The Technology Struggle Bus

What’s the biggest challenge that blindness brings you?

It’s hard to isolate one specific challenge, but here is the winner.

TECHNOLOGY

Nothing is simple, concise, and all inclusive for someone who is blind. I can’t do everything, and it sucks. Some websites aren’t accessible with screen readers, which are software programs on computers that make them useable for people who are blind. I’m not a technology person, so I have no idea why they don’t work, they just don’t. My computer just doesn’t read the appropriate content for some websites.

Maybe there’s a great solution for this problem that I just haven’t found yet, but my college textbooks are all Microsoft word files. Can you imagine reading a book as a word document? It sucks! I can’t skim through pages, or even find page numbers. I sometimes hit buttons and completely lose my place in the book. A table of contents is useless. It is not fun. I’d much rather a simpler way to read books, or a physical book.

Everything I do talks. I can’t work on homework with friends and have important conversations, because I have to wear earbuds and listen to things my computer says while also listening to my friend.

I can’t use programs to notate and arrange music, because none of them are even close to being fully accessible for people who are blind.

Here’s something that bothers me more than it should: I can’t see clocks. When I’m in class, I can’t see how many minutes are left. When I’m in a music therapy session, I can’t see the time to end my session. Sure, I can check my phone, but there’s nothing discrete about listening to your phone in the middle of class.

My final technological frustration, I have to listen to my phone to use it. It’s so hard to hear and respond to texts and messages when I’m in a loud space like a concert or party, or to quietly reply back while in the movie theater. In a loud space, I can’t hear. In a quiet space, everyone else can.

The blind struggle bus is moving at full speed though, so I can’t hop off quite yet.

Almost every day in October, I will be posting about topics related to blindness. I will be answering all the questions I have received soon, and there is always room for more.

You can do it!!

Advertisements

The L Word

The “L word and the W word.” It is definitely okay to use words like look and watch around a blind person. Those words are common everyday words, and blind people are not offended by them.

I realize that people who know me may be thinking, “Well of course she would say that, she’s not offended by anything blindness related,” and that is pretty true. But I can promise that words like look, watch, and see, are not swear words, so stop flinching after you use them, like you’re 8 and you just swore in front of your mom. Political correctness is not an issue. Our society is so consumed with political correctness and it’s the most obnoxious thing.

For instance, I would never say, “So I was listening to Grey’s Anatomy last night.” That’s weird. I would just say watching. So use look and watch to your hearts content.

I’m watching you.

Every day, well almost, I will be posting something blindness related for Blindness Awareness Month. Keep reading and sharing because that’s what super cool people do, and you want to be a super cool person.

Ask questions and be curious.

Dancing Queen

Have you ever seen me dance?

If you have, I’m very sorry. I hope the awfulness didn’t cause you to go blind. And if you haven’t, I’m also sorry because you’re missing out on a really good laugh.

When I dance, people have told me to just feel and go with the rhythm because I have a good sense of it. I’m a pretty decent musician, so of course I have a sense of rhythm. That is not my problem.

Everyone grows up watching people dance. It’s in movies and on TV, it happens at parties, and in the theatre, and at school… Dance is everywhere. Yet, I have never seen it.

I understand that watching others dance doesn’t mean everyone will be good at dancing. Lots of my friends claim to be terrible. However, even though they can’t dance, they have an idea of what dancing is and what it looks like. For me, dance doesn’t make sense. I don’t have a concept of what dancing is. I know that people move their bodies, but I just can’t conceptualize dancing itself.

I can barely grasp that dance can express emotions, let alone the concept of entire ballets telling a story. None of it makes sense. I wish I understood it, but I’m not really sure how I could. I mean, I really don’t even know how to dance at parties and dances. I don’t know what to do with my arms, my legs, my body… my dignity. I’m afraid I’ll hit or run into someone, and I don’t even have the option of copying others. So when other people can see me perfectly, not being able to see them is not an advantage, trust me.

Every day in the month of October, I am answering questions and talking about things related to blindness for Blindness Awareness Month. Please ask questions! I will respect you more as a human if you put aside the awkwardness and go for it.

Can I Feel Your Face

Do you like to feel peoples faces?

I am very good about answering all kinds of questions from people, but every time someone talks about this, I laugh at them. I laugh until they probably start to feel a little uncomfortable. And then I laugh to myself some more because, to me,  it is the most ridiculous question.

No, I do not feel faces. I would probably have no friends. If someone came up to me and asked me in seriousness if they could feel my face, I would feel super uncomfortable. Lets start with the obvious. Hands are super gross. Who knows where they’ve been! So why would I, or any other socially adept blind person want to put our hands on someone else’s face.

Secondly, faces are nasty. Sometimes they’re oily, people have runny noses, food at the corners of their mouths, and lots of other unknown stuff. Gross! Who in their right mind would want to touch some random persons face?

Finally, touching faces is useless. It does not give me information about what someone looks like. One face feels similar to the next. Maybe, if I touched your face as a greeting every time we saw each other, and slowly and methodically caressed it for a few minutes, I would have a better picture of what you felt like. While we’re at it, I might as well touch your entire body, because why should we just stop at the face!

The only time I would ever feel someones face  would be if I was in a relationship, if I had a baby, or if I was being funny. So lets take this film exaggerated stereotype and throw it in the garbage.

Every day in October, I will be posting about blindness related subjects for Blindness Awareness month. Feel free to ask questions; I don’t get offended.

What came first: the question or the answer?

Blind Dating

I thought this title was funny because blind dates are a thing.

A friend asked me to do a post on dating. So while writing this makes me feel somewhat awkward, I promised I’d answer all questions.

What is a relationship like when both partners can see?

That is what a relationship with someone who is blind is like at it’s core. Blind people can love and hate. Blind people can argue and make up. Blind people have opinions and aspirations. Those are things that are the basis of relationships. The only difference is that blind people can’t see their partners facial expressions, nor drive for date night. We can’t tell you that you look nice, because that’s dumb. But we believe in personalities, honesty, love, hope, and sometimes outlines of what our friends call “attractive.”

I think that some people tend to assume that the blind date and marry the blind. This is not necessarily true. Some blind people will date or marry another blind person, while others will not. Some blind people even prefer dating other blind people over those who are sighted. However, many blind people date or marry sighted people as well.

I personally don’t go through life hoping to marry some nice blind guy. That is actually not part of the future I imagine for myself. If I were to meet and fall in love with someone who is blind, I would definitely follow my heart. But just as sighted people have physical traits that they want, I have an idea in my mind as well.

I think people believe that blind people don’t judge based on looks, and at some level this is true. We can’t look at a person and decide if they are attractive, but looks are such a big part of our culture, that other people sometimes cause us to be judgmental. This world is filled with so much vision, yet it is so blind.

Guide Dogs Vs. Seeing Eye Dogs

There is a difference between a guide dog and a Seeing Eye Dog.

Ever since I learned about this, I’ve been noticing more that people often make this common mistake. Guide dogs and Seeing Eye dogs have the same response in popular society. Both are dogs that assist the blind. However, they are quite different.

The school that I got Freesia from is called Guide Dogs for the Blind, and dogs from this school are known as guide dogs.There is another school called The Seeing Eye, and dogs from that school are called seeing eye dogs.  This is the only school for which this is true. Dogs from all other registered schools are properly called guide dogs. The Seeing Eye is a brand, therefore, only dogs from that school can be called Seeing Eye dogs. This means that all Seeing Eye dogs are guide dogs, but all guide dogs are not Seeing Eye dogs. I hope that didn’t confuse you. Just remember, if, and only if, a guide dog comes from The Seeing Eye In new Jersey, it can be called a Seeing Eye Dog. If it comes from any other school, the only proper name for it is a guide dog.

Every day this month I will be posting something for Blindness Awareness Month. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about blindness or the particular roles it plays in my life.

Curiosity killed the cat, not the human.

Shopping

How do you shop for clothes?

Most days, I probably couldn’t even tell you the color of the shirt I’m wearing. I have a device that tells me the colors of things, and I do use it, but not every day. Even when I do use it, by the time I’ve started my day, I can’t remember the color. On top of that, a lot of my shirts have multiple colors in them. My color identifier won’t specifically say, “pink and black shirt.” It says whatever color I have it pointed at. So if I happen to only point it at the black part of my shirt, I may never know that my shirt has some pink in it.

In general, I don’t have a particular style of clothing that I like. I get a lot of clothes with patterns, designs, and colors in them. Many blind people will stick to straight toned clothing so that they can be certain of the color and be certain as to what it matches with. I like to wear fun and (so I’m told) cute clothes. I get my clothes by shopping with friends and family members that I trust. I wouldn’t dare go clothes shopping by my self. There’s no way I would trust some random to help me find clothes.

Because I refuse to simplify my wardrobe, I have to have a way to make sure that my clothes always match. I haven’t yet found a system that works for me, so I always try to wear jeans or black pants, because everything goes with jeans and black. Maybe one day, I too can wear fun pants, but for now I’ll keep waiting.

The only problem I ever run in to is knowing what clothes qualify as (nice.) I’ve gotten a lot better at this, but when someone would say to me, “Just dress kind of nice for this event,” I’d panic right up until the event. I’d constantly change my clothes, for fear that what I wore wasn’t “nice” enough. Maybe the shirt I picked wasn’t nice. Maybe my jeans were faded and I didn’t know. I’d frantically call friends and family members, asking them to recall my entire wardrobe, and describe to me, in great detail, what I should wear.

A frantic conversation with my mom or best friend may have gone a little something like this.

“Remember that one outfit I wore for that one performance.”

“The one with the grey stripes?”

“How should I know? What the H is grey!?”

“You know, that dress with the thing in the front!”

“Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about.”

“Oh, then yes. Wear that.”

If they said no, then the conversation would continue for another five or so minutes. I know that almost every girl panics when getting ready. The only difference for me is that I don’t even have the option of looking at my outfit in the mirror. Not only that, but I can’t take a good enough selfie to send to friends. First world problems are so tragic.

Every day in October, except Saturdays, I will be posting something related to blindness for Blindness Awareness Month. Feel free to ask me questions about anything related to blindness. I know that more than half of you have some random question that you want answered, so message, text, comment with your questions. If you have a question and are too afraid to ask it, know that my respect for you has lessened. Accept the challenge.