Perkins student Bella is studying personal narratives in her English class and wrote this as a class assignment.
Fear… What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Is there anything you are afraid of? I am afraid of dying, changes in my life, drowning to death, and being in enclosed spaces. When I asked you what you fear maybe, just maybe, you said blindness. Sure, all of a sudden a world of color fades to a solitary darkness. You are forced to depend on other senses such as hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling, to get the information that some can just open their eyes and obtain. Then there is the fear of loneliness. How will someone treat you if you were to go blind? I cannot speak for everyone because I am only one individual on this planet who is going through the process of losing my sight, but I may be able to help. Here are some tips/opinions on how to treat someone who is visually impaired, or blind.
Being Diagnosed with Vision Loss
I lost some of my central vision at around age nine to a disease known as Stargardts. Stargardts is a form of juvenile macular degeneration. When I was first diagnosed my eye doctor did not believe that I could not see the little letters that popped up on a TV screen 20 feet away. She thought that I was just acting up, or trying to “ be cool and get glasses”, as she put it. Not being trusted in how I, the patient, could see was incredibly frustrating. My first piece of advice is to never doubt someone if they are saying that they are having trouble seeing, even if they are a child. Vision loss is not something to be taken lightly. What if that whole time my doctor did not believe me, I could have been getting treated and some of my vision could have been restored, or protected? A simple act of trust could save someone who genuinely needs help.
Tips to Interact with Someone Who Is Blind
It is very helpful that you want to guide me in the right direction that I am walking, but if I kindly say that I do not need help, please do not help. If you were in a dark room and someone came out of nowhere and wrapped their hand around your arm without a word, how would you feel? Also if you grab me you could very well be pulling me away from certain landmarks that I am able to recognize with my cane, or usable vision, and taking my arm might get me off track. Another thing is please do not be afraid to say certain words such as “see” and “look”. I do not mind common words like those. Sometimes people will say that they will see me later, but then immediately rush to saying sorry, because they said the word “see”. Do not be afraid to ask. Asking anyone, even a blind person, if there is anything you can do to help them is totally fine to do. In my eyes the most important thing to do is talk to me the same way as you might talk to anyone else. Just because I am blind does not mean I want to be seen as an outcast, or as a human being who wants to be less social than those who can see. Often in public school I would sit down and people would be afraid to sit with me at lunch, or talk to me in the halls. I felt so lonely and left out. I think the saying that says that you should treat people the way you would want to be treated is beyond the truth. Before you talk to someone make sure you come across how you would want others to be to you. I will end this blog on the word fear. Fear is only scary if you let it be. Going blind can be terrifying, but the sense of being afraid does not last forever. Being blind is not the end of the world. It is just a different way of seeing the one that already exists.