A couple of years ago I lost the ability to see faces on a daily basis. This happened so gradually I hardly noticed it was happening at all. For with people I have known a long time, I would fill in what they look like. So it was more apparent when I met someone new.
I found whenever I met someone knew I was creating a mental picture of what they looked like. But what was I basing this picture on? As how can I imagine what a stranger, I have never seen looks like?
These questions were brought to the forefront when I was working with a fellow student at university. I had worked with them on and off for over 2 years, so I knew their voice well. I could easily pick it out from a crowd of voices. Due to the familiarity of the voice I had begun to assign a mental representation. But rather than specific features it was just a feeling. read more
After borrowing a GoPro camera from a friend and a suitable harness from another, I headed out today to film my classic running route. I was filming the route to add some additional content to an interview I gave a few weeks ago. It was an interesting run as it saw the return to running outside.
Since the birth of my second son I haven’t ran outside, this is mainly due to time constraints. In order to run outside my wife has to drop me off. With another child in the house this was proving difficult, so I had decided to conduct most of my running indoors. The result being a little over 7 months since I ran my traditional route. So there was a nagging question in my mind, could I still run the route? Had it changed? How many things would I run into? – The answers, yes, yes and none.
In order to demonstrate the first time I stepped read more
When I first entertained the thought of running at the ultra distance, I told myself I would only ever run on the road. There is one problem with this however, as not many ultras are run on the road – they are predominantly trail-based events. I avoided the idea of running on trails for as long as I could. But the longer you dream of ultras the idea of running trails comes to the forefront. I decided to bite the bullet and enter a trail race, the SDW50 – a 50 mile run across the South Downs Way.
So I could get used to running trails I decided to enter a half trail marathon – the Osmotherly half trail marathon. After speaking to the race director he assured me the trail could be easily run by a blind runner. Encouraged by this, I linked up with a guide runner from down south and we had arranged to run this race together. I have read more
I consider myself an emotional runner. As it is my emotional state that appears to dictate how far I can run. Whether it is riding the crest of a high, where running seems as simple as breathing, or the depths where another step seems a daunting task. It is perhaps those depths that offer the most interesting moments of running. The opportunity to overcome and push despite being emotionally and physically depleted. While in those depths I motivate myself by allowing my mind to wander. I recall stories of other runners that in the past have inspired and motivated me. It is those stories that pull me from the depths and allow me to continue.
So when I was asked to contribute to a new running magazine “Like The Wind” with a focus on runner’s stories, I jumped at the chance to contribute. I wrote a short piece that told the story of my initial read more
During my heavy revision period, the tram I take to university was undergoing some maintenance. This meant I could no longer use my normal tram stop, instead relying on the replacement bus service to take me to the next stop.
This worked great until one evening when I was travelling alone. I realised I had no idea how to get from the tram to the replacement bus service. I thought Ascot might just go with the flow and guide me to the bus stop. Nope! – instead he went with the flow that took me to a road. I thought to myself – if someone can point me in the right direction to Meadowhall, I can figure it out from there!. I asked around and a kind lady offered to guide the way, so me and Ascot followed along. The kind lady dropped us off at Debenhams and was on her way. Now the challenge was getting from here to the train station, I had read more
Last semester I took the brave decision to add Visual Perception as one of my modules. The line between brave and stupid is often quite blurry. I thought the module would offer me a great insight into how the visual system works and it really did. But it meant some very special preparation in order to pass the exam.
The majority of the concepts were described diagrammatically on the course, something which meant I would have to take a slightly different angle to learning in order to achieve a greater understanding of visual perception as well as pass the exam. I had to try and visualise the concepts that were being described something that became quite challenging when you have never seen them represented in the real world. For example the visual illusions – I was fortunate enough to have seen some of these illusions while I had sight. But read more
During 2013 I began to read at in increased rate. This was mainly due to the Kindle iOS app allowing VoiceOver. So for the first time since losing my vision I could read again. The only problem being not all books are available on Kindle yet so I often become annoyed that there are still a whole host of books I am unable to read. If I have a special interest in the book however, then I spend time converting it to make a digital copy.
My reading is shaped by my current interests, running, psychology and business. In order to expand my reading list I thought I would post my favourite reads of 2013 in the hope others would share theirs.
Priceless is a fantastic insight into the psychology of pricing. As I read throughout the book I was amazed at just how many of the psychological tricks I have fallen prey too. The books covers everything from the psychology of mobile phone read more
Expaning on my previous post about accessibility features being features for all and not just those that rely on them, I decided to highlight one of the features my sighted friends use.
Setting up VoiceOver to read Kindle books out loud. This is a great feature and one that can make reading a book a breeze. Want to have a book read to you while working at the computer? Commuting on the train? Well this will allow you to do it without purchasing the audiobook! This is the feature I use to read all my books. Without it I frankly wouldn’t be able to read.
This feature has been made far easier with iOS7 too. As the ability to activate VoiceOver and invert colours has been added to Siri. This alone is great for me, now I can pickup my wifes iPhone or indeed anybodys and with a quick Siri command be able to use it. This is great for doing read more
I adore technology – since I was a teenager I have been a massive fan of everything from computers to consoles, phones, gadgets and most recently fitness tracking devices. However being blind can sometimes make this passion difficult. But I do pride myself in taking technology and re imagining how it can be used.
Re imagining how RunKeeper could be used allowed me to learn to run solo. I take this approach to other pieces of technology in my life and believe I manage to use technology in ways it was never intended to be.
I am also a big fan of crowd funding. I have lost track of how many projects I have funded now but its been quite a few. I even took the risk of backing a project for a christmas present. With project creep all to common on crowd funding sites I am happy to say this project is running on time.
I often get to combine these read more
Visiting the Buxton Adventure Film Festival last month I was inspired by one of the speakers: Rosie Swale Pope. Her story of running around the world was incredible, her delivery and energy was invigorating and I left believing I could achieve anything!
So when I returned home I decided to buy her book on Kindle. I did intend on buying a copy at the actual event but did wonder what I would do with a physical copy. I had decided to avoid reading the book until I had finished Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. Something that was important to my extended essay for my degree. But procrastination got the better of me and I decided to start reading it during my Starbuck visits. This also coincided with my attempt to reach gold status at Starbucks so I read the book quite quickly!
The book is titled A Little Run Around The World. The book is simply breathtaking. It took read more