An Icon With A Mission
After living with corrected vision for most of my life, if I thought adjusting to sight loss was tough, then several years ago meeting the world on its terms with my new disability was excruciating. Encountering prejudice, inequality, and inaccurate presumptions, though not new, were now based on my disability.
“As she steps forth to face the crowds
Some will stare, some will pass.
Captures attention as she goes
What do they really know?”
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know,” for example I didn’t know I couldn’t see until I put on my first pair of eyeglasses. Prior to wearing eyeglasses I functioned quite well because I wasn’t aware of what I couldn’t see, so as far as I was concerned there were no limitations to what I could achieve.
“She walks on by, her head held high
Opinions form in minds.
Some only see the stick she holds
What do they really know?”
Likewise, while I knew there was a significant disparity between the abled and disabled communities I was stunned to find myself caught in the middle of two worlds. Many times I felt alienated for not being fully sighted yet also not being fully blind.
“I’m sick of people staring at your cane, it’s 2016 why do people still stare at people who use mobility devices?” My son asked me this question when we were on a recent outing.
“With cane in hand she proves she’s strong.
Breaking through opinions
She’s changing minds, she’s changing views
Shows them what they should know.”
I am grateful I can’t see the gawking yet it happens to many of us who live with low vision on a daily basis. The fully sighted can’t comprehend why a person who appears to see would use a white cane, and on the other end of the spectrum some who are fully blind take offense to those who aren’t, being referred to as such.
Acceptance, the one thing most people yearn for, can seem especially elusive when living with a disability. However once we become confident enough to accept ourselves with our disability this is the point where we can begin to meet the world on our terms.
We are living in an era where people with disabilities are aggressively finding creative solutions to overcome the obstacles we face. Abigail—the poem by Jazmin Ruiz, contained within this article—was inspired by the stylish white cane icon of the same name.
“Strength and beauty is what she holds.
Walking tall, head held high.
And there she goes achieving goals
That’s all they need to know.”
Abigail has sight loss and uses a white cane yet she is fabulously chic as she walks confidently with purpose letting her cane guide the way. The icon was designed with a two-fold mission in mind: to embolden women who are blind or have sight loss to embrace their individual greatness, and to eradicate the stigma on the multitude of visual impairments.
As a society let’s begin with a clean slate operating from a standpoint of “we don’t know what we don’t know” to view people with an open mind. Let’s cease placing people with disabilities in a box of conformity based on what we think they can or cannot do because once we are able to do this we begin the process of breaking barriers.
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