Shownotes episode #1

The Missability Radio Installation

In this first episode of The Missability Radio Show, we hear from Isolde in Pimp My Guide, talking about why her Guide Dog, Quasi, needs a glamourous harness. Following that is the first part of a trilogy entitled Deaf Silence and Sound. After that, we meet Betsan from Stitchlinks and introduce the concept of The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition. To round off the show we have a discussion with Louise about the design of her pulpit frame.

Pimp My Guide

Isolde and Quasi at Isolde's Graduation celebrations

Isolde asked me to develop a glamorous harness for her to use with her Guide Dog, Quasi, on special occasions.

Quasi's mucky harness. It is supposed to be White.

The white and yellow harness traditionally associated with Guide Dogs gets dirty very quickly, and Isolde feels that this spoils the overall effect when she is all dressed up for something like a theatre or cabaret performance. Additionally, she and Quasi have a very deep bond that goes beyond physical necessity and impairment. Isolde maintains that Quasi is "part of who she is" and that she "would like her to have the opportunity to join in the dressing up fun." You can see a subtitled video version of the interview here:

The letter that is read out in this episode of The Missability Radio Show is taken from an email I actually sent to an organisation who work with Guide Dogs. When I telephoned up a harness workshop looking for tips on safe and practical customisation, I ran into a huge amount of regulatory problems associated with in any way changing or altering the standard yellow and white harness. The person I spoke with advised me to write a letter to the Branding Officer in charge relating to my queries, and so I did.

I have dubbed this project Pimp My Guide, in reference to the popular MTV series, Pimp my Ride. The Wikipedia definition that I used to understand and explain my use of the word 'pimp' has been heavily edited since I quoted from it and the original information no longer exists on the Wikipedia site. However, here is the old entry that I quoted in the Braille manifesto for Pimp My Guide;

Pimp can be used as a verb such as "You're pimped up!" or "Pimp My Ride." The latter example refers to customizing an automobile, made popular by the show Pimp My Ride on MTV. It can also be used as an adjective connoting the same, i.e. "Man, that car's pimp!" or "pimp daddy" meaning popular, cool, etc. Either use was originally a derogatory term, implying that the subject was overly decorated and tacky (referring to the stereotype of pimps with excessive jewellery, flashy clothes, or brightly coloured cars with animal-print upholstery and crystal chandeliers). It was eventually reclaimed as an American slang term for being unique, "cool" or socially desirable.

The Braille manifesto can be seen in The Missability Radio Shownotes exhibition in The Oxford Centre for Enablement from 9th - 19th September or ordered from The Missability Radio Show via email

Pimp My Guide Braille manifesto, in The Missability Radio Shownotes exhibition in the Oxford Centre for Enablement


Deaf Silence and Sound

Deaf Silence and Sound is a feature of The Missability Radio Show that looks at the relationship that hearing-aid users have with sound.

The name Deaf Silence and Sound comes from a discussion I had with members of the Oxford Brookes TalkSign Society. Meeting in a pub many months ago, several hearing-aid users described the difference between the silence experienced when hearing aids are not being used, and the silence experienced when hearing aids are being used, but no sound events are taking place. The quality of these different silences and the sounds people described really interested me and I wondered how I could understand more deeply the experiences being related around the table.

I subsequently designed the following process:

We meet and talk about the sounds you experience when you take out your hearing aids. I then go away and work on trying to recreate those sounds according to your descriptions, and then we meet again. I play the recordings back to you and if they need further improving, I will go away and continue to work on the recordings until we have something that portrays as accurately as possible, your experience of sound without hearing aids. I will record all of our conversations and give you unedited copies of them and then develop the material for use in the Missability Radio Show, my forthcoming college project.

I worked closely then with Ali who runs the TalkSign society and we undertook this process together. In this first episode of The Missability Radio Show, you can hear Ali's initial comments on silence and sound during this process together.


The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition

In this episode of The Missability Radio Show, we hear the initial call for entries for Knitted Walking Stick Cosies! This is included in the show to provide background and context for The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition.



Betsan from Stitchlinks contacted The Missability Radio Show after hearing about The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition and we met to discuss health, confidence, self-esteem, dignity and the therapeutic benefits of knitting, cross-stitch and crochet. In this episode of The Missability Radio Show, we are mostly talking about The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition and the need to prioritise fun and wellbeing over chores, for overall quality of life.

Betsan and I found so much common ground between our projects that we decided to create some knitting kits together, using Oxford Kitchen Yarns hand-dyed, all-natural yarns. We will have adjacent tables at the forthcoming UK Stitch'n'Bitch day in London this November and you will be able to get the kits there.

In The Oxford Centre for Enablement, you can see a sampler made by members of Stitchlinks, along with quotes about the benefits of knitting. This is part of The Missability Radio Shownotes exhibition on display there from 9th - 19th September.

The Stitchlinks Sampler


Equipment focus: The Pulpit Frame

Louise with the crutches I customised for her to wear with her bridesmaid dress

About a year ago I customised some crutches for Louise, so they matched the Bridesmaid dress she was wore to a wedding.

Because Louise needed to use her crutches most of the time, it wasn’t possible for her to leave them with me for covering or painting. In order to change the appearance of the crutches, I needed to create something temporary, easy to apply and elegant, which could be made without my having the crutches to hand and which would not impair the usefulness or the crutches.

Louise with the customised crutches again

I therefore spent a considerable amount of time measuring the crutches, testing out different materials and devising strategies for covering them. I decided to create felt coverings, which could be worked around a piece of dowelling of approximately the same circumference as the leg of the crutches. I embedded some ribbon in this felt and left a length of it dangling from the top of the felt cover. The idea was that this section of ribbon would mimic the movement of the satin in the dress Louise was wearing, when she moved. I made covers for the elbow pads on the crutches also, and sewed new Velcro straps onto the crutches using the same felt. Finally, I sewed elastic into the top of the sleeve for the crutches so that it would stay up and not slide down the stick. Because I made the felt myself, I was able to approximate the colours in the dress and make something that would compliment the rest of the outfit. After developing several tester pieces to ensure the comfort of the felt for Louise, I put the whole ensemble together. I sprayed the exposed areas of metal with burgundy and lilac paint to compliment the dress and the felt, and then I fashioned a bag in matching felt and fabric to hold Louise’s camera on the day.

Louise is very articulate about the pros and cons of various pieces of equipment upon which she relies and her practical approach is very informative for any maker, and the process of customising her crutches opened my eyes to the fantastical designs that can be achieved through marrying good common sense, practicality, and imagination.

Louise contributes her views on equipment throughout The Missability Radio Show, and speaks in this episode of the show about her Pulpit Frame.

This interview formed the basis of the Crafternoon which was spent re-designing the Pulpit frame in public, so that visitors to The Missability Radio Show exhibit could get an idea of how customisation works.

Drawings of the pulpit frame, re-imagined Missability style

Drawings of a new, improved Pulpit frame, based on Louise's comments in the Equipment focus feature of The Missability Radio Show.

Missability Radio Show Crafternoon installation shot

Here is an image of the crafternoon devoted to customising and redesigning Louise's Pulpit Frame.


Missability Traffic Stats