OK so finally coming to the end of my presentation. The good news is I’ll never have to write all this out again. If someone I meet online has questions and really wants to know something I can just send them the link. Along the same lines if you have questions or want to share this please share endlessly! I love getting traffic to my blog and connecting with new people.
So in summary: People can become blind/ visually impaired at any stage of their life for a huge variety of reasons. There’s a huge spectrum when it comes to blindness and visual impairment. It’s ok to ask questions but guage the person’s comfort level. Timing is also important. If someone is crossing the street with their cane or dog it’s probably not the best time to ask them how their cane works! If someone is in the middle of reading a good book they’re less likely to want to explain how their notetaker works from square one. I remember once someone was trying to ask me all these braillenote/ braille questions and I was like barely holding it together emotionally but hiding it well. It was before the time of getting Ativan, but it’s like umm can I take an Ativan first? Talk to me in a couple hours LOL! I think just as sighted people need to guage our reactions we need to be comfortable in our skins with our boundaries and knowing when it’s right for us to answer.
Main areas in aspects of blindness: Mobility, braille, technology. There’s another huge one that I did not write about which is known is independent living, or daily living skills, or ADLS activities of daily living. That covers questions like how do blind people cook? Do laundry? Clean house?
I didn’t write about that because I’m honestly not comfortable with the subject. It’s not something I feel I can confidently speak about. That *is(* an aspect of my being blind where I’ll be less likely to answer. Because I have honestly less to say. It’s an area in my life that I don’t have strong skills in, other issues I have complicate things, my own personality/ personal experiences etc. Just like I’m not gonna write a long post about how to cross the street by myself I’m not gonna write on this.
While we’re on the subject of differences. Last new concept. We’re all different. Ya know it’s a whole other topic but it’s like they have these centers for the blind, where you can go and learn all this stuff that I’ve just written about. And they have this whole set program and everyone goes through the program and they’re all happy that in theory they have twenty or so people coming out at the end of 12 weeks all knowing the same stuff and yay they get payed for it!
As a new friend said recently we’re not a production line! I haven’t heard of a center ( only been to one a few times, long story) that doesn’t have this underlying belief. That everyone needs to learn the same stuff in basically the same way and that’s it.
And it’s not just a sighted person thing. Often the expectations for other blind people generally, are higher than the expectations sighted people have of blind people. There’s a lot of in my opinion competition and group tention in the blind community. That really takes people by surprise. Sighted or blind people. There’s a whole lot of judgment, that if you don’t have all these skills to the standards of others then you’re somehow less than. And you could ask a simple question in a group and get a really snippy answer. It’s very frustrating. And in my weak areas I’ve been very much put down for them, what I stated above. I think on some level it’s an oncounscious thing. Because I’ve been put down by random people and people who say they’re my friends, and are my friends. But we have to agree to disagree on somethings or I just don’t bring those things up around them. It’s probably the case for a lot in life. I think it takes awhile of insight and emotional intelligence to be comfortable with who you are. Holistically.
We’re not just blind people. We’re people that are blind, people that have whatever other medical conditions, people that like to write, sing, dance, hike, ETC. We don’t all have to do the same hobbies. There’s this thing where this man who’s blind and climbed Mount Everest is like put up on this pedestal like OMG he did that blind people can do anything!!
We can do anythingwithin our whole range of abilitys/ personal values. Someone might love hiking and could do it just fine blind, but now has chronic pain and can’t do it. While theoretically you can do whatever as a blind person you might not want to. If people have interests they’ll follow them to the best of their abilities, including taking into account differences in cognitive processing, emotional/ physical health ETC. The main reason this guy climbed Mount Everest is he’s a total nature buff. That’s it. I doubt he did it to impress anyone for the sake of impressing. Or if he did he needs some therapy.
Blind people are parents, married single, work at a variety of jobs but it’s not their blindness that determines them pursuing that it’s who they are as a person. Just like people say I should get a guide dog well I’m not a dog person. And not all blind people want to teach blind people.
A final word on blind services
It mostly comes from well meaning professionals but I’ve heard it from non professionals too. You have a problem. And the person says call blind services. Or go to this center for the blind. Because you’re blind so they should be able to help you. Wiothout writing a novel, blind services is a state agency and has the pitfalls of any other state agency like department of mental health or social services. They have a very narrow area of what they can help with, they have very rigid requirements on what you need to do to get help from them. It’s not a case of you call up and some nice efficient person comes to your house and like supports your whole life.
It’s especially frustrating around emotional issues/ mental health. Where the first thing they say is well why don’t I refer you to blind services? There is counseling around losing your sight, but again that’s a very narrow time limtd approach that’s not individualized at all. And if I’m going to a mental health treatment center trust me it’s not because I’m blind. When I was staying at friend’s houses and not wanting be emotionally abusedover a school break I called a hotline. The guy said why don’t you go to a shelter for the blind? Yeah like there’s one right down the street! I don’t think he even thought before saying that or after. He just wanted to get me off the phone. At another time I called this mental health social services place that my therapist had recommended because they had like emergency shelter services or something. And they tried to tell me to go try to work at the school for the blind over the summer so that I could have a place to live. I’m guessing other people with disabilities get these reactions. And I will say it’s hard if you don’t know anything about the disability and resources for people living with that disability. I’m really wanting to connect with deaf friends on and off line. I’ve probably asked some pretty obvious questions and know I’ve said some ignorant totally uninentially hurtful things. The worst one thank goodness I said to a very compassionate understanding formerly deaf friend who said don’t let not knowing make you prejudice. Just admit you don’t know.
So I’ve had a lot to say LOL! I’m gonna edit the first bit of my first part to say you obviously don’t have to read everything. I’ve tried to be organized. I’ve tried to keep my own personal life stories out of it because once I start telling one of those you’ll be there for two hours. So feel free to skim away.
But most importantly I’d love guest blog posts and comments. I want to hear your experiences with any of this. I really think it could lead to good discussion and connection. Anything you feel comfortable sharing on anything I’ve discussed or especially the topics I didn’t cover. If you don’t want to share your name I can make a comment/ post on behalf of someone. All I ask is no nasty comments, put downs or anything like that. Just your own personal experiences. And not just blind people. If you’re sighted and you want to talk about meeting your best friend who happens to be blind go for it! If you’re a teacher of the blind, or any teacher and you had a blind student and you want to talk about it great. Just whatever comes to mind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this presentation! And thank you to the authors of the videos and web sites I used.
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