Imagine being a visual learner… with no vision
AUDIO VERSION AVAILABLE HERE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocxUj3k4yFg&feature=youtu.be
The invisible disability
Have you ever had that scary moment when you turn the lights off and wander aimlessly round your bedroom trying not to trip over things? Or been driving around with your window fogged up? Scary Right? Well this is a reality for me, and thousands of other visually impaired people around the world. Ok well maybe not driving because that would be breaking the law, which is where we start.
Imagine all your daily activities and chores and then take away 90% of your central vision. You are left with enough vision for the average person you meet to not notice it, but not enough vision to recognise that average person you was just speaking to.
There is a huge lack of understanding around disabilities and especially visual impairments. There are over 2 million VI’s in the UK. It speaks volumes when 70% of people who are visually impaired are unemployed.
I commonly get asked questions such as “How many fingers am I holding up?” or “How do you text people?”, because as we all know, recognising how many fingers someone is holding up is the universal test to see if you have 20/20 vision or not, and the presumption that phones in 2016 don’t have accessibility settings.
The education system is an issue that doesn’t get spoken about. From personal experiences I can assure you there are many problems which need to be addressed. Take yourself into a situation where you can’t see the interactive whiteboard in a classroom. Where you have to concentrate on seeing more than reading, where you have to read the same thing, 4 times in a row, 4 times as slow just to take in the information, and the only alternative is an audio book. It will never be a level playing field because in my 21 years, I have never had a teacher/tutor offer to stay behind to go over the things they are aware I couldn’t see. You are of course expected to find your way to the classroom by yourself, then when you are in there the teachers almost treat you as if you are a ghost.
Many visually impaired people lack a huge amount of confidence. The most simple of tasks can be daunting, such as paying via a chip & pin machine, or reading a menu at a restaurant.
All I want you to take away from reading this is to be aware that not all disabilities are obvious to you.
I’m speaking on behalf of many people, so I hope my voice is echoed by many of you out there.