I wasn’t convinced about purchasing a Smart Speaker for a long time, but I have changed my mind. It has proved to be a very useful piece of technology to me. I have limited use of my arms and hands, so it is good to have a way to access more things, such as the radio and phone. I also really enjoy listening to audiobooks, and a smart speaker is very convenient in this regard.
I have the Amazon Alexa, it wasn’t very expensive and was easy to set up. I do have some concerns about privacy, but I have changed a number of settings and turned off certain features in order to reduce the danger. Weighing up the benefits and problems, I find that it has been a good purchase.
This post is about getting access to a dentist. If you suffer from a neuromuscular condition and have trouble getting to a dentist, it is possible to see one in the community. After I had a traumatic experience at the dentist, I did not go again for a long time, around 10 years all told. My family and I were not given information about the community dentist so I wanted to make sure that people know that the service is available from the NHS.
Over the years, we did ask a number of times about what to do with regard to accessing a dentist but we had limited response from health professionals that dealt with me. With hindsight it is easy to say that we should have pushed harder to find out what we could have done, but as often happens as a disabled person you can be made to feel like you are demanding too much or do not want to make a fuss. As I am reliant on other people to brush my teeth, it was worrying not being seen by a dentist to monitor my hygiene.
It is possible to go to a specialist dental hospital where people in wheelchairs can be accommodated, but in my case it was simply a house call. A dentist and an assistant came in, checked my teeth and were finished in about 15 minutes. They prescribed a stronger toothpaste for me to use to make sure my teeth remain in good health. I feel that I should have been seen sooner and had this information sooner but I felt forgotten by the dentist I used to see.
This years Games in Birmingham has been very positive for disability and para-sports. The event has again integrated para-sports into the competition and tallied the medals into a single table. It makes history as the largest para-sports programme with most number of para-sports medals up for grabs. This is a great step for raising the profile of para-athletics and demonstrates that disabled athletes are just as significant in competition. This Games has a record 42 para events, including powerlifting and 3X3 basketball, up significantly from previous meets which displays the growth and acceptance of disability sport.
The added exposure of showing disabled athletes competing is a positive for disability in society more generally. It has been pleasant to see disabled athletes performing alongside fellow able-bodied competitors in front of full stadiums and bigger crowds, rather than a separate competition, giving a more inclusive feel. Integrating the events has felt completely natural and has provided excellent stories such as that of Micky Yule. Hopefully, the positivity created by the Games will continue to drive change and highlight disability on a global scale.
The Paralympics is on again and I have enjoyed watching the games so far. The Paralympics is an excellent platform that really shows off the incredible capabilities of people with disabilities. The athletes display an endeavour and strength that doesn’t fail to be inspirational to me as a disabled person, and I find it brilliant. Being able to watch so many people with such a diverse set of disabilities gives others a chance to see themselves within the games and say “that could be me” or make them want to try something new. It is a positive story about inclusion and how disability should be seen, not as a problem or a hindrance but as something to be made visible and celebrated. The games demonstrate that having a disability does not limit a person’s ability to achieve and strive, even if it may present additional challenges in their daily lives.
Despite all the great things that the Paralympics brings such as exposure, however, disabled people are still too often forgotten about or mistreated in society, or seen as second-class citizens, which has been highlighted further during the Covid pandemic. The Paralympics acts as an excellent reminder and a big positive for disability but it should not be the only thing that creates a discussion. It should not be the one time every four years that there is a focus on disability awareness, advocacy, and social change. Governments have to be the ones to act to reduce discrimination or increase funding, for example.
There are many different events but some of my favourites have been the wheelchair rugby, boccia, archery and swimming. Watching swimmers with physical difficulties in the S10 category such as no limbs going so quickly is nothing short of remarkable in my eyes, and boccia allows competitors with a range of abilities to all compete using different equipment so is also fantastic. Team GB have won numerous medals across many sports so far (80 and counting) and there have been some truly great moments for me. GB became the first ever European team to win gold in the wheelchair rugby, Hannah Cockroft won the T34 100m with a new world record, and Lee Pearson won yet another Equestrian medal, to name but a few. Additionally, I hope that David Smith will be able to win in his gold-medal Boccia match to become the most decorated British player tomorrow.