Diverse Abilities

Gina Martin

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Audible pedestrian crossings in Canada

A man using a white cane is crossing a road using the crosswalkDo you know what the synthesized sound of chirping birds are for at some intersections? Currently, at some intersections, they are still in use to tell those of us who have low vision or who are blind to know when it is safe to cross the road. Did you know that there are 2 different sounds?  One sou…

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Embracing Differences Assisting Those Who Stutter

Two Quotes from the Institute for stuttering treatment and research 1st Quote Stuttering has a genetic and hereditary component, It can begin gradually or suddenly.
2nd Quote stuttering me come and go and is variable, it may also change unpredictably in frequency and severity.

Supporting someone who stutters is important for emotional well-being and self-confidence. Stuttering can be challenging for each person experiencing it and your support can make a significant difference in our life.

Here are some tips on how to support someone who stutters:
Patience. One of…

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Different canes for different terrains

Gina standing on a trail with her cane. The sun is shining through the trees. A couple of years ago, my husband and I travelled to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Our goal was to see the tide pools during low tide at Botanical Beach. I was told the trail/path down was inaccessible to me due to tree roots, rocks, low hanging branches, steps, and many small plank walkways.  M…

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What is legally blind?

There are nine photos of the same two boys one holding a basketball, one holding a soccer ball.  Each picture depicts a different eye condition to give representation of what someone would see.

1) When a fully sighted person is looking at something that is 200 feet away and sees it clearly, that is 20/20 vision.  When someone is diagnosed legally blind, that means that the person with the diagnosis needs to be 20 feet or closer to it to see it or to kind of see it.

2) Never assume …

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Learning Disabilities

A teenage boy (looking discouraged) sits at a desk with his elbows on the desk and his hands holding his head as it hangs. There is a notepad with a pen on the desk.

According to Easter Seals of Canada, approximately 22% of our population in Canada live with a learning disability. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia are some examples. Learning disabilities have nothing to do with intelligence or psychiatric conditions. Many people with learning …

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What is Disability?

Text reads Disability is just another way for a mind and or body to be.

A disability is something that prevents someone from participating fully in life. Anyone at any time could develop a disability.

You can be born with a disability, or acquire one later in life through accident, illness, stress, genetics, the natural process of aging, or for no known reason.

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Gina’s Sight Loss Experience over three decades

Gina in thoughtful poseMy vision loss journey. It is a journey that is mine, one that only I can experience from the inside. It is a journey that is unique to me, just as everyone else is on journeys that are unique to them. I am blessed to have the love, support, and encouragement of my husband, family, and many close fr…

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Guide dogs and service animals etiquette in Canada

A black lab guide dog wearing its harness, is sitting at an intersection. He is looking at the cameraGuide dogs and service animals are more readily acknowledged today and are often seen with their handlers in every setting around town or in daily life activities.

These highly trained animals are essential to their owner’s quality of life, safety, and ability to live independently. They have und…

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Senior Safety for Phones and Internet

A man with grey, thinning hair  is wearing a blue button up shirt and eye glasses. He is looking at his cell phone

Hello, my name is Gina Martin. I own and operate Diverse Abilities Programs and Training on lower Vancouver Island. Through interactions with attendees of my presentations on low vision, blindness, and disability at retirement and senior communities, I have come to realize how trusting our senio…

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Coping with PTSD / CPTSD


Coping with PTSD / CPTSD: Understanding and living with Post-Traumatic Stress

The information in this post is not meant to be comprehensive, only to give basic information on this disabling illness and to provide resources to seek more information or help.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P…

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Rolling Towards Inclusion: Universal Design

Unveiling the hidden barriers that people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices encounter

Imagine a world designed for everyone. A world where mobility isn't determined by physical ability. This vision is at the heart of the concept of universal design.  “Universal design is design th…

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Saying “Hello” to someone who is blind or partially sighted,

a few AWESOME and helpful things happen!

1. When you know our name, it is helpful when you use it to greet or address us.  Saying “Hi Gina” lets me know for sure that you are talking to me. Often, many of us who have low to no vision don’t always know it is us that you are talking too.

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Zip Lining

ziplining blindWays to navigate zip lining with low to no vision

The first time I zip lined was in 2016 while I was attending The Louisiana Centre for the Blind, receiving training to navigate life with sight loss.  What was unique about this adventure was that we all wore learning shades (a blindfold)!  It was…

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Neurological Disabilities

neurological disabilitiesYou may be familiar with the most known of the many neurological disabilities:

- Epilepsy. Abnormal electrical activity in the brain causing seizures.

- Parkinson’s Disease. A brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with bal…

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Hot Air Balloons

Hot air baloonsVision loss is not only about losing your sight. It also is about gaining your blindness. 

Why would someone who can barley see, want to go in a hot air balloon?  

Because the experience is more than just a visual.

The energy of the crowd was electrifying. People buzzing around all happy …

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Free As a Butterfly: My Blindness Rehabilitation Journey

butterflyEditor’s note: On January 25, 2017, friends, family and members of CFB gathered at Paul’s Restaurant in Victoria, B.C. to celebrate Gina’s successful completion of the nine-month training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Gina gave an interesting and inspiring presentation about her e…

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Helpful tips for the sighted when interacting with people who have no to low vision

Gina Martin with her cane talking with Pluto while in DisneylandI have no central vision, and I experience blind spots and floaters in my peripheral vision. I can see shapes and most colours, but cannot make out details. I wear dark sunglasses as my eyes are light-sensitive, so I prefer low lighting. No two people’s experience with vision loss or blindness is th…

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What is Braille?

Fingertips gliding across page of BrailleThe Braille alphabet is used by people who are blind or partially sighted as a basis of the larger Braille code for reading and writing. Kids and adults who are blind read Braille by gliding their fingertips over the lines of embossed Braille dots. They write braille using a variety of tools, such a…

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Tricks Tips and Blindness Hacks

Cutting vegetables1) There are many different types of canes and cane tips for people who are partially sighted or blind to choose from. Every cane gives different information, and each person can explore what type of cane will work best for them.  A cane represents freedom to those who use them. 

2) A white cane…

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Identifying Currency

Canadian paper currency from left to right $100, $50, $20, $10, $5

Money is only good if you know what it is!

In Canada, if you are someone who has limited vision or is totally Blind, our Canadian currency is easy to figure out the denomination. Every bill is identifiable.

We can tell from the font size, different colours, and the tactile markings of Brai…

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See, Look and Watch

Beautiful orange rose with darker orange on the outer petals, gradually becoming a lighter orange in the centre. There are water drops n the petals. The rose is coming up out of a silky material that creates a dark blueish purple background.

It is totally okay to use the words see, look, and watch when talking to someone who is blind. These are not uncomfortable words for the majority of us who are blind. We do see, look, and watch only differently.

You look at a garden and see a beautiful orange rose. You smile as you admire how…

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Sensory Processing Disorder

sensory overload

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological condition that affects how someone’s brain processes sensory information (sensory integration), causing extreme sensitivity to stimuli. From 5% to 16.5% of the population lives with SPD according to Occupational therapist, psy…

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Hearing Disabilities

handsketchThere are a few main terms used to describe people experiencing hearing loss. Deaf, Hard of Hearing, someone experiencing hearing loss, and deaf blind. The majority of people in the Deaf community prefer not to use the term “hearing impaired,” so avoid it unless the person specifies that they prefer…

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Attending a LEAD presentation

LEAD presentation
VDRC Article: Attending a LEAD presentation
Paul Frey, Writer for the Victoria Disability Resource Centre, had the pleasure of attending a Lived Experiences Around Disability (LEAD) presentation. He writes about it here.
Raising awareness among students about people living with a …

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Gina is smiling at the camera. She's wearing sunglasses, a soft fuzzy purple cape and a burgundy touque, it's winter with a bit of snow on the ground behind her.Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures. Epilepsy may occur as a result of a genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke. During a seizure, a person experiences abnormal behavior, symptoms, and sensations, sometimes…

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Challenges with Technology

Blind man, holding folded cane in right hand, holding cell phone in left hand as he listens to voice over aid him with his task.As a woman who is almost blind, technology has helped our community of people who are blind or partially sighted gain a huge amount of independence back. Smart phones and other inventions have allowed many of us to participate and enjoy life more fully. Voice over, Siri and magnification (all built …

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My Cane & How I Navigate

Gina, holding her cane in her right hand, using it to see where she's walking. She's walking across a moss covered tree that has fallen across a small creek.I used to fear the idea of using a white cane and drawing attention to myself. Today, this white cane represents my freedom.

Navigating with no sight is possible if you have these tools in your belt!

My cane is an extension of me! I use it to detect objects that I can’t see or have difficultie…

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