Common Misconceptions on Blindness

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I thought I’d write a bit of an educational post on some of the common misconceptions on blindness/visual impairment and the correct ways to approach these. Just a note before I get into this post, I’m not speaking on behalf of all blind people, I’m talking from my own personal experiences. I hope you enjoy today’s post!

 

Being blind is a tragedy, therefore blind people are helpless.

This is far from the truth. I’m sure every blind person has their down days where they do feel helpless at times or feel like they’re fighting a constant battle but it does not mean that blind people cannot achieve the same goals as sighted people.

 

Glasses help blind people see.

No this is incorrect. Every blind or visually impaired person’s vision is different so for some, glasses do help but for others they do not. People may also wear glasses as a piece of assistive technology such as the OrCam in order to give them independence, not to improve their vision.

Photo shows an OrCam attached to a pair of glasses

 

Blind people have amazing hearing.

This is not true; we learn to use our ears and take note of sound effectively. We don’t have some sort of extremely powerful hearing. Just because we can’t see, it doesn’t make our other senses amazing.

 

If you are interacting with a blind person, you need to speak to them very loudly, then they’ll know that you are talking to them.

No, this is very rude and very very annoying. Speak to us like you would any sighted person.

 

People who are blind see total darkness.

This is not true as there are many variations and levels of blindness. Some people have tunnel vision, some can read large print, others have light perception and some have no sight at all. Personally, I have light perception which I find rather useful at times.

 

All blind people read braille.

As mentioned in the previous statement, many blind people have some useful vision so therefore do not need to read braille. Some people use other forms such as audio or assistive technology. We are very lucky in today’s society that we have such things. Personally, I do read braille myself and I think it’s a vital skill to have.

 

Blind people attend specialist schools and colleges.

This is one of the misconceptions that really does bug me. When I tell people that I went through mainstream school their shock and disbelief is evident in their voice. Educating blind people in mainstream schools has been in place for many years now, so specialist schools are not the only option. Specialist schools do exist and whether a blind person is educated in mainstream education or specialist school is entirely down to their needs and preference.

 

When interacting with a blind person, don’t say things such as “look” or “see”.

Never ever change your vocabulary when talking to a blind or visually impaired person. As a blind person myself, I use terms such as “I’m watching the tv” or “have you seen that?”

You won’t offend us by using them, you’ll more than likely offend us if you don’t use them.

 

Guide dogs know where to take a person and when to cross the road.

A guide dog isn’t a SatNav, it’s down to the person to know the route that they’re carrying out. A guide dog doesn’t know where to go, they only know where to go through training and commands from it’s handler. It’s the owner that decides when it’s safe to cross a road, and the guide dog will intervene if necessary.

 

All blind people have a guide dog

Whether a blind person has a guide dog or not is completely their own decision. Some feel that it gives them freedom and independence, whilst others prefer to use a cane. There are also many variations of canes – the standard white cane, red and white striped cane meaning deafblind and a range of coloured canes can also be purchased if you want a bit of glam or something a bit different.

Picture of a purple cane

 

Feeling someone’s face is a technique that blind people use to make out what someone looks like.

I don’t know one blind person that does this. Personally I think it’s just totally weird!

 

Blind people have limited job opportunities

Why do so many people think this? It drives me up the wall! With the correct technology, equipment, support and training blind people can get a job in whatever field or industry they wish. It may be harder for this to happen, but it does not mean that it can’t or won’t happen.

 

Blind people are unable to live independently

Being blind means that we may learn to do things differently or make adaptions, it does not mean that we are unable to care for ourselves or be independent.

There is specialist equipment and technology such as a cane, guide dog, screen-reading or magnification software or kitchen appliances in order for us to complete daily tasks and live independently.

 

Blind people can’t apply make-up.

People are often shocked when I say that I apply my own make-up. There is often this wrongly perceived idea that blind or visually impaired people can’t look glamorous, and therefore don’t apply make-up. Personally, I love being able to apply my own make-up!

 

Most blind people are looking for a cure

Many blind and visually impaired people are more or less happy with their disability and do not want a cure. Personally, it would be nice if I could see but I’m not looking for a cure and holding onto the tiny chance that this may happen. I’m happy with the person that I am and believe my blindness has shaped who I am today.

That concludes today’s post everyone. If you are a blind or visually impaired person yourself, what common misconceptions do you experience? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Holly x

34 Comments

  1. Batb
    July 7, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Thank you, for saying what is possible, not impossible.

    I’m vision impaired with a statement cane but people assume I am ‘in need of assistance’ sometimes. I smile sweetly and say ‘thank you but I can mangage’ unless it is a train journey, where I do accept help, due to be being vertically challnged!

    • July 7, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Thank you. I completely get what you’re saying, it’s a tricky one sometimes

  2. July 9, 2017 / 11:41 am

    Hey Holly loved your blog! Say it like it is!

  3. Peter Corbett
    July 9, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    Thanks Holly. Excellent blog.

  4. July 10, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    Such an useful and informative post Hols. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Great post as always xxx

  5. July 13, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    This is a great post. I think sometimes
    it really helps for people with disabilities of all sorts to put this type of info out there as some people are afraid to ask questions that challenge those stereotypes for fear that they may offend. Thank you xx

  6. July 14, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    I really enjoyed your post. I am married to a blind guy and he gets misperceptions like this all the time.The one that really makes me mad is when people just assume that because he can’t see that he’s helpless.Norhing could be farther from the truth! He probably does more housework and cooking around here than I do,especially this week since I’ve been very preoccupied with making lesson plans for our churches vacation Bible school where I’m in charge of the younger kids and he is the music and worship leader there.

  7. Dani
    July 14, 2017 / 5:28 pm

    Where can I get a cane that looks like the one in the photo?

  8. Pau
    July 15, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    I liked your post, I learnt some things I didn’t know about visually impaired people.
    But I don’t think you are right about what surprises us about you applying your own make up. It’s not because we think blind people can’t look glamorous, it’s because we think you simply cannot do it. I couldn’t apply make up on myself if I were totally blind. And I think I would have problems if my sight was much poorer than it is now. So it surprises me to know someone who is blind can apply her own make up. I always thought someone do it for them.

    • July 15, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed reading. That’s interesting, it took a lot of practice to learn to apply makeup with no useful vision

  9. July 15, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Great post! I struggle a lot with people not understanding why I just can’t slap on a pair of glasses and see. Some people honestly seem to think I haven’t ever gone to a doctor or something.

    • July 15, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      thank you! I know exactly what you mean, it can be a difficult one sometimes

    • July 26, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Thank you! Yes I actually have those, there’s a post about them on my blog 🙂

  10. July 27, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    The one I get the most is that every single person seems to think that they have to touch, grab or pull me around to commpnicate with me or guide me somewhere. Drives me insane! Can I not just leave my house and complete tasks without total strangers grabbing me constantly then getting mad at me for asking them to stop? It really comes down to an issue of respect, not just equality. If a sighted person has the right to their own personal space, then so do I. Almost everyone I encounter on the daily feels like they have to put hands on me. It begs the question, who gave you permission to do that, because I sure didn’t…

  11. Treasa O Callaghan
    July 29, 2017 / 11:01 am

    Valuable information here for people to understand blindness / visual impairment. A common misconception is many do not understand that people with same condition may have different levels of sight. Thanks Hollly, brilliantly written. That OrcamEye device looks interesting.

  12. July 29, 2017 / 4:44 pm

    I am ssi with oscillating nystagmus and retina dystrophy, I am always saying watching tv of what I can see of it 😂 I am always getting frustrated with people that assume that we can live an independent life because we have vision impairment, drives me mad that people presume that we can’t do things when it’s obvious we can with assistance appliances to help us live a somewhat normal life, I am always saying if I can’t do it, I will find a way of doing another way

  13. July 29, 2017 / 5:33 pm

    Hi there,

    About the stereotype of “total darkness”, this should be explored further — some totally blind people do experience blindness as darkness, while others see red, or grey or another colour, and others see flashes of light and other things their brain produces to compensate for the lack of ‘input’, while others have been blind all their lives and do not know what seeing is like. It’s true of course that not all blind people are totally blind, but “blindness as darkness” is some people’s reality and not a myth.

    (I once saw a list of “blindness myths” on the NFB website, and this one was dismissed by saying “seeing darkness means no light is reaching the back of your eyes. Totally blind people see nothing”. But although the darkness isn’t real, it’s how some totally blind people experience seeing nothing.)

    • July 30, 2017 / 12:30 am

      Yes as I state, everyone’s vision is different. I completely get what you’re saying and totally agree

  14. August 3, 2017 / 9:16 am

    Well said. Please can I have your permission to reprint your article in our church’s magazine?

  15. August 7, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for this and ask if you mind using some or all of it when discussing visual disabilities with my Beavers and Cubs, please?

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