I’m Ready for BlogWorld – but Is It Ready for Me?

In a few short days I’m headed for Los Angeles and my first-ever BlogWorld and New Media Expo conference. I’m beyond excited…so much to see and do, so many people to meet, and reconnect with again.

But is BlogWorld ready for this legally blind attendee? Or seniors or anyone with physical challenges? Large conferences can be daunting for people with sight, hearing or motor impairments, so I’ll be sharing my experiences and offering my perspective over the course of the three-day event. I hope my observation are helpful to all conference organizers out there.

Here are some of the things I’ll be paying close attention to, based on what’s important to me.

Signage – Are all signs large enough to be seen? Are there enough of them? Can the content of these signs be read easily? Are meeting rooms easy to find and identify?

Stairs and Glass Doors – Are stairs and glass doors clearly marked? I’ve tumbled down more than a few stairs and run into several glass doors in my time:-(

Lighting – Is there adequate light in all meeting rooms and corridors?

Audio – Are the sound systems adequate, with no muddiness or distortion?

Power Outlets – (One of my pet peeves) Are outlets easily identified? Are there enough of them? Are some outlets at mid-wall height and not all at floor level? And are power cords out of the way and not trip hazards?

Elevators and Ramps – Are all meeting rooms accessible via ramps and elevators?

Assistance – Are conference staff and volunteers trained and prepared to help disabled people if required?

Many of you may read this and this that my wish list is unnecessary – of course this is a no-brainer. And in a perfect world, I wouldn’t even have to mention anything. But it’s not a perfect world, and we still encounter more obstacles than you may imagine. So I may vent a bit. But I’ll also applaud, loudly, whenever I can.

If you face some challenges and are planning to attend BlogWorld, or if you have an experience or suggestion to share, please comment below, or contact me. I’d love to hear from you!

Photo Friday – Evoking Time and Place

I don’t call myself a world traveler – I wish! – but I have been fortunate to visit a few places I had only dreamed about as a kid. In 2006, I visited Tokyo, and I really credit that experience with the start of my love affair with ‘serious’ photography. And that’s also when I began to think of myself as a visually impaired photographer, who could show the world that everything is possible.

During that visit, I realized how much I wanted to hold onto the feeling of Being There, of giving anyone looking at this collection a strong feeling of time and place. And even five years later, I can look at these photos and smile. It was a magical trip.

This photo still remains one of my all-time favourites, taken with one of my first point-and-shoot Canon Power Shot cameras. No matter where I am, I’m back in this small market near a major temple, wandering, overwhelmed, loving every minute.


This is another favourite – the stair railing seemed so out of place to me, something I might see in my home town of Montreal.It prompted me to focus on various types of architecture wherever I go.


Finally, I loved this shot of this little boy, who decided that he just wasn’t going to walk anymore:-)


Feel free to visit the rest of my Tokyo set here. I’d love to hear what you think.

Photo Friday – Sharing Experiences

I love taking photos of events at restaurants and bars – the decor, the ambiance, and especially the food and drink. For me, it’s not only capturing the essence of being there, but also re-creating a taste sensation that I hope will prompt someone to visit to the location and have an equally enjoyable experience.

One of my favourite photos continues to be an iPhone shot I took at Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown here in Vancouver. Nothing staged – this was simply my sushi dinner. But I still get hungry every time I look at it! My friend raincoaster actually made this my first food shot to appear in a blog – Manolo’s Food Blog. I was thrilled.

Then, last week, I was fortunate to attend the ‘official’ re-launch of a new bar/restaurant in the beautiful Shangri-La Hotel – the Xi Shi Lounge. A gorgeous venue, delicious, inventive food and fantastic beverages. My slide show of the event is below. The shots were very well-received, and I’m very pleased with my contribution to the celebration.

Who knows? Someday, I may get paid to do this:-)


I Have Found Another Hero

I have many heroes – my mother, who raised three girls alone in the early 60s, my niece, who copes every day with chronic illness, so many friends who have bourne great loss over the past few years.

But this woman – Tara Miller – is an inspiration for me because she shares my passion for photography, and has made a living doing what she loves in spite of being legally blind like me. I hope I get to meet her someday. Her work is nothing short of awesome. Way to go, Tara. Keep kicking butt. I love your vision.

Take a look at the article and embedded video.

Photo Friday – My Theme Shot

Since photography has become so important to me, I thought I’d use Fridays to feature a particular shot and give it a bit of context. I couldn’t think of a better place to begin than with the photo I chose for the first theme shot.

This was taken at Vancouver’s Sun-Yat-Sen Gardens on a beautiful and sunny late afternoon in May – one of a few hundred I took that day in this idyllic venue. As a visually impaired photographer, I shoot with a concept in mind, but I don’t know exactly what the final outcome will be. I was thrilled with this photo on so many levels.

More than anything else, it conveys better than anything else how I see – items close up are fairly ‘clear’ (at least to me!) and grow blurrier and less distinct as they get farther away. At all times, though, I’m very conscious of colour and light. The fact that the opening in the rock looks rather eye-like wasn’t lost on me either. And heck, I just love the entire effect.

So, enjoy. I hope it gives you a sense of what I’m capable of – indeed, what we are all capable of, whatever our real and perceived limitations.

Happy Friday, and for all you Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving weekend.