Having a visual impairment all my life means that it has taught me rather a lot, so I thought that I would share some of the things that it has taught me over the years.
I’m hoping that this may help people going through sight loss themselves, or those who have recently been diagnosed with a visual impairment.
So here are my top 25 things that my visual impairment has taught me.
1. Not everything is black and white.
I’ve discussed statistics on sight loss here on my blog a few times, so if you would like to know about those then check out my previous disability posts. It’s important to remember that most blind people actually have some form of useful vision, and do not see total darkness. I’ve definitely realised that living with a visual impairment comes with so many unanswered questions such as ‘will there ever be a cure for my eye condition?’ Or ‘will my eyes always be stable, or will they deteriorate causing other problems?’ Obviously, these are unanswered questions, it’s important not to dwell on these too much.
2. Looking after your eyes is just as important as your mental and physical health.
I’ve learnt this over the last couple of years when I’ve started to have problems with my eyes and had two operations last year. It’s important to have regular eye tests. If you have a visual impairment and notice a change in your vision, then it’s vital to be seen by an eye specialist as well.
3. You aren’t a burden.
It can often feel like you are a burden when you have a disability but it’s important to remember that you are not one.
4. IF your eyes are playing up then stop what you are doing, do something to relieve the symptoms and don’t feel guilty for it.
I definitely realised this one whilst I was at university. Sometimes we have to take some time for ourselves and that’s okay.
5. Technology is basically your best friend.
There is so much technology out there, it’s often hard to keep up. I wouldn’t be without the assistive technology that I use now!
6. Learning skills such as braille, how to touch-type and how to use a long cane are unique and also extremely vital, so embrace them.
When I was younger, I didn’t realise the importance of such skills, I used to think that I was different to my peers. Although this may have been the case, having these skills has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
7. Asking for help isn’t a weakness.
If you’re struggling, then it’s important to ask for help. One thing that I’ve learnt having a visual impairment is that there’s no point struggling. It’s important to give things a good go, but if you can’t do something then ask for help, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.
8. You are so much more than your disability.
I have wrote a lengthy post on disability and identity and what it means to me, but it’s important to remember that you are so much more than your disability. It may define you in some ways, but you are your own person, regardless of your disability.
9. A long cane is your key to independence.
This is something that took me a long time to realise, but oh I’m so glad that I finally accepted that and began to love using my long cane. It gives me the freedom to get around confidently and independently.
10. Obstacles are the devil.
The amount of bruises that I’ve got from walking into obstacles over the years is ridiculous haha! Don’t even get me started about parked cars on pavements…please do not do it okay?
11. Raising awareness and talking openly about disability/visual impairment is vital!
This is something that I couldn’t have imagined myself doing a few years ago, little quiet, not very confident Holly most definitely wouldn’t have done what she does now, but over the last three or four years I’ve realised how important it is to raise awareness of my visual impairment, that is why I created my blog.
I always love getting messages from my readers saying that my blog posts have helped them in one way or another, I love getting involved with organisations and charities campaigns around disability, and I also love sharing my story with others. I think it’s very important to tackle the stigmas and common misconceptions surrounding disability for society to learn about disabled people and the many disabilities that exist.
12. Speaking up and making your voice heard is important, you need to advocate for yourself.
Advocating for myself was something that I struggled with back in school, I think it was a confidence issue more than anything else but as I got older, I started to realise how important this is. I realised that it’s extremely important to fight for your rights and what you deserve, speak up about accessibility and make your voice heard. If you do this, then you can help make a change which can often have an impact on other people as well. This was most noticeable for me at school and university, if I expressed concern on how something wasn’t working for me, it was often taken on board so that things can be improved for people in the future who may have a visual impairment.
13. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do something because of your visual impairment, we all have limitations.
Living in a predominantly sighted world, I often come across things that aren’t accessible for me as a visually impaired person or I find out that I can’t do something because of its inaccessibility or I simply can’t do it because I can’t see. No matter if you have a disability or not, there are certain things that you can’t do.
14. Having friends with a visual impairment is important.
Having fellow blind and visually impaired friends is something that I’ve really started to appreciate over the last few years, you can talk to them about everything whether it’s disability related or not and they just get it.
15. Step out of your comfort zone and push yourself.
I’ve realised that stepping out of your comfort zone regardless of your visual impairment is important. When you do so, it feels amazing and it’s such a huge sense of achievement!
16. You can do things, just like sighted people.
Sighted people often think that people with a visual impairment can’t do things just because of their disability, this can often make the person with the visual impairment question whether they can do something. Well guess what? You actually can! Oh and it’s such a good feeling when you prove someone wrong…
17. Your visual impairment does not stop you from doing the things that you want to do, or stop you from getting to where you want to be in life.
Cheesy but true. I’ve never let my visual impairment stop me from doing things or getting to where I want to be, in fact it’s made me want all of this so much more.
18. Many people you meet have never met a person with a visual impairment and have no idea that they need to just be ‘normal’ so just go with it.
It can often be frustrating when people don’t know how to interact with you because of your disability, but as annoying as it can be, it’s important to educate them on this so that they know for the future.
19. You know more about your condition than many people, including professionals.
I’ve done countless amounts of hours of research on my eye condition, the problems I’ve had and all the other stuff that goes with a disability when professionals haven’t been able to advise me or answer questions that I may have. At the end of the day, you are the one that is living with the disability, so know how it affects you.
20. Planning trips in advance is a pain but so important if you are travelling independently.
It would be so nice to just get on a train and not worry about planning in advance, in some cases this can be done but it is often essential to plan in advance. If things don’t work out, then you know that you’ve done everything that you can and you know what to do if things do go wrong.
21. Celebrate all the victories, even small ones, especially when people tell you that you can’t do something because of your visual impairment.
Isn’t it such a great feeling when someone says you can’t do something because of your disability but you prove them wrong? Celebrate your achievements, even if they are small!
22. Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.
I’ve come across a fair few people who don’t want to be friends with me because of my visual impairment, especially at school, people often had the mentality of ‘it’s not cool to hang around with the blind girl’, I have never let that bother me because they clearly wouldn’t be true friends anyway. I think that the above saying fits these situations perfectly.
23. You don’t need sight to have vision.
As I have previously said, having a visual impairment doesn’t stop you from getting to where you want to be in life. I think it’s important to have a vision of where you want to be in life, even if you have no useful vision yourself.
24. The sight loss community is truly wonderful.
Whether you need advice, a rant or have a burning question, the sight loss community is always there to help out.
25. You’re stronger than you think.
Having a visual impairment has made me more resilient and I’ve got through barriers and overcome obstacles that I never thought I would so it has most certainly made me a stronger person.
There you have it, 25 things that my visual impairment has taught me. If you have a disability, what has it taught you? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.