Episode 17: Hazel Dudley

Gears, Gadgets and Gizmos
Dr Phil Friend
3 Dec 2020

Hazel Dudley is retired having worked for many years in the Civil Service as a personal secretary. 

Listen to Hazel's Gears, Gadgets and Gizmos

She went blind in her childhood and now puts her considerable skills as a blind person to good use as a panel member for RIDC testing apps and websites.  She says she'll try her hand at most things so long as "it's legal."

Hazel has developed (pun intended) a keen interest in photography. Using her iPhone she has amassed over 4000 photographs. In this podcast, she explains how she does it.

Hazel clearly likes to keep busy she's demonstrated specialised equipment to blind users, she's been a broadcaster, taught reading in Jordon, and traveled the world on cruise ships including the Queens; Elizabeth Mary, and Victoria. Her other interests include reading, buying jewelry, music, and learning German.

In her "free time" she's a season ticket holder at her beloved Liverpool FC and says she can't wait for the coronavirus restrictions to end.  She and her guide dog have really missed their regular trips to Anfield.

Here are some link to the products Hazel discusses during the podcast:-

Transcript

Phil Friend  0:12  
Hello, everyone, my name is Phil Friend and I'd like to welcome you to this latest edition of Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos. And with me today is Hazel Dudley Well, not really with me, we're virtually together. Now Hazel is one of the panel members of the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers and is doing sterling work in ensuring that the services that people get are suitable particularly for her in terms of her blindness. So she's been travelling all over on buses and stuff like that to make them more accessible to people. Hello, Hazel.

Hazel Dudley  0:48  
Good morning to you Phil

Phil Friend  0:49  
Now there we are. Now, I want to share before we start this conversation properly, I want to share a little piece of information about Hazel, which I didn't know which is Hazel's been blind since she was seven, totally blind. But she has four or 5000 photographs, which she has taken on her iPad and our iPhone. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever met a blind photographer before. So this is a first now, Hazel, how did this come about? What on earth made you want to do this? Given you can't see?

Hazel Dudley  1:28  
Yeah, that's a good question. I'm not the only blind photographer, which is a blessing. So that's something of interest. I'm interested because I've been to a lot of places I like to travel the world. I cruise a lot, I mean, in normal times, whatever they are. And of course, when you go travelling, you see a lot of interesting places. And you think well, I mean, all right, memories are great, because you can always remember what you did at places, but unless, unless you keep up with the journal. So I decided a long time ago that, I would have pictures either have pictures taken or try to take some myself. And I when I discovered, certainly with the iPhone with the advent of the iPhone, and how easy it was. Now it's especially easy because the camera, even a regular camera will give you indications of tilt left tilt right. And then it'll say level and so you realise you've got your shot in, you know, your level to take the shot that you want. We've also had a lot of help as well because I've got a book that I actually had to get from America, written by a blind photographer, called Judy Dixon, she loves to take photographs, and she gives you all sorts of tips. And what she does as well is puts at the end of certainly on the first chapter, she's taken photos, she tells you what they are, what her thought process of taking them was. And then somebody who can see looks at them and gives a critique on them. And she tells you about that as well. 

Phil Friend  3:14  
Now you were saying to me, Hazel that with the latest upgrade of the iPhone to iOS 14 for those technically minded that may be of interest to you. Here is a woman who can't see on a Zoom call with me, who then tells me that I'm sitting in a room with a bookcase in it now. This is because of the upgrade to the iPhone. Tell me what that's doing for you, Hazel,

Hazel Dudley  3:39  
What is doing is on for certainly for photographs. If I look at my photographs, it will tell me, a friend recently took a picture. She was out on a walk and she sent me a picture. It was of a beach hut and it was extremely colourful. So I looked at this picture and it said it didn't say beach hut it said house I think it said it said an orange house with a blue door and it had red flowers by it

Phil Friend  4:12  
it's taken audio description to a new level, hasn't it? It's providing records on photos. And you clearly use this an awful lot for general use, but obviously, you use it for your own photographs.

Hazel Dudley  4:24  
Yes, Yes, Yes, I do. The screenshot that you see here on my zoom is of my garden outside. And it's got it I did not know this. I took it I'm sitting outside one day in the spring and I thought oh, it's so peaceful. Let me take a photograph. And I put a post on Facebook as you do. saying how wonderful to be outside. And somebody said to me Wow, do you know what that's got a rainbow by it or on it just by the grass.

Phil Friend  4:56  
I can tell the listeners that I can I have seen this photograph. And there is, as Hazel says, a rainbow in it. It's a sort of Halo. And what's even more remarkable about this is that it kind of sits around her head, it makes her look very angelic. Now, Hazel, that's brilliant. Now I, you did share with me that you used to work, you're retired now. So you're a woman of leisure. And you used to be in the civil service as a typist. But, um, the three things we're going to talk I mean, the iPhone, we will give you that as a bonus, really. But one of the things you were talking to me about first was was a microwave, you wanted to talk about. Your things are a bit kitcheny, which is very useful because we all have kitchens, we all have to operate in them. So tell me a bit about this microwave?

Hazel Dudley  5:53  
Well, I've got a microwave that you can get talking microwaves, which might be useful to some people. But because I've been blind for so long. I don't need a microwave to tell me that door is shut when I've just shut it. It's got one of these it's a knob, you turn it yourself, and then you turn it so that it's lying down and horizontal. You can sort of tell how long you're leaving it on for roughly how long and it's only rough because it's only a microwave you're heating stuff up. And then if you want to stop it, well, of course, you just open the door. 

Phil Friend  6:33  
Okay, and you use it mechanically. It's not in that sense. It's mechanical. You're using a proper knob to turn and so on.

Hazel Dudley  6:41  
I do yes

Phil Friend  6:42  
Now what's a lot more snazzy than the basic microwave is of course, the coffee-making thing that you?

Hazel Dudley  6:50  
Yes, indeed. Yeah. Coffee Machine.

Phil Friend  6:52  
I told you she was a woman of leisure she spends her entire life drinking coffee and cruising around the world. Tell me about your coffeemaker. What's that do?

Hazel Dudley  7:02  
It's a Tassimo coffeemaker and chocolate, as well, hot chocolate. It's got these little pods, you can buy the pods. So it probably works at about 50p a cup of drink, whatever you're having. You can do tea as well, but I don't do tea. You get this little pod and you put it in, put it in the top of a sort of like the nozzle of the machine. And on the side of it, there's a like a little drawer or a deep drawer that you pull out and you put water in there. And you just put the drawer back with, obviously with water in you put the cup under the nose of the machine. And just press the button. And hey, ho, you've got really strong coffee.

Phil Friend  7:49  
You're putting cold water in. Are you in?

Hazel Dudley  7:52  
Yes, yeah. Yeah.

Phil Friend  7:54  
And how do you know when it's full? Do you just simply leave your finger in it while you fill it? Or how do you

Hazel Dudley  8:00  
The drawer? Yes, I do. Because it's got a line on it um, it's a tactile line. So you just fill it up there till its full. Actually, you can get two cups out of it. You learn that you get a little bit of water residue afterwards. But you learn as you use it, and it's very easy to use.

Phil Friend  8:24  
Yes, there's only one button you press. 

Hazel Dudley  8:29  
Yes, and you can hear it start to come on it clicks. And then all of a sudden it makes the noise you know like they like you do in the cafeterias. Like Starbucks. coffee or something? And then all of a sudden you smell the coffee, which is wonderful. And you hear it pour out and it doesn't overflow. 

Phil Friend  8:48  
And do you have a feel for the price for this? If some of our listeners wanted to buy one? What sort of money are we talking about?

Hazel Dudley  8:56  
Me about 30 pounds, I'm sure. Look on Amazon.

Phil Friend  8:59  
I'll put the links on the website for everybody to find the things and so on. And you were saying that the actual pods themselves what do they cost?

Hazel Dudley  9:08  
Well, they cost about four pounds for a box. I think it's 16. 

Phil Friend  9:16  
Okay, okay, so that's reasonably good too, isn't it?

Hazel Dudley  9:19  
Yeah, can get coffee and chocolate. You can even get tea, I believe, but I don't do tea in that.

Phil Friend  9:25  
Okay, so we've got the microwave, which is a very basic mechanical affair. It doesn't rely on any electrics other than to heat the thing up, obviously. But you turn knobs and they're very easy to use. Then we've got the Tassimo coffee maker, which is a very modern appliance, but not overly expensive. That makes your coffee for you. And then we've got this device that you told me about called the One cup. 

Hazel Dudley  9:48  
Yes and I've got no idea who makes it. somebody bought it for me. But I broke my arm. Well, one of the one time when I broke my arms I've broken that many things but I couldn't, I couldn't use. I couldn't pour out. I had a kettle at the time, but I couldn't pour a cup of tea, or a cup of water or whatever, I couldn't do it, especially if it was boiling. So they bought me this one cup and the one cup is much the same really like the coffee maker thing I was talking about. Because it's slightly different because what you do you take a cup of cold water, I pour it into a jug. And because it's if you what I'd like to do, and I have tried to do it, and believe me, it's messy. Is pour the cup of water straight into the one cup machine. Which is like a kettle thing. But I'm so messy that it No, no, it overflowed. And I thought what was the point in that, so pour it into a jug, which is obviously got narrower lips. So you can pour it in more easily. So you do that, then you put your cup under the nose of the machine, you put a teabag in there, press the button on the top. And Whoa, you get a cup of tea. And it again, it pours it out for you. And it's the only thing is about it is it is very, it's very touchy about the amount of water you have in I think if you put too little in, then the machine will stop and think you haven't got enough water in me. So you've got to have just the right amount of water. But again, it's a thing of once you know how to use it. It's it's easy.

Phil Friend  11:39  
Yes. And if you're, as you rightly said earlier, you're measuring out the amount of water you need and putting it into the machine, then obviously, it's not going to worry because you put the right amount in. Yeah. What's the advantage over that Hazel say to using an ordinary electric kettle?

Hazel Dudley  11:59  
A when you're pouring water into your teacup on from an electric kettle its boiling hot water. And for me, and I've been blind for many, many years. You know, I could misjudge it. So you could end up hurt.

Phil Friend  12:18  
Yeah, so it's a lot safer, isn't it? The other thing that strikes me about it is that you're only using the amount of water you need. So you're not boiling more water than you require?

Hazel Dudley  12:30  
Of course, it is. Yes, that's another aspect. 

Phil Friend  12:34  
Yeah. So you're saving electricity and whatever else. It sounds like an all-round good idea. And again, this was bought for you so you don't have a price. But I'll certainly find that out. I don't think these things are very expensive either. And from a blind person's point of view, it sounds much more preferable than the kettle.

Hazel Dudley  12:53  
Well, yes. Because I mean, you know, it's, it's just far safer.

Phil Friend  12:58  
Okay, now, in my pre conversation with Hazel, we're just gonna wrap this up with something that she told me which I find fascinating. And she's got a name called the queen of the Optacan. And this is a device I'm going to let Hazel describe this. This is no longer available. But it's one of the very earliest pieces of equipment that liberated a lot of blind people because as Hazel will explain to us, but it's no longer made but she's cornered the market on them. So she's got every available spare. But Hazel what was it? What did this thing do? That was so remarkable, back when you first came across it when was that 1970 something or

Hazel Dudley  13:42  
1977 on the fifth of September. That was when I had my first lesson 

Phil Friend  13:47  
A memorable date

Hazel Dudley  13:48  
 It was invented by a gentleman in America of course for his daughter in the early 70s because she needed to read print and this piece of equipment enables a blind person at great stress cost, hard work and everything else to read print. Now it is difficult because you have to be very reasonable at Braille because obviously part of it is reading skills, grammar skills, language skills. The best way I can describe it is the way they were always used to it's about the size of a cassette tape recorder. Who remembers cassettes? It weighs about four pounds I think. And it's got attached by a cable. A little camera handheld camera. And it literally is a handheld camera. It's got two little lights on it. And with your right hand, you put the camera to the book, or newspaper or whatever you might be reading. And you, you gently run it along the line of print with your right hand, and with your left hand, you put it on the body of the equipment. There's a little finger pad there. And as you run your camera over the print, the letters come up in little pinpricks underneath your finger.

Phil Friend  15:39  
So basically, this is an incredibly early version of what we would now talk about in terms of scanners. Although it's doing something more than that, a scanner would capture by camera letters and text and so on and so forth, but the Optacon is doing it and converting into Braille under your fingers. 

Hazel Dudley  16:00  
No no it is not actual Braille you're not right. No, No, it isn't Braille.

Phil Friend  16:02  
 It's just the shape of the letter 

Hazel Dudley  16:04  
It is the shape of the printed letter in a tactile form 

Phil Friend  16:07  
Right. Right.

Hazel Dudley  16:09  
Can I just say that the Optacan in lots of ways is one of the ways in which I think that that first started me off with photographs, the love of my life is a Liverpool Football Club. And I got a book, a great big book about them about, you know, their history, and it has pictures in it. And you know, pictures often have captions underneath them so I would read these captions and I think, isn't it great that I can now know what this picture is? I know what it is, because it's telling me what it is. You know, because of the caption? Well, now, I've actually got pictures of Anfield on my phone. And the reason is that in normal normal normal times, I spend half my life there because I go up there I'm a season ticket holder. I go in and I go in first because I like to be first to everything. And we see players, x players, x managers. We see them as they come in me and a couple of friends that I've made. And they go as soon as they see them again. Oh, come over here. We know somebody that would like a photo with you.

Phil Friend  17:21  
I'll share a little secret with you. My eldest son is also a season ticket holder at Liverpool. You and he who knows you might even run into each other knowing you

Hazel Dudley  17:33  
The number of people said to me on trains, we always see you we always do

Phil Friend  17:38  
Well, I'll ask my son to keep his eye open for this strange woman who wonders about taking photos but she's got a guide dog. I'm sure if you had a spot you, Hazel, thank you so much. It's been a real pleasure talking to you. And I'm, I'm sure our listeners will find what you've been saying really, really interesting and, and ultimately helpful. So thank you so much been great talking with you.

Hazel Dudley  18:03  
You're welcome. God bless you.

Phil Friend  18:05  
If you've got some gadgets or things that you use to overcome the difficulties that your disability may cause, please let me know and maybe we can arrange for you to appear on the show. My email address is brinkburn@gmail.com. Or you can contact me via the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers at www.ridc.org.uk and thanks for listening

Transcribed by https://otter.ai