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Liz Carr

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Liz is a crip activist and actor, now trying to gain experience as a stand-up comedian. Originally from the North West, she recently moved to London, lured by the bright lights and the promise of fame and fortune. She's still waiting.

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Geocaching the accessible way

21st March 2010

Like many people, I get my right and my left mixed up - when I mean right, I'll say left and when I mean left I'll... you get the idea. Apparently, this is a 'woman' thing - a stereotype that I reckon belongs with 'women are rubbish drivers and can't read maps'.
Indeed I can't drive and have a unique sense of direction, but the stereotype is nonsense. Instead, as a hypochondriac, I consider my left-right blindness a medical condition. Worried about it, I went to my doctor and was told that what I have is infact an acute case of OOTT ie. just 'One Of Those Things'.

Since I'm not an air traffic controller, a soldier or a shoe shop assistant, not knowing my right from my left isn't a major problem. But as a disabled person who employs personal assistants (PA's) to do the things I cannot do for myself, this directional disability can at times be a little irritating. There's nothing worse than having an itch you can't scratch - except perhaps having an itch you can't even direct your
PA to scratch: "Left ... I mean right ... I mean left ... I mean... arrgghh!".

The time when I feel most disabled by this 'condition' has to be when I'm in the passenger seat of a car, trying to direct an assistant to get me from A to B. As a result of my left / right confusion, most journeys are like magical mystery tours - where I want to go and where we end up are rarely the same place.

One solution could be for me to allow my PA to take the initiative, chauffeur me to my destination as I sit back and relax. Whilst this option would no doubt reduce my high blood pressure and stop my hair from further greying, giving up control in this way would probably kill me. I am a control freak back seat driver; a map reading co-pilot who directs every turn of the wheel. Annoying? Yes, but when I get my lefts and rights all muddled up and end up in Macclesfield instead of Manchester, I prefer that the only person to blame is myself.
Liz finds cache in a bush
I could, of course, make my journeys easier on everyone concerned by simply buying a sat nav system. No more left / right confusion as instead I could rely on a small screen on the dashboard and the voice of some Joanna Lumley wannabe telling me repeatedly to turn left in 100 metres, 80 metres, 60 metres.

After an unfortunate incident with a friends sat nav where a 5 kilometre journey to a gig became a 25K drive to hell, I vowed I would never ever own one. When my partner threatened to buy me one for Christmas, I told her I'd wheel over it in 10 metres, 8 metres, 6 metres...

Recently, though, I had a more positive encounter with one of the maddening little gps gizmos when my cousin introduced me to something called geocaching. This is a modern day treasure hunt where people all over the world hide, and seek, a treasure, or cache, using all kinds of global positioning gadgets to locate them.
Liz's cache stuck to a bench
She convinced me to give it a go so armed with a PA and a set of co-ordinates where the cache could be found, we all bundled into the car and began our adventure. When we were close to its location, we got out of the car and used a hand held sat nav plus some Ironside-esque detective work to find the treasure.

I found my first under a bench in a tiny magnetic canister which contained an even tinier log book. I signed my name and was hooked. I wanted more. My next cache was camouflaged under a bush by the pavement and the next was hidden under an electrical fuse box beside a building.

I loved it. I particularly loved that all the locations had been wheelie accessible and all the booty placed in positions that I could reach. Of course, this was no coincidence - my cousin had done some research and discovered that caches are rated for their accessibility. Accessible geocaching? Handicaching. There's websites, forums and groups all dedicated to it, would you believe.
Liz finds cache in bush
Just as i was about to buy my very own sat nav and head out for a day of handicaching fun, I had a revelation: as a disabled person, I already spend much of my time on big hunting trips. There are, however, a couple of differences between my hunts and those of the fun handicaching variety: firstly, my caches are things like blue badge parking spaces, dropped curbs, accessible toilets that aren't full of mops and buckets, a working lift or an elusive ramped entrance to a building. And secondly, I don't have the guidance of some beautifully annunciating audio artist telling me where to find these prized rewards. Instead, all I have to aid me, is a bad sense of left and right.

If someone could find me a sat nav with a Stephen Hawking voice and a bias to the accessible ... I'd be able to avoid all the crucial hide and seek games for the rest of my life.


    • 1. At 01:09am on 23 Mar 2010, Katie Fraser aka AbleGirl wrote:

      Lol! I loved this article! Sounds a fun thing to do it's probably like
      orienteering where you have to find things too by using a map and co ordinates but a hugh tech way of doing it! Wouldn't mind getting involved
      in geocaching myself very fun!

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    • 2. At 2:12pm on 23 Mar 2010, JohnSkint wrote:

      Brilliant Liz, thank you for that.

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    • 3. At 3:42pm on 29 Mar 2010, Winden32 wrote:

      Don't forget that many modern phones, IPhone, Nokia E71 and others have the ability to geocache as they have a built in GPS. The Geocache application to run on the phone is around £10 so no need to buy an expensive GPS.

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    • 4. At 3:44pm on 29 Mar 2010, Winden32 wrote:

      Don't forget that many modern phones, IPhone, Nokia E71 and others have the ability to geocache as they have a built in GPS. The Geocache application to run on the phone is around £10 so no need to buy an expensive GPS.

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    • 5. At 10:28pm on 31 Mar 2010, redcec wrote:

      Are you for real I do like to read other folks message ,but sometimes Liz I tend to get carried away off a Cliff with some things you say.

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