A A A Accessibility A A A A

Hello Everyone! Would like to wish you all happy deaf blindness week! I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in it feels like ages! But I’ve got soooo much to tell you all and I can’t wait to tell you everything. I think this blog is going to be a very long one so I think you will need a lot of time to read it, sit down with your favourite thing to drink and a few snacks and I just hope you are looking forward to reading it. The things I am going to tell you are, going to the hospital and getting tests done, getting an Apple Watch, more stuff about my cane and meeting others with usher syndrome such as Molly Watt so here it goes....

So let’s start from the beginning of these hectic months, so I went to the hospital to have an electro diagnostic test where I had my eyes numbed and I had wires put under my eyes to test my muscles and nerves in my eyes, not going to lie I was sooooo nervous because I had no idea what was going to happen and I kind of liked it that way but then I didn’t if that makes sense. Like I knew that if I didn’t really know I wasn’t going to freak out as much, honestly it wasn’t that bad! There was just no pain at all which was soooo good, the only bit that wasn’t very nice was the eye drops and then when the doctor put these sticky pads on my head he had to use some sticky glue for it to stick and it was gritty so it hurt when he was putting it on my head it was like a scratch but yeah it really wasn’t bad which was such a relief haha!!  My next appointment to go to my normal hospital is in August when I will find the results as much as I do want to know my results it’s not going to change anything, as you all know there is no cure, it’s still upsetting but there’s no point waiting for one to happen you’ve just got to keep going!! The people who have had eye drops will know what I mean haha, your eyes do just water!

Next up is about MY APPLE WATCH!!!! I haven’t wanted an Apple Watch just for the fun as you know I love technology haha! But now my eye site is getting worse I’ve found out that an AppleWatch is like the next best thing because it’s small for my peripheral vision and it vibrates to notify me when I’ve got a text or call. I can answer calls on it and I can hear it very well and it’s always with me, so it’s very handy! Another thing I’ve learnt is that it can tell you where to go if your on google maps, I had a go on the weekend it was really good, different taps tell you to go left or right and then when you have reached where you have to go. It is a very good gadget so anyone with usher syndrome I would definitely recommend it. I’ve only had it for about a month and it’s changed my life completely!!

So here goes the more emotional talk, as you all know my views on having a cane from a previous blog.  The lady has come in again and has ordered a cane for me, like really? I sooo don’t want one but then I’ve got to try! We were going to have a go with one she has brought in but because of exams being on we couldn’t which I was quite happy about haha! I just hate the fact that when I get the cane out I’ll be read as blind, I’ll become a book! I just don’t want to be seen as blind because I’m just scared that people will say stuff like omg she’s blind or oh yeah let’s trip her up she won’t see me or even laugh at me because I’m holding this cane. Just yeah I’m not really happy about it but at the end of the day it will tell others to stay away from me and to just mind out the way, if they don’t they will get hit haha! But yeah no one is alone, people do have canes and manage so I’m sure I will. Once I start training I may enjoy it which will be good haha!

The final thing I want to talk about is on the 22nd June there was an Usher Kids Day for children and families who are suffering with usher syndrome and need help and get to know others with usher syndrome. I’m not going to lie I really really didn’t want to go because I was like what difference is it going to make? But believe me it made me way stronger and I met some amazing people who I can now talked to about my condition and help me with any problems. I spent a whole day there and

everyone was so nice and so understanding and it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone. It was very emotional hearing other people’s stories and about how they felt but also how similar everyone’s symptoms were! It just brought a massive relief that I’m not the only ‘deaf blind’ person in the world. One of the best things that happened to me was meeting literally like my hero Molly Watt who also has Usher Syndrome, I don’t know how I would of coped these couple of months if it wasn’t for her

positivity! She is literally the best person ever in the world and just to meet my idol was sooo emotional! She was just soooo lovely and it was really nice to get to know her even more although I was in a right state haha how embarrassing!! 

 

 

When I peer into the mirror I see my right hazel/green eye.  Traveling downwards and towards the left I can see my nose then my mouth.  Following the nose upwards and then to the left I can then see my left eye.  Welcome to tunnel vision.

I am a daughter, sister, niece, friend, student, wife and mother.  I also have Usher Syndrome type 2.

My new 42mm Apple iWatch series 1 kindly donated by the Molly Watt Trust, arrived on the day of my Grandfathers funeral, a bittersweet moment.

I have been using Apple products for as long as I can remember so syncing the iWatch with my iPhone 5se was easily done. 

At first I was slightly daunted by the small screen and equally small symbols to tap to activate each app and I did wonder if I would ever get used to it.  The large watch face and its many options to choose from are easy to read and engage with.  The main one I use is the first option where the activity levels take up most of the screen and the time can clearly be seen in the top right hand corner.  

The activity circlet is quite addictive and causes my competitive side to try and complete each of the 3 sections on a daily basis.  There is a pang of disappointment if I don’t achieve this!

The iWatch is also incredibly bossy!

It likes to remind me to stand up if I have been sitting down for too long, every hour!  Having a 7yr old and 17month old means the the chance to sit can be a miraculous achievement.  I have been known to cheat and just hold my arm up!!

It did take me a few weeks to get used to being easily contactable.   Before the iWatch arrived there were times when I would miss an important phone call or not realise I had been sent an emergency text message that needed a reply asap.  I am now alerted straight away and I have the choice whether or not to answer nowadays- normally because I’ve misplaced my phone somewhere! 

Due to the fact I’m still using ancient analogues I am unable to sync the device- unlike with digital aids.  From other blogs I have read I do understand there is a perk to having the speaker on the other end discreetly blue-toothed straight to the digital aid but it will take more than that to convince me to change.  I am very much stuck in my old ways.

The vibration alert can be quite jarring so I have played around with the sensitivity levels.  

When out and about I feel a lot safer knowing my phone is out of sight and tucked away in my bag.  Using a white cane adds a vulnerability factor. 

I have only been using my white cane for 6 months- since when I received the iWatch.  It gave me the confidence boost to ‘come out’ and announce to the world why Im such a clumsy idiot.  I say idiot because my pride and independence is incredibly high and I was in denial about the reality of how poor my vision really is.  Being a mother of two young children meant I could no longer dice with my life everyday whilst navigating the high streets and roads.  

When out and about in new places I use the google maps app, I don’t yet trust the hap-tics and will still check the screen at every turn or pulse. 

When I was younger I used to be an Illustrator and now I have changed career and Im currently studying/training to be a Counsellor/Therapist.  The iWatch is incredibly useful for client sessions.  Not being able to see the clock straight away when I look at the wall I get flustered trying to locate it.  Time boundaries are an important part of the therapeutic alliance so being able to use the timer on the iWatch to discreetly vibrate a few minutes towards the end gives me time to wind down the session without causing interference.

I also downloaded the app ‘Just press Record’.  This enables me to record class lectures and client sessions for case studies at the tap of the button; which then streams via bluetooth directly to my iPhone.  I can save the file on either device and they automatically sync.  Its also audibly louder than the iPhone app ‘Voice Memo’ which makes a huge difference when Im transcribing.  

Before the iWatch I had to ask a fellow peer to transcribe for me which was such a ball-ache making sure I was adhering to the ethical boundaries of confidentiality by gaining permission from my client during the contracting stage.

It does come with its own transcriber option; but I would advise against using it because its rather unpredictable... but it can also be amusing if you are up for a laugh! 
Thursday, 15 March 2018 18:18

Happy Haptics

How is it that a few simple vibrations can give you SO VERY MUCH?
If you had asked me the same question just a few months ago I would have probably said how I didn’t understand them.

Well, that was before I was fortunate enough to receive a Series 1, 42mm Apple Watch from the charity The Molly Watt Trust This was a piece of accessible technology I would never have been in a position to justify buying; even though I have seen the benefits others have gained from it.
So I took a chance, I applied to the charities project and crossed everything!The Apple Watch arrived at the end of November. And after I plucked up the courage to open up the box it was like love at first sight! (If such a thing can happen with an inanimate object like a watch!)
The first fun was setting the Watch face. Having previously had a Fitbit Surge I thought this would be easy...... it wasn’t! That’s a bit of a fib, setting the Watch face was easy it was rather trying to decide on what ‘complications’ I wanted to be able to have for easy access on the Watch face that was the difficult part. And it took just over a week to get the right mix, that I have continued to use ever since!

Since wearing hearing aids in 2017 I am no longer able to wear in ear headphones, this posed a huge issue for me as an iPhone user who relies heavily on Apple maps and google maps to help support me to keep more independence. Walking with my phone out in my hand wasn’t exactly safe either.

This is the one feature I was really excited about trying out for myself on the watch. The ability to set a route on my phone in apple maps and then have the haptic (vibrations) go on my wrist to alert me to an instruction.
It took some getting used to, and if I am honest I tend to make use of my remaining sight to look at the instruction, but I am learning to be more trusting of it.

While my phone stays safely away in my pocket or bag.
Another feature I have found incredibly useful is text messaging. Yes I can use my phone for most of my day to day messages (with the added support of zoom).

But if I am out and about (or even sat in a loud, busy venue) I can quickly scroll down to a pre-set message that simply says “struggling here”. This I find is enough to help raise the alert that I am not finding things easy.
This works particularly well with my friends who also have an Apple Watch, but for those who don’t, but who can quickly glance at their phones I am quickly able to find reassurance...... Or in the case of the other day; I am able to alert my friends that I have got lost on the way back to the table after going to the toilet (the waitress had kindly shown me where they were)
For me, the feeling of being safe in my surroundings is key; whether this is somewhere on my own, somewhere new or somewhere ‘different’ has always been important to me. As my sight deteriorated this became even more important. But when my hearing also started to fail me; I worried that I would loose myself with it.
In these past four months, I have felt like I have a new lease on life.

And I really do believe this is down to the support I have benefitted from from The Molly Watt Trust and The Apple Watch Project.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 07:22

Applewatch Down Under

Coming to the end of the school year, I have realised how much I rely on my apple watch. The apple watch has given me so much support that has allowed me to travel to and from my sports as well as keep organised as the school year progressed.
First, haptics has changed my world. I never realised how effective they could be as I never miss a text or a reminder now. I find it very easy now to wake up in the morning to a small vibration on my wrist rather than something that vibrates my whole bed.
The apple watch has also improved my organisation; as it will remind me to do simple things like keep my hearing and vision equipment together. This never used to work, as I would never have my phone on me when the reminder went off. Now that the watch is attached to my wrist, I never miss anything. Also, now whenever I think of something I need to do, I can instantly put it in my watch instead of not having my phone therefore forgetting about the thing I had to do. The apple watch has relieved much of my stress and now I feel much happier and stress-free.
Travelling is something that the apple watch has helped me with. I listen to music while I walk to school and I used to find it a bit nerve wrecking, having to go on my phone to change the song. Now a quick glance at my watch and I change the song. It has become a lot less hazardous to walk to school, which I am grateful for. I also use it for when I catch the train to and from rowing. When I am walking to the station, I am able to know what trains are coming so I can catch them.
Since having the apple watch, I have found myself becoming more active as I am striving to achieve the goals that it has set for me. Instead of sitting in front of the television, now I find myself walking my dog so it has not only benefitted myself. It has benefited my dog as well!
The apple watch has made me feel more comfortable within the society that is hearing and seeing. So I thank the Molly Watt trust committee so much and am so grateful that I was one of the lucky people to experience the benefits and support that the apple watch has provided me.

Monday, 27 November 2017 15:48

Charlotte's Applewatch

I was aged 14 when I was told I had Ushers Syndrome Type 2. I was devastated and my dreams for the future were gone in a single moment. Being faced with the bleak reality of slowly losing your sight would be hard for anyone, let alone a young teenager already struggling with typical teenage problems. As the years went by with the emotional rollercoaster of being registered visually impaired at 16 and then being registered as legally blind at age 19, I learnt how to be more optimistic as I grew tired of wallowing in self-pity and not taking opportunities while I still could see. I learnt more and more about the concept of accessibility and that I wasn’t as limited in my abilities as I once thought. I became more aware of the importance of accessibility to people like me, I got frustrated at the lack of it even in today’s modern era.
I have always been a fan of Apple products due to their settings, a whole subsection dedicated to accessibility with amazing features such as Magnifier, larger and bolder text and specific volume controls for hearing aids. Since the Molly Watt Trust has kindly given me an Apple iWatch Series 1, I have taken advantage of its array of features which has already made certain aspects in my day to day life so much easier. I recently took up running and it is much more convenient using my Apple iWatch which has a fitness activity app which helps me record my daily activity. If I have important incoming calls or texts when I’m out and about or running, then I can answer from my iWatch rather than getting out my iPhone which could easily be dropped. One of my favourite features would be the Extra-Large Watch Face which make it easier for users with low vision to see the time and means I can quickly glance at it when I am on the move rather than getting out my phone and squinting for the time.
Due to the Bluetooth connectivity between my iPhone and my iWatch, I can leave my iPhone charging and still go about my day with my iWatch as my calls and messages will also appear on my iWatch’s screen and I can answer them accordingly. Apple iWatch also includes a range of settings to meet the needs of people with a wide variety of sight loss not just RP. These includes Zoom, Grayscale, Reduce Transparency, Mono Audio and much more. These settings can also be controlled and altered through the Apple iWatch iPhone app.
The only downside with the iWatch is that it can drain a lot of battery life from my iPhone which means I have to charge both my iPhone and iWatch overnight but aside from that I think Apple has really pushed the boundaries of accessibility by designing their products to meet the needs of visually impaired users, the Apple iWatch Series 1 has ticked all the boxes for me.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 15:43

Applewatch, I won't leave home without it

Hi Molly Watt Trust

I want to thank you for funding my applewatch.

I had so much catching up to do through the school summer holidays including  training with my new guide dog Twinkle, along with keeping my two children tkeep occupied.

Now I’ve caught up I can finally write my first feedback about my initial experiences with my applewatch, thank you so much for this genuine opportunity for me to own and benefit from it, I'm truly amazed by how it works.

Firstly I like the way you can change watch faces you want, I particularly like the motion ones that moves very pretty.

The activity app is brilliant tells me how many miles I've walked, how much exercise, movements and how long I've been standing through out the day and its rewarding you get achievements goals saying well done keep up the good work etc.

Its very encouraging.

I also enjoy the workout, outdoor walk.  I set up up so it is ready before I leave home and as soon as I get to work I stop it to see how many miles I've walked and my iPhone shows me my routes where I have walked its brilliant.

While I'm on the go my applewatch alerts me by vibrating on my wrist that I have received text messages and phone calls while I'm busy working my guide dog Twinkle, or at home doing things I need to catch up on. 

I now rarely miss calls or text due to the taptic alerts.  I am genuinely delighted with these initial things and already I feel I don’t ever want to leave home with out it.

I also really like the timer, so helpful to be alerted by vibrations on my wrist to home appliances that do have timer alerts that make sound but that I cannot hear.  It has saved me from burning or spoiling things I have cooked.  

I find I am more relaxed wearing my applewatch as I feel very contactable and ‘things’ are more accessible.

I'm learning new things every day with my applewatch.

I will send more feedback soon.

 Emma

When I first got my applewatch from the molly watt trust I was really excited, being profoundly deaf and registered SSI with usher syndrome type 1.  I hoped the watch would enhance my life tremendously.Setting the watch up was easy, even with my limited vision and it connected to my Iphone easily too. I was so excited , it felt like it was my Birthday or Christmas.

I had just had surgery for a new cochlear implant after being depressed for many years, the applewatch came at a time of positivity for me, a time where I had decided I actually did need an implant to enhance my life and give me more independence, the applewatch was a real bonus.

The applewatch enables me to feel vibrations on my wrist if anyone texts me, I can now access all notifications, which is so much easier for me as I often don't have my iphone in my hand.

My mum panics if she can't get hold of me , she likes to know I am ok , safe and sound !! I have now had my applewatch about 3 months , besides the easy set up to iphone it also connects to my cochlear implant via Bluetooth.  I experienced music for the very first time, it was amazing and I listened to different types of music to see what types of music to see what I liked the best.  Shazam is a really good app because if I hear music I like but I don't know what it is then Shazam tells me and I can then download the song. It really helps me because I can feel the vibrations on my wrist, like an alarm.

I don't like to put my phone under my pillow or cushion as this can be dangerous but with the watch on my wrist I can feel any vibrations directly to my skin and it alerts me quickly.  Because of my limited vision I often walk into lamposts or barriers or poles, especially if I have my phone in my hand while I am looking at maps and directions, however, my applewatch has made this much easier for me because now I just look at my wrist and I don't need to have the phone in my hand. I can check my phone through my applewatch without having to put my hand in my pocket to get my phone.

My new applewatch really helps with navigation and this will be even better when I get my guide dog as I won't have a spare hand for my phone.

I use the activity app to see how many steps and what distance I have covered, this helps with my wellbeing and it is much easier being on my wrist rather than on my phone.

Applewatch has really helped change my lifestyle for positive reasons, I worry sometimes when I am out on the streets , I am really independent but can't help but be a bit anxious on the streets with people stealing phones, applewatch means I can leave my iphone safely in my pocket, I feel much safer.  I use it to check the weather too.

The TfL (transport for London app) and train line app is amazing , I can look at my watch and know what time my bus is coming , I can see any cancellations or delays, this is such a help as I can't hear announcements made by bus drivers or on platforms or bus stations.

My mum and my brother text me a lot , they worry about me , my mum panics if she can't get hold of me and I will see like 5 or 8 missed face-time calls on my phone, but with the Apple Watch I know straight away if they have texted me. I can adjust the vibrations and Taptics which is great, so if I'm chilling on my sofa and maybe tired the vibration can be changed to tapping on the wrist to feel it more.

There are so many exciting apps to try, the next one will be Uber.  I often travel across London so if I ever get stuck I can use the uber app as I cannot phone and order a taxi.

I absolutely love my football , I can't wait for the season to start in a few weeks, one of the apps for the applewatch is to keep up with football scores and statistics of the match, this will help me a lot, as when I go to football it is very busy and not lit very well, so will save me getting my phone out and I can see all match scores and the latest football news on my watch. I am so grateful for this gift from the Molly Watt Trust.

I feel I would be lost without mine now.

I would recommend Molly Watt Trust to anyone with Usher Syndrome, this small charity is a great help to those with Ushers, not just for assistive technologies they fund but also for providing support, information and for bringing people with Usher together.

Thank you MWT

 

Monday, 08 May 2017 20:19

Applewatch for kids

I recently received an email enquiry from the Mum of a 9 year old son living with Usher syndrome.  

I regularly receive email from others living with the condition I’m living with, however, this particular enquiry was interesting as it made me really think about exactly how useful an applewatch might work for a child dealing with the challenges of progressive blindness alongside deafness which all too often leads to lack of confidence, often mental health problems and isolation.

I had read a few write ups about applewatch and children but it seemed mainly older kids, old enough to have iPhone’s and ideas of how to use applewatch in school whilst their iPhone’s were not allowed in classrooms, typical kids trying it on but examples of kids still in primary school I have not seen or considered before!

I met this young boy, who we will call ‘A’ when he was 6 years old.  A typical lively young boy, full of life and energy.  The only difference was he wore 2 cochlear implants and used a little cane from time to time. 

‘A’ was coping well with his condition and his confidence was good at age 6, from what his Mum tells me at 9 years old he continues to be a confident and happy child.  His Mum had read my blogs about applewatch and thought it may well be very useful to her son, particularly because of prominent haptics.

I thought back to my own diagnosis and how I coped.  

Up until my Usher Syndrome diagnosis at 12 years old I too had been a very happy go lucky child.  Being born deaf and wearing hearing aids for as far back as I could remember.  Deafness was challenging but as a result of great support I was fine with it.  I knew my limitations and dealt with them, it was all I knew.  I didn't feel too different either as there were other deaf children locally that I knew and was friends with.  I had always been in a mainstream school environment and besides often being referred to as the girl with the hearing aids I was very accepted.

Sadly my happy school days ended after Usher Syndrome took my sight away so quickly and from great support at school to a real lack of understanding and as a result very poor and limited support.  

This situation resulted in lots of confusion which ultimately led to my confidence being destroyed, I became vulnerable, I didn't want to leave the house as I was clumsy, I walked into things and people.  The friends I thought I had either stopped calling for me or became bullies who made my life a misery.  

Going out and being a teenager became my worse nightmare as for me to do so I would have to use my cane.  I was introduced to the cane at 13 years old, I hated it because it was like a big symbol saying ‘look at me I am blind’.  The person who trained me in orientation and mobility was not familiar with me and whether she meant it or not was bossy and insensitive when I couldn't hear her instructions which made me resent having to have her or a cane in my life.

I just wanted to be like everybody else and I did not understand what was happening to me - I now know this series of events was the start of my anxiety, depression and self isolation back then.

I was happy enough when I was with my family and the few real friends I had but life could have been so much easier.

My traumatic experience resulted in lots of things including counselling which together with the best parental support and my arrival at a mainstream college resulted in me re-finding myself and the belief that not only is my life important but that my bad experiences could be used to help others avoid the pitfalls I had experienced.

I want things to be much better for the next generation and it really can be with know-how and the amazing assistive technology available to us, it really is life changing.

Back to the original question applewatch for children - I can visualise some real benefits particularly for ‘A’s age group.  I also see two negatives, but I believe they could be worked with or around!

The positives are first:  

It is my believe that applewatch can offer continuity in navigating a world that has become or will become more difficult with a progressive sight loss.   

Early introduction would avoid the difficulties I had to deal with in coming to terms with the many changes associated with progressive blindness.  

A young child could learn very early how to be safe, how to navigate the world using the awesome prominent haptic feature, alongside peers - early introduction of applewatch would actually be pretty cool, other kids would more likely take an interest in how the tech works rather than resort to the bullying and name calling I experienced. This way a continuity of inclusion and confidence would be maintained whilst dealing with a challenging situation alongside peers.

Children like ‘A’ could learn about good communication making full use of prominent haptics, receiving text messages, sending short messages, also receiving haptic alerts, then as he gets older he can remain even more in touch receiving email and social media alerts via his wrist, keeping him safe and independent. I believe this is just the beginning for prominent haptics. I am hopeful more and more will become available to access via applewatch.

Another very important point is ‘A’ can be tracked by his parents /carers so would be as safe as he can be.

Learning to use these skills is hugely important and should result in a continued confidence to maintain the happy go lucky nature younger children have.  

Parents will also feel more confident as their children will not just remain contactable via applewatch but also detectable via GPS.

I remember that first night I waited for darkness, I had had my applewatch for 2 days and wanted to put it to the ultimate test.  

I am completely blind in the dark, I prepared guide dog Unis, keyed a friend’s address into my iPhone.  This friend lives on the other side of town.  I carefully put my iphone securely into my backpack and set off completely relying on prominent haptics to find my way. 

My parents did not trust the applewatch (they didn't understand it) and questioned me trusting my newest ‘gadget!’  If I’m honest I really wasn't sure if I would get to my destination but desperately wanting it to work and desperate for independence I had to try it.  Guide dog Unis has kept me safe since I was 16 years old, she however can only take me where I ask her so for us getting to my destination was a joint effort, applewatch instructions to me via prominent haptics (vibration alerts) on my wrist and me instructing Unis in accordance with the vibrations, worked a treat and we safely got to our destination 20 minutes later.  I cannot tell you what that meant to me.  I cannot put a price on independence. 

Today I can only say thank goodness I was feeling brave that day as the enablement to get around safely has changed my life.

Prominent haptics have guided me safely around the world.

Applewatch enables people to get out and about once they understand and trust it’s unique navigation technology which has very positive effects on health and mental health.  For those with poor sight relying on prominent haptics also allows the eyes to rest.

Young ones need to establish these skills early on,  there needs to be continuity and some sort of normality in learning such life skills, I think applewatch could provide that.  I know I would have felt far better about myself had I been shown applewatch and it been used as part of my mobility training.  I was 13 when dealing with orientation and mobility and did have a smartphone, sadly applewatch was not available back then.  

This leads me to the negatives:  

I can’t quite get my head around a 9 year old having a £700/£800 smartphone to make this all work, however that doesn't mean the skills I mention above cannot be developed.

An applewatch would be far safer, secured on the wrist than a child walking around holding an expensive smartphone

A 9 year old should not be out alone so perhaps an idea might be that a parent/carer has the iPhone whilst the child wears the applewatch. 

The second negative is applewatch may be large on a small wrist, however there should be a way around that, perhaps a child sized strap.  

The parent/carer could spend time with their child teaching them about the benefits of applewatch, they could learn together.  I think this would give both parent and child confidence in both how applewatch works and also how incredibly useful and safe it will make their child’s life as they naturally become more independent. 

When technology is your only way forward it has to be a part of your life.

For me it has been the difference between doing something and not doing something and more importantly I am now somebody I want to be rather than  somebody I used to be.

Do I think applewatch could help ‘A’ and children with other specific needs?  I  absolutely do.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016 18:38

Applewatch - Thank you Molly

My son read Molly's applewatch blog to me last year.  She made everything sound so easy and to be honest I didn't believe it.

My son kept on and and and on about me getting one as I had become quite a recluse.

I could always find an excuse not to go out, my neighbours helped out with shopping and my son visits regularly.

I have had an iPhone for just over a year and learnt how to use it just by playing with it.  

A couple of years ago I was assessed by Guidedogs for a dog but was told I couldn't be considered for a dog until I had some sort of routine as the dog needs to work.

To be honest it put me into a state of depression and I withdrew further.

I was trained to use a cane some years ago but didn't like it and didn't feel I needed it.  I was definitely in denial.

Anyway, I had been unhappy for many years.  Usher Syndrome has isolated me and I let it.

My son advised me of the project Molly had put together through her charity and he more I read the more I wanted to give the applewatch a try.

I admire Molly, so young and doing her best to live happily and to help others, she is definitely an inspiration to me.

At 54 years old I am not an expert in technology but I'm learning and I quite like it, I have surprised myself with my iPhone, set up my own email and a few apps and games with a little help.

I decided to apply for the applewatch thinking I'd have no chance, as I don't have a regular routine, haven't even ventured to my local shop on my own for probably 5 years.

I'm sure there are lots of people hoping to get an applewatch and  Molly Watt Trust is a small charity and fundraising isn't easy.

When I got the email to say I had been approved for a watch and after a few formalities it would be sent to me I was in shock, I hadn't expected it especially as at this stage I knew MWT have asked for feedback to help with fundraising and I asked to be anonymous - it wasn't a problem.

I received my applewatch in January, it was like Christmas.  I charged it and set it up on my own, I fiddled around with it, sorted out the accessibility settings and changed the faces.  My son did help me with a few apps and applepay then he helped me set up a route on maps for me to walk on my own with my cane. He was more excited than me.

It took me 2 weeks to actually walk that route, I had sleepless nights thinking about it.  I was fighting with myself, I wanted to do it but I was frightened and hated the thought of being seen with my cane.

I planned the walk over and over until I finally took a deep breath and just did it.

The route was to my local shops, just over a mile a way.

At first I was really slow and apprehensive but the further I got the better I felt, the watch guided me with taps on my wrist for left and right.  I made it to the small supermarket and I felt so adrenalised I wanted to walk and walk.  All of a sudden I didn't care if people were looking at me, I felt confident, I felt great.

I decided to go in the coffee shop next door something I'd never have done for fear of knocking something over, I walked in, it was quite empty, I ordered my coffee and the young girl asked if I wanted to pay with my applewatch, I stretched out my arm and beep, done.

I sat down and my coffee was brought to me.

I couldn't believe myself, I was smiling to myself for the first time in a long time, I had done it and I did it for myself.

I text my son from the coffee shop, he didn't believe me so came and met me.  We both cried, silly I know but a big deal for me.

My son took me home and we talked about technology and how it can change people, enable people, just amazing.

That was the first time and now I go out everyday, I feel so much better for it.  No longer a prisoner in my own home, I can get from a to b fairly safely.  I do get a bit  stressed if it is busy so I avoid busy times.

For me this is just the beginning, I will contact Guidedogs for the blind again perhaps in the summer when I can say I go out regularly, we will see.

For now I just want to thank everybody at Molly Watt Trust for making this happen and for Molly for being such an inspirational young lady.

I will write again soon.

 

Wednesday, 09 March 2016 19:01

Effortless Applewatch One Month In

So I've now had my Watch a month and the best way I can describe it is 'Effortless.'

When I first got it all in its beautiful packaging it felt like Christmas again, all thanks to the Molly Watt Trust's GlobalGiving Project.

I was chosen as one of the first to trial this idea and wow I'm very thankful!

I Have Usher type 2 so born partially Deaf and now slowly losing my sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, that is Usher Syndrome.

I'm pretty much the worst for missing calls or notifications and emails simply because I don't hear the pings and don't see until I check myself usually just before bedtime.

Well since this lovely piece of tech came into my life that is now a thing of the Past....

'Haptic's where have you been all my life?'

So when I first got this all set up, I adjusted the font and display and synced to my IPhone 6, I turned Haptic's up and volume down ( I'm higher tone deaf so no point for me as I wont hear it) I was well away.

I downloaded some apps such as my Bank and Email also Around Me so I could use it with Maps to use as a walking Sat Nav, also BBC news app.

All of these worked well for me the At a Glance I found really useful as well as the Call Feature as when I'm on a bus or the school run it isn't ideal with Guide dog in one hand, child in the the other so now in an emergency with just a quick click and a tap or even a 'hey Siri Call...' at my wrist I could call for help without being at risk. That was a huge biggie for me.

However for me there is one very big FAIL!  It is not the fault of Apple or the Applewatch but my hearing aids, they do not work with Bluetooth, no connectivity so I can't hear directly to my ear so I found myself holding my wrist right up to my ear looking abit 'James Bond esk' but not a great feeling trying to juggle everything child, dog and school bags it was abit of a pain but as I say not Apple's fault but the Oticon spirit Zest hearing aids supplied by the NHS so no perks which a real shame as I feel I could probably gain a whole different view had I had the right equipment.

Any way a month down the line the applewatch feels great it's amazingly light and easy to forget it's on my wrist until I get the helpful Haptic's reminder of something in my calendar or emails, and even to navigate to somewhere new, very useful In busy town centres when I just need to go from A to B without scanning around which causes terrible eye strain and headaches, Applewatch has helped stop this, no more scanning just relying on a simple tap or taps on my wrist enabling me to simply direct my guide dog left or right accordingly.

Pretty awesome and effortless for me, my daughter likes the drawing bit in the contacts with those who also have the watch she thinks its magic and cool.

I know I have a lot more to learn about my Applewatch and I'm sure in the coming months I will have more to report.

I'm feeling more confident and independent and feel with this technology and my guidedog I can become ever more independent, maybe a part time job soon.

The only snag I have are these 'prehistoric' hearing aids. Having hearing aids with full comaptibility would be absolutely awesome, I guess a girl can dream!

That said I love my new watch, it is more than a watch and whoever developed Haptics - Thank you life is definitely a little easier. 

I want to say Thank you to to the MWT Global Giving project for this awesome gift!

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