Bathroom Drama Guest author Carol Farnsworth

I know that I am not the only blind person that run into funny situations dealing with the visual world. Would you like to share your story? Restroom Drama

This is one of the most difficult and funniest places that a blind person can experience. If you want a small taste of what many visually impaired people experience, close your eyes next time you go into a large bathroom. Can you tell where the stalls are located? How about the sinks? Will you be able to find the soap, towels and then find you way out? Let me talk about some of my experiences.

When I enter a large restroom by myself, I usually stop and listen for flushing sounds to locate stalls. This stopping gives people time to evaluate the situation and decide if they want to help. Sometimes I appreciate it and sometimes I don’t.

One time I was in a restroom at the airport. I couldn’t locate the stalls because of people talking. That time I asked the room if someone would direct me to a stall. A very kind woman showed me to a stall and pointed out the toilet paper dispenser, the flush lever and the lock. I thanked her and used the commode. When I opened the stall an airport employee was waiting there to help me locate the sink, soap and towels. She informed me that the woman that had helped was called for her flight and wanted to be sure that I could get out and continue my travels.

I also have been given help when I didn’t need it. This happened on the Natchez Trace in a public restroom. I was going in to change into biking clothes. The room was empty and quiet. I started to travel the wall looking for a stall. A woman entered and without talking pushed me into the first available stall. The lock was broken, and the toilet continued to flush every minute. I was trying to change while holding the door closed. To make matters worse this woman was pushing against the door and asking if I was all right. With all the noise, I dropped my wallet and didn’t hear it hit the floor and lost my wallet. I called the rest stop and was told it was given to the guard minus the money, it was not worth going back a hundred miles, I just asked them to destroy it.

In some states a person of the opposite gender can go into a restroom to assist. This makes my husband very uncomfortable. He will look first for family restrooms that are not gender specific. If he can’t locate one, he will take me into a men’s restroom, if not crowded. I use to be leery of this until I lost all sight. Now I just hurry into a stall and get out as quickly as possible.

I heard a story from one of my blind conference friends that he looks for a handicapped stall in large public restrooms because they have the sink and junk container in the stall. He said that he has gone over to wash his hands. Only to discover that he was washing in the urinal!

In this time of corona virus, people may not be comfortable approaching a person in a restroom. I pull out a small bottle of hand sanitizer while orienting to the space. When I leave the stall, I again use the hand sanitizer while listening for the sink area or the exit.

If you notice a person using a white cane in a restroom, ask if they need assistance and listen to what they may or may not require. Both you and the visually impaired will feel good about the experience. I can't forget my Kasandra episode!

How to use the STAR method in your next interview ::

Job interview questions like “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” are the stuff of legend – and luckily a thing of the past for pretty much everyone.

Most organisations have realised that ‘brain teaser’ questions like this are completely useless for assessing candidates, and instead try to use ‘structured’ interview questions – these are questions that allow them to assess an interviewee’s prior experience or capabilities, and then compare that easily with other candidates.

So in your next job interview, what’s the best way to approach these questions that ask you to reflect on your past experience? Here’s one simple but powerful technique.

Using the STAR method for behavioural interview questions
The STAR method is a great technique for answering ‘behavioural’ questions that are now standard in job interviews. Behavioural questions are based on the idea that past behaviour can determine how you’d react when faced with a similar situation again.

They can be easy to spot as they usually start with:

“Tell me about a time when…”
“Can you share an example of…”
“Have you ever…”
Your answers to these types of questions should aim to showcase your skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

How does the STAR method work?
The STAR method provides a simple framework for providing a detailed and easy-to-understand example to your interviewers. STAR stands for:

Situation: Set the scene of the dilemma or problem you faced, including relevant context;
Task: Explain your role and responsibilities in this scenario;
Action: The steps you used to approach the task; and
Result: The outcome of your actions and what they achieved.
By using this method, you’re demonstrating that you understand the question, that you’re able to reflect on your past experience, and ultimately how you might be able to apply your skills to similar challenges if you’re successful in winning the role.

Your answers to behavioural interview questions may also speak to your:

Sense of judgement – e.g. making difficult decisions under complex circumstances;
Performance under pressure – e.g. how you conduct yourself in high-pressure situations;
Leadership potential – e.g. your initiative and ability to step up when you have little or no direction; and
Self-awareness – e.g. how you perceive your strengths and weaknesses.
A step-by-step guide to using the STAR method
With good preparation and a bit of research, you can use the STAR method to nail any behavioural interview questions you encounter.

1. Anticipate behavioural questions – Go through the job ad or position description and identify key skills and experience required for the role. The key selection criteria are the best place to look for these.

For example, if a key selection criteria for the role is “An ability to work to tight deadlines”, then it’s highly likely your interviewer might ask you a question like “Tell me about a time when you needed to work to a tight deadline, and you were successful”.

2. Think of situations that speak to these requirements – Reflect on all the times you can remember that demonstrate each of the skills and experience in the Key Selection Criteria, and choose the top ones that show your experience in the best light. (You might want to skip that example where you almost made the deadline, but didn’t quite get there!)

3. Plan your responses using the STAR method – Carefully consider how you would convey the details of each example using the STAR method.

4. Come up with multiple examples – Be ready to reel off more than one example for each skill or experience to avoid repeating the same one. If you’re asked two different questions, it’s best to have two separate examples rather than reusing the same example, even if it’s relevant to the second question. Preparing more examples also means you’re less likely to be caught off guard in the face of a potentially unforeseen question.

5. Practise your responses – Go through your prepared examples out loud, either in front of a mirror, to a friend or family member, or recording into your phone camera. Practice will help you shake off those pre-interview jitters!

Some example STAR answers
Initially, answering lots of questions using the STAR method may feel overwhelming. But with some practice, it’ll flow naturally in no time.

Here are two examples that might be helpful in getting started with this method. They’ve obviously been condensed for space, but they should clarify how to use the STAR method for real life questions you might be asked in your next interview.

Example 1: ‘Tell me about a time when you received constructive feedback’
Situation: Provide an overview of or background to the situation you were in, in a couple of sentences.
Eg: “I was planning an event, and as part of the role, I was responsible for stakeholder management.’

Task: Explain how you and your responsibilities were relevant in the scenario. Remember that it’s OK to talk about mistakes – as long as you’re able to reflect on what you learned or should have done.
Eg: ‘I emailed the client all the details in advance of the event. After the event they told me that that hadn’t realised that things would happen the way they did. I obviously hadn’t communicated clearly enough to the client – perhaps I should have run through the plan with them over the phone too.’

Action: Demonstrate what you did you address and resolve the situation. What was the most important thing you did to receive the feedback?
Eg: “I apologised to the client and accepted that the email wasn’t clear enough – I knew the most important thing was to avoid getting defensive. I made a commitment that for upcoming events, they’d receive a more detailed plan and they were reassured by that.’

Result: Describe the outcome – including what you learned.
Eg: “We implemented this new process for the next event. The client was thrilled with second event and appreciated me taking on their feedback. I learned to always double check what the client needs to know before an event runs.’

Example 2: ‘Share an example of a time you had to manage multiple competing priorities’
Situation: Explain the scenario. Why was it difficult or complex to manage?
Eg: ‘During my time at [Example Organisation], we were working on a big project with a lot of moving parts.’

Task: Give an overview of your responsibilities and how they played a part in the situation.
Eg: ‘A colleague was taken off the project, so extra responsibilities fell to me. We were working to a tight deadline, so I needed to manage the project and make sure that all the tasks were done on time.’

Action: Break down the steps and tactics you used to manage your time, responsibilities and priorities. Take time to highlight the most important actions you took.
Eg: ‘I mapped out all the project’s deliverables with a Gantt chart, with steps and key milestones. I then communicated the plan to my manager, and delegated parts of the work to my colleagues, making sure they understood the scope and the deadlines.’

Result: Share the outcome. How did your actions and critical thinking make a positive impact?
Eg: “Thanks to my collaborative approach, we were able to launch the new project ahead of time – which was a first for the organisation.’

The journey from jobseeker to team member isn’t always easy. Once you’ve overcome any common resume mistakes and secured yourself an interview, the STAR method can hopefully help set you up to score your dream ethical job!

Freedom of speech: What does it mean and why is it important?

It is pretty widely accepted that free speech is an essential part of a democratic society, and should be upheld to some degree. But the real question lies in how far we take it. While some people believe that freedom of speech should be upheld at all costs, others believe that it can be an excuse for saying harmful things without reprimand.
In order to clarify the arguments surrounding free speech, we’ve written this article about where it originates from, how it differs around the world, how it benefits society, and what some of its limitations are. This is by no means a formal guide to the laws surrounding free speech, but rather an exploration of different perspectives around free speech.
What is the definition of free speech?
There are a number of varying definitions of free speech, but at its core, it’s about the legal right to express or seek out ideas and opinions freely without fear of censorship or legal action. Freedom of speech is a part of freedom of expression, which means that individuals have the right to express themselves in whatever way they wish.
Is free speech a human right?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in 1948 by representatives of 50 states from the United Nations. They were created in response to the Second World War, as a way of trying to prevent such a wide-scale conflict from ever happening again.
Thirty human rights were created, and they were designed to belong to everyone in the world so that no human being would be without rights. Article 18 and 19 are the rights most closely related to freedom of speech. While article 18 states that everyone has the freedom to believe whatever they want, and practice their beliefs (including religion), article 19 states that everyone has the right to express their opinions freely, in whichever way they want.
These human rights then formed the basis for different human rights laws across the world, including article 10 of the human rights act in the UK. This article grants individuals freedom of expression without interference, but also states that there are some conditions that may mean this freedom will be interrogated, such as in the event of a national security risk.
Does freedom of speech mean you can say anything?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is that the specific law will depend on the country you’re in, but generally, there will always be exceptions to the rule. For example, in the UK’s article 10, the law states that public authorities can restrict the right to free speech if:
• They are worried about national security or public safety
• They want to prevent disorder or crime
• They feel it will protect health or morals
• They want to protect the rights and reputations of others
• They are protecting confidential information
• They need to maintain the authority and impartiality of judges.
What free speech means around the world
As we previously explained, freedom of speech is a universal human right, but different countries interpret it differently in their laws. We can get an idea about different attitudes to free speech by looking at the citizens of different countries, in studies such as the one done by Pew Research Centre in 2015.
In this study, the researchers surveyed respondents from 38 different countries about their attitudes towards freedom of expression. While the U.S. unsurprisingly came out as the most supportive of free speech, other countries with a high level of support included Mexico, Venezuela, Canada and Australia.
Some examples of countries with low levels of support for freedom of expression included Senegal, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Pakistan, and Ukraine. This research demonstrates that the principle of free speech is not a ‘one size fits all’ concept, and depends a lot on the constitution and culture of the country in question.
What are first amendment rights in the U.S.?
You’ve probably heard people refer to their first amendment rights in America, since freedom of speech is often considered a fundamental part of being an American. This law guarantees freedoms related to religion, expression, assembly and petitioning, and allows individuals to assemble and speak freely. The amendment actually states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The study we discussed earlier by Pew Research Centre demonstrated just how much Americans care about their first amendment rights. They found that Americans were some of the most supportive citizens of free speech, freedom of the press, and the right to use the internet without government censorship. In addition, they discovered that Americans were more tolerant of offensive language than other nationalities.
However, it is interesting to consider that the U.S. is ranked at 44 out of 180 countries when ranked in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

The University of KentFreedom of Movement, Refugees, Traffickers, and Smugglers


UCL (University College London)Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media


The University of KentHow Politics Works: From the Individual to an International Scale

Why is freedom of speech important?
There are so many reasons why freedom of speech is important. Of course, the biggest reason is that freedom is paramount in a democracy. If we cannot speak freely, it often means that our liberties are being restricted in some way. However, it’s a little more complicated than that, so we took a look at our open step about freedom of expression by Humanists UK.
One thing that’s highlighted in our open step is that all humans make mistakes, and somehow we learn to correct them. The way that we enrich or change our beliefs and opinions is through listening to contradictory arguments. Critical discussion is a fundamental part of the human learning experience, and critical discussions would not exist without people being able to express opposing beliefs.
In this way, disagreements can be extremely productive. Also, Humanists UK point out that causing offence is not always a bad thing. Many ideas from history caused offence at the time, but now they are considered important and revolutionary – take Mary Wollstonecraft and Charles Darwin, for example.
In addition, even if false arguments and bad attitudes are pushed down, they don’t necessarily go away. Instead, they can evolve into something more sinister, as people may only seek out those with a similar opinion to themselves. This kind of behaviour creates an echo chamber, where you only hear opinions that support your own, and there is no critical discourse. Alternatively, free expression allows for ideas to be challenged, changed, and also better understood.
What are the limits of freedom of speech?
We already discussed some of the reasons why a government might restrict the right to freedom of expression, so we already know that it has some limitations. Our open step from the University of Bristol explores the slightly different limitations stated in South Africa, which restricts ‘advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion’.
However, it is also worth mentioning that freedom of speech and expression has limitations depending on the specific context you’re in. For example, even though it is your human right to express yourself freely, doing so at work in a way that insults or negatively affects your boss or colleagues could impact your career. Essentially, it’s often inappropriate to speak freely if it infringes on someone else’s freedoms.
In a similar vein, experts from the University of Oslo and the Scholars at Risk Network explore the challenges and curbs to academic free speech which can occur in academic environments, including those where human rights or legal violations may not be a factor. You can find out more about this in our Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters course.
Does freedom of speech apply to digital platforms?
A lot of the time, we hear about controversial opinions and statements that people have made via the internet. This is why it’s important to evaluate the role of digital platforms and social media in the debate on freedom of speech.
In our open step on freedom of speech and the internet, experts from the University of Bristol discuss how the internet has been blamed by some for enabling terrorism and extremism. This is because they are accused of providing a platform for people to promote their damaging views, and even plan attacks.
In this way, digital platforms very much have a part to play in the free speech debate, as ultimately they must try to ensure that dangerous activity is not taking place on their platforms. However, as Pier Luigi Parcu explains in our open step on fake news, digital platforms don’t like to assume editorial responsibility for the dangerous content that exists on their sites.
There are rare exceptions to this, such as when Twitter banned Donald Trump recently, but a bill was approved soon after that now prevents social media companies from “deplatforming” politicians this way.
This general lack of assumption of responsibility means that digital platforms don’t filter information like other media do, leaving a lot of room for fake news, unsubstantiated opinions, and even dangerous ideas. The problem is that filtering out this information would be an issue of freedom of expression, so it becomes very difficult for digital platforms to find middle ground.
Lately, however, Facebook and Twitter have been trying to screen for fake news, which is explained in more detail in this Forbes article. The writer, Bernard Marr, states “Facebook unveiled a raft of measures designed to help keep users safe from misinformation, as well as exploitative practices. It deployed algorithms to look for false or sensationalist claims made in advertising”.
Is the Internet a public forum?
One of the reasons it‘s so difficult to police the internet is because it’s a kind of public forum. As described by professors at the University of Bristol in our open step about free speech and the internet, the internet provides a platform for those otherwise denied a voice.
Rather than just media companies and journalists being the information providers, we are offered perspectives from ordinary citizens. This can be incredibly powerful in certain instances, such as when people are experiencing abuses of power by their government, police, or authorities. The power of storytelling online cannot be underestimated.
However, the internet also encourages the free sharing of information and opinions in more ordinary circumstances – take Wikipedia, for example, which is written, edited and checked by anyone who wants to contribute. This is an example of moderation being carried out by ordinary people instead of the state. The same can be said for forums such as Reddit.

University of OsloDangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters


The University of Newcastle AustraliaUnderstanding Media: Introduction to Media Literacy and Representation


Amnesty International UKDefending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Freedom of speech vs. hate speech
One of the most widely discussed critiques of unlimited free speech is that it can condone and amplify hate speech. Hate speech can be defined as speech that is abusive and threatening towards a certain group of people, generally based on prejudices related to race, gender, sexuality, religion, or disability.
Some might ask, since people should be allowed to speak their minds and voice all opinions, why can’t they simply express their dislike for certain things? This is an argument often uttered by those in favour of complete freedom of speech, including hate speech. However, people may disagree with this, arguing that a clearer line should be drawn between stating dislike and inciting violence. If nothing is off-limits, where does it end?
Can free speech ever be an excuse for racism and other forms of discrimination?
In our open step about freedom of expression by Humanists UK, they discuss the difficulty in deciding what counts as offensive and what doesn’t. They ask, ‘if we ban all speech that anyone might consider offensive, how much conversation would be left?’ While it is true that offence is subjective, and depends hugely on your individual perspective, it could be argued that we have a duty to protect people against threats of harm and violence.
Even though a certain statement doesn’t offend you, it might still be offensive. In an open step by the European University Institute, Pier Luigi Parcu talks about the issue of hate speech online, saying “hate speech has become a common pattern of political propaganda, even in established democracies, targeting minorities, women, migrants, weaker elements of society, or simply the diversity of opinions. The phenomenon has been exacerbated by the relative anonymity that is allowed to the haters by the Internet.”
Does censorship violate freedom of speech?
Censorship is often talked about in relation to free speech because people feel that they are being unfairly censored online in violation of their rights. Censorship can be defined as the suppression of information, though it often relates to things like images, books, television, and other media.
It can be argued that some forms of censorship are necessary – for example, websites that children regularly access might censor inappropriate images. However, the rules around censorship can be very hazy online, and censorship can even become oppressive in many circumstances. We go into more detail below.
The dangers of censorship
In our open step about censorship from the University of York, experts suggest that internet censorship is a direct threat to our freedom to access information and express ourselves. They state that the key issue is that there is no clear code of conduct on many digital platforms, meaning we rarely even know what they are restricting and blocking, or why.
Take the case of model, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, on Instagram last year. A partially nude, non-explicit image of her that didn’t break any Instagram guidelines was repeatedly taken down. However, it is extremely easy to stumble across explicit nude images on Instagram, so we have to ask – why was Nyome censored?
The problem is, that platforms like Instagram operate on a case-by-case basis when it comes to nudity, leaving a lot of room for bias, discrimination, and unfair censorship.
On a different note entirely, we all know that censorship of information by the government can be extremely dangerous and damaging. Extreme censorship is often a feature of dictatorship – citizens are not given access to news, books, certain information, and instead are fed propaganda. This is a direct violation of their human rights.
Is cancel culture a form of censorship?
A very common societal phenomenon right now is cancel culture. Placing limitations on free speech via social or digital ostracisation is not a direct attack like censorship by the government or social media platforms, but can be an effective way of deplatforming an individual, group or corporation.
Rather than actually stopping someone from expressing their views, cancel culture is a way for people to say that they’re not going to listen. Usually, cancel culture is a response to someone saying or doing something objectionable. It normally involves members of the public withdrawing their support from the cancelled person, but it can also involve trying to negatively impact the person’s career prospects.
For the reasons we’ve already discussed, it can be damaging to cancel people, because this means we are refusing to engage with them and create critical discourse. However, this really depends on the reasons why someone is being cancelled.
The important thing to remember is that asking someone to be accountable for their actions is not regarded as the same as cancel culture. A widely acknowledged view is that criticism of cancel culture should not be an excuse for not taking responsibility for damaging actions, just as the right to free speech should not be an excuse for spreading hatred.
Final thoughts
Hopefully, this has provided you with an interesting and informative overview of free speech. If you’re interested in learning more about political ideas surrounding democracy,
While freedom of speech is an essential part of the world we live in and a fundamental human right, it can still be useful to think about its limitations. Being able to question society is a positive feature of democracy, and we believe that developing curiosity is an essential part of the human learning experience

Whats is in your cup?

I love this analogy:

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

"Because someone bumped into me!!!"

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

*Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.*

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It's easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

*So we have to ask ourselves... “what's in my cup?"*

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others.

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COVID what did you decide on us? Author Mugambi Paul

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyans with disability were identified as a vulnerable population due to increased risk of morbidity and mortality as a result of underlying health conditions, potential exposures to multiple support workers and informal carers, and ‘social determinants of health’ impacts such as discrimination and social exclusion. Despite this, persons with disability have largely been ignored in the national and county Government’s initial COVID-19 policy response. Consequently, the disability sector rapidly mobilised itself to lobby for the national Government to create a disability specific policy response or even some specific action on the mainstream Covid action measures, which resulted in the disability sector getting nothing at all. I observe even when the national response committee and national vaccination committees and associated Roundtable to help inform the development of a response, persons with disabilities were never been represented.
Despite an initial lack of action to protect people with disability by the government,
It is on record, some initiatives targeting persons with disabilities were done. For instance, a working coordination group via WhatsApp was formed and lobbied for hand washing sanitizers and advocated for access for water and communication. Some organization of persons with disabilities lobbied for food hummers and assistive devices, other initiatives included writing of press statements by umbrella organizations of persons with disabilities, and letters to raise the voice of persons with disabilities. Where did this momentum go?
As the disability sector returned to normalcy?

On the other hand, after our disability sausage desktop literature review, we have established there were no any number of enablers that could helped both draw policy makers attention to the issue and facilitate a relatively rapid policy response once policy makers were on board. This is because the process of developing the COVID-19 disability policy response was seen and still viewed by stakeholders as a mostly negative experience. I believe Many members of the disability sectoral groups have expressed a desire for the structures (Advisory Committee and Roundtable), which had been established during 2020 to become more inclusive.
If they were inclusive the sector could have vouched for the task force to continue once the immediate threat of the pandemic is over. However, it was also identified that to continue in an effective manner there would need to be a tight focus for the group(s) to avoid confusion over the purpose and direction moving forward.

While there were positive aspects to the development of the several initiatives, there were also a number of barriers identified that hindered its execution. Many of these barriers are long standing issues in the disability-health policy interface rather than new issues and these were further exacerbated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, there was negative engagement with the sector once the Advisory Committee and Roundtable were established, however fully implementing responses was more challenging due to issues such as lack of collection of data on which to base decisions and ongoing difficulties in the disability health interface.
Could the duty bears be following the trend of ignoring policy formulation aimed at uplifting persons with disabilities?

Is this an affirmation of the slow process of enacting the draft disability policy, drat persons with disability bill still at the attorney goral’s office?