A fellow blogger with a disability, only one quite different to my own.
Following Kirsty and her blog Unseen Beauty has made me consider access in a new way. Bad of me really but being a wheeler means you focus and fight for the things you require. Step free access etc. Reading accessibility from Kirsty’s point of view made me consider a whole load of things, including the accessibility of my own blog!
Queue jumping is definitely a perk we share Kirsty!
Chocolate is most definitely a food! Cheese and chocolate… now there’s a combination.
As for question 16 Kirsty, you can be as political as you like, and I totally agree with you on both your options!
My Questions/Kirsty’s Answers
1. What made you decide to write a blog?
My first blog was part of my business – I noticed that a lot of people were asking me similar questions, so I wanted to put together some information to help people with their questions about English, and language learning in general.
However, there were a lot of things that I wanted to write about that didn’t fit in with my business blog. I decided to create a new home for my beauty and lifestyle posts.
I didn’t want it to be a blog about blindness, because I think that would have limited me too much. I wanted somewhere to write about the products that I’ve tried, online shopping, food, animals, an accessibility! That’s how Unseen Beauty was born.
2. What do you want your blog to achieve?
I want to create a place for conversations about things that matter to me. I want to be living proof that blogging isn’t just about compiling a bunch of Instagram-worthy images, as some people would have you believe. I want to share what I’ve learned about beauty and make-up application techniques for people like me who can’t check the results in the mirror. I want to talk about good practice in terms of accessibility, and highlight areas where there is still work to be done. I want to meet interesting people who share my interests. I want to break down some stereotypes and myths around disability. And, I want to have fun because this is my hobby too!
3. What is the most difficult thing for you about having a disability?
When it comes to clothes, I can choose my style. I know what I like in terms of the cut, material, length, design etc. But when it comes to colours, either for my clothes or my make-up, I don’t have my own opinion about what I like. So I can get advice about what suits me and base my choices on that, but as someone who has an opinion about most things, and often a strong one, it’s frustrating not to have a preference about colours.
If I suddenly got my sight one day, I’d first have to learn what all the colours are called. But if I then looked through my lipstick collection, which ones would I naturally pick out just because I liked the look of them? Would I take a look at some of the ones I wear all the time and think “no way, why have I been wearing that?”
4. What is the biggest positive about having a disability?
One day I was at work and someone came in to fix the printer. “Wow it must be so cool being able to bring your dog to work every day!”
Having a guide dog was so much more than just bringing your dog to work every day, but for the 9 years that we worked together, I was so happy to have my golden guiding girl along to guide me. We were a good team.
Now, queue-hopping at airports is a good benefit!
Having ears that are well-trained enough to follow several conversations at once can be a good thing, but sensory overload is also a thing, and then I just want all the noise to stop for a while!
5. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Is chocolate a food? Probably not. Cheese perhaps?
6. An apocalypse is imminent, you have 30 minutes to prepare, what 3 items do you pack?
Do you pack your partner? Hmm, maybe not. Phone, coffee, and something practical…comfy shoes because we might have to run for it!
7. When making tea would you pour the milk or water in first?
So, milk doesn’t belong in tea …ever! I spent the first 18 or so years of my life thinking I didn’t like tea, just because I’d only ever tried it with milk. But if I were making it for someone else, the water goes in first.
8. What is your favourite way to relax?
Taking a long bath, with lots of bubbles and pampering products. It really helps me to be in the moment, not rushing around or thinking about 101 things that I want to do!
9. If you could interview any human, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask?
My grandparents brought me up, but they aren’t around any more. If I could, I’d just have a chat with Nan or Grandad again and ask them to tell me something about their lives. They had plenty of good stories, especially my Nan.
10. What would be your dream job?
Chocolate taster? The person who gets to decide what goes in the beauty advent calendars and tests out a tonne of products first to make sure only the best go in? Failing that, I like the job I have – working with languages and seeing people become more confident about speaking English.
11. You’ve just won 10 million pounds (congratulations!), what 3 things would you do with the money?
1. Open up a dog sanctuary, which I would run myself. We would have lots of golden retrievers and I’d work with them individually. There would be a special place for older dogs that can’t find homes.
2. A trip with my partner to do the dog sledding mentioned in question 12.
3. Set up a riding academy for blind people who want to learn about horse-riding. It gave me so much joy as a teenager, but the provision of challenging riding experiences for blind people is patchy at best, with many stables being so cautious that the sense of accomplishment or fun is lost. I loved jumping, and exploring the countryside with my friends.
12. Where in the world would you most like to visit and why?
The north of Sweden to go dog sledding. I looked into it when we were in Stockholm last year, but it was too far away and we didn’t have time. I imagine that would be such an amazing experience.
13. What one thing would you change about yourself?
The annoying habit of biting around my finger nails when I’m stressed out, tired, or bored!
14. If you could play any part in a film, past or future, real or fiction, who would you be?
Elisabeth from Pride and Prejudice – she had some good lines and I like her no-nonsense attitude!
Failing that, Hermione Granger because I really related to her character in the books (I haven’t seen the films yet). She had to #work harder than some of the other people at Hogwarts because she hadn’t grown up in a world with magic, but she knew that knowledge opens doors, and soon she had people asking her for help because she’d worked hard and learned.
As the only blind girl in a mainstream school, and for the record I wouldn’t have had it any other way, there were times when I did have to try that extra bit harder. But like Hermione, I was always the one with my nose in a book, and although I needed to ask for help sometimes, my sighted classmates came to me for help as well, especially in my favourite subjects – languages!
15. If there was a pill that would freeze you at your current age and you could live forever as you are now, would you take it? And why?
No. I wouldn’t want to be left behind when all the people I know and love get old and pass away.
16. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
Theresa May and cancel Brexit? Not sure if I’m allowed to be political here. Otherwise, one of the people doing the jobs listed in question 10.
17. If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’m not sure. I’d like to go to one of the winter fairs that were held when the Thames froze over!
18. If you were made Queen and allowed to pass one new law, what would it be, and why?
Tougher penalties for large companies who don’t care about online accessibility, and incentives to encourage companies to take it seriously! It’s so frustrating to find out that a website has been updated and become unusable because someone didn’t bother to consider the implications the changes would have for people with accessibility requirements.
19. What personal trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
My directness and brutal honesty. A teacher even mentioned it in my year 7 school report. It’s not always a bad thing – sometimes people like it when I say the things that other people are only thinking, but it does get me into trouble too!
20. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A teacher. I was always the teacher in childhood games. I gave up on the idea because I thought that to be a teacher, you have to work in a school with children. So I went off and did other things, but I got there in the end! Now I run my own business and teach adults.
Thank you Kirsty for a brilliant interview, it’s great getting to know you better. I think us two could get along quite well!
How do you drink your tea Kirsty? Regular tea or herbal?
I hope you get to go dog sledding soon!
If you want to read more from Kirsty (I highly encourage you to) then you can check out both her blogs –
Kirsty is also on Twitter
And has an Unseen Beauty podcast