Hello everyone and welcome back to Life of a Blind Girl,
I hope you’re all well.
Today I wanted to talk to you about something that grabbed my attention as soon as I read it, I wanted to get involved.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has launched a video and a campaign under the hashtag #HowIsee to tackle people’s perceptions on sight loss. Many people have the idea that if someone is registered as severely sight impaired then they simply cannot see anything. You can watch the video here.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the different levels and the variations of vision that blind/severely sight impaired people can have. I think it’s a great way of raising awareness of visual impairment but most importantly, how blind and visually impaired people see the world for themselves.
Being blind/severely sight impaired does not mean that a person has no vision whatsoever and that everything is just black, it is far from this ideology. Being registered as severely sight impaired is simply just the terminology that is used.
I wanted to join in with this campaign and tell you how I see the world myself.
I have a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). This is due to the fact that I was born at 24 weeks and therefore developed ROP. I also have retinal detachment because of this condition. There are 5 stages of ROP, I have stage 5 which is the most severe. So let me talk to you about both of my eyes because they’re completely different. I have no sight in my left eye, I have always called that my ‘bad eye’. Over the last few months I have also developed inflammation in that eye and I am currently on steroid drops for this. The cause is not yet fully known which is rather frustrating, as this is the first time that I have experienced problems because of my eye condition. Although that eye isn’t much use, it still really does matter and needs taking care of.
My right eye though, is a bit more useful; I have light perception in that eye. I probably use my light perception more than I think I do as it really does help me when I enter a room for example. I’m able to tell when it’s sunny which can be useful as well. I can also tell when things are near me, such as when I’m walking and I’m next to a wall or when someone is stood in front of me I can tell that they’re there. They do need to be very close though. As I have mentioned I have developed inflammation in my left eye, this has also affected my right eye as well. I’ve developed light sensitivity meaning that I’ve pretty much had to wear sunglasses a lot recently. The steroid drops are helping this a lot though which I am pleased about.
The way I would describe my vision is a load of light with no detail. I cannot see print so therefore I use braille and rely on a screen-reader and other assistive technology. I use my other senses a lot too as my sight is pretty much useless! For example, I go on taste, smell and hearing all the time.
I’ve been asked many questions about my vision such as ‘how do you know what you’re eating?’ or ‘how do you know who’s talking to you?’ I use my other senses for these.
There are many things that I am fortunate to have that do help me see the world in my own way. I may not be able to actually see it through my eyes but without assistive technology or my cane, I wouldn’t be able to read menus in restaurants, use a mobile phone or computer, read books, attend university, write essays, blog, travel independently and do normal things that sighted people do on a daily basis without hesitation. I believe assistive technology opens up the world in a completely different way for blind and visually impaired people. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do the majority of tasks that I do on a daily basis. It gives us some sort of vision. The technology that I have is a substitute for my vision.
For years I have been very reluctant to use my white cane because I had negative experiences from other people which knocked my confidence rather a lot. I do enjoy using my cane a lot more now though. I am very grateful to my friends and family for guiding me around and for basically being my eyes! I can’t thank them enough; you all know who you are!
I can’t see a lot and I do wish I had more sight but I am very grateful for my light perception. People do tell me that I ‘don’t look blind’ or ‘cope so well’. Just because I cope well, it does not mean that I can see. I’ve learnt to deal with my visual impairment and found ways of completing everyday tasks to the same ability as a sighted person. Also, this idea that someone doesn’t look blind…what does a blind person look like anyway?
Don’t assume, ask and always be open minded. Personally, I think that you can never fully know about a visual impairment or disability until you truly experience it yourself or at least try to understand it.
I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog post! If you have any questions, please do get in touch.
If you are visually impaired yourself then don’t forget to join in with the hashtag #HowISee and help educate people on the varying degrees of sight loss!