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Archives for February 2007

Blind news...

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Crippled Monkey | 16:25 UK time, Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Could these be two of the most unlikely post-holders we've heard of on Ouch for a while - a blind hairdresser and a blind flight instructor?

According to the Toronto Sun, hairdresser Delia Martins Dorego may have lost her sight when her retinas detached while at work one day, but she didn't lose her touch. Check out this interview with Delia - which was carried out as she applied bleach to a customer's hair.

Meanwhile, is reporting the similar, although maybe slightly more high-flying, story of Barry Hulon Hyde, who lost his sight in a plane crash nine years ago. Now 35, ex-pilot Barry is the first blind student to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, hoping one day to become a professor and teach others to fly safely. According to his professor, he's the 'best student I have'. Read more.

Got any weird job-related news? Let us know in the comments below.

Getting in Shape for theatre

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Vaughan | 19:35 UK time, Wednesday, 21 February 2007

A couple of new things to tell you about being organised by Shape, the arts organisation for deaf and disabled people.

The first is a series of Deaf Theatre Masterclasses taking place throughout March. They're essential to develop the skills and talents of budding deaf performers - and best of all, they're free to attend! The masterclasses will feature Jenny Sealey, the Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company, with guest tutoring from deaf stand-up comedian Steve Day. If this sounds like your sort of thing, better hurry up and apply, because the closing date for applications is Wednesday 28 February - you can download the application form on the Shape website.

You should also check out Shape's site to find out more about the Link Up programme, which is a three year advice, guidance and mentoring programme for deaf and disabled Londoners interested in the Arts and Creative Industries. In particular, Shape are currently looking for experienced artists (whether actors, writers or performers) to take part in the programme's mentoring scheme for emerging artists. Again, if this sounds like something you'd like to get involved in, find out more on Shape's web pages.

Snap is back!

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Vaughan | 17:56 UK time, Wednesday, 21 February 2007

For the fifth year running, Mencap is running Snap!, its annual photo and story competition. Once again, they're looking for entries from people of all ages with a learning disability, as well as their friends and families. There are plenty of great prizes up for grabs, plus the chance for the winners to have their photos put on display at London's Victoria & Albert Museum over the summer. The closing date is 12 March 2007, so get on over to the competition website and get snapping!

Disability day on Radio 4

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Emma Emma | 12:15 UK time, Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Well now, Radio 4 really has come up trumps today when it comes to programmes of interest to disabled people. In fact, you'd swear that Tuesday 20 February was disability day or something.

At 9.00am we had No Triumph No Tragedy with Peter White. He spoke to Ouch's very own Emma Bowler about her decision to have children as a person with a genetic disability. You can listen here for the next seven days, and the programme is repeated again at 9.30pm tonight. Don't forget, that you can also hear Peter White tonight at 8.40pm on In Touch, the programme of particular interest to blind and visually impaired people.

Then, at 9.30am, Graham Easton discusses problems with balance in Extra Senses, also available to listen to for the next seven days. We will post the link when available.

Finally, Radio 4's Book of the Week is Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet, who has Savant Syndrome, a rare form of Asperger's.

Disability inventions poll

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Crippled Monkey | 11:43 UK time, Friday, 16 February 2007

2007 marks the 70th anniversary of the fold-up wheelchair - an invention that has revolutionised the lives of many people with impairments - and to celebrate, BBC Radio 4's You and Yours is asking listeners to nominate the inventions they think have had the greatest impact on the lives of disabled people.

Nominations will be put to a panel of experts in disability and design who will draw up a shortlist of the inventions that they feel have been the most significant. Each invention on the shortlist will be featured on You and Yours, and listeners will then have the opportunity to vote for their top invention.

So get on over to the programme's website and get nominating using the form provided.

David Tennant in <i>Recovery</i>

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Crippled Monkey | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 16 February 2007

In recent months, Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond has been much in the news for making a miraculous recovery from a serious brain injury following his high-speed crash as part of the programme. But a forthcoming BBC drama showing next weekend aims to show that, in many cases, people who receive brain injuries are often changed forever.

Recovery, broadcast on Sunday 25 February at 9.00pm on BBC One, stars current Doctor Who David Tennant and Sarah Parish as Alan and Tricia Hamilton, who lead a happy if unremarkable life until the day when Alan gets hit by a lorry. When he comes round from a coma he has lost his inhibitions, his short-term memory and his emotional core.

As ever, we'll be interested to hear Ouch readers' opinions on this one, so mark it in your TV guides.

A grave parking situation

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Crippled Monkey | 11:10 UK time, Friday, 16 February 2007

Crippled Monkey's esteemed blogging colleague Lady Bracknell tracked down an extraordinary story from Denver, Colorado. It seems that over there, an investigation by a local TV station has discovered that many of the disabled parking spaces located outside local homes are in fact assigned to people who have passed away. Decased. Dead. Thus, they no longer need the parking spaces (well, obviously) but their relatives have somehow 'forgotten' to declare the family member's, er, no-longer-living status.

Well, that's one way to secure yourself a disabled parking bay for eternity, I guess.

<i>Up All Night</i> - mental health special

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Crippled Monkey | 15:35 UK time, Thursday, 15 February 2007

Tonight's Up All Night on Radio 5 Live is a four hour special concentrating on mental health. From 1.00am until 5.00am, they'll be covering as many aspects of mental health as possible, including:

• Finding out what's in the Mental Health Bill currently going through the House of Lords;
• Speaking to people who self harm, have drug induced problems, who are depressed or who have schizophrenia;
• Interviewing carers, psychaitrists and doctors from the UK and abroad.

There will also be a phone-in where listeners can put questions to their studio guests - a clinical psychologist and the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

There's a number of ways to tune in:

• 909 and 693 Medium Wave;
• DAB Digital Radio;
• Freeview - channel 705;
• Satellite - channel 0105;
• NTL - channel 863;
• Telewest - channel 905.

And in case you can't stay up all night to catch it, you can listen again for the next week on the Up All Night website.

War veterans become Paralympians?

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Crippled Monkey | 14:42 UK time, Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Considering that I, even as a Crippled Monkey, have managed to successfully avoid any attempts at getting me involved in disability sport, I'm a bit uncertain what to make of the news that disabled Britiah veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being specifically recruited by Olympic coaches in an attempt to increase the nation's medal haul at the 2012 Paralympic Games, which is of course will be taking place in London.

The plan, such as it is, is to retrain soldiers returning from the battlefield with disabling injuries in various Paralympic sports. It's based on a scheme first tried out in the US, and there's a potential 7,000 service personnel who are thought to have been injured in the Iraq conflict alone. Potential medallists will be 'spotted' by the British Paralympic Association from those servicemen and women who have lost limbs in bomb blasts, been paralysed or blinded.

Of course, it's not all about medals, medals, medals. Oh no, perish the thought. This scheme has also been started "as a means of preventing injured and disabled soldiers from becoming socially excluded".

I don't know, Ouchers. Maybe it's just me, but something about this whole thing makes me feel rather uncomfortable. Sure, let's promote disability sport to newly-disabled people, whether they're ex-soldiers or not, in an attempt to get them involved. It's just that this seems rather like a press-gang form of recruitment. What do you think?

• You can read another viewpoint on this story from Christina Patterson, writing in Friday's edition of The Independent: A lesson in how to add insult to injury.

Launch of The Disability Agenda

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Vaughan | 14:26 UK time, Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The Disability Rights Commission today (Wednesday) launched The Disability Agenda, which sets out what the DRC believes are the major public policy challenges for the coming decade in respect of disabled people and their families, and the action required to meet them. They outline ten priorities for reform: promoting a culture of equality and human rights; bringing an end to child poverty (an issue which has already come to the fore today following the news that a UNICEF report has placed the UK at the bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries); increasing life chances through learning and skills; ending poverty and widening employment opportunity; increasing participation in public, civic and community life; developing a social care system fit for the future; tackling health inequalities; meeting the future housing challenge in England and Wales; meeting the future housing challenge in Scotland; and building stronger, safer communities.

You can check out the whole Disability Agenda for yourself on the official website.

• Related link: The 14 February edition of Radio 4's You and Yours discussed The Disability Agenda, with Disability Affairs reporter Carolyn Atkinson attending the launch. Listen to the full report here.

Gadget for gamers

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Crippled Monkey | 14:14 UK time, Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Here on Ouch, we know from previous articles we have published on Switch gaming and accessible gaming that there are some keen disabled gaming folk out there. So you might be interested in knowing about an impressive new gadget that allows people with very limited movement, such as those with quadriplegia, access to computer games. It uses something called an Alternative Computer Control System - or ACCS, for short - which is placed into the player's mouth, and thus offers a high level of precision positioning and a low response time. Players control the game using their tongue, with the ability to store quite a number of commands. Ingenious, eh?

In My Language

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Vaughan | 10:02 UK time, Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Take a scoot round the famous video-sharing site YouTube and you'll find a wealth of stuff, including many videos on disability-related themes. Take In My Language, for instance, which was pointed out to us in this thread on Ouch's messagboard.

Most of silentmiaow's videos are about "autistic liberation and disability rights". The eight and a half minutes of In My Language are perhaps best left up to silentmiaow's own description:

"The first part is in my 'native language', and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not."

It makes for interesting viewing, and it's caused mixed reactions on the Ouch messageboard thread. What do you think? Plus, if you've seen anything out there on the wonderful world of YouTube that you think we should know about, tell us by email or leave a message in the comments.

Dating sites not such a hot date

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Crippled Monkey | 14:18 UK time, Monday, 12 February 2007

Valentine's Day is just around the corner (more's the pity), and here on Ouch we've not only got our own Disability Bitch (she's scary!) giving us her Anti-Valentine Quiz, but also Tom Shakespeare writing about looking for love on the personal ads pages. Thing is, if the latest report from the technology folks over at AbilityNet is anything to go by, disabled people will be lucky to find love online, because the top dating websites are inaccessible.

Worse still, if dating websites that are aimed specifically at disabled people are the kind of thing that, er, float your boat, you're not in for much luck either. Shockingly, of the four they tested, only one - - gained a minimum three star accessibility rating.

It all makes for interesting, if disappointing, reading. Check out the full report on AbilityNet's site. As for Monkey - well, if dating sites are really that inaccessible, I guess I'll have to go back to putting my "looking for lurve" ads in the newsagent's window. Sigh.

Meet the Crippendales!

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Vaughan | 11:51 UK time, Monday, 12 February 2007

Lee Kemp is a disabled bloke who was recently voted one of the Sexiest Men in Yorkshire, and now he's planning to put together the UK's first disabled strip group - called The Crippendales, of course.

You can see a documentary about Lee as oart of Disability As You've Never Seen It Before, a day of film and disability presentations on Thursday 29 March at The Courtyard in Hereford. It's part of the Borderlines Film Festival - known as "Britain's biggest little film festival" - which runs in various rural venues from Friday 23 March to Sunday 1 April.

Other events during the day include an open discussion on sexuality and disability in film, which features Claire Fisher, director of the BBC THREE series Desirability, and national disabled artist Tanya Raabe, plus Paul Darke, a leading academic on disability and film, embarks on a wander through some cinematic wonders on disability, entitled From Freak to Normalised. The day concludes with a screening of Terry Gilliam's 1981 movie Time Bandits, featuring many of the Monty Python regulars and the only film ever made to feature six small actors as the principal leads.

Travelling light(er)?

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Crippled Monkey | 14:50 UK time, Friday, 9 February 2007

This week's decision by British Airways to add up to £240 to the cost of a return long-haul flight if passengers want to check in an extra bag has come under fire from consumer groups representing disabled people, as well as the elderly. Under the rules, an economy class passenger will have an allowance of 23 kilograms for luggage in the hold. That's fine. The only problem is that it all has to be in one bag. Divide your luggage between two bags - even if the total weight is well under that 23 kilo limit - and you'll be charged extra for the terrible crime of having a second bag: sixty quid one way on domestic journeys, a hundred and twenty one way on international flights. Blimey.

In a travel article in Wednesday's Guardian, Marcel Berlins carries a comment from one disabled traveller who hasn't the strength to carry a cumbersome 20 kilogram bag but who can, he says, cope with two lighter bags, thereby distributing the weight in a more balanced way (as medical professionals recommend).

But here's the real shocker:

"... the nonsensical, uncaring and unpleasant nature of the new rules can be seen in its full ingloriousness by studying the arrangements for passengers of a sporting disposition. They will be entitled to put heavy and bulky sporting equipment in the hold - for free. Golf clubs and skis are welcome, as are bicycles, scuba-diving equipment and even windsurfer sets; all of them are specified in the regulations. They, as well as the 23 kilo bag, get on board without charge. Meanwhile, an elderly or otherwise physically weak passenger with an identical ticket will pay heavily for having the cheek to need to travel with two light cases, and no sporting apparel. That small, second, eight kilo bag may cost its owner more than the flight itself."

So remember, the next time you're flying, that while your custom is valued, you may be ranked as somewhat less important than someone's set of golf clubs. Nice, eh?

Disabled pets return!

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Crippled Monkey | 13:54 UK time, Friday, 9 February 2007

For some months now, many (well, okay, not so many) Ouch readers have been emailing me, Crippled Monkey, to ask what had happened to our regular posts about the wonderful furry world of cute disabled pets, and plead for their return (well, okay, maybe not plead either). Fear no more, because they're back! Back!

Today, courtesy of The Monroe Times in the US state of Wisconsin, I bring you the heartwarming "tale of a handicapped gerbil and those who loved him". Sniff. Ooh, I'm fillin' up ...

Blind acting masterclass

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Crippled Monkey | 13:17 UK time, Friday, 9 February 2007

One of Crippled Monkey's favourite pastimes is spotting non-disabled actors talking pretentiously and in dead earnest about playing a disablified type. Like Jessica Alba, for instance. (No, I didn't have any idea who Jessica Alba was either, until the ever-informative Wikipedia helped me out with the information that she is an American actress who is "regularly listed by magazines as one of the most beautiful or sexiest women alive". Oh, that Jessica Alba!)

According to Chocolate - "the magazine that's better than sex", it says here - Jessica has been researching what it's like to be a blind violinist for her role in upcoming movie The Eye (novel title, that). She is quoted as saying: "I've been training. I wear a sleep mask and carry a cane to get around with".

I have nothing to say in response to this, for fear that it might result in me banging my head on the table. Please add your thoughts below.

Show us yer leg

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Crippled Monkey | 12:40 UK time, Friday, 9 February 2007

Sigh. Council officials. Dont'cha just love 'em? Well, no, actually. Crippled Monkey is not the biggest fan of council officials, particularly when they come in the shape and form of a certain Brian Dutton, chairman of East Hampshire District Council. When Mr Dutton discovered 62 year-old Alan Craggs parking in a disabled bay, he asked him to prove that he was disabled. Mr Craggs explained that he had muscle damage in his left leg which causes him pain and means he is unable to walk long distances, but this wasn't enough for our thorough councillor. Nope, Mr Craggs then had to make like a Freemason and roll up his trouser leg to reveal his many scars and prove his disability. Councillor Dutton has since offered Mr Craggs a written apology.

A crime against prosthetics

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Crippled Monkey | 12:35 UK time, Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Here on Ouch's blog, it's no surprise that disability is obviously the leading factor in our stories. So it's only fair, I suppose, that when the forum of the Total Motorcycle website reports on something, their main concern is the motorbike angle. As you can tell by this headline: Disabled man loses bike and fake leg to thieves. Yep, that's the bike first, the prosthetic right leg second. The story, sourced from a Malaysian newspaper, goes on to report the victim, 63 year-old Tan Seh Poon as saying: "They stole my motorcycle but why did they have to steal my 'leg' too? Now, I do not know what to do". Well, quite.

Mind you, some opportunistic thief riding a motorcycle at high speed whilst wielding a prosthetic limb has got to be quite noticeable, surely?

Too frightening for fish?

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Crippled Monkey | 12:14 UK time, Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Under the distinctly punworthy headline A Flippin' Disgrace (don't worry, all will become clear in a moment), this week's Sunday People newspaper reported on the story of Victoria Osbourne, an 18-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who, whilst on holiday with her parents in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh, visited a sealife attraction called Dolphinella. Here, the family had paid £600 for her to have a 30-minute swim with dolphins as a birthday treat.

Sadly - and unbelievably - just as Victoria was about to get into the water to do the old "communing with dolphins" bit, the marine instructor ordered her out, saying that the girl's condition would scare and upset the animals!

As a member of the animal kingdom myself, and having known a few dolphins in my time, I find this difficult to accept. Dolphins are friendly and very accepting creatures. Fear not, I shall be having a quiet word with some of them over the next few days to get their opinion on this matter.

The right place?

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Vaughan | 11:58 UK time, Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Written and directed by Kosai Sekine, Right Place is a short five and a half minute movie that has been shown at various film festivals over the past couple of years. It tells the story of a young man with OCD, for whom working in a late-night convenience store is patently not a suitable career path. Walking home in the rain after being thrown out of his job, he finally discovers the right place in life that he's been searching for ...

Wheelchair backflip!

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Crippled Monkey | 13:14 UK time, Monday, 5 February 2007

Now, Crippled Monkey would advise you to zoom straight through the text of this article - because, frankly, it's just full of the usual cobblers about "inspirational" disabled people pushing the boundaries (or even going beyond boundaries, maybe? Arf!) - and head for the video clip at the end. It shows 15-year-old US teenager Aaron Fotheringham "nailing" the world's first ever wheelchair backflip. KEWL! (as American kids probably say.)

Of course, Crippled Monkey would like to show Ouch's faithful readers my own extraordinary skills at wheelchair backflipping ... but, er, I've got a bit of a headache. Yes. A headache. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking by it.

Blue Badge spaces via satellite

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Vaughan | 11:07 UK time, Monday, 5 February 2007

If you're a car driver with a blue badge and one of those fashionable satellite navigation devices sitting stop your dashboard, you may want to check out the Collaborative Satellite Navigation PoI file database. It's a map of the UK which needs YOU to let them know about disabled parking spaces throughout the country (you can select a different map to find the location of RADAR key toilets too). In time, as more sites are added, whenever you want to go anywhere you should be able to find out where the parking spaces are - though, of course, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be empty when you get there.

The other cool feature of this service is that users of the TomTom satellite navigation system who also have internet access from their device can download updates of these databases whilst out on the road. All you need to do is to point your mobile browser at this URL.

Top Gear trouble

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Crippled Monkey | 15:51 UK time, Friday, 2 February 2007

The BBC's irreverent motoring magazine Top Gear has found itself under fire for comments made on the first programme of the new series, broadcast last Sunday, in which presenter Richard Hammond was welcomed back after his dramatic high-speed crash earlier this year and his subsequent recovery from serious head injuries:

"At the start of Sunday's show, [Jeremy] Clarkson asked Mr Hammond if he was mental, while James May offered him a tissue in case he started dribbling."

Headway, the brain injury charity, has been leading the criticism, labelling Clarkson and May's comments as "offensive" and "insulting", and falsely giving the impression that people can make a full recovery from head injuries, which is not always the case. They also accused Top Gear of glamorising fast driving - a charge often levelled at the programme in the past - by choosing to show footage of Hammond's crash.

Meanwhile, the BBC has responded with a statement saying that the comments were not intended to cause any offence, and that the audience of Top Gear is familiar with the irreverent tone often employed by the presenters, with such exchanges being typical of their style.

The question is: what do you think? Tell us in the comments.

One for the laydeez!

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Crippled Monkey | 13:31 UK time, Friday, 2 February 2007

I am going to get into so much trouble for this blog entry, which is why I'm sneaking it out on Friday afternoon when the boss hopefully isn't looking.

Right, let's talk underwear - not something we do too often here on the respectable BBC. In fact, let's talk crip-friendly underwear that doesn't look like something you'd be embarrassed to reveal if you happen to get lucky tonight.

A company in Singapore has apparently launched a new range of underwear for disabled women that is "flirty" (gosh), whilst also being easy to put on. By using velcro fasteners, the underwear does not require the wearer to bend over either to put them on remove them. (I am turning bright red here as I type this, readers. Can you tell?) Indeed, rather than being "ugly, diaper-like and unisex" (mmm, what a turn-on), one of the design team behind the new panties sums them up thus: "easy to put on, flirty and always feminine".

So, er, yes. There you are. Cough. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

She's blind! She teaches line dancing!

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Crippled Monkey | 15:12 UK time, Thursday, 1 February 2007

Welcome to a new (and possibly short-lived) series on Ouch's blog, which for the moment I'm going to call Those Kerrrazy Disabled Folk Doing Things That Disabled Folk Simply Ought Not To Be Doing. Hmm, I think I'm going to have to come up with a shorter title for this series, if it's got any hope of surviving to another entry.

So, first up for a mention in TKDFDTTDFSONTBD (as we're calling it - snappy, eh?) is Billie "Boo" Hood from Leesburg, Florida! Billie is legally blind! But Billie also teaches line dancing! (Oh, you remember line dancing, don't you? Achy Breaky Heart? Billy Ray Cyrus? No? Never mind.) "Hood wasn't entirely sure her class was in step until 30 right heels came down in unison on the final step ... The Leesburg resident keeps track of how her dancers are doing with her ears, and with what is left of her peripheral vision." Ah well, there you go. She listens! And she teaches line dancing! Like, wow!

More from TKDFDTTDFSONTBD soon. Or maybe not.

Hiring & Firing

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Geoff Adams-Spink | 15:03 UK time, Thursday, 1 February 2007

I was at a conference the other day and during the lunch hour stopped by the NCIL stand. Among the usual items on display was a publication that immediately caught my eye - 'The Rough Guide to Managing Personal Assistants'.

Having recently had to say goodbye to a PA myself, I felt that this was timely advice which seemed to be very well presented. In fact I wish I'd read it before having that difficult conversation.

As I remarked to NCIL's personable information officer, Wendy Gross:

"Managing people at work is one thing, but when they're in your house and doing personal care for you, it's a different dimension altogether."

Wendy promised to look into alternative formats for me. Tape is out of the question these days. I don't know about anybody else, but I don't even have a cassette player anymore.

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