Like The Wind Magazine

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

Passing an exam

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

Text to speech on Kindle – A great accessibility feature for all

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

The cycle begins

For the past few months I have been running in maintenance mode. Generally managing to run around the half marathon length at the weekends and a couple of shorted distance runs in the week. However this week saw a foray into the start of an ultra training cycle. I have signed up for next years South Downs Way 50 so need to start the cycle now to get a decent finish.

So this week I had to do something I always like to believe I can but rarely do – the early morning run. I usually start running around 7am but if I am to fit my training in and university it means I have to run closer to 5am. I always tell myself I can do this but when the alarm goes off I switch it off and roll back over. I still did that this week but then after a few minutes thought “No, if I want to train I have to do it in the morning” and managed to yank myself read more

Leadership

In an effort to enhance my employability after leaving university this week I decided to attend a leadership course. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some face time with leaders from industry and to network. The course was put on by Common Purpose a multinational group that looks at Leadership around the world and the affects on the wider communities. They run a number of leadership courses and the one I attended was for disabled students and sponsored by Santander.

Arriving at the hotel with Ascot I was presented with my first challenge. We had forgotten to bring his food, we had packed the food just not put it in the car. If Ascot ate Pedigree Chum this would have been an easy problem to solve, but he is a delicate sole and eats a very specific food. So specific that it isn’t even for Labradors – No, Ascot believes himself to be read more

To be inspired

When i first began to run I was always of the philosophy I may not be the fittest person around, but I believed in my mental hardiness.  I believed and still do that I can continue to push beyond what I have achieved on any given day.

This hardiness was built on the back of others achievements.  Reading about other runners such as Dean Karnazes inspired me to start down the long road of running long.  Hearing about others achievements inspires me to go outside and see how far I can push.  One of my favourite ever inspirations was by a runner whose name escapes me.  One day someone sent me a link to a youtube video of ultra runners.

The runner spoke of the runners high and that he preferred to explore the low times.  For if he was able to push in the lows the highs would take care of themselves.  There may be a little para-phrasing read more

The Constant

Even with large amounts of vision loss I have still felt the compulsion to keep on running. After you have been running for a while it seems strange to stop. Having a week or two off begins to feel strange, there is a need to pound the pavement (or rubber matting). Due to the compulsion to keep on running even with large amounts of vision loss I have been sticking with the running. I even managed to compete in a short distance event.

The loss of vision has made a dent on my running though, but in more of an indirect way. Learning to run without a reliance on vision means that when you lose more it doesn’t really affect your ability to perform. But what it does affect is the time I have to run. When I am having to spend more time converting materials, or revising due to a change in vision it eats into the time I have to run. So read more

The Cycle

I chose the name of this website to reflect a cycle. My eye condition is degenerative so as time goes on I lose more vision. With each decrease in vision there is an adaptation cycle where I have to relearn how to do complex and simple tasks.

In early May this year I lost a substantial amount of vision. Now considering I had little vision before May this latest change meant a change in most areas of my life. It was also terrible timing, as the end of May was the start of my exam window. This created a substantial problem I had under 4 weeks to learn how to study in a new way and convert all my materials to make them accessible after this latest change.

The only way I could achieve this was to defer 2 exams and sit 2 exams at the end of the month. I created a plan in order to convert all the materials that involved using a couple of read more

Recovery

When training for any event or indeed any goal its important to be able to bounce back quickly from a training session.  The quicker you recover the quicker you can be out training and the easier it is to make gains.  As well as the importance on an increase in training the ability to recover fast also has its benefits when you have a family.  When you are dedicating large amounts of time running the roads its important to recover quickly.  As there are not enough hours in the day for a long run and a long recovery.

Ideally I like to get home shower and rest for 30 minutes and be back out with the family.  This can be incredibly tough after a long run as I am just too fatigued.  It takes all my might to drag myself up from the sofa and go out on a family trip.  Now missing out on those moments due to exhaustive training is a tough balance.

Do I train a read more

Making Kindle Books Work With VoiceOver on the iPhone and iPad

***UPDATE*** kindle for iOS now supports VoiceOver! and it works fantastically well.  I have left the instructions in place below as they may be applicable for OS X Mavericks and iBooks if Amazon do not relase a VoiceOver compliant version of Kindle for Mac.

 

Being blind access to books is difficult. In an age of digital content you would of thought it would be easy, but no. it is increasing difficult thanks to things like DRM and odd restrictions imposed by eBook retailers.

There are a number of options below that I have broken down by company.

Amazon

Audible
Has a wide rang of audiobooks with a great monthly price. If the book is available as an audiobook this is a fantastic option and I cant recommend it enough.

Kindle

The books are only truly accessible in two scenarios
1. Kindle app for Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.
2. Kindle for PC with accessibility plugin. read more