Honed Skill

Honed Skill

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info, The Eye

I knew I had grown progressively more competitive when every time my e-mail brought news of a graded assignment from one of my two Professors. I want to know how I did and what I could have done differently to get an even better grade. It would be at this point that I might feel obliged to tell you how my other University experiences have come out. Then if I did well, it looks like bragging. If I did poorly then everyone could say that I needed to work harder. I have been in two Universities for one Undergrad and two Masters Programs. I am now pursuing my third Masters in Seminary.

When my last grade arrived my husband asked me if I ever thought that I could ever be so concerned with my wanting good grades. It caused me to stop and think about when that changed. Certainly in high school I could have cared less. I just wanted out of there. In the end I did pretty well with a “B-A” average. I never really remember too much of that school experience. After much contemplation and reflection I could pinpoint when the metamorphosis took over.

My vision loss happened at the end of my Undergrad work. At that time I was more bothered by the lack of response by a school which had clear guidelines in place to help me get a fair shot at education. I found out later that they had been sued many times for failing to adhere to ADA laws. They offered me no assistance in fact the teachers themselves decided if they would comply with the Disability Services Department. The Teachers were more likely to be helpful if it did not mean any more work for themselves. I graduated in spite of them with good grades but a fairly bitter taste in my mouth. Now when they call to solicit money from me as an Alumnus I laugh at the request. I guess a little bit of that bitter flavor has lingered although I have tried to purge it from my soul.

The next two experiences were much better but then I was doing work in the Blindness and Low Vision field. They were responsive as they knew what the rules were and also wanted me to succeed. I did very well in both attempts. My competitive edge kicked in when I was on campus for a summer semester. There were two other students who were blind. I kept on their backs repeatedly as they were given blindness a bad name by their helplessness. My chiding never really helped but it made me feel better for bringing it up to them as an admonition to want something better. In that university instance I did not use or abuse the privileges afforded me due to my lack of working eyeballs. It just was not a huge consideration one way or another. In that instance I can say that the ADA guidelines were exactly what I needed to level the playing field so that I can compete based on my own merit with only a little change to make things accessible.

Once I graduated and got into the real world I found that people really do not want to learn new things unless they are specifically impacted by the learning. When I signed up for Seminary it was very important to me not to be seen as the blind student but just as a student. My first semester I did tell an online discussion group of my lack of vision. That brought all different kinds of remarks. Most of them positive and glowing but then what would you expect from Seminary students. After that semester I vowed not to disclose my lack of vision and just go with the flow as best I could.

The competitive edge for me still rears its ugly head when I make myself turn in papers at least one week before the deadline. I make sure via proofing from others that my papers look as acceptable as possible. That is one thing I cannot see to do myself so I do get help in that process.

This whole blog seems like I am trying to blow my own horn of greatness. On the contrary. I am so full of resolves never to let my vision loss get in the way that I am hypervigilant. It turns out that my vision loss has manifested itself into something good. It makes me work harder for myself and on behalf of others.

I still do not like it when someone sees my cane and makes assumptions on my behalf. A few days ago during a conversation in which the topic was climbing up Mt,LeConte. The person was in her later 70’s and she is climing that mountain for her 8th time. I expressed a desire to climb it also but she said with an exaggerated groan how I could not possibly do such a wild thing. It made me mad. Mad enough to prove her wrong? No, but not for the reasons that might seem obvious. My being blind has no merit on my inability to climb Mt.LeConte. I cannot climb Mt. LeConte because I am woefully out of shape. I could not walk 8 miles on a flat track let alone up a steep grade. I could get myself in shape to do just that but I am not competitive in that way. I smiled and then wished her well on her walking adventure. I decided that my competitive nature will stay in the classroom right now and in my community where I try to be a beacon of ability.

I know it is not my only responsibility to be the flag bearer for all VI persons everywhere. I do feel that responsibility for my little piece of the park right where I am planted.

How about you? Do you feel the competitive edge to prove to others what they think is impossible?

Blessings, Denise

About The Author

Denise is a woman of many interests. She lost her vision in 2001 but it has only changed how she interacts. Education has helped to give her a slightly stronger platform for the things that are important. She holds two masters in the Blindness and Low Vision field. Currently she is going after a Masters in biblical Theology and is engrossed totally in that endeavor. She and her husband live in Middle TN and her adult children are huddled close by.  She is standing at the two thirds mark of the age mountain and is almost cresting 60. The upcoming birthday has set in motion a  fervency to get busy to accomplish a few more things. One of the most fun things she does is her voracious reading appetite. She has been known to read five to seven books a week. Her desire to communicate through writing has spawned many endeavors to share her story in print, hence the BLOG’s.