘different’ from their friends or family, and why that is, or what it means for them. It also represents a period of realisation that people, in spite of themselves or due to society’s influence, will treat them differently. They may not mean to, but they will. According to statistics published by charity DTF, 13.3 million
“FOR CHILDREN WITH A DISABILITY, CHILDHOOD CAN REPRESENT A STRANGE TIME WHERE THEY ATTEMPT TO PROCESS THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY ARE ‘DIFFERENT’ FROM THEIR FRIENDS” people in the UK have a disability. One in five people in the UK have a disability, and one in 20 children under 16 in the UK have a disability. This number is not insignificant. Yet disability is hugely underrepresented in children’s fiction. A study reported in the journal Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities shows that, of the 131 winners of the Newbery Medal – a prestigious children’s literature award – only 31 featured a character with a disability between 1975 and 2009.
KIDS The respectful inclusion of disabled people in children’s literature is pivotal to their understanding of their own situation, and can act as a way to introduce able bodied children – friends, siblings or relatives – to their disability in a safe space. Avery was written and illustrated by Marta Altés, in association with Professor Lucy Raymond, and was born out of the IMAGINE ID project, which aims to collect information on children with intellectual disabilities, and explore how genetic changes affect children and young people’s behaviour. “One of the specific reasons for doing this book was that our ethics committee asked us to do a children’s consensus,” said Professor Raymond, “and most of the children that we have in our study, not all, but most, have got quite significant learning disabilities, and many of them are not able to read or write, so it really became a conversation about how do you talk to children about being involved in research? Well, how do you talk to them? You write a story.” The titular character Avery is a little bird with an unnamed illness, which means he is in hospital frequently, along with other birds who are also ill, and his family. The book remains ambiguous about the details of his illness, meaning the book, while designed for children with issues relating to genetic conditions, is easily applicable to a wide variety of illnesses and disabilities. The picture book is an ideal way to allow both the children and their family to understand that, while they might be different, they’re not alone. “Children are shrewd, children want to understand themselves, they want to understand their situation, so why wouldn’t you talk to a person about what’s going on with them?” said Professor Raymond. “Children are about understanding the world they live in, so of course we need to. What I don’t think we need to be doing is ramming stuff down children’s throats. What we need to be doing is kindly being available to children to answer their questions.” The response that Professor Raymond has had to the book has been spectacular, reflecting the team’s desire to get families talking to and about children with genetic conditions: “One of the things that has been overwhelming about this book, and slightly unexpected is the overwhelming response we’ve had, from the siblings of
children who’ve got a disability. It’s been extraordinary and deeply touching how the siblings are in an unusual situation, too. “We have an incredibly touching story of an older sibling who picked up the book as mum was cooking when the book arrived, and she didn’t have time to read it. The child read it, and rushed into the kitchen saying ‘Mum, have you read this book? You’ve got to read it! It’s just like me and [my brother] Aiden!’ In rare diseases, although one child may have a disease, the whole family has a dis-ease. It isn’t a straightforward family, and they are also trying to process things.” For some, publishing children’s literature with disabled characters can be difficult to achieve, especially if the message within the
it down. “Then I took it everywhere else, to every other main publishing house in London, and everyone turned it down. I kind of knew it was a good story, I knew that it wasn’t that the writing or the story wasn’t good enough. I was encouraged by a friend of mine, Jacqueline Morris, to take it to Graffig, who were fantastic. They totally got it, and they found a wonderful illustrator. That’s how it came to be.” Finishing writing the book, she was struck with a powerful revelation: her mother had been profoundly deaf, and writing Perfect lead her to the realisation that she had never seen her mother as a disabled person. “I would never have thought
“BY INTRODUCING PICTURE BOOKS WITH DISABLED CHARACTERS TO DISABLED CHILDREN, WE NORMALISE THEIR DISABILITY IN THEIR OWN EYES AND HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THEIR WORLD.”
book deviates from the traditional narrative. Nicola Davies’ Perfect deals with a child’s disappointment at the birth of his disabled sister, and his journey to overcome these feelings, realising that she is ‘perfect’ in his eyes, and just as worthy of his love and care as anyone else. For Nicola, the book was her attempt to address the feelings of ‘bad news’ that seem to accompany the birth of a disabled child, and a forum for their siblings to air these feelings and understand them, without guilt or shame. The journey to publish Perfect was a difficult one for Nicola: “My editor at Walker liked it. Because it’s a picture book you have to have foregoing editions, otherwise the economics don’t work. The American arm of my publisher, Candlewick Books, turned
in a million years to say to somebody ‘my mother is disabled,’” said Nicola. “I would say, ‘here’s my mum, she’s got a wonderful sense of humour, she tells great stories, and she’s deaf. You need to make sure she can see your face when you talk to her.’ That was the place in the hierarchy where I would put her deafness.” Ultimately, this is the goal of inclusion: we should be able to look at everyone and see their disability last. By introducing picture books with disabled characters to disabled children, we normalise their disability in their own eyes and help them understand their world. By introducing these books to able-bodied children, we show them that disability is not all-encompassing, it is simply an aspect of humanity.
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The way of the warrior For readers of my generation, the return and reboot of CBBC’s action fantasy adventure programme Raven brought both nostalgia and curiosity. Words by Colette Carr
hanges to the original were a given with technical advances that have taken place over the course of its sevenyear absence since its debut run ended, while only slight changes to the format and storyline were expected.
The show sees warriors complete a number of challenges under the watchful guidance of Raven, Aisha Toussaint, a shapeshifting warlord to defeat Raven’s nemesis Nevar and find the ultimate warrior, the show’s winner. To mark its return to children’s screens, the BBC set out to find a warrior with an amputation to take up the challenge, and found the perfect one in the shape of sporty schoolgirl Hannah Morrison from Glasgow. Hannah competed in the first round of 72
shows as Hanmor embracing every challenge with the same enthusiasm and fight as her able-bodied competitors, hoping to show other young amputees anything is possible. “It’s been really exciting!” 12-year-old sporty Hannah smiled. “I get my legs from Westmarc, and my mum got an email from there asking if there were people in general from Westmarc who would go out to audition, so mum signed me up and I went for the audition and that was it really. “There was a lot of other people there and that was just the Glasgow lot, there were auditions in Manchester, Liverpool and a lot of other places so I really enjoyed it - it really gave me confidence before the filming,” said the Giffnock schoolgirl. Filming took place in the picturesque Cairngorms National Park that provided the perfect backdrop for the
HANNAH GRABS EVERY OPPORTUNITY WITH BOTH HANDS
challenges and talking to the camera, so it was a really good experience,” beamed Hannah.
“I HOPE TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AGAIN! I LOVED MEETING EVERYONE, THE CHALLENGES AND TALKING TO THE CAMERA, SO IT WAS A REALLY GOOD EXPERIENCE”
And it wasn’t just Hannah’s friends who delighted in her success. Mum Jennifer praised her daughter’s determination and spirit since her amputation at the age of six following 16 operations in a bid to tackle a rare bone condition.
show’s mystical and forestry links, where Hannah travelled to with her mum, Jennifer, for the filming period, a process Hannah enjoyed massively. “When you first arrive, you meet all the other contestants and settle in and then you go for your costume fittings the next day which is really exciting,” she said. Amputations still aren’t that prevalent on children’s TV shows, and while Hannah hopes she can encourage other kids with amputations to grab opportunties, it also gave her a chance to show able-bodied children just what she is capable of.
HANNAH’S QUEST TO BECOME THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR IMPRESSED MANY All images © BBC Scotland
“They were all really good with me. I just told them so they didn’t need to ask about my leg,” she said when asked what the other warriors said of her leg.
The news of Hannah’s second TV appearance soon became the talk of the halls at school where she’s enjoyed her moment in the spotlight.
“We all got on really well so for the team task we knew each other’s strengths which worked really well. My favourite challenge was the one where you went along the log over rapids reaching for rings along the way but my least favourite was the one where you went along the really fast rapids and reach for rings but floating along.
“I was in the Paralympics ad but that was a wee snapshot of me on a trampoline whereas this was me talking to the camera, so all my friends watched it and a lot of people shared the Daily Record piece on Snapchat so a lot of other people in my year did too. Most then went and watched it because they’d seen it there with the details. When I went back to school everyone was calling me Hanmor because that’s my warrior name and that’s still happening,” she laughed.
“I watched some of the old episodes on YouTube and they’re completely different. It’s obviously the same idea of the warriors completing challenges but the cameras and editing is so much better so that was cool too,” she shared.
“I hope to do something like that again! I loved meeting everyone, the
“I’m extremely proud of Hannah. She’s achieved a lot since her amputation and has thrived since that time taking every advantage and looked at everything as a positive to make it work for her. She’s never looked back. “She’s got a ‘can-do’ attitude and can show others what can be done. She was just getting on with it and wasn’t batting an eyelid so I was really proud of her. “Getting her story out there has been really good for her, should other opportunities arise it’s something she’d definitely take advantage of,” she added. Raven is available on the BBC iPlayer bbc.co.uk/iplayer
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WINTER PARALYMPICS We’re now sub 50 days until the Winter Paralympics commence and we’ve pulled together a crash guide to the Games to get you ready for March.
Words by Colette Carr
FIRE AND ICE
istory-making Team GB skip Aileen Neilson is hoping to make more wheelchair curling history as she heads to South Korea for her fourth Paralympics. Skipping the team for the third time, the Scot is targeting nothing short of peak performance in PyeongChang. “As a squad we want to go in and perform at our best,” the schoolteacher began. “We want to work to peak in March and our first goal will be to make the play-offs(semi-finals). We then will set the target to make the podium, and obviously every athlete dreams of the gold medal round their neck.” Having already forged her name in the record books having become the first woman to skip at either the Paralympics or World Championships, Neilson is preparing to lead the British team to greater success than their bronze in 2014. “All four positions in a curling team are absolutely crucial but it’s a real honour to skip the team. “We sleep, eat and curl. We’re off to Finland for an international competition where we’ll meet teams that are going to South Korea, so that will be good to get competitive games against good teams,” she said. The team features a blend of youth and experience, with decorated Paralympians Angie Malone, Gregor
Ewan and Robert McPherson and debutant Hugh Nibloe, who will all bring something different to the ice according to Neilson. “We’ve all come into the team with varying degrees of experience and bring different things to help each other cope as best we can but I think nothing can really prepare you for it. People can ask, “how do you cope?”. We can’t go to an ice rink somewhere in the world and recreate the Paralympic Games though, you really have to be there to experience it. “You just need to try and block that out and treat every training session like a Paralympic game and a Paralympic game as a training session to try and not let something get out of proportion. You just need to train yourself to stick to your routine that will come out in an important situation.” Curling offers something different to other fast and furious Winter events, adding an element of tension to the Games bringing viewers to the edges of their seats, something Neilson wants to capitalise on. “We want spectators to feel like they are on the ice with us. “I often say curling is about 80% mental and 20% physical because of all the tactical things you have to think about in the shots you need to play, but also the distractions and having that right mindset to distract yourself from the distractions,” she told. WWW.POSABILITYMAGAZINE.CO.UK
POSABILITY’S GB PICKS
ANGIE MALONE – WHEELCHAIR CURLING
Having competed at every Games since the sport was granted Paralympic status back in 2006, Malone is GB’s most decorated curler, having sealed bronze at Sochi and silver at Turin 2006. Watch out for the Scot to aim to complete her collection with a gold.
MILLIE KNIGHT AND BRETT WILD – VI ALPINE SKIING
19-year-old Millie Knight and her Marine guide Brett Wild head to South Korea as World Champions flying to gold and silver at last year’s World Championships in Italy. After an injured guide in Sochi derailed the then 14-year-old’s hopes, she’s now looking for Russian redemption.
JAMES BARNES-MILLER – SNOWBOARDING
The banked slalom boarder hit the headlines late last year after his gear was stolen from his car, leading to a race against time and much backed campaign to raise funds in time for qualifying events. After the generosity of the public and companies pulled through, Barnes-Miller is set to put it all behind him with a podium finish.
MEET THE COMPETITION
TEAM CANADA - WHEELCHAIR CURLING
Mark Ideson is to skip the reigning Paralympic champions Canada, chasing an incredible fourth Paralympic victory in a row. Following playing lead in Russia, he is joined by alternate James Answeeuw, lead Marie Wright, second Dennis Thiessen and third Ina Forest as the wheelchair curling powerhouse. While Marie Wright and James Answeeuw are making their debut, the smart money will still be on the Canadians.
HENRIETA FARKASOVA (SLOVAKIA) - ALPINE SKIING
Fresh from picking up her sixth visually impaired World Cup win, Farkasova will prove tough competition for Millie Knight to dethrone. Defending downhill and giant slalom golds and looking to convert her slalom bronze into a gold, the Slovak presents Knight with an uphill battle on the downhill slope to medal ahead of her.
MIKE MINOR (USA) - SNOWBOARDING
Mike Minor of the USA will prove a real bump on the slope for Team GB newbie in the SB-UL banked slalom. After topping 2017 by winning the world title in the snowboard-cross and silver in the banked slalom (his first defeat of the season), Minor ended the year on top of both rankings, winning him the overall World Cup title. History-making skip, Aileen Neilson, is targeting a podium finish
IN THE SNOW
4 80 9 3 7 6 10 6
Channel 4 will keep you up to date with all the goings on. There is 80 medal events on show over the ten days.
PyeongChang is nine hours ahead of the UK set your alarms. The average temperature of the region in degrees Celsius in March.
The Team GB medal target set for the competition.
You can follow six Paralympian’s experiences through Samsung’s Paralympic vloggers. Team GB’s record medal haul saw them break doublefigures at Austria 1984.
Team GB picked up six medals at the Sochi 2014 Games.
The number of nations competing - Russians will be present under the Paralympic flag.
The number of athletes expected to attend the Games.
EVENTS FOR YOUR DIARY AN ALL-ASIAN AFFAIR
Brett Wild and Millie Knight
THREE MAJOR TALKING POINTS EAST IS EAST
These Games will kick off a three-cycle stint in Asia, with Tokyo 2020 Summer Games following and the next instalment of Winter Games in Beijing. 2018 marks 20 years since the Winter Games in Japan, the last time the movement visited the continent. Expect the Asian Paralympic Committee to target a shift in attitudes not too dissimilar to the London 2012 legacy.
The Russians may have hosted the 2014 Games but after an appeal to allow Russian Paralympians to compete under their own flag, after more than 50 Russians that competed in the qualifying competitions were thrown out, only athletes who prove themselves to be clean can compete, entering under the Paralympic flag. The IPC and International Olympic Committee both came down hard on the country accused of systematic state-endorsed doping.
NORTH BEGIN NEW PARALYMPIC KOREA
While the neighbouring Koreas have shared a frosty relationship over the years, the conflict was recently put on ice with the decision for the North to send a Paralympic delegation to the Games, a historical choice leading to the North’s debut at the Winter Paralympics and more importantly, a potential thawing of the tensions. Henrieta Farkasova brings real pedigree to the Games
Hosts South Korea look to improve on their bottom of the group result at the 2014 para ice hockey tournament with an all-Asian fixture against 2010 silvermedalists Japan. World bronze medalists South Korea recently won a warm-up tournament in Nagano with the Japanese narrowly missing out on a podium position to the Czech Republic, so expect things to get heated as Japan look to return the favour on South Korean ice. The puck drops at 6:30am GMT on 10 March.
The women’s standing biathlon will pit two Ukrainians head to head as current Paralympic champion Oleksandra Kononova will have to fight off stiff competition for countrywoman Liudmyla Liashenko as she sets out to defend her gold. While Kononova has long dominated the circuit, 2017 belonged to Liashenko who toppled her to double gold in the biathlon at the Worlds, so Kononova has her work cut out keeping her crown in PyeongChang. The standing biathlon begins on 10 March at 3am GMT.
SLOPE HOPES FOR NORTH KOREA
With North Korea’s historic inclusion in the Winter Games, two sit-skiers are hoping to represent the host’s neighbouring nation. Potential wild cards Ma You-chul and Kim Jung-hyun only took up the sport in December, but accomplished table tennis players aren’t shy about their medal hopes channelling their World Cup experience in Germany to mark their debuts with a medal. Catch the cross country sitting on 11 March, 1am GMT.
“THESE GAMES WILL KICK OFF A THREE-CYCLE STINT IN ASIA, WITH TOKYO 2020 SUMMER GAMES FOLLOWING AND THE NEXT INSTALMENT OF WINTER GAMES IN BEIJING”
PUZZLES Puzzles are a great way to pass the time and keep your mind sharp. Why not take a break, make a cup of tea and give these puzzles a go? If you correctly complete the crossword and post it to us with your details, you could be in with the chance of winning Â£25. Good luck!
Copyright Â© 2011 Peter G Sharp
Test your eyes and find the words below from this issue of PosAbility Magazine
1 Likenesses (6) 5 Unhealthy (6) 8 South-eastern American state (7) 9 From a distance (4) 10 Explosive weapon (4) 11 Control (8) 12 Ripped (4) 13 Sum charged (3) 14 Russian news service (4) 16 One-celled organisms (8) 20 Formerly Persia (4) 21 Before long (4) 22 Forbidden by law (7) 23 Carved image (6) 24 Astute (6)
2 Member of the Mob (7) 3 Farewell (7) 4 Snow sportsperson (5) 5 Glitter (7) 6 Move slowly (5) 7 Smallest (5) 13 Prolific (7) 14 Set off (7) 15 Devour (7) 17 Take as oneâ€™s own (5) 18 Dogma (5) 19 Collection of maps (5)
Â£25 PRIZE! Complete the crossword correctly and send to PosAbility Magazine, Caledonia House, Evanton Drive, Thornliebank Ind Est, Glasgow, G46 8JT to be in with a chance of winning Â£25. Closing date for entries is 31 March 2018.
DID YOU KNOW... WINTER PARALYMPICS
The first Winter Paralympics were held in Sweden in 1976Â
Solutions to December/January crossword
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Norway top the all-time Winter Paralympic medal tableÂ
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Norwayâ€™sÂ RagnhildÂ Myklebust is the most decorated Winter ParalympianÂ Â
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THE BMW RANGE. AVAILABLE FROM £249 ADVANCE PAYMENT.* • The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is now available from £249 Advance Payment and the BMW X1 from £699 Advance Payment. • Range also includes the BMW 1 Series (3-door and 5-door), BMW 2 Series Coupé, the 7-seat BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer and BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring. • Selected models are accessible to drivers under 25 years old. • Choose from manual or automatic transmission. • BMW Navigation and BMW Emergency Call come as standard, with metallic paint at no extra cost. • Get a brand new BMW every three years with insurance, service and maintenance all covered.
Let’s ﬁnd the right BMW for you. Contact a Motability Scheme Specialist at your local BMW Centre. Alternatively, call 0800 325 600 or visit www.bmw.co.uk/motability.
Ofﬁcial fuel economy ﬁgures for the BMW range available on the Motability Car Scheme: Urban 30.7-62.8mpg (9.2-4.5 l/100km). Extra Urban 49.6-80.7mpg (5.7-3.5 l/100km). Combined 40.4-72.4 (7.0-3.9 l/100km). CO2 emissions 164-103g/km. Figures are obtained in a standardised test cycle. They are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not be representative of what a user achieved under usual driving conditions.
*The BMW range available on the Motability Scheme starts from £249 Advance Payment for the BMW 218i SE Active Tourer. Models shown are the BMW X1 sDrive18i xLine from £899 Advance Payment, BMW 120i M Sport from £799 Advance Payment, BMW 218i SE Active Tourer from £249 Advance Payment and the BMW 218i SE Gran Tourer from £399 Advance Payment. Motability Scheme vehicles are leased to customers by Motability Operations Limited (Registered Company No. 1373876), City Gate House, 22 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HB. To qualify you must be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) and applications must be made with participating retailers between 1 January – 31 March 2018. Prices are correct at time of print, are subject to availability and may change.
The leading lifestyle magazine in the UK for disabled people. Each issue covers accessible holidays, the latest products, topical issues, hi...
Published on Mar 14, 2018
The leading lifestyle magazine in the UK for disabled people. Each issue covers accessible holidays, the latest products, topical issues, hi...