I thought you might like to read something I have written in connection with the "Everybody's Reading" Festival in Leicester. To cut a rather long and complicated story short - I got in contact with the "Everybody's Reading" Festival to see if I could maybe give a talk on Blogging in connection with people with sight problems. I had missed the cut off date but they very kindly put me in contact with someone connected with it who suggested I wrote an article on either Disabled People or Homelessness. After I had looked at their website I realised that the topic of Homelessness couldn't be connected with it but Disability could. Please see below for the resulting article.
I wonder if there is a school subject which causes more discussions and arguments among the politicians and academic elite of this country than "Reading". I also wonder if there is a skill which allows more active and passive discrimination of people than "Reading" does.
I can read and understand literature and signage in more than one language so I am hardly illiterate. Although I know people who have dyslexia I am not one of them.
So why do I feel discriminated against when it comes to one of my favourite hobbies?
I am seriously shortsighted - to the point of being Registered Partially Sighted! Being brought up to work around and hide my difficulties means that I don't look that much different from the rest of the population (no White Stick, Magnifying Glasses, etc) apart from the glasses on my nose. This is unless you put me in a situation where I am forced to read what I would call "small print" or any other kind of reading material which my eyes cannot really cope with. This is where life gets interesting - both for me and for anybody else who has to deal with me as a result.
If I had my way all books and newspapers would be printed two font sizes bigger. Times New Roman 12 point is too small for me to read comfortably.
I also suffer from something called "Photophobia". This means my eyes don't like bright lights - which makes any kind of PowerPoint presentation involving a white background torture for me to look at for a long period. The white background shrinks the size of the font. However, I am always amazed by the attitude of some people when I ask for a printed handout so I can follow the proceedings. According to most people I have eyes in my head and glasses on my nose so I should be able to read the same as everyone else. I wish I could.
There is another thing which people don't realise. Colour plays a big part in reading as well. Red writing hurts my eyes when I try to read it. (There are certain other colours which have a slightly less painful effect too.) Not everyone can read writing in all colours of the rainbow (just think of the colourblind).
There is one final thing which can make reading difficult - after considering your font size and colour (font and background) - how much information am I supposed to get from the page? More to the point - how much of the information is immediately relevant to what I intend to do next? There is no point in having a magazine with its price buried in a corner in a font which I need a microscope to read - especially when you have "sold" me the magazine by advertising your main feature in print large enough to be read by passing aircraft.
When it comes to reading (unless it is for pleasure) I want to be able to see, read, and comprehend what I am reading in the same amount of time as a literate person with normal sight and in the same way as them if possible.
With a little consideration EVERYBODY can enjoy reading without being made to feel like an outsider just because of their sight.