One of the common misconceptions about those of us with visual impairments is that we have no sight at all. It’s as if some people think eyesight is on or off, like flicking a light switch. I’ve had people assume this about me in the past, and have even had people telling others that I’m blind, because they don’t know how to explain it properly.
But the fact is that 93% of people who are registered partially sighted or blind can see something. Every single visually impaired person sees the world in their own unique way, some better than others. It’s a huge spectrum. So don’t assume that a visually impaired person cannot see at all, because 93% of the time you’ll be wrong.
The RNIB are spreading awareness of this simple fact using their #HowISee campaign. They have been asking people to make short videos about how they see, and this is my contribution. It’s had a big reaction on Twitter and Facebook already, so please do feel free to share it and help spread the message.
In my case, I have fairly good vision, I can generally see things around me at least. But I struggle to see things at a distance, like signs and details on objects. They have to be close up to me in order to read them and see the detail. Having large print, or being able to zoom in on a computer screen or smartphone, makes things a lot easier too. I have that difficulty because of a condition called nystagmus, which makes my eyes shake and wobble about all the time. And therefore I can’t maintain a focus on anything for very long.
I also have a condition called aniridia, which means I’m more sensitive to bright sunlight and glare, and find it harder to adjust in the dark. And that’s because I don’t have an iris in my eye. The iris would normally adjust the size of the pupil to determine how much light goes in and out, so without that adjustment it’s much harder for me to adjust to bright light and very dark situations. I only manage it to a very limited degree, and any adjustment is very slow to happen.
But I’ve managed fine with those conditions. It hasn’t stopped me getting a job, it hasn’t stopped me socialising, it hasn’t stopped me getting out and about. I’m perfectly happy, I’m perfectly independent. It’s just something I’ve had to adapt to and deal with ever since I was born. It’s not stopped me having a good life.
So remember, never make assumptions. Just because a person says they’re visually impaired or blind, it doesn’t mean they cannot see anything at all. 93% of people who are registered as blind or partially sighted do have some level of vision. It’s a huge number.
Check out the RNIB’s #HowISee campaign and their #HowISee video for more information, and follow the #HowISee hashtag on Facebook and Twitter to see what other people have been posting about their own conditions.
Feel free to submit your own videos or blog posts about your experiences too, using the #HowISee hashtag. The more people that get involved, the better, so we can raise awareness of the many visual impairments that exist. Let’s get the message out there. 🙂
Update: In January 2018, the RNIB included extracts from my video in their compilation of people’s contributions, as you can see below.