Living with sight loss means that I have faced my fair share of misconceptions over the years, some I face on a daily basis. There is a significant lack of understanding surrounding the topic of vision impairment and those of us who live with it and this leads to some people having preconceived ideas about how we live our lives.
I have definitely realised that some people have many expectations of how they think a blind/VI person goes about their daily routines so I thought that today’s post would be the perfect opportunity to challenge some of these expectations and replace them with the realities.
As I say in most of my disability related posts, these are purely my own views and how I go about living my life as a visually impaired person, I am in no way speaking on behalf of anyone else who is blind/VI.
Expectation: Someone does my makeup for me every time I want to go out.
It’s impossible for a blind/VI person to do their own makeup, I mean how could we if we can’t see ourselves in the mirror? That’s why we have someone there every morning to do our makeup for us.
I do my own makeup. Shocker right? As a vision impaired person I have learned the best ways of applying my makeup independently. I have discovered the best techniques of application and can do my own makeup to a fairly presentable standard, or at least I hope I do.
Expectation: We all look a certain way
Some people hold this idea that all blind/VI people have a certain look about them. One common stereotype is that we all wear dark sunglasses all the time, we don’t wear any makeup or have nice hair and we have no sense of style whatsoever.
Many visually impaired people do wear sunglasses but it’s all down to personal preference and how sensitive someone’s eyes are to the light. Many of us love to make an effort with our appearance in order to feel good about ourselves. I personally love wearing makeup, I curl my hair every time I go somewhere and I spend far too much money on new items for my wardrobe. I do all of these things because I enjoy them and I want to make an effort with how I look despite the fact that i can’t see.
Expectation: We have a personal assistant who does everything for us.
There is no way that a blind/VI person can be independent, this is why we have someone who will cook, clean, do our emails, pick out our outfit and everything in-between, they’ll be there to complete any task on our behalf.
We as blind/VI people can be just as independent as anyone else. Yes, we might have to make some adjustments to make something more accessible but we CAN be independent. I think that holding the idea that someone who is living with a vision impairment is completely incapable of living an independent life is one if not the most common misconceptions surrounding vision impairment and I can assure you that it is one that is so frustrating for us as VI people to hear. We can cook our own meals, use public transport, use technology and so much more. The fact that we can’t see doesn’t deprive us from being able to do these things.
Expectation: We are one big community who all get along
Every blind/VI person knows each other, we all have the same interests and the fact that we have our vision impairment in common instantly means that we’ll get along just fine.
I have met some lovely people due to the fact that I live with a vision impairment as do they, but that doesn’t mean that I will know every blind/VI person out there, there are literally millions of us so that would be impossible. I have come across many people who instantly assume that every blind/VI person is the same, that’s just not the truth. We’re normal people, we have different interests, different personalities, different hobbies. Some of us will click and get along but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will, we’re only human. And the fact that we’re all living with a vision impairment doesn’t mean that we’ll know everyone else who is, the fact that I’m visually impaired doesn’t mean that I’m going to know your uncle Rupert from Canada who is also VI.
Expectation: We need to be treated differently
When you talk to a blind/VI person, you need to speak in a different way, it’s probably best to speak to us like you would to a child because otherwise we won’t understand you.
There isn’t any need for this. Please don’t feel the need to speak to us or treat us differently to how you would with anyone else. We’re normal people, we can understand you. I can’t begin to explain how many times people have spoken to me as if I’m a child or have thought that I’m different to them just because I’m living with a vision impairment. It hurts when people feel the need to treat me differently, it hurts when people feel like they can’t speak to me normally or that they can’t approach me like they would to someone who isn’t VI. A lot of people have thought that they can’t be friends with me because I’m visually impaired, that I’m undateable because I can’t see, but these things aren’t true. Living with a vision impairment doesn’t take away from my personality, it doesn’t define the person I am, I’d love nothing more than for people to stop thinking that it does.
Despite the fact that all these expectations of being blind/VI exist, not everyone has them. I’m so grateful to those people who treat me like I’m ‘normal’, who talk to me in a way that they would to someone who isn’t visually impaired. I’m grateful to those people who look past my vision impairment, those people who realise that my sight loss doesn’t take away from my ability to achieve things in life and that there is more to me than my vision impairment. Those people who appreciate me for the person I am, a daughter, a sister,a granddaughter and a friend. Thank you to those people who see me for being these things and not the girl who is visually impaired.
Have you come across any of these expectations as a disabled person? Or have you ever expected any of these things when thinking of a blind/VI person? Let me know as I would love to hear from you.