Spills, Trips & Blunders Hit Sighted People Too
Have you ever been embarrassed because you bumped into someone, spilled a glass of wine, tripped on a curb, did not recognize someone, or any of the other things that can and do happen to those of us who are blind or low vision? Of course you have had these experiences… and guess what…? All of these also happen to sighted people too! Yes, there are very few things that we experience as people who cannot see that do not also happen to people who can see well.
I recently had this epiphany after years of always trying to be very careful to avoid these situations. I had some friends over for a visit, and I sat my glass down, and it fell and broke. Now, this rarely happens to me because I am always on alert, and so I was very embarrassed. But, my friend who can see just fine said, “Oh, that happens to me all of the time. I have to buy new sets of glasses every couple of years.”
Then I was with another sighted friend who tripped on a curb, not because she cannot see, but because it was a bad curb cut. Then another friend told me she had arrived at work and realized her shirt was inside out… and again, this is someone who can see.
I know that when accidents happen to those of us who cannot see well, we immediately believe that everyone around us will attribute it to our visual impairment. I am sure you have all had the situation in which someone spills something at dinner, and immediately you think to yourself-and maybe even say out loud, “it wasn’t me.” I started to pay attention to the things that happen to people who are visually impaired and to sighted people… and soon realized that the same things happen to us all. “It happens to sighted people too” has literally become a catch phrase for me and a group of friends, which includes sighted people as well as people who cannot see.
Think of all of the things that happen to both sighted people and people who are visually impaired… they are the same things. Next time you experience one of these accidents, misses, mistakes, consider saying to yourself and those around you… well, that happens to sighted people too. And to our friends who can see well, consider saying it too. We need you to own accidents as well, so we know it is happening to you too.
Now, this is not an excuse to not be careful or alert, or not to use good blindness coping strategies… But it is permission to recognize that we are all human and that we all need to give ourselves a break when things happen… especially when they are things that happen to us all. Accidents and mistakes happen, so let’s give ourselves permission to not be perfect. I feel so much better knowing that it will be okay if I need to go and buy a new set of glasses next year or if I wear 2 different earrings that I might just be a trend-setter.
We can even help all around us feel more comfortable by not making a big deal or attributing blame to mistakes or accidents. Life happens, and we clean it up, fix it up, are more careful next time, or laugh about it.
Of course there are a few things that may never or rarely happen to people who can see, such as talking to the mirror in a store, so let’s just learn to find the humor in these moments and allow others to as well. There are things that happen when you are blind… and honestly some of them are hilarious. If we can find the humor, we find the humanity, which allows others to find their own humanity in their challenges as well.
So, join me in the freedom of saying “Well, that happens to sighted people too!”
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Connecting With Sylvia:
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- American Foundation for the Blind: afb.org
Connecting With Bold Blind Beauty
Sylvia Stinson-Perez has spent her career in the blindness field, and is the Chief Programs Officer for the American Foundation for the Blind. Sylvia believes the authentic shared experience of living with vision loss can lead to the development of bold confidence in living with blindness. She loves helping others find their beauty and courage on this journey.
Sylvia has Master’s degrees in Social Work, Visual Disabilities Rehabilitation, and Business Administration. Sylvia is blind as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), however, she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential.
Sylvia is a wife, a mother, a friend, an advocate, and a professional dedicated to making a positive difference. She enjoys reading, cooking, travel, crocheting, writing and public speaking, and time with loved ones.
- Header image: Wine spilled from overturned wine glass and paper card withtext that says “Ooops” on a blue background.
- Fall down hazard concept of a woman’s legs tripping on a livingroom area rug.
- Overturned cup of coffee spilled on work papers with eyeglasses, calculator and ruler on a desk.
- A business woman stoops to pickup papers she dropped on the street.
- The author’s bio photo is a glam photo of Sylvia in a pink dress with spaghetti straps. Her hair is in a fancy updo with a pink flower on the left of her bun.