Tag Archives: Visually Impaired

The Killers on stage, Source Wikipedia

The Killers Live at the RDS in Dublin – Accessibility Review

My boyfriend and I went to see The Killers with special guests Franz Ferdinand in the RDS Dublin last week. Both are fantastic live bands and the crowd got almost 4 hours of amazing live performance. We bought the tickets last winter and when I realised it was going to be an open air concert, I envisaged myself getting drenched. Fortunately the weather was fantastic 24°C, a heatwave as far as Irish summers go. This post is more about my experience attending the concert as a fan with vision impairment.  For a music review have a read of this excellent Hot Press article.

 

We got the DART to Sandymount where the crowd was directed out of the station by security staff. We used our canes and followed people to the venue. The RDS is a massive complex. I had been in the main arena for a graduate fair before, but never in the open air area. We are still able to see the security people in their high vis jackets, so we asked the first staff member we saw for assistance. A lady called Emma looked at our tickets and brought us to the right gate. We had to walk around the outside wall for over 10 minutes,, which is no problem but would have been difficult without assistance due to the crowds and the fact that we are unable to read the signs.We were allowed to skip the queue where the bags were searched. Emma told us about some of the concerts she gets to see and showed us a place near the back where we could stand.

 

We arrived early to hear Franz Ferdinand.  I know some of their songs and they are a great live band. We put our canes away and went a bit further into the crowd. People will probably not notice them anyway when it is packed and dancing along to the music with a cane looks a bit silly, unless you are trying to use it as a limbo stick. During the break we asked another staff member to guide us to the toilets. We walked to the main arena, thus avoiding the massive que outside the provided WC containers. Again, it would have been hard to find our way there and back without help.

 

“Somebody Told Me” live at RDS Dublin on YouTube

The Killers came on stage around 9. We stood somewhere in the middle and for the majority of the concert it was not too packed. We couldn’t really see anything on stage or the big screen, but a good band for me is mainly about the music. Some of the green light effects when it got dark were cool. The Journal .ie reported the next day, people found the concert really loud. I try to avoid loud noise and I´m one of the first people to put tissue in my ear at concerts, but I didn’t find it loud at all. On the contrary, I couldn´t understand some of the announcements.

 

Irish Fan Danny playing drums on YouTube

 

The concert was brilliant. I love the band’s first 2 albums “Hot Fuzss” and ´”Sam´s” town. Some of their later stuff is still good, but I feel they got a bit too electronic and poppy for my taste in the last years. Live however, even their newer songs I don ´t know that well sounded great. They played more guitar and drumm riffs. Brandon Flowers´ voice is very distinctive and he is a fantastic live-performer who gets the crowd to sing along. People loved when he called a fan holding a poster saying he is a drummer up on stage to perform with the band. He was brilliant, whether the  part was pre-arranged or not.

 

We were delighted that they played many of our old favourites like „Somebody told me“ „Jenny was a friend of mine“, „Smile like you mean it“ and of course „Mr. Brightside“. It was a great experience to sing along with the rest of the crowd. It got a bit messy towards the end and especially when people were leaving. We didn’t buy the totally overpriced drinks, but by the end of the evening  my clothes were sticky with spilled drink. People were generally polite enough. One girl though had an umbrella hat and one of the spikes got entangled in my hair. That  was dangerous and I´m surprised  security let her in with that.

 

“When You Where Young” The Killers live at the RDS Dublin on YouTube

When leaving everyone got stuck in a bottle neck and I had to hold on to my boyfriend otherwise I would have been rushed along. It was much harder to find a staff member on the way out. We followed the crowd, not exactly sure which gate to go to. When we got to the gate and asked security staff for directions to the DART a guy came out of the crowd and said he was going there too and we could go with him. Turns out he works at one of my boyfriend´s previous workplaces and recognised him. Without help we would probably have missed the last train. Only in Ireland you meet someone you know at a concert with  20,000 people.

 

Fazit

Overall, we had a great time and whenever it got tricky we got help from staff members or other people. I generally find the security people at concert venues extremely helpful. But of course there will be crowds and some pushing at every concert. If you are worried about that you could try to contact the venue and ask if you can stand in the wheelchair accessible area, which is often less crowded. I have heard that some ticket providers give free tickets if you bring assistance, but I have never tried that. Here is a great article by Holly over at her blog Life of a Blind Girl on how to make concert venues more accessible for blind and visually impaired people.

 

I would definitely recommend going to  The Killers concert.

 

Has anyone else been there and what are your experiences with the accessibility of concert venues? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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Clothes Shopping with a Personal Shopper

I’m not exactly a fashion enthusiast. I obviously want to look well and feel good about myself, but easy maintenance and practicality always come before style. When I moved to Ireland, I could no longer bring my mum a bag full of ironing every weekend. She gave me a precise list specifying which items could be washed together and at what temperature they had to be ironed and suddenly I was on my own. I gave up the good intentions of separating and ironing my laundry in the second week, colour absorbing tissues had to do the job and all the blouses and skirts, which definitely had to be ironed where banished back into the suitcase. Jeans, T-shirts and jumpers became my best friends.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I wanted to bring a bit of variety and colour into my wardrobe this season. Shopping in general, whether it’s for food, household stuff or clothes, does not rank high on my list of favourite activities. I can think of tonnes of things that are more fun than wondering aimlessly around a gigantic shopping centre, full of stressed people hunting for the latest bargains.

 

I n a leather skirt, black tights and a dark top with flower patterns.

Being visually impaired doesn’t make it easier. I have to take every item out of the shelf and hold it really close to my face or even use a magnifier to see what it is. Apart from people staring at me, this is very slow and frustrating. Initially, I was ashamed to ask for help and bought whatever I could identify. I ended up with rather random stuff in my trolley and if I was really unlucky I got meat pizza instead of the vegetarian version. After a while, I overcame my pride somewhat and now I get the shop assistants to help me. Most of them are very friendly, but in places like ALDI it can be hard to find someone. More upmarket places like Tesco do home delivery.

I enjoy clothes shopping with my mum. We are having great fun laughing about some of the more ridiculous fashion trends and I know she is honest when something doesn’t suit me, sometimes even too honest. But my mum is also the conventional Jeans-type, so I ended up buying similar clothes twice a year when I was home in Germany.

I have seen personal shoppers on TV, transforming slightly uncomfortable looking participants into completely new people with the help of high-maintenance haircuts, lots of make-up and pretty clothes nobody would wear in everyday life. But my boyfriend had used it before and was very happy with the service and encouraged me to give it a go. In fact, he made the appointment in the biggest New Look store in Dublin, otherwise I would probably still be talking about doing it soon.

I was very nervous and self-conscious in the beginning. I showed the lady who helped me some pictures of clothes I liked from the New Look website and half expected her to shake her head in despair saying these styles don’t suit me. Of course she didn’t. I managed to say that I want to wear something more adventurous and elegant than jeans and off we went through the fashion labyrinth. I took whatever she suggested. No harm in trying I thought. While I liked some pieces at first sight, I would have never even thought of trying a leather skirt for example. Surprisingly, it looked really good and I bought it. It’s one of my favourite skirts now and it doesn’t have to be ironed.

I had a whole changing area to myself and actually really enjoyed this shopping trip. We had a great chat about what colours and styles go together and it almost felt like a shopping trip with a friend. I realised that I had been too hard on myself when it comes to what goes with what. I’m a perfectionist, but as my granny says: “Nowadays almost everything goes together”. The challenge with skirts and dresses is to find matching shoes I can walk in, but we managed to find a pair with relatively small heels and like everything else it’s all about practice.

Since I don’t want to go shopping anytime again soon, I bought lots of stuff. That way you can make sure every top goes with every skirt, instead of buying single pieces, only to discover that you have nothing to go with it once you get home. I would definitely recommend availing of personal shoppers for everyone, visually impaired or not. It’s fun, efficient and full of surprises. A new style can make a huge difference and I got only positive feedback from my friends. The shop assistance are passionate about fashion and helping customers is a welcome break from stocking shelves or standing at the till to them. I’ll definitely be back in the winter season.

Galway 2020: Tina Paulick –Germany

This post was first published as part of the New Tribes Series in the Galway2020 blog. Galway is bidding to become the European Capital of Culture 2020 and with only a few weeks left until the judges make their final decision, I want to share this again. I volunteer for the Galway2020 initiative and the Galway2020 team is very open to suggestions. They made me feel welcome and try to find volunteer roles I’m able to do and enjoy. Sometimes people with a disability are, often unintentionally, excluded from participating in and contributing to mainstream cultural projects. In fact, their voices are seldom heard outside disability related contexts. For me this wasn’t the case in the Galway2020 campaign. Thanks for letting me be part of it. I hope we win!

I like the concept of Europe, because theoretically, it means I can be German and Irish at the same time.

I wearing the Galway2020 shirt at the docks.

My Origins

I’m from Germany and I came to Galway as an ERASMUS student while studying English at the University of Leipzig. My degree focused mainly on Britain, but I wanted to go somewhere different and Galway was advertised as a small seaside town, so I picked it without knowing much about it.

I’m legally blind and there aren’t that many students with a disability who go abroad. I had to organise some things in advance, but it was definitely worth it, because I became more self-confident and independent. I’d recommend living in another country to anyone, but I’d especially encourage students with a disability to give it a go. During my first week in town, I did a walking tour and the guide said, ‘Some people call Galway the graveyard of ambitions, because once you move here, you can’t or won’t leave again’. I’m now doing an M.A. in Irish Studies at NUIG, so I agree with the part about not wanting to leave, but I don’t think Galway is a graveyard of ambitions. It’s very much alive and I can imagine living and working here for a while longer.

My Irish friends are always amazed that I don’t greet everyone I hear speaking German on the street, which is what most of them would do. To be honest, I didn’t really go looking for other Germans; I wanted to meet people from different countries. However, I met some lovely Germans over here, mostly ERASMUS students and people connected to the German Department in NUIG. Native speakers of English are said to be unwilling to learn another language, but I know lots of people here who learn German or at least have some phrases. There’s a German conversation group meeting every other Tuesday in the Bierhaus, if anyone wants to catch up on their German. Living abroad definitely made me look at my home country and culture in a different way.

Being at Home

If you go out and do things, it’s very easy to meet people and to get involved with community groups and projects. In the beginning, college clubs and societies helped me a lot. Especially when you’re new somewhere and know nobody, you’re more prepared to try new things.

I joined the Galway Visually Impaired Activity Club. Every other Sunday, we go cycling on tandem bikes, with a sighted pilot in the front and a visually impaired person in the back. It’s a great way to get to know different people and it doesn’t matter whether you have a disability or not. Once or twice a year, we go on weekend trips and I already got to see a good bit of Ireland by bike. We also participate in charity cycles. The longest one I did was 100km, but our Sunday spins are shorter and we try to cater for all ages and abilities.

Last year, I helped organising a cycle from Berlin to Prague for the club and I hope to do the Cycle Against Suicide next year. I also volunteer with the NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland), advising people on how to use their smart phones with the built-in accessibility features.

I’d love Galway to become more accessible to people with disabilities; more pedestrian crossings and acoustic lights, wheelchair accessible businesses and bigger street signs with contrasts.

There’s always something going on in Galway; festivals, good live music in pubs, charity events, and Connemara is ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities. I bring my Jack Russell terrier, Mixer, who I got from the GSPCA for a walk on the prom every day. It’s a great place to meet other doggie-people. I got so used to having the sea right outside my doorstep that I start missing it when I’m gone for more than a week.

When I first came here, I tried to listen to a conversation on the bus from Dublin airport and thought my English was really bad, because I couldn’t understand anything. It took me a while to realise that they spoke Irish. I’ve learned a few phrases from friends and Duolingo. People are delighted that I try, even when I get it wrong. I hope to do a spoken Irish course next year. I went to a few events in Irish and even though I didn’t understand most of it, it was fun.

Because of my visual impairment, I often have to ask for directions. People here are very nice, sometimes even a bit too helpful, when they want to help me cross a road which I don’t want to cross at all or try to lift me into a bus. But they mean well and sometimes, I have great conversations with total strangers.

Accessibility

I’d love Galway to become more accessible to people with disabilities; more pedestrian crossings and acoustic lights, wheelchair accessible businesses and bigger street signs with contrasts, to name only a few things. I recently wrote a blog post on how giving each bus stop an individual name and announcements on busses would improve Galway’s public transport system, not only to visually impaired users but also to visitors.

What it Means to be European

I like the concept of Europe, because theoretically, it means I can be German and Irish at the same time. It would be great if Europeans didn’t need to decide a citizen of which country they want to be, but I suppose that wouldn’t work for legal reasons. I find applying for anything in Ireland rather cumbersome. It’s all so bureaucratic. If you have documents in a language other than English, you have a real hard time. But I suppose that’s the same in every country. It would be great if it became easier to resettle within Europe, especially when it comes to insurance and state benefits.

First published: www.galway2020.ie