Low Vision and Assistance

Low Vision and Assistance

Posted under Guest Blogger, Living With Low Vision

There are vastly differing opinions in the world, some opinions are better than bubblegum toothpaste while others are so bad they should be arrested. Just as there are differing impairments in the blind and low vision world, there rest these differing opinions. Some, of which, attempt to speak for all other visually impaired people. They write with furious metaphors and a repetitious paragraph of their qualifications, as if that helps their opinion carry any more weight when, at the end of the day, that’s all it is, an opinion that doesn’t speak for others, no matter how much the writer wishes.

One popular opinion that rests in newly blind or low vision people, or people with vision loss that haven’t adjusted to their life well is the loud opinion that sighted people are stupid creatures who don’t understand vision loss and never will. This opinion is in places such as the Washington Post or on a random blog or on some forum or within a podcast about sighted people, without even investigating their strange choice in toothpaste.

The phrase is repeated so many times it’s almost become a chant, one that other blind and low vision people parrot and bleat without question or even thought to differing context or situations. It’s the phrase, “I don’t need your help crossing the street!” or, “I’m blind, I don’t need your help!”

The reason I choose, frequently, to set low vision people back centuries and ask for assistance when I need it is, because, I am a man who has a lot of hope. Perhaps, as some dashingly swab black man is walking me across a six lane intersection, we can talk about his education and exactly how he can be so handsome and not have a ring on his finger. There’s a good chance that if a woman deathly steers me around obscure construction in the street, she can learn what I can debate with her about politics and suggest a cozy friendship, while I wonder what exactly she saved me from. There are so many opportunities that pass blind and low vision people by because of pride.

I am a man who has no pride when it comes to this issue, simply because I am single. I definitely need to work on my pride, however. That is what activists groups say I should do, but I just can’t let go of my hope. I am a man who uses bubblegum toothpaste, so I don’t have any educated things to say on these topics other than; opening up your mind isn’t a bad thing. I tried opening up my mind to an evil sighted person once and it resulted in a friendship.

It was a sunny day in Chicago. I was just about to cross a six lane intersection when a black mass darted out in front of me, squealed his tires, and turned to the drive in the opposite lane. I didn’t see this brave soul; however, until an evil sighted person assumed that I needed help, and gripped me tightly, holding me in place. I turned to this evil sighted person and introduced myself as a high school graduate who reads a lot and a current student of journalism. He, in turn, introduced himself as an evil sighted person who had witnessed an illegal U-turn. I asked him a bit more about his life, and set the universe at ease when I said that I was not a part of a radical blindness group. I liked sighted people. They have better hair than I do and can certainly buy better toothpaste than I can.

I walked with this evil sighted person who worked at a animal shelter and dove deeper into his life and shopping habits. He revealed his love of books and his obsession for memoirs and oddly shaped cookies. I, in turn, shared my confusion over dividing fractions and my gratitude that he had saved me from getting hit by a car. He wanted to know where I was headed. Conversation flowed like canes tapping in synchronicity as we walked together

Our chatter lasted for minutes, making the walk to the train station seem as though it took place within a few seconds. It continued on the train and for a few seconds at our destination, where we parted to walk down different streets.  I talked to, and even relished an evil sighted person helping me. For the longest time I thought that is why the blindness and low vision advocacy groups in America hated my opinions, I thought they hated my shoes or my cane technique, but I’ve come to realize, they are just prideful. Prideful is all well and good when trying to strike up a date with a stranger who reads Fifty Shades of Grey in public but it can make people miss out on some truly breathtaking humans. If blind and low vision people could set aside their pride for a while, maybe they could meet a fine fellow, who also happens to have epic toothpaste.

About The Author

Robert Kingett – Public speaker & Journalist