Embracing Your Disability

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m sorry that I am not posting as regularly as usual but I am now in my third and final year of university so the majority of my time is taken up on that at the moment. I do have some posts planned though, so stay tuned!

As you can gather by the title, I wanted to write about embracing your disability. I’ve touched on this topic before in my how to become comfortable with your disability post but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot more about this topic since writing that.

I hope you enjoy this post and hopefully take something away from it.

 

When I was younger I used to refer to myself as being “visually impaired” or “partially sighted”, strictly speaking, this is not true as I am registered as “blind”/“severely sight impaired”. As I said, I’ve no idea why I did this, I wasn’t embarrassed about my disability, I guess I didn’t really understand the meaning behind the terms.

Whether you are disabled or not, one of the easiest things you can do is compare yourself to others. We are all guilty of it right? Remember that you are your own person so love yourself for who you are. You may not have achieved the same things as your friends, travelled around the world like other disabled people but that’s ok. Everyone wants to achieve different things. Who cares if you don’t want to travel around the world like others? You’ll have more than likely achieved something that’s just as great.

It’s very easy for us to say ‘there are so many people worse off than me’. Yes, there probably is, but everyone’s disability is unique and affects them in different ways. Every disability has its own sets of challenges but it’s important to point out that these challenges affect people in different ways. There are millions of people in the world with a disability each tackling it in their own, individual way.

Make your disability what it is, don’t let it make you. Do not identify yourself as “a disabled person”, you are the person with a disability, your disability is not the only thing that identifies you for who you are. You should always put yourself first before your disability as it doesn’t represent you as a whole and is only one small part of you.

Your disability is not your enemy. It may feel like it is at times, when you must fight for something so simple that non-disabled people take for granted but it should be an integral part of your life and something that you should learn to accept.

Having a disability can enable you to develop many valuable skills such as navigating using a long cane or a wheelchair, to give you the opportunity to learn ways of communication such as braille and sign language, it enables you to use your other senses effectively and become an independent individual despite having a disability.

 

I don’t love my disability, that’s rather strong but I like the person it’s made me become, I like how it’s shaped me as a person and my way of thinking. Personally, I think having a disability has made me approach life from a slightly different angle to my non-disabled peers; I don’t judge a book by its cover, I can educate people on disability, in my case sight loss and one of the most important things that it’s made me realise is that I can get to know someone for who they truly are. It’s also given me many skills: the ability to read braille (including music braille, French and German braille), use assistive technology such as a screen-reader, also the ability to navigate using a long cane to name a few.

Society can often have a negative view on disability but if you think about it, disability can be positive.

It’s important for us as disabled people to educate others on disability and help them challenge their perceived ideas. If we do this, we aren’t only putting our disability to good use but we are also tackling the stereotypes and stigmas that surround disability. Not everyone will change the way they view and perceive disability, but some will.

Let’s get rid of the idea that a disability disables us and start to embrace it. Having a disability makes us intelligent, mindful, strong and independent individuals.

In order for other people to accept your disability and get to know you for who you really are is first for you to accept your disability for what it is and learn to love yourself. Having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of.

 

We all have the ability to do something with our lives so let your disability enable you to do so, not disable you.

If you are a disabled person reading this, I hope that this post has helped you in some way. If you are a non-disabled person, I hope that it has educated you on disability itself and how capable and independent disabled people actually can be.

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Me and My OrCam

Hello,

In today’s post I am going to tell you about my own personal experience with a piece of equipment especially designed for blind and visually impaired people called the OrCam. The OrCam is a camera that fits onto glasses and it reads text, recognises faces and products and speaks them out loud.

I hope you enjoy this post!

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Photo description: this photo shows the OrCam attached to some glasses. The camera is very small so it portrays the fact that it is well hidden and not very noticeable.

 

A few months ago I came across an article about the OrCam. I decided to do some research into it and watched the video on the OrCam website and was amazed by it’s capabilities. I wasn’t sure what to believe as things often seem different in videos and articles on the internet. They can often be made out to be something that they’re not. I decided to arrange a free demonstration so that I could experience the hands on demonstration of the OrCam, letting me try it myself which enabled me to find out exactly what this piece of technology could do. The demonstration gave me the opportunity for me to decide whether it would be something that I could benefit from or not. Let me tell you, I was amazed at its capabilities. I’ve been blind since birth and come across a lot of assistive technology over the last few years but there is nothing quite like the OrCam. To summarise it: it’s really easy to use, it has extremely accurate text recognition, the camera on the glasses is discrete and the device is portable.

After some serious consideration about purchasing the OrCam I decided to do so and let me tell you, I’m so glad I did! When purchasing the OrCam, the trainer came to my house and did two hours of training with me and familiarised me with the device, taught me the different gestures in order for me to use the OrCam to its full potential and answered any questions that I had. I think having training to use such devices like the OrCam is vital so I was very impressed that this was included with the package.

The only downfall that I have found with the OrCam so far is that it comes with a choice of glasses; however, these were two big for me and the bone conduction earpiece did not sit where it was supposed to so I had to go out and buy my own glasses rather than use the ones provided. I do think that this is possibly a future improvement for OrCam but it is a minor issue.

The OrCam has opened a whole new world for me and given me so much more independence. I no longer have to rely on sighted people to read text to me such as mail, menus in restaurants and such documents. For example, I can pick up a book, magazine or a newspaper just like any sighted person and the OrCam will read it to me. The feeling to be able to pick up a book and have it read to me in a matter of seconds is amazing.

I am a university student, throughout my time in education I have always had to get work sent to me electronically or converted into braille which has caused many problems to say the least. Now that I have the OrCam I can read the printed materials just like every other student in my lectures. It will make studying a lot easier and quicker for me as the OrCam will read a page of text at around the same speed a sighted person would.

The OrCam also has other features such as face and product recognition. I don’t use the face recognition myself as I have been severely sight impaired since birth so recognising people’s voices is something I’ve just learnt to do. I do think the product recognition is a fantastic feature though. You can input products that you use on a daily basis into the OrCam and it will tell you what they are. I think this is an incredibly useful feature as many products feel the same so it’s often hard to differentiate between such products.

The developers of the OrCam are constantly working on it and developing new features all the time so I can’t wait to see what features it has in future upgrades. It has already given me so much independence, and I’m sure this will continue to grow in the future.

This piece of equipment is very expensive so I honestly can’t tell you how grateful I am to own such an incredible and life changing piece of assistive technology.

I hope you enjoyed this post and reading about how the OrCam has helped me.

Holly x

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with OrCam, these are my own personal experiences and all views are my own.