Category Archives: Thoughts

You’d never guess the stuff that crosses my mind now and again!

Accordingly, the Department of Social Protection has no plans to establish a cost of disability payment 🇮🇪 #CRPD

This is following up on my previous post about Ireland’s pending ratification of the UN CRPD.

Blind people have to shoulder costs of living which do not apply to people with eye sight.

This circumstance is relatively easy to grasp – it is not some abstract notion but rather a pretty obvious fact. There are countries, such as Germany, where these costs are taken care of by the social state through a universal monthly payment to compensate what has been agreed upon by legislators and experts as recurring blindness-related costs of living.

However, not so in Ireland!

Continue reading Accordingly, the Department of Social Protection has no plans to establish a cost of disability payment 🇮🇪 #CRPD

Petition: Apple, Improve the Accessibility in Garage Band for MacOS

Apple’s striving to include accessibility in mainstream products and make them usable by all customers regardless of talents, sensory or physical restrictions is unparalleled in the industry. This is why Garage Band on the Mac is a very popular tool among blind musicians to create and publish their work.

However, myself and other blind users of Apple’s screenreader ‘VoiceOver’ face one big issue in Garage Band; and this issue has been reported by numerous people on numerous occasions: Automations are not accessible.

What does this mean? I, as a blind musician, am unable to fade-in / fade-out individual tracks, regions or define the fade-duration of the entire project. By implication, as these curves cannot be defined by VoiceOver users, other rising EQ effects and the likes are also inaccessible to us.

Garage Band has these basic features which one can expect from an audio workstation, and they are available to sighted users.
This is solely an issue with Garage Band & VoiceOver.
Thanks for sharing and for your support! If we wake up Apple’s accessibility engineers, you may hear more great music by great blind musicians in the near future! 🙂

You can follow this link to sign and share this petition.

I have also put together a short video clip on my Youtube channel to go with the petition.

Ireland, Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

I would like to encourage all readers to sign this petition to motivate the Irish government to finally step up their game and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (CRPD).

The matter is personally relevant to me and my wife. I am blind, and my wife is in full-time employment. My blindness support is fully means-tested on my wife’s income. In a nutshell:

The more my wife works to support us, the less support funding I get; and
the more my wife works, the more often I cannot avail of her as a driver or assistant, and, as a result, the higher my costs of living are.

This is MY blindness, not hers.

This degrading, demotivating and unfair system is hardly suitable in a 21st-century social state. There are other EU countries which, unlike the Republic of Ireland, have already ratified the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities, countries where the “blind pension” is not a pension but rather a non-means-tested and non-taxable support payment to compensate higher living costs which blind people evidently have.

The present legislation does not merely deny the existence of blindness-related costs of living but also interferes with the spouses’ fundamental rights under the constitution of the Republic of Ireland.

The right to earn a livelihood

“As a citizen, you have a right to work and to earn a living, whether you are male or female.
The State is under a duty to protect your right to work and earn a livelihood from unjust attack.”

The means test of the spouse’s income is a prime example for an unjust attack on the spouse’s fundamental right to earn a livelihood. The working spouse should be allowed to spend their hard-earned salary whichever way they wish. They should not be held responsible to shoulder costs which are the responsibility of the social state which they already support as tax payers. It has been highlighted that there are other payments, for example, from the Health Service – also means-tested – and tax reliefs.

    I can claim a VAT refund on assistive technology such as screenreader software or my laptop with built-in accessibility features, to which I say: Well, yes! Whilst funding is being made available to make houses wheelchair-accessible, and recurring blindness-related costs are ignored, a one-off VAT refund is the least we can expect.
    My wife enjoys an income tax relief of €600 per year. This might sound decadent, but it amounts to less than €12 per week, which does not even pay for one return taxi ride per week when my wife is at work and unable to give me a lift.

Update:

I furnished ministers Leo Varadkar (Department for Social Protection) and Finian McGrath (Minister of State for Disability Issues) with my thoughts on the present legislation. Here is my follow-up post with some very telling statements.

Combining #SkillsBuilding and #WorkLifeBalance with an Album Release

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I released my first EP recently and am accordingly happy and proud. It has been an interesting, exciting journey and a major element in my self-development and a perfect outlet to readjust my focus for other projects which are in the process of completion. Hashtag #PhD. A perfect opportunity!

The EP is called Friend Of The Family; it is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other streaming and download services. You can listen to a short promo preview clip on Youtube, and if and when this has sparked your interest, you can find all streaming and download links, song lyrics and the opportunity to grab a free Friend Of The Family ringtone by clicking here.

Besides my musical development, this production has also been an invaluable experience to develop and put to practice a number of skills which come in handy in working environments, too.

Read here for more…

My humble opinion on #Twittiquette

Everybody has their own opinion, and this is mine. Everybody has their own way of using Twitter, and this is mine. This is not about the content that is shared on Twitter but, moreover, about the presentation, about Twittiquette.
I like Twitter and I am interested to read what people have to say. Nonetheless, there are two pet hates of mine which will drastically reduce my motivation to read a tweet or, in the long run, even to keep following someone:
Read on about my twitter pet hates.