There’s no denying that people often have many questions about my visual impairment, what it’s like to have a visual impairment in a predominantly sighted world, how I adapt daily tasks and how I go about living such a fulfilling and independent life.
I receive many questions regarding my vision impairment from people that I know in person and also from my readers, so in today’s post I’m hopefully going to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I receive.
If you have any other questions then please do not hesitate to contact me and I’ll update this post with any further questions that I receive.
Before we get into the post, I would just like to point out that I am talking from my own perspective and experiences so other people with a visual impairment may have completely different answers to mine, this post is just to give you a bit of an insight, it is not a full representation of all blind and visually impaired people.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the post.
Can you describe your vision to me?
I have no useful vision in my left eye and have light perception in my right eye.
It’s important to note that just because a person is blind, it does not mean that they have the same amount of vision as every other blind person, every blind person has a different variation of vision. For me, I only have light perception, but some of my blind friends have some useful vision whereas others do not have any useful vision. Remember that there are many variations of sight loss.
Is there not a cure for your blindness?
There is a lot of research being done to cure many types of blindness and I really do find this fascinating. I really do hope one day that there is a cure for my condition but for now there isn’t. I don’t want to cling onto the slim chance that that might happen, as that doesn’t help me in the long run.
Do glasses not help?
As I only have light perception then no, glasses do not help me see, they do help in other ways though such as decreasing the glare from the sun. For a visually impaired person that has some useful vision then they may help. Just think about it though, the person in question would more than likely be wearing them if they help in some way.
“You don’t look blind or visually impaired.”
This isn’t a question but it’s something that people often say to me and my blind or visually impaired friends. This shows that there is a perceived idea on what blind or visually impaired people look like and I don’t fit that stereotype. I never really know what to say when people say this to me. I have discussed this in a previous post which you can read here.
Did you attend a specialist school?
Personally, I did not attend a specialist school, but many people who have a visual impairment do attend one and that’s completely up to them and their family. For some blind or visually impaired people, a mainstream school is the right option, but for others, a specialist school is the best option for them.
How did you cope in mainstream education?
Valid question, I’ve written a post on this so instead of me repeating myself you can read it here. Mainstream school wasn’t easy, it had its ups and downs but I made it what it was. There’s no point sitting in the corner feeling sorry for myself because that would have not got me anywhere. I coped the best way that I could and I’ve turned out ok so it can’t have done me any harm! I fought for my rights and what I believed in and that’s what got me where I am today. I put the work in just like my sighted peers. I received some brilliant support which I am extremely grateful for as it has contributed to get me to where I am today. I faced many hurdles and barriers and myself and my parents had to fight for what I deserved which was frustrating to say the least, but we didn’t give up without a fight. Although it had its challenges, I’m so glad that I went through mainstream education as it really set me up for the future.
What assistive technology do you use?
There is a wide range of assistive technology available for blind and visually impaired people, with new things being developed all the time.
Personally, I use a laptop with Jaws on or a Mac with VoiceOver, an iPhone/iPad with VoiceOver, a braille display and an OrCam.
There are various apps on my iPhone and iPad which assist me such as GPS apps, these include BlindSquare and Microsoft Soundscape, Seeing AI, Tap Tap See and KNFB reader just to name a few. I also use standard apps that sighted people use such as social media, email apps, the internet and blogging apps.
Using a screen-reader allows me to use my iPhone, iPad and laptop to do work, browse the internet and complete other tasks just like sighted people.
What jobs can blind or visually impaired people have?
There is a common misconception that people with a visual impairment are limited to specific jobs, this is far from the truth. There are adaptions and support available which means that blind or visually impaired people can work just like sighted people.
What support do you receive at work?
The level of support is different for every blind or visually impaired person and it often depends on the job that they have. In the UK there is a scheme called Access to Work which provides a grant that can pay for things such as specialist equipment/assistive technology, support worker, adaptions or help getting to and from work.
Access to Work has provided me with Jaws screen-reader, a braille display and travel costs. I also had orientation and mobility training before I started my job which was also covered by Access to Work.
Do you know this blind person? (listing everyone that they know that’s blind)
I know a lot of blind people but I don’t know every blind person in the UK for obvious reasons. I don’t mind people asking me who I know at all but just remember that I do associate with sighted people too.
Are famous blind people your inspirations?
I admire them for the work that they do but they aren’t my main inspirations.
Is your cane/guide dog like a SatNav?
I’ve never personally been asked this one but know a few people that have. A cane or a guide dog is not a SatNav, it’s down to the person to know where they’re going. A cane or a guide dog is simply a mobility aid. As blind people, we have to memorise routes in order to know where we’re going.
Why don’t you have a guide dog?
Not every blind or visually impaired person has a guide dog, guide dogs aren’t for everyone. There are many other mobility aids that blind or visually impaired people use such as a long cane, a symbol cane or no mobility aid at all.
The process of applying for a guide dog is a very long process and people can be on the waiting list for up to two years.
How many fingers am I holding up?
People used to ask me this when I was younger and thankfully it doesn’t happen now. It is one of the most annoying and irritating things that you can say to a blind person. You wouldn’t just walk down the street and ask a sighted person this so what gives you the right to ask this to a person with a visual impairment? JUST DON’T SAY IT OK?
What are you going to do because you can’t learn to drive like your sighted friends?
I used to get asked this all the time in sixth form! I don’t really have any choice in the matter – truth be told, I’ll suck it up and get on with it. Sighted people have a choice whether they want to drive and not every sighted person that I know is able to drive anyway. If I had the opportunity then I would absolutely love to be able to drive, unfortunately self-driving cars aren’t on the market so that’s not an option yet.
Do you have amazing hearing?
There’s research and studies around this topic but my opinion is that I just rely on my other senses a lot more, this doesn’t mean that they are any better than yours. I think I just pay attention to detail using my ears.
Braille looks so hard to learn, how do you do it?
This is a really common question that I get asked. Learning braille is like learning another language. There are many online courses and books that you can do to help you learn braille.
How do you watch tv?
I’m a firm believer in not changing my vocabulary to fit my disability. To get the most of watching/listening to the tv there are several options: subtitles, widescreen and audio description. Audio description is what I often use along with other blind people around the world. I don’t use it all the time as it’s not available on every programme but it can often be useful as it describes what’s going on.
How do you apply makeup even though you can’t see?
The simple answer is that it just takes a lot of hard work and practice. I’ve made mistakes and continue to do so but I’ll never let my blindness stop me from applying makeup just because I can’t see what I’m doing. For myself and other people with a visual impairment, it’s all about touch and memory.
What does it feel like being blind?
This is a bit of a strange one but a common question for many people. It doesn’t feel weird to me because I’m used to it, in fact it’s all I’ve ever known. I have my down days but so does everyone.
That concludes today’s post, I hope that it has answered some of your burning questions surrounding sight loss. If you have any further questions then feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me and I will update this post.
Do you have a visual impairment or another disability? If so, what are some of the frequently asked questions that you receive? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.