23 Truths Blind and Visually Impaired People Wish Others Understood
More than 20 million American adults reported experiencing vision loss in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. That’s a big number, so The Mighty decided to team up with the American Foundation for the Blind to start a discussion about visual impairment. We asked our readers who live with blindness and visual impairment want to world to understand about them.
This is what they had to say.
1. “People need to see us for who we are and not our disability. Yes, we are blind, but does that mean we can’t do anything? No.” — Michael Chopra
2. “Please always identify yourself when speaking to a visually impaired individual. Same goes when speaking to a group if there are visually impaired individuals in that group. This is basic info that a person requires to take the next step — whether it be a simple conversation or perhaps forming the beginning of a friendship.” — Carolyn Sparacino Taylor
3. “Just because we are blind does not mean we can’t do everything a seeing person can.” — Nancy Olson
4. “Blindness isn’t something to be ashamed of or to be embarrassed about.” — Jael Espinal
5. “I may or may not know that other blind person you know.” — Katherine Schneider
6. “I like to be judged by my abilities and not my disability. I want to be treated as an equal — I am a mother, grandmother, friend, sister, so why should I be any different because of my disability?” — Pauline Wade
7. “We, like many people, have challenges, however all of our problems in life are not as equal or the same as the sighted… No two people with blindness or visual impairment do the same things or have the same mannerisms.” — William Odonnell
8. “I wish people could understand how frustrating it is when you are losing your sight, but what we have to do is find ways to adapt, and this makes it easier. We are not to be put out to pasture yet because there are still things we can do.” — Evelyn Jeanette Morton Bishop
9. “The world and my life are not dark because I am totally blind.” — Linda Hunt
10. “Losing one’s eyesight is not a fate worse than death. Life without vision still holds many joys. Challenges and difficulties, yes, but also much happiness and fulfillment as well. There are non-visual ways of doing most things. It seems like it’s hard for people with normal vision to imagine how those of us with low vision or with no vision can do things like comb our hair, dress ourselves, clean our homes or even eat.” — Candy Lien
11. “It’s important that people understand the fear that comes with losing your eyesight. When your world starts to go dark, you really need kindness to keep you going.” — Sarah Elizabeth Baggett-Poole
12. “I am more than my visual impairment, I am a complete person. Being visually impaired is just a minor challenge, and we all have challenges. It doesn’t make me less of a person.” — Alexandria Knox
13. “I have a visual impairment. [People assume] blind and visually impaired persons are deaf, [so they] talk really loud. This is not true. Being blind does not mean we are deaf. We hear just fine. It is true, however, that some blind persons have hearing impairments. But they do not go hand-in -and.” — Kim Leis Moberg
14. “We experience joy just like everyone, and it would be nice to have some authentic friendships.” — Denise Vestman
15. “I hate when people think I’m making it up when I can’t see something obvious to them — ‘Are you serious? You really can’t see it? It’s right there!’ No, I can’t always see it.” — Hayley Swann
16. “In public moments I just need some help, not to be treated as a dumb kid.” — Ana Karina Velázquez Villalobos
17. “We dream just like anyone else. We have goals and we experience all the feelings in life the same as the average individual. We can surprise you when you least expect it.” — Donna Browning
18. “Don’t be afraid to come up and chat. I would much rather have someone ask me questions about my blindness than avoid talking to me at all for fear of offending me.” — Caitlin Hernandez
19. “Blindness isn’t synonymous with helpless. I may have to adapt and do things a different way, but I can still do them. And when I want or need your help, I will ask. But believe that I can do things first until proven I can’t.” — Rhianna Lynn Martin
20. “My baby is a baby first. Love and fawn over her like any baby. Talk to her. Ask me questions. Don’t let her blindness define or limit her. We have high hopes for her and want you too as well.” — Nicole Vallier
21. “There are lots of different types of ‘blind’ or visual impairment. Not all forms of vision impairment come with a guide dog and a white stick. Some little ones take longer to learn to see than others and sometimes it’s the brain, not the eyes.” — SarahandLayne Coates
22. “Please, for the absolute love of God, don’t ask to try on my glasses (no, they aren’t a toy and will probably give you a headache).” — Collette Kerr
23. “I am happy the way I am and don’t want to be ‘fixed.’ I don’t want or need people’s pity.” — Lina Coral
What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.
*Answers have been edited for brevity.