This month’s blog post is a bit of a different post for us, but we’re really excited about it! Last month, we found out what it’s like to be a blogger when you have a visual impairment, this month’s post is leading on from that, we thought we’d find out what it’s like to be a YouTuber when you have a visual impairment, so we decided to interview the lovely Lucy Edwards. Thank you so much to Lucy for very kindly letting us interview you!
Lucy is a blind YouTuber who has a love for make-up and often portrays this on her channel. Lucy’s channel contains videos on what it’s like living with a visual impairment, helpful resources for blind and visually impaired people and also some beauty related videos as well. She has been uploading videos on YouTube for a few years now, she has over 27,000 subscribers so she has a good idea on what it’s like to be a blind YouTuber.
We hope you enjoy the interview and get more of an insight into what it’s like to be a YouTuber when you have a visual impairment.
What made you want to start YouTube?
At the time I started my channel there wasn’t many people talking about going blind online. I felt so alone in what I was going through and I didn’t want anyone else feeling low because of their sight loss and not have any resources to turn to – so I thought I would make some videos. It helped me get through some bad blind girl days and I love having a community that just gets how you are feeling.
What’s your favourite thing about being a disabled YouTuber?
I love meeting new people that are going through the same thing. I have met my friend Fern through vlogging and it has just been the best thing to connect with someone.
Is there any aspect of being a blind/visually impaired YouTuber that you feel is difficult because of your visual impairment?
It is hard to be on such a sighted platform when you are completely blind. Sometimes it is tiring because I have to remember where to look and make sure my makeup is perfect. If you are having a bad blind day and you just want to sit under the covers and block out the world then filming a video is probably not the best thing to do sometimes. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. I really do love the challenge as I feel it improves my eye contact and posture every time.
Do you have any tips for perspective disabled YouTubers?
Be yourself and always remember why you started in the first place. I think it is so fab that the community is growing but don’t let yourself compare yourself to anyone. You are amazing because there isn’t anyone else out there like you so remember that.
Finally, where would you like to go on holiday and why?
I would really love to go on a safari. I always dreamed of going when I could see but didn’t manage to go before I lost my vision. I have always wondered what it would be like if it was all audio described to me.
Thank you so much to Lucy for letting us interview you, we really appreciate it.
My name is Holly and I’m the author of the blog Life of a Blind Girl. I started my blog back in 2015 and it’s evolved so much since then, my blog has always been my corner of the internet but I didn’t realise how many opportunities it would actually give me including writing for Seable and other organisations and charities.
I started my blog in the hope to share my experiences of living with a visual impairment, to educate others, to tackle the common misconceptions surrounding disability and visual impairment and to empower others living with a disability.
I’ve always had a passion for writing, that passion lead me to start my blog and I haven’t looked back since. My blog is a mix of educational related content on visual impairment and disability, sharing my experiences of going to concerts or places I’ve visited, giving people tips on accessibility, education, dos and don’ts to name a few, and I am passionate about all of these topics.
I am also very passionate about helping others and having a blog allows me to do that in a creative way, it makes me extremely happy when people tell me that my blog posts have helped them in one way or another, it really makes the hard work and dedication worth while.
Like everything, blogging has its challenges, as a blind blogger, I’ve faced a few which I thought I’d discuss. However, I have found solutions for these issues.
Finding an accessible blogging platform
There are two popular blogging platforms: Blogger and WordPress, personally I prefer WordPress. I did try Blogger, but as a screen-reader user, I thought that WordPress was the most accessible and offered better functionality, it’s also very easy to use.
In 2017, I went self-hosted, meaning that I now pay for my blog and have my own domain, it means that I have so much freedom with my blog, and I own it, rather than WordPress owning it. It was something that I put off for a while, as I didn’t know how accessible the process would actually be for someone with a visual impairment and also wanted it to be a worthwhile investment which it definitely was. I’m so glad that I went self-hosted and it was an accessible process using a screen-reader.
Making my posts as visually appealing as possible
As I have no useful vision, it’s hard to visualise what my blog posts look like through a sighted person’s eyes. I am also unable to get inspiration from other bloggers photos as I can’t see them.
I am very lucky as I have amazing parents who take my blog photos for me which I am extremely grateful for so that is my main way of how I get around that issue. I also look at Stock images so if I don’t have a photo myself, then I can use one of those.
Collaborating with brands
As I’ve learnt more about blogging over the years, connected with other bloggers and really thought about the future of my blog, one thing that I do struggle with is finding brand collaborations. As I predominantly talk about disability on my blog, with the odd lifestyle and beauty post thrown in the mix, I’m not your average beauty, fashion, lifestyle or travel blogger. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that brands don’t really have anything to cater towards disabled bloggers, or they just simply don’t think about collaborating with disabled bloggers, but I’m hoping that this will change in the future as I think disabled bloggers are extremely valuable and bring a lot to the blogging community.
However, I am extremely lucky that I get to collaborate and work with many amazing charities and organisations such as Seable, the RNIB and Scope to name a few. Working in partnership with these organisations has given me the chance to take part in campaigns, write guest posts and really get my voice out there and help others. I absolutely love working with these organisations and I am thrilled when they ask me to get involved with their work.
Gaining blog subscribers
This is something that I struggled with at the start, I saw bloggers that started around the same time as me had so many more followers than I did and I often wondered what I was doing wrong. As I started to connect with other bloggers and actually feel confident in my own abilities and writing, my followers seemed to increase and continue to steadily grow which I am so grateful for. I started to get more involved with the blogging community even more, and that really helps my blog, but also allows me to support other bloggers as well which I love doing.
Starting a YouTube channel
I’ve wanted to start a YouTube channel for a while now, as an extension of my blog. I knew the type of content that I wanted to film, but I had no idea about the filming and editing part as it can often be very visual. However, I didn’t want this to stop me from doing YouTube so like everything, I found ways around it. I created my YouTube channel, have started uploading videos and I am most definitely still learning.
In terms of filming, I get someone to help me set up the camera, making sure that I’m in the right position and that it’s at the right angle and then I’m all good to film.
In terms of editing, I actually do all of that myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really do fancy editing, I keep it nice and simple, but I’m pleased that I am able to do the whole process independently. I use iMovie on my Mac with VoiceOver and edit using shortcut keys. It’s a thrilling feeling knowing that I’ve edited my own video.
I wouldn’t change being a blind blogger for the world, I love blogging and it has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I couldn’t imagine not being a blogger as it’s such a huge part of my life. I have also made some of my closest friends through blogging and being part of the blogging community is wonderful.
There are thousands (probably millions) of bloggers out there, each offering something different and many giving unique perspectives on life through their writing.
To anyone that is looking to become a blogger, then I would urge you to just go for it. It is so worth all the hard work! Dedication and determination are key, but it is so worth it.
This week’s blog has been written by our blogger Holly Tuke, the award nominated disability and lifestyle blogger behind the successful blog Life of a Blind Girl.
It’s hard to believe that Seable is five years old this year, where has the time gone?
It’s been an incredible five years, so we wanted to reflect and look back on some of the highlights.
To give you a bit of an insight into how Seable was born, twelve years ago, our founder, Damiano La Rocca’s father, Carmelo, was hit by a drunk driver. While in hospital, he became friends a young man named Martino who had also suffered an accident and was recovering from a similar operation. As Carmelo recovered the use of his legs, Martino did not. During one of their many conversations, the topic of scuba diving came up and Martino expressed his desire to try this out. After looking into scuba diving lessons for wheelchair users, it became apparent that this was not something that was widely catered for.
As an experienced scuba diver, Carmelo took it upon himself to become an instructor and teach Martino himself. Martino enjoyed scuba diving so much that he became the first paraplegic man to dive 59 meters, this was a Guinness World Record in 2007. From this, both Carmelo and Martino decided that they wanted to help other people with disabilities and so set up an Italian based charity, Life (which stands for Life Improvement for Everyone).
Whilst studying at university, Damiano conducted some research and found out that there was a gap in the market for accessible tourism, so that gave him the motivation, drive and ambition and that’s how Seable was born.
We took on our first charity holiday in September 2014 which was in partnership with the charity Victa, we still work with them today. On this holiday, blind and visually impaired young people got to experience new things such as an introduction to scuba diving, climbing Mount Etna and cultural experiences. The holiday was a huge success, so this gave us the building blocks to carry on and create even more memorable holidays for disabled people.
Over the years, Seable have been featured in a wide range of publications, why not check these out??
We have also won some awards over the last few years which we are extremely grateful for, these include the certificate for the commitment and improvement for people with disabilities, Unlimited Millennium Award and a social entrepreneurs award.
The publications that we have been featured in, have allowed us to spread our wings and get our voice out there and given us the chance for people to hear about us. Therefore, it has meant that we have been able to expand our Social Enterprise, offering more holiday destinations for disabled people to experience, activities for disabled people, giving us the scope to be able to Taylor their holiday to suit their requirements and needs.
This means that we are able to travel all over the world and give disabled people the best possible experiences in places such as Thailand,Cyprus,Sicily and Sauze,. Holidays in each of these destinations are unique, offering a range of activities means that we have been able to build up a rapport with tour guides and activity organisers, but also offer a wide range of activities to disabled people such as skiing, tactile museums and experiencing the local culture. Check out this video from Stephan who is a Paralympian to find out more.
We offer specific holiday destinations for people in wheelchairs and those with a visual impairment. Holiday destinations for people with a visual impairment include Sicily, Slovenia, Rome, and Cyprus and soon Lanzarote and Thailand. Wheelchair accessible holiday destinations include Sicily, Croatia, Portugal, Gibraltar, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa, Turkey, Mallorca, Canary Islands, Jersey, Malta, and Madeira.
We have worked extremely hard over the last five years to offer as many destinations as possible, our Founder, Damiano is always looking for new and exciting destinations for the future so the list certainly doesn’t stop there, and we are trying to continue to try and offer unique holiday experiences for disabled people.
Damiano La Rocca and the Thai Minister of Tourism & Sports Weerasak Kowsurat
We would just like to thank everyone that has been involved with Seable over the last five years, no matter your role, you have helped us continue to grow and offer our services to disabled people so thank you. We hope you will continue to support us, here’s to the next five years!
In February of this year, Seable, aided by the Thai tour operator, Nutty’s Adventures, came to Thailand bringing a group blind and partially sighted travellers from Victa, a very well known charity from Milton Keynes, UK. Their 12-day tour took the group of tourists to both the North and South of Thailand. The tour was definitely a wonderful and rewarding experience for the participants and also proved to Nutty’s Adventures, that with some careful planning and hard work Thailand could become a successful tourism destination for all people, regardless of any disabilities they may have.
While plans are being made to promote Thailand overseas as a “Tourism Destination for All”, the first course to train licenced Thai tour guides in the right way of handling blind and partially sighted guests has just been held in Ayutthaya from 19-21 June.
This training course was planned with the support and cooperation of the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and the Thai Responsible Tourism Association (TRTA) and valuable assistance was provided by Seable Accessible Active Holidays from the UK. which was asked to act as a consultant and provide the relative manuals. The course was conducted by Nutty’s Adventures and the Thailand Association of the Blind.
The course was fully subscribed and more guide training will be organised in the future and in October and November Nutty’s Adventures will go to Europe to promote Thailand as a Tourism Destination for All in Germany and then globally at the World Travel Market to be held in London in November.
Everybody involved sees a great future for accessible tourism for all in Thailand and are determined to work together to make it happen.
What Nutty’s Adventure said about SEABLE:
At Nutty’s Adventures we have just completed our 3-day training course for guides working with blind and partially sighted guests. It was an enormously rewarding experience for all. Everybody learned a great deal and found time to have a good time too. Now we all look forward to developing Thailand as a Tourism Destination for All.
We wish to give special thanks to Seable Accessible Active Holidays from the UK and the Thailand Association of the Blind for their valuable assistance in making this course the great success that it was.
We would like to thank everyone involved in this project, as it showed the world how much time, effort and passion Thailand as a nation is devolving to the “accessible holidays” cause.
Thailand is indeed becoming an accessible travel destination that all Visually Impaired travellers should consider, and this is thanks to passionate individuals like the guys at Nutty’s Adventure, at the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and the Thai Responsible Tourism Association (TRTA).
Thank you all.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
For this week’s blog we have asked our friends from SeatPlan to share some thoughts about London theatres and what can be done to make them more accessible.
London Zoo? Check. The Tower of London? Check. The London Eye? Check. A West End show? Hmmm…
Though seeing a West End show is on many of London visitors’ to do lists, the beautiful, old buildings that are home to some of the best theatre in the world aren’t the most amenable to people with access requirements. Most of the theatres date to at least Victorian or Edwardian times. Theatre Royal Drury Lane, built in 1812, is even older – it pre-dates Queen Victoria’s birth by seven years. Architects back then didn’t consider accessibility in their designs and as many of these buildings are now listed, alterations are difficult and expensive – if they are permitted at all by planning regulations.
Luckily, rising levels of awareness and the wider theatre industry’s commitment to increasing access is bringing about change. Most West End theatres are now fitted with infrared hearing systems and removable seating, many offer dedicated access performances and downloadable Visual Stories, assistance dogs are usually permitted, and staff have been specifically trained to support theatregoers with their access requirements. When building regulations allow, ramps, lifts and step-free routes have been installed, as have low-level service counters at bars and box offices.
Many West End theatres are owned by one of four bigger companies, which enables access provisions to be standardised across an entire venue group. For instance, Ambassadors Theatre Group, also known as ATG, has a dedicated access team that can provide theatregoers for information and support with ticket booking across all of their venues, both in and out of London.
On the other hand, change just isn’t happening fast enough and there’s little financial reason for progress to be so slow. The West End is doing incredibly well – with record breaking numbers year on year, London theatre is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s a booming industry and there’s a lot of audience demand for tickets, but all audiences aren’t treated equally. Theatre seating is usually spread over multiple storeys so only certain areas of the theatre may be accessible, and many venues don’t have internal lifts. Main entrances usually have at least a few steps into the foyer from street level. Most theatres ask that patrons with access requirements contact the venue well in advance, and arrive at least half an hour early on the day of the performance they’re attending. Some theatres don’t even have adapted toilets.
Late last year, charity VocalEyes conducted an industry-wide access audit and their findings were disappointing. Out of the 659 researched theatres across the UK, 72% have access information on their websites. Whilst this is a lot, that still means more than a quarter of the venues surveyed didn’t provide any information about their access provisions at all. London is slightly higher at 78%, but Northern Ireland is the lowest, with just over half of its theatres providing access information on their websites. The report also states the amount and quality of the access information provided varies, from a few lines to detailed descriptions. Frankly, this isn’t good enough.
Nearly half of West End theatregoers hail from outside of London, indicating that seeing a show is clearly on the list of things to do for many people visiting the city. These visitors are less likely to go the West End theatres regularly, so they will be less familiar with individual theatres and the access provisions they provide. As VocalEyes’ survey proves, if information is provided online it’s not currently standardised across the industry as a whole, or even within the commercial theatre scene of a single city.
Another problem is the sheer amount of content about West End theatre on the internet. There are seemingly endless ticket retailers, news and reviews sites and other websites. Though it indicates how popular theatre is, it’s a confusing landscape to navigate even for seasoned audiences. Numerous third party ticket agents work with theatres to get bums on seats, and long lines of communication mean that information from the venues isn’t always displayed on vendors’ sites, or displayed accurately – and it may not be on the theatre’s website anyway. What with SEO optimisation that all websites use to rank higher in search results, the actual theatre’s website might be further down the list and may not be obvious, either.
Because of this resounding lack of comprehensive access information for the whole West End in a single resource, theatre website SeatPlan, in its aim to help audiences find the best seats, added an access page to each of the site’s venue listings. These access pages contain detailed descriptions of building entrances, numbers of steps in and around the theatre, bar seating, and so on. It also provides contact details for the theatres’ access teams at the West End’s major theatres and many regional venues.
These teams will be able to provide theatregoers with further details relating to your access requirements and assist with booking tickets or performances that best suit you. They can also advise on the availability of touch tours, audio description, captions, BSL interpreted and relaxed performances.
So whilst theatres still have a lot to do in order to improve their accessibility, they are taking steps in the right direction. Independent resources like SeatPlan also help, by making the process quicker and more streamlined. Even though there’s still a lot of work to be done, the theatre industry as a whole is finally waking up to accessibility shortcomings so change is coming.
This week’s blog has been written by our new guest blogger Holly Tuke, the award nominated disability and lifestyle blogger behind the successful blog Life of a Blind Girl.
10 Tips on looking for a job when you have a visual impairment
Finding a job can be difficult, even more so when you have a visual impairment or any other disability, but it can also be very rewarding knowing that you have got over many hurdles.
I have a visual impairment myself and I am registered as blind as I have no useful vision so I know what it can be like to find a job when you have a visual impairment.
I graduated university in 2017 so getting a job was constantly on my mind, as I knew that I couldn’t do basic jobs such as working in a shop, pub/restaurant, cafe or those sorts of things to just tie me over. I was working for a visual impairment charity whilst I was in my third year of university for a few hours a week so this was something to do whilst I was looking for a graduate job.
I don’t think I was fully prepared for how difficult it was going to be, I knew that it would be hard but I don’t think that I was fully prepared. I even considered changing my career path or going into postgraduate study.
Nevertheless, I managed to get myself a job in November 2017 which I absolutely love. So, I want to share 10 tips with you on looking for a job when you have a visual impairment.
1. Know what field you want to go into
This is so important whether you have a disability or not, but I’d say that it is key when you have a disability as you can look for jobs in that specific field.
2. Look on job websites
Websites such as Indeed,Total Jobs and The Guardian Jobs are some examples of websites where employers advertise job vacancies. They are fully accessible as well which is a bonus.
Check local websites as well such as your local paper, colleges, schools, the local council or universities for employment opportunities. You would be surprised how many jobs are advertised on such websites. You can often receive email alerts when new job vacancies are listed on websites, these are very useful to have.
3. Communicate with people you know
This can be very daunting and you often feel rude doing this, but if you know someone that works in the field that you want to go into then it can be a great way of finding out about employment opportunities.
4. Make use of services available to you
Making use of services can be a great way of looking for jobs and receiving career advice, services may include the RNIB Employment Line or services in your local area.
5. Contact employers directly
If you are looking to work within a specific company or organisation then contact them directly or look for a jobs section on their website. They may provide you with useful information on how to find out about job vacancies within their organisation.
6. Do some volunteering
Many charities and organisations are often looking for volunteers, this can be a great way of getting experience for your cv, gaining new skills and volunteering is sometimes the steppingstone that you need to get a job within a specific organisation. Nevertheless, volunteering is very rewarding and looks great on your CV.
7. Know your CV
Not all employers accept CV’s, so you might have to fill out an application form to apply for a job. Knowing your CV can make this process easier. If employers do accept CV’s then make sure you taylor your CV to fit the job that you’re applying for.
8. Ask for documents in an accessible format
You can’t apply for a job if documents aren’t in an accessible format, don’t be scared to ask for them in an accessible format, most employers are happy to do this. At the end of the day, you deserve a fair chance like everyone else.
9. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do
When looking for jobs, you may often come across jobs that you think you can’t do because of your visual impairment or other disability, but there are so many jobs that you can do.
As a blind person, one question that I often get asked is ‘what jobs can blind people do?’ And the list is practically endless. Obviously, there are limitations and there are certain jobs that we can’t do, but there are far more that we can do.
10. Don’t give up!
I think that this is the most important piece of advice that I can give, it can often feel disheartening, upsetting or frustrating when you are faced with disappointment when looking for work but it is very important to not give up and feel discouraged. Determination, dedication and hard work will pay off in the end!
Those are a few tips that I can offer about looking for jobs when you have a visual impairment or another disability, I hope that they have been of use.
For this week’s blog we are going to talk about one of the fantastic activities we offer in our destinations: cooking classes. When travelling to Rome, our guests can get their hands dirty by making home made potato gnocchi, a traditional dish that all Italians are proud of.
Today we’ll share the recipe, and trust us, once you start making them at home you won’t buy again those ready made fake-gnocchi.
Boil potatoes: In a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on. The skin helps the potato not too absorb access water. (Dry potatoes are good. Water potatoes are bad.) Boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
*General rule of thumb: 1 medium-sized potato per serving or person. For every potato, you want to use approximately 1/2 cup of flour.
Drain well: Remove potatoes and drain well. Allow them to cool in a colander or over cheesecloth.
Peel potatoes: Peel boiled potatoes, removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
Rice potatoes: Using a potato ricer, rice peeled potatoes. If they appear watery at this point, allow them to rest on a dishtowel to absorb excess water.
The foundation: Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour and sprinkle with salt.
Make a well: Using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
Add egg: Break egg into the center of the well. Beat the egg with a fork.
Incorporate ingredients: Using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
Begin to form: Use your hands to combine ingredients, beginning to form the dough.
Knead dough: Pull together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
Shape dough: Shape dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
Cut dough: Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
The secret to perfect gnocchi: Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense.
Roll into ropes: Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope. For shorter, heavier gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes and cut into 1-inch pieces. For thinner gnocchi, roll longer ropes.
Cut dough ropes: Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 1-inch pieces. Cut ends at an angle.
Keep floured: To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen.
Ridges or indents: You can use a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb.This process isn’t necessary, but adds to the asthetic of your final dish.
To cook: Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes. Do not wait longer than 45 minutes to cook gnocchi or they will begin to stick to each other.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
For this week’s blog we are honoured to post an article written by the talented Matthew Clark, Parlaimentary Assistant at the Scottish Parliament, Trustee for Victa Children and keen traveller.
VICTA / Seable Thailand Adventure Blog
I consider myself lucky to be well internationally travelled. But this is only with family. Destinations and attractions have been numerous, but I have always craved something else; to travel with friends, peers, and experience richer, local cultural experiences than that family planned holidays deliver. Though I have many sighted friends though university, beyond hiking across the UK with friends from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Group, opportunity to enjoy any travel like this and with my own friends has been allusive.
Finally in 2017 I graduated from university – an extremely testing, and sometimes very dark time in my life – and decided it was time to seize more of the life I wanted. This includes travel. But, how, when I have tried, failed, or been too uncertain before?
Just at this time, VICTA advertised their latest international trip facilitated by Seable. On looking into the itinerary, I realised Thailand is nothing like the seedy image all too often portrayed by television. It is a large, tropical, majority Buddhist nation, with the unique history in Asia of having never been colonised. Our itinerary was to include temple ruin tours, visits to temples in rural hills and town centres, meeting (splashing with and being kissed by) elephants, visiting flower markets and bamboo gardens, voyaging on an overnight sleeper train, lake tour and rice barge, with the final days spent on an island beach resort. This simply is everything bundled into one trip that I could have wanted.
I couldn’t imagine better company to spend this trip in than we have enjoyed. VICTA staff and volunteers joined with Damiano from Seable, and two extraordinary Thai tour guides, to provide us all with expertise, assistance where required, but the facility all importantly to enjoy this itinerary to the fullest. When travel has so many times been dampened by planning around disability, or been concerned by the ability of friends to support me, this is such a relief; one I realise now in hindsight, looking back on all we did, and how wonderfully simple it felt to enjoy and accomplish.
For our Thailand adventure, I am happier today, having experienced and learned how I can travel and discover in the world what I wish to. I could do so with VICTA again, with Seable, and am closer to being able to do it of my own initiative too. But everyday, whether at home or away, I have strengthened, rebound and discovered new friendships, that this adventure can be remembered with, and new ones be made side by side with. .
Thailand here and now, writing this as I fly home, has come at a time in life where I needed refreshment, enlightenment, and purest pleasure. There are so many moments (and friends) to treasure.
Thank you one and all who have made this possible. Here is to all our future adventures, at home, away, maybe again in Thailand.
Article written by Matthew Clark
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
The last article of the year has been written by Eeshma Qazi and it’s a resume of her experience on one of Seable holidays.
How do you feel about skiing? Are you a champion skier, gliding gracefully down those slopes every December. Or maybe you like me, are a complete novice, whose idea of a good winter holiday is more a mountain of food by a warm fire than flinging yourself unceremoniously down a mountain of snow. And so, it was to my very great surprise and to my family’s complete shock, that I found myself along with a dozen 18-29 year olds on this VICTA/Seable trip. All of us were destined for the ski slopes of Sauze d’Oulx, a charming village nestled in the Italian alps. Our only commonalities being our visual impairment and our appetite for adventure.
At the Thistle Heathrow terminal 5, amidst the thrum of newly minted conversation and warm chocolate brownies, we were introduced to our tour guides for the next week. For those of you new to the scene, VICTA is a charity which caters for the needs (both social and otherwise) of young visually impaired people) and which often works with Seable holidays (a social enterprise and travel operator) for disabled travellers. Between the two organisations, we had four dedicated sighted guides as well as a number of others in the group who could see enough to assist. Itineraries discussed, icebreakers exchanged and ground rules established, we all went to bed promptly in anticipation of our unseasonably early flight on Tuesday morning.
After a blissfully short flight to Geneva and a bus journey through rolling, snow dappled alpine vistas, we finally arrived at Villa Cary, our hotel. More B&B than sprawling resort, we found to our delight that we had almost free run of the place. After a filling but touristy meal of a full English brunch, we retired to our rooms for a spot of sleep before reconvening at the hotel bar for dinner. Food came in the shape of a typically Mediterranean 3 course meal which left us full to bursting and ready for bed once again.
The next 4 days followed more or less the same pattern minus the continual urge to snooze. After a breakfast of bread, cheeses, spreads and meats, we spent our mornings on the pistes skiing with the help of one-on-one instructorship from an amazingly friendly and competent team of ski instructors whom we all got to know on a first name basis.
Following an initial assessment, we were divided into groups according to our skiing expertise and took it in daily turns to do repeat rounds of the nursery, blue or red slopes with some serial skiers in the group choosing to return for some more skiing in the afternoons.
It is fair to say that sun burnt and windswept though we undoubtedly were, each one of us improved in our stamina and skill over the course of the trip, some by progressing to another slope, others by independently learning to stop, slow down and turn, and others still by simply conquering their fears of the piste enough to relax and enjoy the adrenaline that comes from controlled descent. For me, victory came in the entirely unflattering but completely honest observation of one of the instructors who informed me blithely that I must have improved, given that I was no longer so taut with nerves as to resemble a “penguin”!
A café located next to the slopes formed our daily lunch haunt, serving a hearty fair of local delicacies such as rich polenta with sausage and veg, grilled burgers with fontina and gorgo, rustic soups, gloriously cheesy gnocchi and beautifully gratinated crespelle (soft pancakes liberally submerged in béchamel and topped with crispy mozzarella. For those of us who chose not to ski in the afternoons, free time included going sledding or to a local spa for massages, gym, facials and an enticing array of other treatments including Turkish baths and the exotic sounding Lomi Lomi. Evening meals included in our hotel stay were all served in the hotel’s bar-restaurant area. We made friends with the waitress and chef who were always happy to take requests and recreate our favorites from a few days before. A surprisingly diverse group of individuals, we all bonded over the leisurely dinners peppered with self reflection and tired contentment as well as the card games and competitive team quizzes which followed.
As is the way with all good things, we were sorry on Sunday morning to have to wave goodbye to the quaint cobbled streets of Sauze, it’s beautiful snowcapped slopes and even our high vis florescent orange tea shirts which declared to the world in no uncertain terms that we were “blind skiers”. Bundled up warmly against the chill,we took a transfer back to Geneva where the promise of a swanky hotel awaited us. Highlights in Geneva included chocolate shopping and in particular, a mammoth 4.5 kg Toblerone (the size of a small toddler), meltingly delicious gruvyère and Emmental fondue, crispy potato Rösti and the lightest of mascarpone pizzas. After a general meander around the strangely quiet and orderly streets festooned with a muted, civilised sort of Christmas cheer, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a sumptuous dinner,a Swiss pick and mix of the best of Italian and French cuisine, from tartars to risotto, steaks to pasta.
We returned to England on Monday exactly one week later, better friends and less floundering skiers than we had left it. Each of us glad of the opportunity and already planning our next potential VICTA/Seable experience. As for me, how do I feel about skiing now? Good enough to want to try it again, this time head held high, shoulders bent with intent, feet arched snow-plough like and stomach firmly concave.
Here 7 Tips for Disabled People Looking for Employment. On average, around 50% of disabled adults with disabilities are unemployed around Europe. It is no wonder then that finding a job as a disabled person is very stressful and time consuming; as they have to face the fear of discrimination alongside other normal interview nerves everyone feels. However, whatever your physical or learning disability may be, under the 2010 Equality Act employees and jobseekers are protected against discrimination in order to ensure that you have equality, fairness, respect and understanding either at your place of work or during the recruitment process.
The UK government is actively trying to make sure more and more disabled people are getting into employment, as this is beneficial to both the employers and the employees! This blog’s aim is to try and help prepare any disabled adult looking for work to be the best they can be in their interview with a few simple steps:
1. Preparation is key
Research the company as much as you can do before the interview. One tip is to go onto the company’s website and read the ‘About/About Us’ section to gain a quick insight into the history of the company and what the company values are. Employers are always looking for individuals to fit into their work culture, so once you know what that is, answers can be prepared in order to fit that template!
If you have trouble reading, it might also be worth looking up the company on YouTube for any promotional videos they may have released that would also give a quick insight into the company values and culture.
2. Know your CV
Similarly to researching the company beforehand, it is always good to know what exactly is written down on your CV, especially if you have had help writing it. Have a quick read through and come up with examples for each point on your CV that an employer may ask you; for example, if they ask: “Tell me more about your role at *insert previous job here*”, make sure you know what you’re going to say beforehand so that the question doesn’t catch you off guard.
It will be useful to prepare answers on your CV beforehand and then get a friend or family member to look over your CV and ask you questions about it so that you can practice before having your interview!
3. Confidence goes a long way
The key to any interview is confidence! If you go into an interview oozing confidence, charm and optimism, then you’re more likely to make a good, lasting impression. Although, be careful not to be too confident as that can sometimes come across as arrogant and rude! There is a fine line, and if you’re not too sure, ask your friends and family for their opinion. The most important thing is to let your personality shine through and be yourself.
4. Your disability
If you don’t want to, try not to focus too much on your disability. If you have a hidden disability that may not be immediately obvious to employers, then it might be worth bringing it up at an appropriate time in the interview (such as when they ask if you have any questions or if you have anything else you want to talk about). If you don’t want to bring it up though, then do not feel obliged to if you don’t think it is necessary.
If your disability is more on the ‘obvious’ side then you may want to shift your focus elsewhere, which is absolutely fine. Your interviewer may have some specific questions about how your disability will fit into your role, which is also fine as they are probably trying to work out how to put adjustments in place for you should you get the job. An important point is that – if you feel comfortable – try to answer as many questions about your disability as you can as this will show that you are willing to cooperate with your employer to make your position as a disabled in their employment easier. However, it is important to remember that you are not obligated to answer any questions you don’t think are necessary or appropriate. If there are any questions you don’t want to answer, it’s important to stay calm and friendly while stating that you don’t feel comfortable answering the question due to X,Y, Z reasons. The interviewer may not know that they are making you uncomfortable, so it is important to let them know gently but clearly.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself
This comes hand in hand with the ‘Preparation is key’ section – it is always good to have some questions lined up at the end of your interview. This shows that you have been engaged and listening to what the employer has been talking about, and also shows a keen interest in the job you’re applying for – something all employers are looking for in an employee!
Try to get some questions ready in your head while the interviewer is talking, such as if you’re unfamiliar with a certain term they use, be sure to ask what it means etc. Some questions to have ready up your sleeve may be:
“What is the company culture like here?”
“What does the path of progression look like?”
“How many people will I be working with?”
“What would you like from me, an employee?”
6. Know the location beforehand
This point may seem like a simple one, but is also very important. It is good to work out where the interview is, what accessibility is like and how long it will take you to get there and plan well in advance, particularly if you have a physical disability. Does it have accessible parking? Accessible toilets? Is there a step free access/a hearing loop/are guide dogs welcome? All of these points are important to find out beforehand to ensure you don’t have a stressful time before the interview has even started! If your employer knows you have a disability, they should supply you with all of this information, but if they don’t know about your disability or have just forgotten, then do not be afraid to reach out to your contact and ask them directly. This will show initiative and independence, so do not be embarrassed about reaching out.
I always recommend getting to the location 15-30 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start, just in case there are any problems on the way there. Even if you’re a little early, once you’ve worked out where the interview is you can go to a coffee shop and have a quick drink to pass the time. This also gives you a good chance to go over any notes you may have made in preparation for the interview.
It’s good to cover this part, as, on average, there are over 200 applicants that apply for a single role, and only 20% of them make it through to the interview stage. There are also around 5 other people interviewing at the same time for the same role, so sometimes you will get rejected from a role you were hoping to get. This does not mean you aren’t good enough for the role, but it may be something as simple as perhaps the person who did get the job lives 10 minutes closer or has slightly different work experience that may suit the role better. It is important to not be put off from applying to jobs if you do get rejected from a role, and what is even better is getting in contact with the interviewer and asking them for some constructive feedback as this will help you in the future!
Here some helpful job websites that are specifically designed for disabled adults looking for work:
Blind in Business provides a range of services to both undergraduates/graduates and employers to ease the transition between education and employment for visually impaired individuals. BIB works through the whole application process, from supplying recruitment materials and vacancy information in a range of formats, to providing specialist seminars and advice. All the services are free and available to any visually-impaired young person looking for work.
Disability Action’s Employment and Training Service offers information and support for people with disabilities, to help them find and stay in work or vocational training. They also provide disability and diversity awareness training to employers, organisations, businesses and other interested agencies.
Also, some helpful websites might be Gov.co.uk that has details of the ‘two ticks’ scheme, meaning that employers who are involved with this scheme guarantee an interview to all disabled applicants so long as you reach the minimum criteria for the job. Similarly, have a look at the European Disability Forum; a website to research your full European Disability Rights, that has some great job listings there too!
Article written by Rosie Sanderson.
For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.
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