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Sight Loss & Solace Through A Little Image

An Icon With A Mission

Image of Abigail in a crosswalk with text: Walking in confidence regardless of the status of our lives--this is beautiful! #AbbyOnTheMove
Walking in confidence regardless of the status of our lives–this is beautiful!

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.

Please don’t forget to “like” my Facebook page and connect with me on my social media platforms located on the right panel of the blog. Many Thanks ~Steph <3

10 thoughts on “Sight Loss & Solace Through A Little Image

  1. So many disabilities aren’t all or nothing – it’s good to remember this. My Dad’s had hearing problems since childhood. Easy when people attract his attention and make sure he’s looking at them when they talk to him, hard when they assume he’s stupid or rude when they speak to his back or side and he doesn’t react! We choose venues for family gatherings carefully, too, because lots of ambient noise makes it much more difficult for him. A little common sense goes a long way. Luckily he has an excellent hearing aid at the moment. I’m now trying to get him a visible smoke alarm to put net to his bed, though, because if the house went on fire and Mum was away, he’d never know until it was too late. It was something I’d never thought of before!

    1. “A little common sense goes a long way”should become a worldwide slogan since it seems common sense is becoming more rare by the day. It’s just too bad that when people do not respond the way we think they should we jump to negative conclusions never thinking that the person could have some type of disability. People like Nyle DiMarco, who won Dancing With The Stars, is deaf and he demonstrated so well that when there is a will there is a way. Like many of us with disabilities his focus is changing public perspective on people who are deaf. http://www.maxiaids.com has a number of products for deaf as well as many other disabilities. I’ve ordered a number of their products and have been very pleased.

  2. As a kid born legally (but not totally) blind with RP, I felt that same sense of not belonging to either world. Of course, my vision is now almost nonexistent, but truthfully, I don’t feel like I belong in any social group. I can fake it though:)

    On another note, I’ve been sans guide dog for almost 3 months now (longer than all the other times added up. I need my exercise and need the solitude of my country walks, so I’m making friends with my white cane. I think seeing me hoof it down our rural road is causing my neighbors to think twice. Maybe it wasn’t just the dog that got her moving.

    1. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 3 months already. When are you scheduled to get another guide?

      1. Steph, I wish I knew the answer to that question. I’m hoping later this summer, but they tell everyone “3-9 months) these days.

        _____

      2. So I hear. I hope you hear something soon.

  3. I believe the education you are doing is valuable. I had a friend years ago, who wore glasses but they only corrected his vision as best they could. When driving with him in the car, I’d point out things I was seeing and he couldn’t see them. Yet he was an incredible guitarist, did building projects, dealt with setting up a recording studio in his home, attaching wires and plugs, etc. I couldn’t fathom how he managed to do the things he did.

    Several months ago I went to tour an historical house at Balboa park. A group was gathered, a blind group that did various social events together. I couldn’t understand how they could tour the house to see it, if they were blind, but I was informed that many just had poor vision, as you do.

    Like many…I figured you were either blind or sighted, even after knowing that friend of mine for so many years.

    So many disabilities are unseen. I have asthma that at times can be severe, making walking challenging. Yet I’d never thought of getting a handicapped sign for my car so I could park in front of a store rather than struggling to walk through a parking lot. But now i realize that handicaps come in many forms.

    Thanks for the work you do.

    1. Thank you Katelon. I miss the days of correctable vision but I make do with what I’ve got. Just a word on outings like house tours, museums, etc. a number of these venues can provide accessibility in the way of description for people who have are blind or have a sight impairment. Here in Pittsburgh one of two of our art museums worked very closely with our local Council of the Blind to ensure that the tours they provide are enjoyable to their blind visitors.

      There are so many hidden disabilities and many people do not feel comfortable disclosing their disability for a number of reasons which is why it’s so important that we do not judge. I empathize with you on asthma as I have it also but not to the degree that you describe and though I’m legally blind I also do not use a handicap placard when out with family or friends. Thank you for coming by and continuing the discussion.

  4. Reblogged this on Her Headache and commented:
    Worth sharing on this Wednesday. Definitely brightened up my day.

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