Love My Railcard, Actually

26 09 2011

Source : Disabled Persons Railcard, UK

This September marks the 30th Anniversary of the Disabled Persons Railcard and to celebrate we’ve come up with an exciting new competition Love my Railcard, actually. We are offering one lucky winner a fantastic full HD camcorder prize package for the best video (or audio clip) submitted which shows us why you love your Railcard.

All you need to do to enter is get your creative hat on and take a short, low-fi film (or audio) clip on whatever device you’ve got to hand such as your mobile phone and tell us about the train journeys you’ve made and why you love your Railcard, actually.

We’ll then reward the winner with the equipment to take their directing skills further with an HD camcorder prize package, including:

HD Camcorder– Panasonic Full HD Camcorder

– 16GB Memory Card

– Protective camcorder case

– Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 editing software

– 2 return train tickets for a journey of your choice within the National Rail network

Terms & conditions, and further information after the jump!

Rough Guide to Accessible Britain

24 07 2010


This guide is free if you hold a Blue Badge or Disabled Persons Railcard. The guide is £6.99 for everyone else.

Click on this link to obtain a print guide or audio version. Availability is limited.

I wonder if it’s all about wheelchair accessbility, BSL, hearing loops and braille versions? I’d like to see inclusion of transcripts and captions.

Welcome to Everything

13 07 2010

As I settled down into my Airbus 380 seat, I wondered how Emirates would compare to British Arseways. I love watching movies so flicked through the channels. There was the usual selection of languages, quite a larger selection than I was used to, and right at the bottom was a channel for closed captions. A whole movie channel with captions – I was thrilled! I decided to try out the airline’s headphones but there was no sound. I got another pair, tried those, and bingo I could hear all the movie sound effects. With the subtitles, it was magical. The headphones fit over my cochlear implant just like a hearing person would wear them, they picked up the sound directly from Advanced Bionics’ T-mic microphone that sat at the entrance to my ear. No jiggling to get the positioning right to pick up sound. No turning the volume up to the max. It was simple, just put the headphones on and turn up the volume slightly. The cabin crew had been informed I was deaf, and they were super attentive towards me. It’s so nice when a hot guy pours a nice drink, pulls out the table and sets it all up for you with a huge smile …. and just chucks the drinks at the other passengers 🙂

Unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday but a working trip for my deaf awareness training business. (They were amazed that I could lip read them in Arabic. Tee hee.) The Marhaba welcome service whisked us through passport control and I stepped into the 43C heat of Dubai. Although it was hot and dry, every building and car was air conditioned. Walking anywhere was a no-no. Why can’t we have more air conditioning in Britain? The Arabs were super appreciative and welcoming, the food was just great, and I loved working with them. Dubai is like Canary Wharf with beaches, with scorching hot weather thrown in.  A new sound for me was the beep as I used the card to open my hotel room door – I never knew this made a sound. The hotel receptionist just didn’t understand my adjustment needs, that I wouldn’t be able to hear a fire alarm or knock at the door in an emergency, that they would have to enter my room to wake me. He kept saying they would knock on the door. He didn’t have a tooty clue.


The Burj Khalifa,  the tallest building in the world, reached gracefully into the sky for over half a mile, and I just HAD to pay a visit. Click on this link to see it for yourself!


I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed silently. I waited. And waited. The doors opened after 15 seconds and surprisingly we had arrived! It had been such a smooth ride that we hadn’t even realised the elevator was moving, and it is one of the world’s fastest elevators. At the observation deck on the 124th floor, I stood and looked down on people ants and toy cars, rivers of ribbon and splashes of azure blue where pools shone like jewels in the desert. The views were hazy but I could see from the Gulf coast to the Arabian desert,  I could look down on The World. The building had another 32 floors but these were residential – all sitting staring vacantly into space as there are no takers. I returned to the ground floor and explored one of the largest shopping malls in the world, with over 700 shops in the gold souk alone. (This was when my purse started to sweat mightily)


Outside the Burj Khalifa, the 30 acre lake sparkled seductively in the setting sun and classical music began to play. The world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, jumped 500 feet in time with the music as it danced and pirouetted around us. It was lovely to be able to hear this. This fountain ‘performs’ every half hour, every evening, at an eye-watering cost of £15,000 each time.

Check here for my video of Dubai Fountain.

I really enjoyed the beautiful architecture of the city and the attention to detail, the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah, the amazing Burj Al-Arab shaped like a sailboat, skyscrapers built like razor blades, the traditional designs at the Dubai Mall, train stations shaped like fat cigars, smoother than smooth roads (no potholes! Can you believe it?). Close up, the detail was reminiscent of Moroccan art.





Everywhere was sparking clean and new. Every restaurant and hotel had wonderful cakes and snacks on display. I was soooo tempted! The food was as good as the Arab hospitality.

The palatial hotel wasn’t a patch on the British ones (or maybe I just need to get out more). Check out this five hour massage – I might just book this the next time I visit! The hotel felt quite impersonal as it was so big. But it was certainly impressive and the staff were wonderful. Yet more sweet guys pouring coffee for me. Yippee. I like!



Bigger? Better? Best? You bet!

When I left Dubai, it was such a hassle trying to get appropriate airline seats with my interpreter. She had to sit across the aisle from me so I could see her when the cabin crew spoke to me. Our reserved seats had disappeared and they couldn’t understand the concept of a hearing loss making me vulnerable in an emergency, that I needed my interpreter with me so I could have access to information. If this had been British Arseways, we might have got an upgrade, but Emirates scrabbled around and finally found us appropriate seats. The Marhaba service hadn’t been booked for our return flights as the assumption was that we wouldn’t need it. Lesson learned there!

As we arrived at Heathrow, a passenger behind me took his suitcase out of the overhead cabin and dropped it on my head. It missed my cochlear implant by an inch. I demonstrated a remarkable level of self control and said nothing but he did get the filthiest look from me.

My first thoughts on going through passport control? How dirty it all is. I love pristine marble floors and hate grubby carpets. I love air conditioning and hate sweating under the glare of fluorescent lights. I love Marhaba whisking me through passport control and hate standing in a long queue. I just wanted to turn around and go back, and have Dubai say ‘Welcome To Everything’ all over again.


Parliamentary lobby – calling all bus users!

6 10 2008

This lobby calls on the Government for the improvement of bus concessions without certain restrictions for all disabled and old people, including d/Deaf people. This event is hosted by Sense, with support from RAD Legal Services.

This lobby aims to secure –

Free travel for companions
Many disabled people cannot travel alone. They need somebody to travel with them. They have to pay the companion’s fare. This is unfair. Companions should travel free.

Free travel at all times
Many disabled and older people need to travel before 9.30am. They have to pay the fare. This is a problem. We should travel free at all times.

Free travel for all disabled people
Only some disabled people can have a national bus pass. All disabled people should be allowed a pass.

Fairness across the country
Local councils can add local travel concessions. Some do. Some do not. We should have the same concessions wherever we live.

There will be two different activities:

    A series of speeches at Central Hall, Westminster, about why change is needed to the current national concessionary bus travel allowance
    An opportunity to meet with your local MP to tell them about your experiences and what improvements you would like made

Where: Central Hall, Houses of Parliament, Westminster
When: Wednesday 24 October 2008 2.00-4.30pm

For more information, please check out RAD Legal Services and scroll down to the parliamentary lobby event. Directions and marketing materials are available HERE.

Oliver Westbury’s expedition to the North Pole

4 09 2008

Talk – ‘My Expedition to the North Pole’

Venue : Jewish Deaf Association
Julius Newman House
Woodside park Road
London N12 8RP

Date : Sunday September 14th at 6pm

Oliver Westbury will give a PowerPoint presentation about his tough expedition to the North Pole in April to raise money for the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Oliver became one of the first two deaf people ever to reach the North Pole. He was featured earlier this year on See Hear, before he went on his expedition. It was a brilliant achievement for the team to struggle on foot to reach the North Pole in five days! Oliver will show photographs and explain how he and his team trekked to the North Pole, facing difficult obstacles.

Communication support will be provided – a lip-speaker and a voice over for Oliver’s talk in sign language.

This will be a fascinating evening, so do come along and learn all about the North Pole Expedition. The talk costs £3 each.

If you would like to attend and bring your friends, please write to Kay Kaufman at the above address enclosing the payment (cheque payable to Jewish Deaf Association) or email her on kay @ jda. dircon. co. uk or MSN : kay_jdafinchley @ hotmail .co .uk
You can pay at the door as time is short but please let Kay know beforehand.