I Was Blind But Now I See…
The World Health Organization states that there are an estimated 285 million people with visual impairment worldwide and 39 million people with blindness. I have worked in the field of Visual Impairment and Blindness for seventeen years and have witnessed amazing feats and met some incredible people. Here is some of what they have taught me…
1. Losing your vision doesn’t mean that you have to lose your life.
Before I began working in the field I couldn’t imagine losing my vision. I felt, like so many others, that it would mean the end of my “life”. What I had forgotten was that life is what you choose to make of it. Just like with any disability, you can let it define you or you can choose to overcome it and work with what you have to offer. One of my clients has a fully functioning woodworking shop and creates beautiful furniture. He does this by creating specialized jigs for his saws so that he can cut and carve safely. He never let blindness stop him from what he wanted to do in life. You always have the option of having a successful and happy life, you just need to choose to do so!
2. Most things can be accomplished, you may just have to do them a little differently.
Imagine cooking dinner. You slice up vegetables, peel a potato, cook a hamburger, whatever the task may be. Now, imagine doing that with your eyes closed. Pretty terrifying isn’t it? Slicing and not knowing quite where you are along the vegetable or how close your fingers are to the blade. Cooking, but not being able to visually check the meat for doneness. The list could go on and on. These are the tasks that millions of people with a visual impairment or blindness are faced with every day and they successfully complete these tasks. It’s because most every task is possible, you just need to know how to adjust your mind and look at it from a new perspective or use a different technique to achieve your goal. The next time you peel a potato, close your eyes and feel the potato. Can you tell which part has been peeled and which still needs to be done? Now wet the potato and with your eyes closed, feel again. You’d be amazed at what you feel. Again, you didn’t change how you essentially peel a potato, but you used a different technique to tell what parts still needed to be done. Open your mind to new possibilities and techniques and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
3. You can tell a person’s real beauty by listening to their words and noticing their actions, not by seeing their appearance.
When you listen to your intuition and regard people according to different standards other than their physical appearance, you can truly “see” people for what they are. Some of the most beautiful people I know would be considered ugly by just gazing at their appearance and some of the ugliest hearted people are ensconced within a beautiful facade. Take the time to note a person’s words and actions if you really want to see them for what they are!
4. Self Advocacy is something everyone should implement within their lives.
Too often we swallow our needs and don’t stand up and declare what we desire in our lives. We expect people to read our minds and instinctively know what we need, when we should just communicate with each other. You avoid a lot of miscommunication if you advocate for yourself and let others know what you want and need. Self Advocate!
5. Losing your vision doesn’t make your other senses become heightened.
It is a common myth that your other senses become better with vision loss. What actually occurs is that you start focusing more on your other senses. You rely on your auditory skills or your olfactory skills much more when your ability to see is no longer present. And, like any skill, when you use those senses more, you become more in tune with them and using them becomes second nature. Just think how much more rich your experiences could be if you took the time to fully experienced them with all of your senses!
6. Losing your vision doesn’t mean that you lose your hearing or your mind.
So many clients have told stories of how people shout at them when they are blind because, somehow, to an amazingly large number of people, a person who has lost their vision must also be deaf. Now there are people who are dead/blind, but that is completely different. No one likes to be yelled at and people who have a vision loss are not inherently deaf. Nor do they lose their mind! I have been in a restaurant with my friend who happens to be blind and the waitress or waiter will ask me what she wants to eat. I always turn to her and say, “What do you want to eat?” cueing the wait staff that they can speak directly to her. Losing vision does not automatically mean that the person isn’t highly intelligent and capable of making their own decisions. I have clients who are lawyers, psychologists and many other high ranking jobs. Losing sight doesn’t mean that a person loses hearing or their mind! Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity!