Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Legally Blind Myth: To Be or Not To Be

I can totally relate to this story (thanks to a friend who called attention to this article). I haven’t taken the plunge to start O&M (orientation and mobility) yet. I have to wait and see how much time it’s going to take. I also have misgivings.

Some people are going to expect a totally blind person to use the cane (or even have a guide-dog). They aren’t going to expect me to have some vision when I start using the cane. They may think that I am “faking” it or looking for sympathy. I don’t like calling attention to myself. I know I will hate it when people stare. I have been trying to hide my vision problems for a long time. Only now, it’s not that easy to hide it anymore. Sometimes I still manage to “fool” someone who doesn’t know I have RP. I still have useful central vision. I can read a font size of a 10 or 12 just fine. Some people with RP need magnification to read, such as ZoomText or a portable device. Some get the magnifying glass or CCTV to help them read. Most likely, I will need magnification to read better. I can’t predict what my vision will be like a year, five years, or 20 years from now. Everyone is different.

I still can walk on my own. Depending on where I am, I can walk slow or fast. If there are people around me, I tend to slow down. I am "armed and dangerous." I may jab someone. If I am in an open area or if I know a hallway is empty, I will walk fast. In stores, I walk slow. I have to watch out for kids, carts, other people, and items that are in the aisles.

Though I may be labeled “deafblind,” I don’t think that I would want to wear a checkered pin. Of course, I realize that this is in Canada, where the pin is recognized. The cane is the symbol for blindness. I will quote another fellow Usher Syndrome friend, “I would rather have a checkered cane than a pin.” I don’t know what it is like to lug a cane around in areas I may not need it. It is probably best to get the folding or telescoping kind for these purposes. Most likely, even when I am trained for cane use, I will probably not use it unless I really need to, like in the dark.

I imagine that I will feel self-conscious and humble once I start using the cane. I suppose that it may get easier with time. It doesn’t make me feel any better, though. I don’t wish RP on anyone.


At Wed Nov 01, 03:03:00 AM , Blogger Word Imp said...

Hi Shari
Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for being a loyal supporter of my word imperfect blog. I'm enjoying your entries. Hope it's making your day brighter, as it is mine. You seem like a very strong person, as I read through your blog. Very inspiring.


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