As this is my first ever blog, I thought I’d start off with an introduction to myself as a 20-year-old student who is registered blind, so here are three things which I absolutely could not live without.
You may be aware of Voiceover. It comes pre-installed on all Apple devices and it is the main reason why I am able to have a life.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, VO is a screen-reader that enables blind and partially sighted people to access text, applications, websites – everything basically…
The reason why this is number one on my list is simple. When I was growing up and received my first ever phone in 2003, I couldn’t read the screen AT ALL. Hence, my mum and dad would read all of my texts to me. Obviously back then, 8 year old me had nothing interesting to say to anyone, so the most they had to endure was mundane messages about homework and WWE wrestling, but it’s safe to say that nowadays, I absolutely would not let my parents anywhere near my inbox.
Voiceover has truly allowed me to fit in with modern culture, which is SO dependent on social media presence, online downloads and instant messaging and I honestly would not be able to live without it.
A symbol cane / white stick.
Okay, so the main three mobility aids used by blind people are guide dogs, long canes and symbol canes. Symbol canes are the ones without the rolly-ball on the end and don’t touch the ground. Being partially sighted as opposed to fully blind, I still have about 5-15% vision and thus if I’m in a familiar area and the light’s good, I can generally get around independently. For the last couple years though, I have carried my symbol cane around with me everywhere I go and the impact it has made has been incredible.
It’s basically there to let nice people know that I’d like their help and understanding if I need it, and to let dicks know to stay out of my way.
In all seriousness though, life navigating around busy stations, restaurants, pubs, etc has been made infinitely easier by just carrying this stick, just because people KNOW what my deal is. So many blind people are so ashamed of being disabled that they struggle on with no guiding aids and end up getting in situations, which can often be humiliating and/or dangerous.
The amount of times I have walked head long into people, cut in line by accident, knocked someone’s kid over, not noticed someone standing a meter in front of me are countless, and those situations are all made considerably less awkward when people have a simple explanation. Only last week, a random passer-by on the street made to start shouting at me for barging past them until they saw the magical white stick and suddenly couldn’t apologise enough for their mistake. It’s a super satisfying feeling!
My loved ones
I know, I don’t want to bring the tone down with some soppiness but I couldn’t do a list like this without recognising how much I owe my amazing family, girlfriend and friends in helping me to get where I want to be today.
In terms of accepting myself as a confident and independent blind man, the people in my life could not have done more for me. Since an early age, my parents encouraged me that my sight would never stop me from doing anything I wanted to, and I truly believe that without the support of my family I would not be here today; extremely happy and going into my third year of university.
The people who I’ve met since coming to uni have similarly not only put up with my terrible banter and irritating personality, but they have allowed me to really display my personality in a way which I never felt I could at school.
I now think it’s pretty cool being partially sighted… and trust me, that is something which three years ago, I NEVER thought I’d say.
So there you go, my first blog! I hope it was at least a bit entertaining, maybe a bit insightful and if you’re reading this because you watch Undateables and you think disabled people are “adorable”, maybe even a bit “inspirational” too!