If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I am very much an advocate for positivity. I love shedding light on the topic of vision impairment and I’m passionate about sharing how I’ve learned to accept it and how I approach living with sight loss in the most positive way I can.
Although I vouch for living a positive lifestyle despite of living with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I am also determined to highlight the realities of living with a vision impairment in a world which isn’t designed for those of us who can’t see. I’ve mentioned in a few of my posts that living with sight loss can be frustrating at times but I’ve never highlighted the frustrations I experience, not directly anyway. I think this is because I don’t like my posts to be negative, I much prefer focusing on the positives but at the same time, I don’t want to sugar coat anything and I don’t want to portray a false image.
So today, I thought I’d take the opportunity and share a few of my frustrations as a severely sight impaired person. As I often mention, everyone’s experience of sight loss will be different, not everyone will hold the same views and opinions. These are purely my own thoughts and I am in no way speaking on behalf of anyone else who is living with a vision impairment.
I also just want to point out that I am not writing this post to be negative and I don’t want to offend anyone by what I say during the post. I want to write this purely just to highlight my reality.
With all that being said, here are some of the frustrations I experience as a visually impaired person.
Having to plan everything
As a visually impaired person, it’s very rare that I can make spontaneous plans independently. A lot of planning has to go into many of the things I do. If I want to go on a train journey, I will have to book assistance at least 24 hours in advance and I must have mobility training around many of the places I want to go on a regular basis just so I become familiar with my surroundings. When I went to stay at Salford Quays in Manchester a couple of months ago with my best friend who is also visually impaired, we had to plan where we were going to eat a day in advance so we knew exactly where we were going as it was an unfamiliar place for both of us.
It’s little things like this that can prove to be frustrating for me at times because fully sighted people could just go without giving it a second thought but as a visually impaired person, I have to know the route or use a GPS app on my phone that can notify me when I reach a certain place.
The words ‘it’s over there.’
As a person who is losing her sight, I have no context as to where ‘there’ is. If someone points in a certain direction or looks to somewhere in particular and says ‘it’s over there’, I have no idea where it is that they’re referring to. This is probably one of the sentences I hear most often in my day-to-day life, even my friends and family say it because it’s what they’re used to as sighted people.
Being unable to scan the room to look for something
‘There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place’ in my room and in most places around the house, that’s so I can remember where everything is and it’s easier for me to find what I’m looking for. But if I’m mis-place something, it’s not as simple as being able to scan the room in order to find it like a fully sighted person would do. Also, if I happen to drop something on the floor (which happens quite often as I’m clumsy like that), I’m more than likely going to spend 5 to 10 minutes rummaging around trying to find it again, something that can be quite a pain if I’m in a rush!
If you’re a regular reader then you’re probably bored stiff of me talking about all the misconceptions that surround sight loss. As I always say, there are so many of them! I come across the misconceptions on a regular basis so it’s almost as if I’m used to them now but they can still prove to be frustrating at times as all I wish as a visually impaired person is that people would understand, that I wouldn’t be seen as someone who is different but these misconceptions often prevent that from happening.
When people talk to me as if I’m a child
People still do this to me, even though I’m approaching my 20th birthday. I’ve experienced people talking to me as normal to begin with but once I tell them I’m visually impaired, their whole vibe changes and I’m instantly talked to as if I’m a six-year-old and I’m not sure why people feel the need to do this. I don’t need to be talked to in a different way, I can hold a conversation just like anyone else would.
Not being able to drive
I’ve spoken about this in a past blog post but it is one of my main frustrations. There are so many occasions when I wish I could hop in the car and just drive somewhere without having to ask my parents. I know that they don’t mind taking me places and I also don’t mind using public transport but I do feel frustrated at times when I want to go somewhere independently without having to plan the journey.
I am a screen reader user as I can’t see well enough to see the screens of computers, phones and tablets. I used to be able to use the zoom feature but now, that isn’t possible for me as my sight deteriorates. Like I said in the disabled blogger tag I created a few weeks ago, the accessibility of a website will always determine if I stay on it or not. There have been so many occasions when I have clicked off a website because of the lack of accessibility, whether it be a clothing shop, blog or a website I’ve visited for educational purposes. It can prove to be frustrating at times when I want to navigate the online world independently but can’t because of the inaccessibility of a site.
When menus aren’t produced in braille
I prefer reading the menu myself if I’m going out to eat somewhere but unfortunately, not all restaurants/café’s provide braille menus, something which can be quite frustrating when I don’t want to depend on someone else to read the menu for me. It can also be frustrating if I go out to eat with someone else who is visually impaired. Of course, with there being so many developments with technology these days, it is possible for an app to read the menu aloud and most places do provide copies of their menus online, something I find myself using quite often if it’s not in PDF form as the screen readers I use don’t get along well with this format. I don’t mind asking someone to read the menu for me but sometimes it would be nice to have the option of a braille menu.
Those are just a few of the frustrations I face as a visually impaired person. Again, I didn’t want this post to be negative, I wanted to write it in order to highlight some of the realities I face as a blind/VI person in such a sighted world.
Are you also visually impaired or do you live with any other disability? What are some of the frustrations you face? I’d love to hear what you have to say.