People are always curious, I know this due to the long list of frequently asked questions I receive as a visually impaired person. Due to an endless amount of preconceived ideas, prejudice is inevitable for some people when thinking about disability and because of this, a lot of questions and assumptions can rise to the surface.
I always see videos and articles about questions you should avoid asking someone who is blind or visually impaired and I have written similar ones in the past. However, I do think it’s good for people to ask questions, at the end of the day, that’s how people are educated.
Even though some of my answers seem to be programmed in to me because I’ve answered them so many times, I’m always happy to answer people’s questions because I’d prefer them to ask rather than assuming and therefore believing misconceptions and perhaps, in time, creating new ones.
I think some people’s assumptions will always be an enigma but I hope by writing posts like this, I, along with fellow blind/VI and disabled people, can help to tackle these misconceptions and maybe, with time, questions like the ones I’m about to list, won’t be so commonly asked.
Here are some of the most common and somewhat random questions I receive as a visually impaired person.
Can she speak?
As you can tell, this isn’t a question that I receive directly but it’s something that whoever I’m with has been asked on more than one occasion. A common misconception is that people who are blind/VI can’t speak for themselves, leading to this question being asked quite often.
Sometimes the question isn’t said in so many words but people will ask my mum for example, ‘so how is Elin today?’, this being asked when I’m standing right next to her, I’ll normally answer the question for myself because I can and it’s something that shocks people sometimes.
Some people have even reacted by saying ‘wow, she speaks?’
Who would have thought it, eh?
Are your friends blind too?
I think there’s this common belief that blind/VI people can only be friends with someone else who is in the same boat as them, the same goes for relationships but it’s definitely not the case.
The fact that we have our vision impairment in common isn’t an instant indicator that we’ll get along. Sure, there are some things that we can connect more on but it doesn’t mean that we’ll be the best of friends or necessarily have anything else in common.
Apart from one of my best friends and a couple of people who I talk to online, all of my friends are fully sighted and something that confuses me is that some people are baffled by this. It’s as if they’re questioning how a non-disabled person could be friends with me or have anything in common with me.
How do you eat?
By putting my food into my mouth with a knife and fork…
Yes, this is an actual question I have been asked in the past and probably one of the most random and confusing ones.
It’s questions like this which make me start to think about how important sight is to you when you’re doing things such as eating, is it that essential?
My friend’s daughter’s cousin is also visually impaired, do you know her?
Surprisingly, I don’t have a directory of every visually impaired person under the sun.
Of course, I know of some of the visually impaired people in my local community and I talk to a few of my fellow VI bloggers online but I don’t know every blind/VI person out there and most often than not, whenever this question is asked and a fellow visually impaired person’s name is mentioned, i’ll reply with, who? Because in most cases, I won’t know who they are.
You wear glasses though, so you’re not blind are you?
This was something I heard quite often when I was in school. I think it fits into the notion that glasses fix everything and once you pop a pair of specs on, you can see clearly. A false assumption right there.
My glasses used to help me a lot more than they do now, they used to allow me to see a little more detail but they never corrected my vision and they never will.
I’ve worn glasses since I was about three years old so even though they’re not as useful to me anymore, I still prefer wearing them because it’s just what I’m used to.
How are you so brave?
I guess this isn’t such a random question but it can be when it’s asked when I’m in the middle of explaining how I pour myself a hot drink with the help of my liquid level indicator – something which isn’t brave or inspiring in the slightest, purely just a simple everyday task.
I don’t consider myself to be brave, I don’t consider myself to be inspiring. I’m just a 20 year old who happens to be visually impaired and the fact that I’ve grown up with sight loss and learned to accept it doesn’t make me brave in any way. I just go about my day-to-day life as anyone else would, it’s nothing to write home about.
Hopefully this post has given you a better idea of the answers to some of the slightly more obscure questions you might have when it comes to vision impairment.
If you have anything you’d like to know then ask away, I’m quite an open book when it comes to my disability so I’ll always try to answer any questions as best as I can.
If you’re also visually impaired or have any other disability, let me know if you’ve been asked any of these questions or what are the most common ones you hear that are quite random, confusing or that you’re tired of answering. I’d love to hear from you.