Kate Giles

A portrait photo of Kate Giles
Kate Giles

My background is nursing and disability support. When I began losing my sight to retinitis pigmentosa, I decided to study journalism and creative writing. Travel and peoples' experience with disabilities is my main focus. I have been published in mainstream as well as the disability sectors. Reading, writing, going to the movies, dining out and travelling are my main interests.

I strive to live life to the fullest. I have many interests and love to travel. Writing about my experiences is also a passion. I especially want to encourage other people to be active by sharing my experiences.

Kate Giles's articles

Person using laptop to buy presents online with Christmas tree in background

Online shopping helps make Christmas stress-free

I love Christmas. But it's also a very busy time of the year. I asked people with vision loss how they cope with the extra pressure. Being organised tops the list. Many use the internet to do their shopping. Writing on cards can be difficult. But people have come up with a variety of ways to overcome this. Many use computer adaptive equipment. Others make putting up the Christmas tree and wrapping gifts a family affair. It's about finding time for more fun and enjoying the season.
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Lachie in a park, looking to the camera
Lachie O'Brien 220_180

I'm still the same person as before.

This week is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week. I spoke to Lachie O'Brien about his spinal cord injury and the Spinal Cord Awareness campaign. Lachie was injured playing sport. At first, Lachie wondered what he would miss, but his positive attitude allowed him to cope. Lachie is still passionate about sport and hopes to win gold in the Paralympics one day. He also has a desire to help others and is an ambassador for Spinal Cord Awareness Week. Lachie says it's a great opportunity to let others know that life can still be good.
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Close up of pouring tea from floral teapot into a cup.
pouring tea

A guest in my home.

My friend was very upset. She doesn't like being treated as through she is useless. But sometimes bullying knows no bounds. A report by the World Health Organisation says that negative treatment still persists for people with disabilities. Bullying can happen in any situation and by those you least expect. And it has long lasting effects on your health and well-being. If you are being bullied, it's not your fault. But there are strategies you can use to help stop this negative behaviour.
1 comment - on 12/11/2012
Three dolphins in a swimming pool.

I always wanted to swim with dolphins.

I've always wanted to swim with dolphins. Lovina in Bali is famous for dolphins and I visited it recently. When I got to the dolphin pool, I became anxious. It all seemed very complicated for someone with limited vision. But then they took me to another pool. This pool belongs to a dolphin called Gombloh. Gombloh has been specially trained to be with people with disabilities. He is very gentle and we played for nearly an hour. I learnt later that to swim with a dolphin is considered very good luck.
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More about: 
Whales in the ocean.

Whales use soundwaves to navigate.

Walking to the bus stop with my cane and eyes closed is good practice for when I lose all my vision. But now I am trying another method. It's called echolocation and it's about using your ears to hear an echo. It's believed some dolphins and whales use this method. It is also said that during heavy fog, ancient sailors rang a bell and used the echoes to locate where they were. Some people who are blind have taught themselves to use echoes. But it is mostly ignored as a mobility aid. I've tried it but I'm not having much luck.
1 comment - on 26/10/2012
An outrigger being pushed by two men out into the sea.
Kate Giles Outrigging in Amed

The fishermen push it out into the waves.

I'm a bit of an adventurer. I'm in Amed Bali on a holiday. There's a black sandy beach with rocks. There are also lots of outriggers. Outriggers are canoes with big wooden frames on both sides. I'm going fishing in one. My feet slide on the beach rocks but I get to the boat. The fishermen lift the outrigger up and push it into the waves. The sail catches the wind. We fish with handlines and a bit of cloth. We fill the bottom of the boat with fish. The view on the way back is breathtaking.
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A wall clock with large hands and numbers
wall clock

I now have a gigantic wall clock.

Everything takes so much longer to do because I have a vision impairment. So planning is important. I was meeting people for a morning coffee. I was up early as usual but it appeared darker than normal outside. It was strange there was no one at the bus stop. Things also seemed a bit strange when I arrived in town. The sign on the chemist door said the store opened at 8am. But the shop was closed. And then I realised. I had read the time incorrectly at home. Now I have a gigantic new clock keeping me on time.
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A man and woman in bicycle outfits standing behind their tandem bike.
Tandem bike

The benefits of riding outweigh any risks.

Keeping healthy and fit isn't always easy. Years ago I took up bike riding as exercise. When I started to lose my vision, I thought I could no longer ride a bike. But my husband suggested using a tandem bike. This bike is for two people. There are two seats and handlebars and two sets of pedals. The person at the front steers the bike. Riding a tandem bike has many benefits. I can still ride my favourites bike trails, especially the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Sometimes we fall off the bike. But we get back on and continue riding.
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A large number of people heading to the Angkor Wat ancient temple.
Angkor_Wat cambodia

Cambodia is dotted with ancient temples.

A group of Australians with disabilities will go on a cycling tour in Cambodia. They will cycle 350 kilometres in five days. The group are doing the tour to raise money. They want to start a women's wheelchair basketball program in Cambodia. Jared Foster and Belinda Curro will take part in the cycling tour. They are excited about visiting Cambodia. They know Cambodia is a poor country and has a recent violent history. But they want to meet the people. They want to see the beautiful countryside. And they want to inspire Cambodian people with disabilities.
1 comment - on 30/05/2012
A painting of a frightened young girl lying down and hiding half her face in a pillow.

Fear can overwhelm us.

We are all born with the ability to fear. Many of our fears are learned. Others come from our own unique personality. Many people have common fears. My family and I fear spiders. Sometimes a person's fear can overtake their life. Kylie began to lose her sight in her early 40s. She was scared of what other people would now think of her. She struggled to learn how to live with her vision loss. Kylie decided to see a counsellor. Over time she became more confident and learned to manage her fears. I am still learning how to manage my fear of spiders.
1 comment - on 28/05/2012