Opportunities Come In Unexpected Forms!

On Wednesday this week I was a stall at the “Choice Unlimited” Roadshow in Leicester.  For those of you who don’t know what “Choice Unlimited” is – it is a branch of Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (aka “LCiL”).

The Roadshow was a way of showcasing different organisations and their goods and services to help Disabled People (and their carers) live as independently as possible.

You may be wondering why a Blogger ended up with a stall at such an event???  Surely, if anybody needs Bloggers it is the companies providing the goods and services???

Well, I happen to be of the opinion that blogging can help people get their stories out to the wider world (it also helps by being a kind of “head emptying” exercise).  Not only that but I have been known to showcase the talents of some of my friends on my personal blog.

If you have a look at Inkyworld Blog you will find out about a new invention I discovered on Wednesday (and got permission from the manufacturer to review).  There is also an opportunity to help a friend of mine with his PhD.  Click her for information – Please Help A Friend Of Mine With Their PhD.

There are opportunities everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes, ears, and mind, open in order to find them.

Individuality Should Be Cherished

If there is one thing you can definitely say about me it is that I am something of an “oddball”.  As in – I am not one of those people who you can put into a box very easily.  Put it this way – I think my parents might have made a shlight mistake when it came to choosing my first name.  Instead of spelling it “Ineke” I think they should either have spelled it “Uniek” (Dutch version) or “Unique” (English version).

I have got a tshirt which I wore at last year’s “Choice Unlimited” Roadshow in Leicester, which sums my feelings up perfectly.


We are all judged by our behaviour, our abilities, the way we speak, the wway we present ourselves to the rest of the world.  Whilst some of the judgements cannot be argued against – using foul language in the reception of your Company for example – others can be more of a “personal preference” judgement.  Or even a “lack of Education” judgement.

If you have seen the blog post where I talk about my old glasses (and you can see photographs of me wearing them) you may have taken a look at the photos and done what most people do when faced with someone wearing very thick lenses – judged me to be of limited intelligence.  I may not be anything like the most qualiied human you have ever met but I can hold my own in discussions on most topics.

Instead of judging people based on what you think you know of them and condemning them to a life of being seen as inferior in your opinion – please get to know them and cherish their individuality.  You never know when someone with experience of disability or anything else may just have the answer to your problem.

Life would be boring if we were all the same.

Inspirational People Questionnaire (Or – Learn A Bit More About Me)

This blog post is an edited version of a Questionnaire I did for the website of the church I attend.  You will see where the idea came from as you read through it.

1)        Let’s start by you telling us how you found out about Simple Solutions? (After all it is a bit daft me asking how I know myself, isn’t it?).

I found out about Simple Solutions as a result of getting in contact with Roger Nield on Twitter. How I ended up joining as a Blogger is slightly more of an interesting story. (If you have read my personal blog at http://inkyworld.co.uk/page11.php – you will already know how I am not really one for doing what is “expected”.)

I had read the “About Us” page on the website and thought I might be able to add something to the Company.

So I sent Roger an email with information about myself (15 years’ experience of working in an office, having my own blog, being Registered Partially Sighted, and wanting to educate people about Disability). Attached to that was what turned out to be my first blog post for Simple Solutions (the Guidance for a Conference or Meeting).

The rest – as they say – is history.

2)        As this is about “Inspirational People” can you please tell me three people in your life who have inspired you and how they have done so (they can be teachers, colleagues, friends, etc)?

Ooh – this is an easy yet difficult question. If you have ever read my blog (where this idea came from) you will find that I have been inspired by a variety of people in a variety of ways – mostly through people showing kindness and generosity to others, standing up for what they consider to be correct, speaking out about injustice in whatever form it takes, enabling people to dream and not being afraid to show them it can be achieved, etc.

The three people who have inspired me the most in my life have all fulfilled the above criteria – in more ways than one. (Sorry – I find it difficult to be inspired by the Rich, Famous, and Powerful unless they have done something truly spectacular – OK, I could throw Sir Jackie Stewart into the mix but he is the only one.)

Anyway – I digress.

The most inspirational person in my life may sound like a cop out to you – but you can mock me all you want and I don’t care. Coby Poultney (my Mum) was stronger than I can ever hope to be. Let’s just say that the circumstances in the months after I was born were not ones I would wish on anybody (and I am seriously glad that she didn’t just give up and go back to Holland without me as a result). Not only that – but she stood up for what she believed in, she helped her friends. In fact, she told me she had a rule (which I try to live by) which was that if anybody was sad she would try to cheer them up and make them smile)

Next we have Steve Bowkett – ex-English Teacher extraordinaire. The surgeons might have kept me alive when I was a baby but this man not only kept me alive when I was around 12 years’ old – he showed me that daydreaming was good. Not only that but (apparently) you can make money out of it – if you write your daydreams down. I am still working on that one but he did encourage me in my writing both when I was in his class and ever since.

Last but by no means least (it really is a pity I had to put these two in any kind of order) we have Kristyna Myles. Musical talent combined with the steely determination to use her talent to promote her faith. Couple that with being so down-to-Earth and approachable – as well as the effect her music has on people in the way it touches their souls. Oh – and what I find really inspiring about her is her desire to shine a light on the injustice and inequality in the world.

3)        What qualities do you look for in a friend?

 Respect – most of all. The ability to have a debate with them or just sit in companionable silence. Honesty.

4)        How would your (other) friends describe you?

I hate this question when it appears in job interviews – I will answer it as I hope they would see me.

An oddball you can count on when the going gets tough. I will do almost anything (within reason) to help a friend in need. I do not judge until I know the full story. There is a rumour that I provide a very good “Sounding Board” service to humans in my circle of friends who want to rant and rave about things.

5)        Finally, please tell me something about you that I don’t already know (please make sure it is something you don’t mind sharing with the rest of the world)?

I may have a family connection (a long way back in my family) with a certain Crisp-advertising ex-Leicester City football player whose surname bears more than a slight resemblance to my first name.

Is Blogging An Artform???

This blog post is going to be a mix of an article I wrote for “Choice” magazine (and posted on my personal blog) with a bit extra at the end to bring it up to date.

I have to admit to feeling slightly puzzled by people’s responses when I tell them that I am a Blogger. This is usually because they seem to have this strange idea that I must be the world’s best writer, or the most eloquent and articulate person on the planet, in order to write a blog post (neither of which describe me).

Let’s face it – people have been “blogging” since before the internet was invented – they just called it “writing a diary”, or “Letters To The Editor”, or even “writing a shopping list”. None of the above need any kind of educational qualification (although – obviously – being able to write words is a good starting point).

Even though I started blogging as a “head emptying exercise” after being made redundant nearly 10 years ago – I now blog because I feel I am under-represented in the world we live in and I want to make myself heard in the general clamour for attention by the “normal, acceptable” people. Trust me – it is no fun feeling like you are in a “Minority of One” most of the time. I would also like to feel that I am able to teach people about my world as someone who (even though I don’t usually look it) is disabled – I am Registered Partially Sighted.

I suppose “Blogging” could be seen as falling between “Creative Writing” and “Journalism”.Both of these are an attempt to grab your attention and make you believe what you are reading. At the “professional” end of the scale of both “Creative Writing” and “Journalism” people get paid for what they write – but (in most cases) they try to avoid being the story themselves. “Blogging” works best when either you are the story yourself or you are passionate about an issue and you can write about that.

I prefer attempting to make other people think a little differently about Disability and Inequality – or anything and anybody else which inspires me when I am sat in front of my computer. (They do say “a word can paint a thousand pictures”.)

What I am trying to say is – we all have our own story to tell – be it personal or corporate.  Blogging can be seen as a way of introducing people to your Company – in addition to the “About Us” page.  The trick is to try to make your blog posts read as though you are talking to them one-to-one (yes – I do know how difficult that is).  It is your time to connect with your potential Customers.  If your website is the “window” to your Company then any blogging you have on your website should be seen as the doorway to get people in.

You don’t have to use “Corporate” language – in fact – I strongly advise you to stay away from jargon and acronyms which you need a PhD level knowledge of your business to understand.  Remember – you are trying to get people interested in who you are and what you do.

Just Because You Think It – Doesn’t Mean You Should Say It!

Unless you have spent the past week or two living in a cave deep underground you will have heard about David Cameron’s amazingly bad attempt at digging himself out of the hole created by his response to accusations of dodging the payment of Tax.

You will also know about the difference in the treatment recieved by Dennis Skinner when he referred to Mr Cameron as “Dodgy Dave” and Alan Duncan when he implied (or inferred) that everybody who is not as wealthy as he is is a “low achiever” who has “no idea about the real world”.

(If you want to read about my thoughts on the subject of the two MPs please see my personal blog.)

In my last job I worked for someone who made absolutely no secret of the fact he held almost everybody he came into contact with in the utmost contempt – colleagues, suppliers, even customers.

As you can imagine – this did not make for a pleasant working environment.

Whilst there are some remarks which you legally cannot and should not make about people (racial, sexual, disability discrimination, etc) – there are some comments which you are legally free to make but are highly inadvisable.

You may not realise it but – how you speak about people (as well as how you speak to them) can have a big impact on what they and everybody else thinks about you.

So – next time you want to badmouth a customer, supplier, colleague, someone in your private life, or even, a total stranger, think about the impact your words can have on how people see you.

How We Treat Other People Shows What We Think Of Ourselves

We all know that – when you represent a Company – your treatment of your Customers and Suppliers reflects on your Company (or even just the company you work for).  If either a Customer or a Supplier is treated badly it can have a detrimental effect on the business you do with them (maybe even to the point of them deciding never to deal with your Company ever again – or worse – discouraging other companies from ever doing business with you based on how you treat them).

It is surprising, therefore, how many people don’t seem to realise that how they treat other people (even in their “private” lives) can leave a rather unpleasant sensation in the mind.

In Say Unto Others What You Would Like To Be Said Unto Yourself (Or – Why Your Mouth Is Your Most Dangerous Weapon) I discuss the link between criticism and bullying – as well as why I think that how you treat other people is a reflection on your levels of self-respect.

Let’s face it – if you respect yourself you are hardly likely to try to drag everybody down to make yourself feel “bigger” or better, are you?

I am becoming more and more convinced we need “Self-Respect” lessons in schools.

Now You See It – Or Do You??? (Or – An Attempt At A Taster Of My Sight) – Taken from www.inkyworld.co.uk

Every so often I decide to try to give you a taster of what life is like with a sight problem.  Most of the time I use the medium of words for this attempt – which even I hve difficulties with sometimes – so now I decided to try something a little different.  See what you think of this.

I have written before about some of the difficulties I have which may not be immediately obvious.  I have even put some photos on my blog posts in an attempt to show you some of them.

Anyway – this morning I was standing in my hallway looking out of my “crinkle cut” window (it reminds me of “McCoys Crinkle Cut Crisps” whenever I look out of it) and it gave me a brilliant idea for a puzzle for you to try to solve.

I want you to ignore the crinkle cut glass in the photos (I couldn’t be bothered attempting to get the camera as out-of-focus as it would have needed to be in order to take the photo properly for the desired effect – so I cheated by using the window) and tell me what you can see in the two photos below;

(In order for this to work properly you have to imagine the glass in flat – do not alter anything else in the photo.)

Your job is to work out what is in the photos.  I am not talking about the house – that would be far too easy – concentrate on the bit before the house.

In fact – looking at both photos you have still got it a lot easier than I would have if I was looking at it without my glasses on.  There are too many definite edges for the second one to really be as difficult as I thought it would be.  You may have a bit more difficulty with the second photo.

Ignoring my front garden (the only truly blurred bit on both photos) what can you see?  As in – can you see anything which might pose any kind of danger???

If your answer is “Yes you idiot – I can see a car on each photograph” give yourself a round of applause.  (I admit I was also hoping the lighter car would not have the sun on it so it would look slightly more blurred into the scenery.)

Good luck with attempting to work out which way the cars are travelling.

Of course – you may be able to see some other hazards in those photos which are not usually so obvious to those of you with 20/20 vision.  One of them is a hazard I face even with my glasses on my nose.

Have a look at the grey stuff nearest the house on the other side of the photo.  Does it look like it is on one level in both photos???  Or does it look more like there could be a difference in height in one photo???

The photo with the white car in it has got slightly more definition in it – this tells me that there is a kerb and a pavement .  The one with the red car in it looks more like the “pancake-flat” surface I am used to seeing when I encounter shallow steps or staircases.  In my world – for “shallow” please read “flat floor”.

(I am not joking when I say that I feel like walking around with a can of bright yellow paint so I can paint the edges of kerbs and steps, etc.)

This next photo is a bit more realistic – even though I did cheat slightly.  If I had taken it from the angle I originally wanted to use you would have been able to see the answer immediately.

Your puzzle is – can I get to the building on the other side of the darkest fence without having to attempt to climb over it??? Or is that fence blocking my way???

(A clue – If I had taken the photo from the angle I originally wanted my question would not have been about the fence.  It would have been about the distance between the fence and the van some idiot had parked behind it.)

I will leave you with another puzzle.  Even I know you will find these photos as frustrating as I did – you don’t need to have seriously bad sight to have a problem with this poster.

Have Arriva decided to allow their passengers to participate in darts or archery whilst the bus is moving???  Or am I supposed to realise there is some useful information on that poster???  Just looks like Target Practice to me!!!

Nope – Still can’t see it.  Now the sun is obscuring half of it anyway.

Apparently Arriva would like to inform their passengers of changes to the fares in Leicester and the surrounding area.  Good job I have got a Disabled bus pass because I would need to almost have my nose touching that poster in order to be able to read any further information on it.  And that is with my glasses on my nose.

I know that this blog post only gives you a very small taste of some of the difficulties I face on a day to day basis.

I hope to give you a bit more of an insight in future.

Transferable Skills (Or – When Seemingly Unconnected Experiences Can Prove Useful)

There is a lot of fuss made about “Transferable Skills” – especially when it comes to applying for jobs.  What about “Transferable Skills” which – at first sight – appear to be anything but “Transferable” never mind actually being considered to be a “Skill”???

I suppose – what I am trying to ask is what about things which are second nature to one person but have no immediate connection with another group of people who they are trying to talk to about something???

A couple of nights ago I had that exact experience when /i found myself in the middle of a rather heated discussion on Twitter.

It can be quite frustrating when my life experiences are deemed to not to be very useful when it comes to understanding certain situations.  (I am not even talking about the interview question about “adaptability” either.)

In one of my recent blog posts on Inkyworld I explained why I felt I could speak (or should that read “Tweet”) intelligently on a subject which I have no personal experience of – merely based on my experiences of being in a similar situation even though the circumstances were – on the face of it – totally different.

You can read the blog post here – Why Dinosaurs Are Not As Extinct As You Thought We Were

I was actually very surprised when someone else decided to share my blog post on their Facebook page – as well as picking up on one major thought I had stated in it.

I know that there are some instances when people who have no practical experiences of certain jobs should just sit quietly whilst those with the relevant experience argue about the jobs among themselves.  However, sometimes it is a good thing when someone like me comes along and puts a slightly different twist on the discussion.

So – maybe next time you will listen when someone with a “sideways” idea about the topic under discussion speaks up.  After all, whilst their experience may not immediately appear relevant, they may have the solution you are looking for without you realising it.

I remember a Wise Owl telling me that there was no way I could have the same experiences as them – what the Wise Owl didn’t realise was – although they were correct in one sense – it didn’t stop them asking me for advice on the situation they found themself in because I did have experience of it from the other side.

It is not only “Skils” which should be seen as “Transferable” – it is also “Life Experiences”.  If you ask me – “Life Experiences” beat paper qualifications anyway.

Language Difficulties Around Disability (Or – Why You May Have To Choose Your Words Carefully)

There is a term which I find frustratingly ambiguous when it is applied to Disabled People.  It used to be one of those “Politically Correct” terms which were used to disguise the difficulties the “able-bodied” members of society had in facing up to having Disabled people in their surroundings.  Would someone please explain to me exactly how “Differently Abled” is supposed to cover Disability adequately???

I would classify myself as “Differently Abled” as a result of being able to speak and understand the Dutch language, being able to write eloquently on a wide variety of subjects, being able to cook my favourite dish of “nasi goreng” (an Indonesian rice dish), etc.  Having lousy eyesight is definitely not something which I feel falls under the classification of “Differently Abled” – in fact – it is what renders me Disabled (more in certain situations than others).

But what really upsets me is the thoughtless words, phrases and terms which some people use without reaiising the offence they cause me merely by doing so.

“If you can’t see that you must be blind”.

“Should hae gone to Specsavers” (nice idea – apart from the fact they don’t deal with my prescription – or any prescription anywhere near it).

and my particular favourite;

“Everybody else can do…. so why can’t you???”

And that is before ou get round to the nasty habit some people have of misappropriating terms for (sometimes seriously debilitating) conditions such as Mental Health problems, or other physical difficulties.

After all, how many times have you heard someone talk about another person being “OCD about their record collection”, etc???

On the flip side to that – I have one particular friend who admitted that – on finding out about my sight problem – they ended up “self-censoring” in order not to cause me any offence.

This means “Do you see what I mean?” turned into “Do you understand where I am coming from?”.

Sometimes I wonder how I am supposed to react when someone says “its like the Blind leading the blind”.  Am I supposed to take major offence or am I allowed to laugh it off.  Most of the time I will come up with my own version “its like the Blind leading the Seriously Shortsighted”.

Seriously – the best way around language and Disability is to let the Disabled person take the lead and follow them.

Of course there are terms I would use to describe myself which I would be seriously offended if anyone used them to describe me – unless they knew me very well.  One of my favourites (which has appeared on “Inkyworld” occassionally) is – a Member of the “Bat Brigade (Blind as a)”.

Most of all – listen to the Disabled person and allow them to educate you about their limitations and what you can do to make their life easier.  We are an open lot and we like educating those of you who are willing to learn (at least I know I am).

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