Note: Since writing this post, I have also created a video version, which you might like to check out.
While looking around Youtube channels and blogs by other visually impaired people, I’ve seen the VIP (Visually Impaired Person) Tag come up numerous times. It was originally created by Chatty Chelby, and it’s an interesting way of telling the community about yourself. So I thought I’d tag along and do it as well.
1. What medical condition caused you to be blind or visually impaired?
There are two. The first is Aniridia. This means I don’t have a properly formed iris in my eye. The iris controls the size of the pupil, to control how much light enters your eye – so the lack of a proper iris makes it very difficult to adjust to changes in light conditions. I’m very sensitive to bright light and struggle in dark surroundings as a result.
My other condition is Nystagmus. This means my eyes are constantly moving or shaking involuntarily, I can’t control them. But as I’ve had it all my life and have adapted to it, it doesn’t bother me most of the time. It’s worst when I’m tired or stressed. But it does mean I can’t focus on things very easily – which Aniridia also has an impact on. So I have to have things close up and in a decent size to read them. I can’t read things at a distance.
2. In three words describe your vision.
Shaky, lacking distance.
3. What is the hardest thing to do being blind or visually impaired?
Focusing on faces. It’s hard to look someone in the eyes when talking to them, due to how my eyes shake. It would just get worse if I tried too intently to fix my view on them. It can also be hard to tell people’s emotions because of that. And if I’m walking past someone in the corridor, street, etc, I often won’t be able to recognise them in such a fleeting moment, unless they speak to me or there’s something distinctive about them that I recognise. Or if someone’s passing me in a car, I can’t see them through the window. So people can think I’ve ignored them occasionally.
4. What is the best part about being blind or visually impaired?
Not being able to drive. I don’t have to splash out on a car, petrol, insurance, MOTs, etc, plus I get discounts on public transport (free local bus rides, and a third off rail travel). So being visually impaired hasn’t stopped me getting around, and has saved me a lot of money as well.
5. What question do you get asked most about or because of your vision?
Won’t glasses help? No, they won’t. Glasses don’t stop my eyes shaking, so they can’t help me focus on things better. I manage fine without them though, so I’m not concerned.
6. Do you have a cane, a guide dog or neither?
Neither. My sight is good enough to not require either. I still trip up occasionally and need help navigating unfamiliar places, but the majority of the time I’m fine. I would certainly consider a cane or a dog if my sight got worse though.
7. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is losing, going to lose or has lost their sight?
Get the support you need and deserve, and the earlier the better. There are lots of organisations and individuals that can give you assistance, advice and support, which are easy to find online. It will still be difficult to adjust, naturally, but be assured that you will adapt and you will get used to it as time goes on, however unlikely that may seem to begin with. Having a support network around you will make that process a lot easier, and there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help. The help you get now will help you to become more confident and independent going forward, so it’s extremely useful.
8. What piece of advice would you give to a sighted person about interacting with someone who is blind or visually impaired?
Forget any assumptions or judgements you may have, whether it be from simple stereotypes or even from other disabled people you may have met. Chances are you’ll be wrong in some way. Every disabled person, just like any other human being, is an individual, with their own abilities and needs – even two people with the same condition are still likely to be different. So just be respectful and show a willingness to assist if they need it – but let them tell you what, if anything, they actually need help with. Just talk to them and get to know them like you would any other person, and you’ll be fine.
9. Why did you join Youtube/blogging?
I stumbled across Fashioneyesta’s disability videos last year, and from there found various other disabled bloggers and Youtubers (many of whom I’ve been linking to on my Blog Links page). So I thought I’d give blogging a go as well, just as a small extra voice of support. I posted a couple of videos on Youtube last year, but I really prefer typing to talking, as it helps me to organise my thoughts and express myself better. Hence this blog.
10. Name three people to do this tag next.
Being relatively new to this, I’m not familiar enough with all the other bloggers out there to know for sure who’s done it and who hasn’t. Quite a few seem to have done it already. But if you read this and want to answer the questions yourself, go for it. 🙂