Yesterday morning I was sitting in church listening to the sermon when I heard something which made me sit up and take notice. This was because I understood exactly what was meant.
Apparently there was a blind lady who was asked what she found most annoying about being blind. Her response was, "the sighted people who don't have any vision".
Whilst I am not technically blind I immediately understood where this lady was coming from.
My motto goes something like this "I may be the one who society sees as 'Disabled' but - until you have got to know me and my ways of working - you are the disabled one because I know for a fact what I can and cannot do. You just assume you know my limitations".
My sight could place some serious limitations on what I can and cannot do if I let it - starting with rendering me totally housebound during the hours of darkness, making me freeze with fear when faced with a descent down a steep staircase between me and my intended destination in the absence of a lift or escalator, and making me give up too easily when I really want to do something or go somewhere which everybody else (as in the "normal-sighted" population) can do or get to easily. You might say that my biggest fight is against my sight.
I would argue that my biggest fight is against other people's vision. That fight can be against their outright prejudices. These usually come in the form of "you don't look Partially Sighted" - yes someone did say that to my face - or "you are the only one complaining - its your sight which is your problem" - someone else said that to my face too. (The only thing stopping me from punching their lights out was the situations I was in at the times they were uttered - the first was in a job interview and the second was at my church.)
Or the fight can be against people's total disregard for any difficulties I or any other Disabled person may have when it comes to little things like shop layouts, lighting, those stupid and frustrating grilles which have a habit of appearing on the lights of Pedestrian Crossings (which actually obscure the lights so I cannot see them), and those tiny 5 pence coins (which are neither use nor ornament to me because they are too small). Oh and roads without pavements. Not forgetting the seemingly random selection of sizes of Destination Boards on buses.
I admit that most of the above are more likely to fall into the category of "mild annoyance". However, things like shop layouts, anything to do with roads and traffic, etc, come under the category of "potentially damaging and/or fatal". These are usually the things which are designed by people who feel the need to follow any plan they are given to the letter without deviation or hesitation but with plenty of repetition (usually of mistakes).
Surely you really don't need to be in a wheelchair or have a sight problem in order to have enough vision to realise that cluttering a shop with racks, rails, shelves, stands, etc, without any visible (to me at least) gaps between them is not exactly conducive to either of those groups desirng to enter your premises? Or, even worse, risk a repeat visit once they have fought their way out of your premises?
Oh - and yes - I do realise that cars belong on roads and pedestrians belong on pavements but, if given a choice between walking through fields in a smart suit to get to a job interview, and walking on a road without a pavement I will take the road thank you very much. (That is the exact choice Google Maps gave me on Friday.)
Yes I do have a sight problem - however my sight problem can either help you gain the knowledge in order to help you make life easier for both me and you, or my sight problem (and the sometimes crazy "Ink-Logic" that goes with it) can simply be a tool for helping vision when it comes to taking photographs or any other creative medium. Don't believe me? Have a look at some of the photos I have put on this website or on Facebook. Even better - come for a walk with me (camera optional) and I can just about guarantee you will see ordinary everyday objects completely differently to how you saw them before.
My sight problem has the effect of making me see things differently - both literally (obviously) and metaphorically. In fact, I think that is why I like writing so much - I find it easier to explain what I see by writing.
There are times when I honestly wonder why it is so difficult for "normal sighted" people to have the vision to be able to see the world in the same way as I do - and alter their plans accordingly. Or even still see the world in a completely different way to me but have the vision to be able to discuss our different viewpoints and know we can both be correct in our own way.
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