Shownotes episode #2

Do you dream of more colourful equipment? A screenprint designed to double-up as a colouring-in book

In this second episode of The Missability Radio Show, we hear the response from the Guide Dog's Branding Officer to the email I sent them in episode #1 of The Missability Radio Show. Next we meet Isolde again to talk about the proposed materials for her customised Guide Dog's Harness in Pimp My Guide. This takes us to an interview with another dog user who I met in Shopmobility: Pat talks to The Missability Radio Show about the close relationship she has with Dolly, her helping hand. We then talk to Robin, the Shopmobility scheme manager, and after that, we look at some of the designs for walking stick cosies currently being knitted. We also hear about what is happening on the web with The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition, and in the equipment focus feature of the show we ask whether Black really does go with everything. To finish up the show, we have some recorded sounds based on Ali's interview in the first episode of The Missability Radio Show.

Pimp My Guide

Here is the email that I received back from The Guide Dog's Branding Officer in response to my note about customising Quasi's harness.

In my role as the Brand Officer for Guide dogs, my view is simple and straight forward. The harness is very much a functional item and as such the overriding considerations should be: Firstly ease of use for both the client and dog (uncomplicated, clean, robust etc.) Secondly it is an identificant for the organisation that shows clearly the role of the organisation in breeding, training, supply and support to the client user putting succinctly it is the provenance of the dog or putting another way it is its credentials.

Listening to Isolde's perspective in this episode of The Missability Radio Show it would seem that the branding of the Guide Dog harness with yellow and white is not necessarily essential from a Dog user's perspective. With greatest respect for the tried-and-tested structure of existing Guide Dog harnesses, The Missability Radio Show will customise Quasi's harness for Isolde anyway, priveliging the interests and wishes of the equipment user over and above the concerns and interests of the equipment supplier.

Pimp My Guide - Luxury harness materials!

All the materials for customising Quasi's harness were bought from McCulloch & Wallis in London. They were chosen on the basis of several discussions I had with Isolde, and after careful consideration of the old harness she sent me to use as a pattern guide.

Here are the silver D-rings and the revised Bling-rings solution discussed by myself and Isolde in this week's update on Pimp My Guide.

Old, silver D-ring on Quasi's harness

Revised version of the Guide Dog D-ring

The ribbon used in the bottom photo has been doubled up on itself several times to provide strength and durability, while the brass ring is nearly the same thickness as the original silver one, and ought to provide comparable strength. The glittery vintage button is not going to be suitable for the customisation job because it has too many areas which can collect dirt, but it is used here to exemplify ways of drawing attention to the harness that are elegant, sophisticated and glamourous. I am searching for a more appropriate gem to serve this same purpose. Black polyprop will be used in place of the white polyprop seen in the top photo, while 100% polyester sateen will be sewn over the top in a single layer to provide easily washable sheen and glamour.

This series of Pimp My Guide was concluded during The Missability Radio Show exhibition at Oxford Brookes University. During one of the Crafternoon sessions scheduled as part of the installation, the harness was assembled.

Pimp My Guide live - installation shot from The Missability Radio Show exhibition

Pimp My Guide Live - the customised harness being sewn by Felicity Ford as part of The Missability Radio Show


The Missability Radio Show at Shopmobility

The Missability Radio Show at Shopmobility

The Missability Radio Show spent a day in Shopmobility conducting interviews about equipment for the show. I discovered Shopmobility after a year of living in Oxford and I found it amazing to be able to get around town again. I was angered however by attitudes towards mobility scooter users in general and wrote an article entitled 'Drive by Scootings,' which got the attention of an Oxford City Council representative. I was then photographed for the front cover of Shopmobility's leaflet. Everyone at Shopmobility remembers the green and yellow felt covering I had on my walking stick when I first visited them and I got a lot of support for doing my interviews at Shopmobility. I had some great conversations with service users about equipment during my day there and discovered that many people who use the service have had similar experiences to me when out and about on scooters or wheelchairs. In this episode of The Missability Radio Show you can hear the service manager, Robin Brookes, talking about what Shopmobility is for, and why he prefers to choose brighter colours for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. We also meet Pat and Dolly and learn more about the kind of bond that develops between a working dog and their handler.

You can hear more from Shopmobility customers in episode three of The Missability Radio Show.


Knitting news from around the web and Oxford Kitchen Yarns on The Missability Radio Show

This episode of The Missability Radio Show covers some responses to The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition and opens with an email I recieved from Becka in America:

Hello from the U.S.! I wanted to say THANK YOU! What a fantastic idea...a cosy for a walking stick! I may have to just use your idea...I've been on and off (now on 99% of the time) crutches for over 20 years and at the tender age of 48 I will certainly tell you that is sucks! But, then again, it doesn't because it allows me to get around! I have refuse to use a cane because they are U. G. L. Y., not that crutches are lovely, but the cane is terribly offensive in my eyes....and, now that you have planted this cosy seed in my mind all the way across the great blue sea, I think that it will now grow into a lovely, well used and very snazzy cane! A cane with several cosies, for that matter! If crutches and walkers were as easy to cover, I'd do the same to those, but, alas, the way in which a crutch touches the body and is constructed doesn't leave itself to as many possibilities...but, the possibilities are there and it is a design endeavor that I may just have to give a go! Nice cotton (Blue Sky Alpaca Cotton comes to mind), lovely sts and velcro for easy on and can be done and it is now on my design list....thanks!

Happy Knitting and God Bless, Becka

Katie of Oxford Kitchen Yarns talked to The Missability Radio Show about her walking stick cosy design. She used some of her own hand-dyed yarn to create this very autumnal cosy featuring pumpkin-like swellings on the 'stem' of the cosy and gentle colour-changes. The stick features graduating shades of yellow, achieved through dyeing with onion skins. With this design, Katie was interested in adding more to the stick, without the additions getting in the way; in making a sculptural cosy.

Closeup of Oxford Kitchen Yarns' entry to The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition

The Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition on the web

Re: the knitted walking stick cosy competition, Caityquilter dubbed the project 'a Compassionate, Crafty Competition' in her blog about quilting, fibromyalgia and crafted joy. In the same post that mentions the competition, she describes a very distressing incident involving a man at an airport having his walking stick conviscated by airport security. 'I wouldn't wish chronic illness on my worst enemy - but I would LOVE to make the corporate types who took away the walking stick live for a day in our shoes!' she fumes and then goes on to mention the 'DELIGHTFUL' knitted walking stick cosy competition 'in contrast to the stupid cruelty of the airport incident...'

Also in the zone of disability, the Quirkiest states that 'If you regularly use a cane or crutches, you know how ugly and boring the appearance of most mobility devices can be,' and dubs the cozy idea as 'a fabulous solution.' She also touches on one of the practical sides to making cosies; 'I've often wished my plain black crutches were more exciting, but didn't want to commit to a vibrant colour and pattern for every day. Now I'm going to have a designer cover - or several.' The Quirkiest is 'delighted to find The Missability Radio Show,' and is already thinking of ways to dress up her crutches for special occasions.

The Missability Radio Show also recieved an email from Betsy Greer, originator of craftivism. Craftivism being the idea that craft can form the basis of political activism, Greer is understandably an important reference point for The Missability Radio Show's knitting Competition. In a wonderful email to the show, Betsy writes 'I really likes the approach you're taking to disability (how I hate that word!), as it's strong and fighting back against a culture that all too often forgets that staring isn't nice... And with your competition, you are taking their eyes away from where they shouldn't be in the first place and saying you're proud of yourself, walking stick and all. Those kinds of statements can be rare, and I'm happy to see you creating a contest around it... and including knitting! Awesome!'

Other internet phenomena of note this week in The Radio Show are firstly that when one types missability into the Google search engine, the automatic response is 'did you mean disability?' The Missability Radio Show would like Google to know that we most assuredly did not mean disability.

Did you mean the Disability Radio Show?

Also, in this episode of The Missability Radio Show, an amazing hat is featured. The wheels of fury hat, designed by weaverknits for her Father, was designed to make a point!

Yes, you may use a wheelchair to get around, you may use your arms as both your legs and your arms, but that does not make you less FIERCE.

You can download/see a full pattern for this hat here. Massive thanks to Weaverknits for making this available!


Does Black really go with everything?

In this feature of The Missability Radio Show we hear from people with different impairments about why they have chosen to use black equipment. We hear from Isolde about why she has chosen to use a black mobility cane instead of the traditional, white stick normally associated with visual impairment and also from Ali on why she chooses to have a black hearing aid mould. Louise and Dolly talk about the sensible nature of having a black wheelchair and a mysterious French lady expresses the quintessential and timelessly stylish nature of the colour black.

Black is interesting in terms of the design of equipment and individual styles or tastes; Companies like Wheeliefactor and Colours Wheelchairs avoid the use of black in their designs or emphasise that other colours are available. For a long time wheelchairs have mostly been available only in black, so personal choice and freedom of expression means providing an alternative to black in the wheelchair market. However, as Louise articulates in this feature of the show, Black is actually a very sensible choice for a wheelchair; it matches with most things and doesn't clash in the way, say, a red wheelchair may.

Conversely, whereas wheelchairs usually only come in black, mobility canes for people with visual impairments usually come only in white. The idea of the white cane as a symbol for visual impairment is very entrenched. In America it is illegal as a visually impaired person to use a non-white cane and on October the 15th, there is a National Holiday entitled White Cane Safety Day, dedicated to 'celebrating... the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane .' For Isolde however, the white cane means something quite different and she articulates in this feature of the show why she prefers to use a black mobility cane. Similarly, Ali has chosen to have black ear moulds in her hearing aids as a step towards personalising them. For years hearing-aids have only been available in flesh tones or poor imitations of flesh tones and the black moulds celebrate an individual or personal style rather than an industry standard.

The title for this feature nods in the direction of that iconic fashion idea - the little black dress. The idea behind the little black dress is that it can be dressed up or down and is effortlessly chic and stylish.

Some people prefer not to have black equipment; some people find it a sensible solution to integrating the appearance of their equipment into their everyday and personal style. As Isolde says, 'It's about having the choice.'


Deaf Silence and Sound

We hear a seletion of sounds created in response to Ali's descriptions of the sounds she hears when she takes out her hearing aids. The sounds I used in response to her descriptions of flat sine-wave sounds were taken from Klangfabrik's archive or soundpack on the freesounds project website. These sounds are licensed under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus 1.0 License

Many thanks to Klangfabrik.

Other sounds were created from a recording I made of hitting a cymbal and then recording the decay as the sound died out in response to the description Ali provided of a kind of ringing out or decaying ring sound. I used some gong sounds from the freesound project, including one sample from a user called room.

As with the sine wave sounds this gong sample is licensed under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus 1.0 License

Many thanks to room.

I also created a soundscape from whispering into a microphone and recording the static sound of two untuned and broken radios. You can read about Ali's responses to these sounds in the third episode of The Missability Radio Show.


Missability Traffic Stats