Now You See It, Now You Don't


Now You See It, Now You Don't Blues

     "Didn't you see that?"

     "You saw that?"

     "It's 6:00 AM!" said the talking clock. "Cock'a DOODLE DO!"

     she woke up from the dream, lying there, frustrated. “I hate that kind of
nightmare--people either thinking you can see more than you can or not see as well as you can. And how to tell them! Grrr!” she said. "Well, I'm up!"

     In the bathroom, she turned on the light, the extra strength bulbs brightly
illuminating the small room. At the mirror, she began to fix her hair and apply makeup. She didn't try to look close, that hadn't worked for a long time. She used her touch, worked steadily, confident the end result would be what she desired.

     In the kitchen, she placed the utensils down on a white place mat where
their dark handles would stand out, making them easier to see. Her
measuring was verified by touch, feeling with fingers to judge the level. The flame under the burners she gauged by the turn of the knob and the sound of the cooking process.

     Later, at work, out near the receptionist desk, she said, "Did you lose your pen? There's one over there by the leg of that table."

     "Thank you... How ever did you see that?" said the receptionist.

     At lunch she asked her friend, "Do you see their luncheon special?

     "It's real big, right up there on the wall, can't you see it?

     At the table, the two friends visited. "You look like you have something on
your mind." said the friend.

     "Yes, I do. It was there when I left work yesterday; it was there when I
got up. . . .Well, it's been there for awhile and I'm trying to figure out
how to best handle it."

e-mail responses to

**1. “This is my story exactly. Do you know what happens when I do see something I'm not 'supposed' to see and tell people about it? They think I'm lying about having a vision problem all together. Sometimes I think it's better just to shut my mouth in those cases, don't tell someone they've dropped their pen on the floor. Another one of my favorites though is when I ask someone where something or someone is, even a friend, and they point and say 'over there'. I can't win. And I don't have the slightest clue how to explain to people what I can see and what I can't. Why do they even need to know. Just take my word for it. I have medical documentation that says I'm legally blind. That doesn't mean, though, that I can't see anything. I'm very much look forward to the responses to this Thought Provoker.”

Patricia Hubschman (New York USA)

**2. “Man, this one really got me thinking. I was posed with the question of "So what do you see?" just a little while ago. It was the first week of my Speech class, and the instructor had us go up and give a 3 to 5 minute speech about "what made us unique". My speech didn't make mention of my blindness directly, but somehow we got on the subject, and before I knew it,
I was describing my blindness to the entire class, which didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, but anyway I was telling what vision I had (20/300 in the left eye and nothing in the right) and the professor asked, "So what can you see? What do we look like." And I was stumped, I had no idea how to explain it to them, so I stood there for a couple of seconds, then I proceeded by saying, "Well, I can see you, the outline and general features of you, the color of your clothing, but I can't see all the detail that you would see in a person." He says, "So we're fuzzy." and I’m thinking, no that's not what I’m trying to get at here. So I said "No, you're not fuzzy, your just lacking small details." Then he asks how I navigate around campus, so I explain that I came to campus for a summer program they offer, so I got familiar with it then, and I explain how I try to find my rooms prior to class. That way I know where to go ahead of time, and if that doesn't work, I just try my best to find them. I explain how some buildings are easier than others because they have room number by or on the doors, which I can see, but the buildings that have the room numbers above the doors I can't read. He then proceeds to ask if I watch TV, go to movies, or drive. I tell him yes to the first two, and no to the third. Then the questions end. He seems satisfied with the answers, and general idea that I've given him, and he seems genuinely interested in learning about how I do things. I was happy, in the end, that the subject came up in my speech, now everyone in the class knows, and it may save some grief in the future by them knowing, who knows. Back on the original question now.

I don't think there is a set way to show people, or make them understand what you see. I think you just have to try your best to describe it to them, in terms so they can make a mental picture of sorts. So they can form an idea of what they think you see. Their idea may not be right, but there is no way for us to know that. I think we just have to describe it to the best of our knowledge, and with lots of detail, and throw in some examples, some real life situations that you may get into with this person. Say things like, when we are at a fast food place, I can't read the menu above the counter, no matter how big the letters are. I think the practical examples may help more than anything, they may give them the best idea of what you can and can't see.”

Randi Strope (Wayne, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Students, what about making a general informative speech to a class about you? Is there a grade or age level there this is more appropriate then others? Might there be some age levels when it is smart to make it a point to speak about your blindness?

Second: What about talking to your teacher at the beginning of a class; getting that instructor zeroed in on your unique characteristics as a learner? Is there any particular age/grade level where this shouldn’t be your responsibility?”

**3. “Boy, oh boy, did you ever open up a can of worms!!! The thing that bothers me the most is when people (whether they know me or not) think I can't see what I can. People who know me well enough---like my family---know in general how well I see, although my mother says she sometimes still doesn't really know what I can and can't see sometimes. When I started
using the cane---Baston---about two years ago, I was letting "him" tell me where the steps were. And I can see things like furniture well enough that I don't run into them. This, of course, was and is the purpose of having the cane, but it used to really bother me that people would tell me what was
coming up, even though they saw me with the cane. Now, I just try to blow it off, and just let them, whether it is someone who knows me or a total stranger. I'll just say, "Thank you." I just don't like feeling as though I'm being protected from every little thing. It makes me feel as though I make people nervous.

What still bothers me, to no end, is when the waitress in restaurants give menus to everyone else I'm with, and I don't get one, because they see me with the cane. I've been ignored completely several times in restaurants. One day, I went out to eat with my mother, my brother and sister-in-law. The host/hostess
took menus and led us back to a table. As we sat down, the menus were passed around. I had one in front of me, and was stowing Baston under my seat. By that time, the waiter was there, starting to take drink orders. I saw him take my menu away after he took my drink order, and since I was the last one to order a drink, he took right off after that. I was livid! If not for being with a group, I would asked for the manager, and made a complaint. That, to me, was just rude. I did get a menu to replace it. But it's the principle. I've even tried explaining it to others by saying, "What if someone walked in with only one arm or the use of only one hand? If you were a server, you wouldn't take away half their silverware, assuming they didn't need
it, would you?" I'm a customer, too, darn it, and I deserve the same respect as everyone else! Don't I? If there's any question about whether I can read the menu, just ask me, and I'll answer you---but don't just ignore me or take away the services I am entitled to! They take my money fast enough, whether I'm legally blind or not? Or, did I miss the sign in the doorway that says all visually impaired people eat for free, and can treat up to three people?
Okay, enough said. I really do appreciate, though, the one-on-one times with friends, when they ask me, "Can I ask you something personal....about your eyes, I mean?" I always tell them questions don't bother me. I am more than happy to let them know what I can and can't see. I would rather have them ask questions than feel uncomfortable, or wonder what they can do to help.”

Carla (Arizona USA)

FROM ME: “What about training for staff in the service industry; who should do it, how?”

**4. “This hits home. Having lived in a wheelchair for 20 years and still get "Can't you walk at all ?" legally blind for 10 years and hear "you don't look blind!" I no longer try to explain .Now ask What does blind look like? I don't justify my disabilities to anyone! I let them know that statement is insulting.”

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

FROM ME: “Where do we draw the line as to which questions are okay and which are not? Is there a place or a time where questioning is okay or not? And, can some ask and others dare not? Are there some of us who can be asked and others who can not? Why?”

**5. Oh, gosh! Partial sight.....not quite blind and not quite sighted. The blind feel superior to us for their knowledge of JAWS and Braille and the sightlings feel superior to us for their abilities in print and other visual skills.

Sigh, I know that is a vastly unfair generalization but that was the overwhelming response I get on many blindness-related I don't belong. Too much vision for those who are totally blind and not enough for those who are sighted. And like so many of those who have partial vision, my vision fluctuates wildly from day to day; dependent on many variables such as lighting, eye strain, tiredness and attention and others.

To make matters worse, my hearing loss plays a small but significant part; I don't always hear people tell me they are moving something; which adds to the frustration and yes, even a little bit of anger.

So, I continually remind people that my vision continually changes and my visual perception changes too and that they cannot *assume* what I saw yesterday will be what I see today.

Debra Streeter M.Ed. (Victoria, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “When an additional disability is in the mix, it adds yet another dimension to achieve understanding and acceptance. do you have any suggestions to handle this PROVOKER’s set of issues beyond those for individuals who are just experiencing vision loss?”

**6. “Yes, this is a tough one, Especially if the vision is very dependent on amounts of light, humidity levels or anything like that. Also, it’s tough if vision changes over time and you see certain people only occasionally. You’re not the same as they were used to-i.e. you siblings once you all leave home, high school or college classmates that you see 10 or 20 years later at a reunion, etc.”

Laura Collins (Rapid City, South Dakota USA)

**7. “I think that Partially Sighted people have a really rough time of it because of this issue. I don't see how anyone can truly understand what its like to be on the receiving end of such attitudes displayed. I have a very close friend who is a rehabilitation worker as I am, she carried an ID cane and
one day she was hassled by a man on the buss who said that she was a fraud. As there are no civil rights for disabled people as yet in Britain there was nothing she could do. When she told me I was horrified I feel that the only way this attitude can be changed is by educating people about different
levels of sight. I feel that people also should be made aware that the amount of sight a person has is not necessarily something they wish to have a conversation about. Only last week I was in my local supermarket being assisted to do my shopping when I was asked by the assistant after about 5 minutes how long I have been Blind. This doesn't really bother me, being a congenital but if this same question was asked of someone who had very recently lost their sight and ventured out for the first time on their own,
their confidence could be so affected that they would never go out again.”

Best wishes
Jayne Connor (High Harrington, Cumbria England

**8. “I don't know if this is relevant to your now you see it topic, but I recall as a young adult in Junior High being thought a snob because I
didn't say hi to people I was passing. The truth was, I didn't want to wear my glasses all the time, and had no idea how much I needed them! I simply didn't see or didn't recognize the people I passed. I finally gave in and started wearing my glasses full time. It improved my reputation right away.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

FROM ME: “So what about having to pay the consequences from the refusal to where or use a device that would improve our visual performance? Do we give in or not?”

**9. “This is a very interesting thought provoker. I have had this happen to me a lot, since I have some vision still. I feel that a lot of times family members, friends, co-workers are not sure of what you can and can't see. I know that as growing up visually impaired, my parents would always ask "can you see that?" Most of the time, I'd say no, I can't, ore maybe I can. I sometimes fell very frustrated when people ask me, are you blind? Well, if they see the cane, they would know that I am blind, but they don't know. Usually, I'll be polite and answer all their questions, but afterwards, I'll say to myself "don't you know I can't see that!!" I feel that most people who have grown up with limited vision have this feeling, since they are trying to use the vision they have, instead of using the blindness skills. Now, I use my blindness skills instead of the vision that I have left, and it doesn't get me in too much trouble. Well, I've rambled enough.”

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa USA)

FROM ME: “Do you think having to put up with questions about our level of vision and/or where did your blindness come from, to be just one of those things that we will have to accept, like it or not? Like all those other things about blindness that the non-blind see as interesting or curious or revolting or etc? So how can we best prepare ourselves to answer them?”

**10. “This is an interesting Thought Provoker and one that I've had some acquaintance with, not personally, but as a counselor and Friend. As an adjustment counselor at a rehabilitation center for the blind, I had the opportunity to work with many clients who were dealing with a variety of visually impairments. I remember that one gentleman had fairly good vision, but with a field of less than two degrees. He was constantly being accused of having "shifty eyes" because he constantly moved his head around to see things. Even staff didn't trust him because of the way he appeared.

In another instance, a friend had vision that varied from almost nothing to being able to see shapes, etc., depending on amount of light, contrasts and how she happen to feel that day. I think that part of the problem is that many people just don't understand blindness. Most people seem to think that blind means "can't see anything" and we all know that, for most blind people, this just isn't true.

It seems that every day is a teaching/learning experience, constantly teaching others about what I am and not able to do. I don't mind doing this, because I feel that my task is to educate the public. "Actually, I may have it easier, because I have absolutely no vision (not even light perception. On the other hand, I am always trying to explain what it is like to be unable to see anything.
Even so-called professionals don't always remember that everyone is an individual and must be treated as such.”

Doug E. Hall (Daytona, Florida USA)

**11. “This is what I call my good eye days and bad eye days. I've learned not to rush myself thru things, which was hard to do after years of rushing around. Like the other day, while out eating, I seen my water glass in one spot and made a mental note of its location. Then I ended up knocking the water over,
because it ended up in a different spot - my husband moved it so that I wouldn't knock it over. LOL”

Angelica, 49 )Rplist, RP in Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

FROM ME: “How many of you notice that your eyes will change from day to day, wherein one day you can see a thing and the next you can’t? How do you explain that to people? What are some of the strategies you use to functionally cope with those changes?”

**12. “Yes, I’ve done the "now you see, now you don't" for many years.
After a while, you become more diligent about catching things out of the corner
of your eye. Often, I will look twice to make sure I have not missed what I knew
was there. It's tricky, but in time you can overcome the "now you see and now
you don't.”

Dorothy Stiefle (Rplist)

**13. “So, what's the matter with just telling people that we are gradually losing our usable vision? It is nothing to be ashamed of and will certainly prevent a great deal of misunderstanding. In fact, if we find ourselves in this predicament and confide the problem to our friends/work mates, they probably will
feel privileged that we have enough confidence and respect for them to trust them with such sensitive information. Why not try it. Honesty is always the best policy even though at times it is the most difficult one to follow.”

Alfreda Trusty-Dotson (Pensacola, Florida USA)

**14. “I always address my abilities and limitations as soon as possible in a relationship. I don’t just blurt it out, I take each situation or person as being unique and treat it/them accordingly, but I know there will be a potential for problems out of ignorance if I don’t say something. So I would rather start educating them as soon as possible and this way I see what I’ve got there to work with. Bottom line, some people just are not real teachable. So this is where we the disabled need to develop a thick skin. Being different is different than just being one of the crowd, this is our lot.”

Mary S. (USA)

**15. “I'm partially seeing myself. have about a 2-3 foot visual radius during the day.. and at night, roughly 5-8 feet. That is if I wear my paper weights. without
them.. nothing but a lot of pretty fuzzy Christmas lights (people fall under this category as well.). I used to try to explain to people what I could and could not see. but I have to admit.. it got frustrating. now days, I let people assume whatever, and unless its something that I can't figure out on my
own, or from the little clues that people give me (like in restaurants, friends will mouth the menus to themselves, and I'll sit there and listen to them
go down the list, while messing around with my menu), I ask. The biggest problems I have these days, is when someone does ask me how I saw this or that, and I have to go thru a long round about way of explaining, having scented or tasted a thing. (many many people seem to get upset over such things..dunno

Tarran (San Antonio, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “How do some of you see? Meaning, this person described what it is to look through their eyes, so what would we see if we were to get a chance to look through yours? Let us give the sighted readers a glimpse of what it is like to be either partially or totally blind.

For me, I am a total, I do not see light, however- in my head, 24-7 I see a charcoal gray screen between me and the world and on that screen (the screen seems flat and not 3-D) appears pieces of color, patches of pastel shades of color like yellow, green, white, red, black etc and these bits of color move and dance around. Also, there seems to be a light source coming from over my right shoulder (sometimes I imagine the color show is being projected upon the screen from that source). Recall, I once had 20-20, then at age 15 I lost my sight in a car accident due to a head injury (the optical nerves were severed).”

**16. “It really is hard to explain partial vision. It depends so much on
whether there is a lot of light, very little light, or more in between,
size, distance, the color/shade of what you are looking at and
colors/shades or other things around it shadows/lack of shadows, etc. For
example: If I am walking onto a bus where the sun is shining brightly
through the windows in a certain way I will see blackness with some
brightness around and through it. If less light and it is spread out
more, I will see more shapes and colors. There are of course many
variations depending on many factors. The cause of the visual
impairment/blindness has a lot to do with how a person will see things.
It can be very tiring and painful to use partial vision a lot. There can
be a lot more time and effort expended to use it and it can often be
inaccurate. I may see part of something or it will be blurry and then I have
to kind of guess what the rest of it is. Although I don't have a problem
talking about it, it is really hard to explain in a way that someone who
either has perfect vision or no vision can understand. This because the
person who is totally blind from birth has no real understanding of
vision, and someone who is fully sighted. or was before becoming totally
blind, also doesn't have the experience of seeing things differently.
But, as far as the fully sighted, I have no experience seeing the way
they do to have much of an idea of how to explain it to them. I don't
like to make an issue of my partial vision though. Sometimes people are
too quick to assume that I can't see what I can and just treat me like
I'm not very capable.( I hate that.) Some people think that I pretend to
be blind, both the fully sighted and totally blind. It really pisses me
off to have my hard work in figuring out how to do something and then
doing it, discounted because of my partial vision, by someone who either
wants to cling to their stereotypes of blind people, or by someone who
wants to cling to their excuses for not being more independent. I use
blindness techniques and low vision techniques. Contrary to popular
belief low vision techniques are not necessarily easy, painless, quick,
or especially effective/efficient. Also because partials are often
expected do whatever is necessary to "pass" for sighted and not burden
the "really sighted" (Of course we aren't accepted as one of them.), we
are often more on our own to find a way to function in a visually
oriented society. (I'm not saying that it is necessarily bad, in fact
high expectations are good although the expectations for "passing" can be
unrealistic and unreasonably burdensome. I'm just saying that being a
partial has its advantages and disadvantages, but so, it seems, does
being a total.)

As far as questions, I don't generally have a problem talking about
blindness, whether it be the cause/degree of my blindness, what it is
like to be blind (although it is kind of hard to explain since I don't
know what it is like not to be blind), or how I do things. It does get
old sometimes though and there are times when it annoys me because of the
tone of the questioning or because it really gets inappropriately
personal, even embarrassing. To be sure there are differences in what
different people consider to be too personal. For some blindness may have
come in a very traumatic way, like through domestic violence, and so it
is really a sensitive subject for them. Some just generally prefer to
keep to themselves more. Others just have a chip on their shoulder. I
would rather answer questions as best I can if I have the time and if I
don't feel that it is too personal, than have people continue to have
misconceptions about blind people. We certainly have just as much right as
anyone else to privacy, and don't "have" to provide this kind of
information to anyone who doesn't have a need to know. But we should
remember that generally these are well meaning people who just want to
better understand those who are different from them, and don't really
intend to be intrusive or offensive. I think that it is generally best to
either dodge, or politely decline to answer a question than to snap at
the person. If we go around with a snotty chip on the shoulder attitude,
being quick to take offense, sighted people will be afraid to talk to us
and see us as bitter and hypersensitive. This will only make things more
difficult for all of us.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)

FROM ME: “Think about it, when would be an appropriate time to explain what your vision is like?”

**17. “I wanted to address some of the comments and questions about the "Now You See It, Now You Don't Blues" in the last bunch of "Thought Provoker" thoughts.
First---relating to school. Based on my own experience, I think it's a good idea to talk with your teachers/Profs at the beginning of the semester or school
year---especially if you think the class is going to be difficult for you because of your visual impairment. I took two college-level math classes this
past summer, and was able to talk with both professors ahead of the start date. Each class was only five weeks long, and that's barely enough time to
do what the class requires students to do, let alone the time needed for students and the professor to get to know each other very well. Otherwise, I
talk to my Profs on the first day of class. I find it so much easier, now that I have the cane. The cane signifies the fact that I can't see very well.
They will usually ask me if I can see at all, and I'll say yes, and try to explain the best I can. Usually what I say is that I can see there's something
up on the board or overhead, but I can't tell what it says. I say that when it comes to films and videos, I miss some details in the movements, etc.,
but can get the basic idea. Most Profs don't mind helping, and want to know what they can do to help.
I have note takers who sign up through the disability resource office, and get paid a stipend at the end of the semester. Some students have just volunteered
without my having to give my Prof the announcement to read, which is a generic statement saying there is a need for a note taker.
As far as making a speech to the class---it depends on how, whether it is appropriate or not. I took a developmental psychology course a number of years
ago, and had to write a term paper and give an oral presentation over a topic appropriate to the course. I chose premature birth, since I was a premature
baby. I talked about myself and my experiences as they fit into the impact of prematurely on some babies.
One class I had not long ago, dealt with the sense organs. Believe it or not, I was at a loss when we talked about the eye. We did in-class exercises
and demonstrations, that I just couldn't participate in because of the nature of my legal blindness. I brought it up as it happened, hoping the Prof would
ask me what I did see---so the class could learn about some things related to eyes that aren't perfect. I ended up making him feel kind of ill-at-ease,
without meaning to. He just didn't know how to help me be a part of what was going on, but instead of asking me, he would just say, "Oh." and then move
on. I talked to him privately about it, because I felt so uncomfortable. Our conversation was awkward at first, but we both apologized to each other---I
was sorry for not handling it more effectively sooner, and he apologized for seeming like he was blowing me off. It ended up being a really pleasant talk---and
we shared with each other like ordinary people, and not just student-to-professor. Then he asked me if I would mind sharing with the class some of what
I shared with him in our appointment. I said I'd love to. I told the class the nature of my visual impairment, and some of the things I could and couldn't
see, about when I started using the cane, and then I said that I can listen to music and just imagine what would be happening if there were pictures going
on at the same time; like the song "Autumn Leaves". I said sometimes I could feel what was happening in the song, just by listening to the tune and the
rhythm, and the changes in volume. So in a class like that, a sort of impromptu speech for just a few minutes may actually be of benefit. I wouldn't
stand up in front of a geography class and tell them what I could or couldn't see on a map, though (Laugh out loud).
Now, for my very favorite subject of all---customer service to the visually impaired. I think it's only right and fair that the visually impaired do the
teaching. After all, we know what we want and need, and if we are insisting on being treated like everyone else, we need to speak for ourselves. As far
as how---that's a little harder, just because there are so many degrees of sight and/or blindness. Human relations training would be helpful, as part
of the hiring policies. Maybe having some role-playing or simulations, before they actually start serving the customers. Or, have it be an interview
question, "What would you do if a blind or partially sighted customer needed or wanted service---either by themselves or with a group? How would you service
them?" Or, maybe better yet, "If you were a blind or partially sighted customer, how would you want to be treated?"....My whole customer service philosophy
is that the people working in customer service don't work for the company; they work for the customers. And, customers are people, not the food they order,
or the money they pay, etc.”

Carla (Arizona USA)

FROM ME: “I know that for the person with some useable vision, the decision to use a long white cane is a tough and confusing issue, but for those of you who did struggled with this issue and have taken up one, how has the change been? Is it now, in most situations a benefit to getting others to recognize and accept your blindness?”

**18. “Here’s a very interesting flip of the coin I personally experienced about a year and a half ago.

I went into my grocery store and asked for assistance shopping. I have no usable vision when it comes to reading labels, price tags, etc. Can’t even identify
boxes and cans with the pictures on them.

Anyway, the young man who helped me was no help at all!

I’d ask for the price, the weight, or a specific brand or ask him to please read me the prices on several brands of the same item for me to compare and
choose the best for me. I only needed 10 or 12 items.

He was giving me answers like “there is no unit price” or “the package doesn’t have that info.”

I became increasingly frustrated with him, and once home, I called the store manager and complained about the service and his obvious inadequacy as an assistant.

She told me that he was visually impaired himself.

I really got angry.

If he would have just said this, I could have come up with ways to get around it, such as putting both sizes of the item in my cart and having the cashier
scan them to give me prices, or taking one of each brand of something on my list and doing the same thing, or, I would have sorted out which information
was vital to me and which I could live without.

Why didn’t he just tell his supervisor that he would be unable to do the task asked of him?

I was full of questions.

I couldn’t believe his “stubbornness” struggling with me and not either leveling with me or asking me to wait while he conferred with his supervisor to
find someone else to assist me.

Sometimes when people don’t admit a deficit or disability, they just make it tougher on lots of people. He was obviously not noticeably blind or visually
impaired, and tried to get through life without anyone knowing. The store manager confided to me that they didn’t even know of his limitations when he
came to them, and were only learning about them through incidents such as my experience, which, I believe would carry many more negative things to overcome
than positive learning experiences.

Just my opinion. I too used to try and hide or avoid my limitations from people who, I felt, didn’t have to know, but when asked to perform some task
where I needed better vision or other skills I didn’t have, I would always let someone know I needed some accommodation or to be given an alternative task
while one of my classmates or colleagues tackled the one requiring abilities I didn’t possess.

Ok. That got long. Sorry.”

Laura Collins (Rapid City, South Dakota USA.

FROM ME: “Which of the two persons portrayed in the above response was more in tune with their strengths and/or weaknesses? Which one do you thing feels better about themselves? which one do you think will ultimately go the furthest?”

**19. “ Just constantly remind in as pleasant a tone as I can muster.
"......So, I continually remind people that my vision continually changes
and my visual perception changes too and that they cannot *assume* what I
saw yesterday will be what I see today....."

Granted with my immediate family, I sometimes wonder if I should have them
all fitted with hearing aids! Wry chuckle. My kids are five and seven, so
there is hope for them. My husband, on the other hand........grin.

I don't go into very much of an explanation with casual acquaintances as it
really isn't very effective as my vision is likely to change by the next
time we meet. In fact, that is one of the reasons I elected to get a dog.
My Zaria always does her job whereas family and friends have their own
*perceptions* of my visual abilities and their ability to effectively
*guide* me reflects that, smile. Zaria very seldom *forgets* the upcoming
curb or bashes me into the pole.

No, that was not a plug of dog versus cane, smile. Just my adaptation to
family and friends wanting to *help* as they were all leery of my cane
skills in conjunction with my hearing losses. Zaria allows me to
concentrate more on conversation and auditory cues.

Generally, I have found that the sighted world has a very difficult time
adjusting to the mindset that vision can be erratic and fluctuate; allowing
people to sometimes see some things and at other times, totally miss others.
They do not comprehend, I think, the overall complexity of vision and sight;
the multitude of factors that play into *seeing*.

So, I just constantly point out that I don't see whatever may be the subject
of conversation. And if I get *called* on the fact that I can see (I can
still see the closed captioning on my TV) I just stated that I can still see
certain things under some very limited conditions and those conditions
change and that it is just better to assume that I can't see it than to
assume I can. It prevents some nasty accidents, smile.”

Debra Streeter (Victoria, Texas USA)

**20. “The first response in this update got me thinking of an incident a friend
of mine told me about that happened earlier in the week. My friend was
talking to a special education teacher about somehow the subject came up
about a student being legally blind. I guess this teacher has been around
quite a few years (although any sped teacher should know something this
basic in my opinion). She said that she didn't understand why this kid
had this one job in town because it deal with hand tools (saws and stuff)
and since he was legally blind he can't see them! My friend knows
differently because she knows me and I've explained it to her, but when
she tried to tell the teacher that his sight would be limited but he could
see some she just wouldn't hear of it. So this shows that people don't
really understand and they never will I don't think. It is so complicated
because we all may have different causes for our impairment or blindness.
So people have this blanket statement in their mind that they use to
explain all of us. I hate it when people point to something and say it's
over there, but I also realize that most of the time they do it without
thinking and the times that I've said "I'm sorry but I'm visually
impaired, can you tell me how I can get there," they are usually pretty
willing to do so.

Another interesting thing that was brought up was about giving a speech to
a class or talking to a teacher and at what age/grade would it be proper.
I think there are two factors in either case. First, how open is the
teacher and/or class to discussing the issue. Second, how comfortable is
the student discussing their vision impairment. These factors are also
intertwined because how the student feels is somewhat affected by how
other people act about that type of situation. For instance, when I was a
freshman in high school I had a science teacher that was very opposed to
disabled students, it was clear in how he dealt with me (and my
observations of other disabled students in the school) and how he dealt
with my limitations. He would not adapt anything for me, tests,
experiments, nothing at all. I talked to him because I thought that if I
explained exactly what would help me achieve success he would understand.
That didn't work, neither did my resource teacher talking to him, and the
other three teachers on the freshman team talking to him. It actually
surprised the other teachers (so I was told by one of them) because they
could not understand why he wouldn't want to help as that is part of a
teacher's job. For our final exam a miracle happened, it was enlarged,
however, I was still made to fill in the bubbles on the scan sheet. That
led to me not even getting done with the exam and thus only getting a 70
percent. Granted that is an example of a bad situation but it is reality.
That wasn't the only time that same thing took place only with other
teachers or professors in college. I must say, though, that by the time
you are in high school you should be able to give input about your needs
and situation. No one knows it better than you. That isn't to say you
shouldn't have backup in the form of other teachers, a parents, or another
person that is qualified. My tip would be to cover the essential things,
don't give a whole lecture as a teacher/professor probably doesn't want to
hear it. They want to know in simple terms what they can do to help. It
is also helpful I think if they have a copy of the adaptations you need.
Make a list and have it there when you talked to them on the first day of
class and refer to it. Ask them if they have questions or need
clarification. Although blindness is more prevalent in schools than it
used to be it is still not uncommon, in my experiences, that teachers have
never had a visually impaired student.

As for giving a speech or talk about your situation to a class, I think if
the teacher is fine with it try it. Speech class is a good one and I did
a speech on blindness myself (although it didn't lead to a discuss about
my situation). Another class I've done this in was a psychology class in
high school and it fit in very well. I'm not sure I would suggest this in
any other classes, however, because it can be more difficult to work it
in. In the psych class I was not the one that brought it up to the
teacher, he brought it up to me. He asked me if I would be comfortable
discussing it because he thought it would give some insight to their unit
about the five senses. I was a freshman at the time and the class was
full of juniors and seniors. I must say that I was surprised how
interested they were and it made me feel good to know that I had explained
being legally blind and blindness as well in a realistic way that could be
understood. I think it does help to dispel some of the myths and
confusion in the world. As I said before though I think that high school
is probably the earliest a person should do this type of thing.

The younger a person is the harder it is for them to explain things and
the harder it is for others their age to understand. In elementary school
the most I would say should be done is have the parent explain the child's
situation to the teacher as early in the year (or summer if next year's
teacher is known) as possible. Then have the teacher tell the other
students that so-and-so can't see as good as they can and sometimes we
might have to help them do something but we should always ask if they need
help before doing anything. Kids love to help and this enables them to be
a part of helping that student and over time they will gain more
understanding and caring than if there is a bunch of complicated language.
It also takes the awkwardness out of it. If kids grow up learning that
some people are different from them this will make it easier when the kids
are older too.

Sorry this was so long, just had a lot to say. ha ha”

Wendalyn (Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: “Question- What sort of disability training do Special Education teachers get in college? And, saying they do, do you think it truly educates them to the abilities of the blind? {Hopefully it happens, the training, the enlightening; and mostly it does.}

Now, here is a Robert Leslie Newman observation; one that we in the commission where I work have. Generalization- the two most closed minded and non-accepting professional groups of disabilities are... educators and medical people. I’m thinking, college department and Medical doctors. And as I read back over that statement I say to myself, is that really what I have found and believe and if so why? I mean, yes I have found this to be true. but, is it wide spread or is it a case that when it happens it just sticks out more strongly because I want to believe that they in their professions are the ones that I/we would least want to find harboring these behaviors? Because it is they who are expected to be the main care givers to the disabled? what do you think?”

**21. “
I have ROP. I usually tell people I am totally blind just too not answer
questions. I use my light perception but that's about it. When I was
young I used to be able to identify colored lights and probably still
could but don't have to.
I enjoy answering questions about being blind but often wonder if people
realize how offensive their questions could be. I often wonder the person
who asked how long I have been blind if they would ask an African-American
how long he/she has had that particular color of skin. I am not offended
by the questions but as someone else pointed out someone who loses his/her
vision later in life could be offended by this question. I believe in
speaking to my professors prior or on the first day of classes about being
vi and what I need. Support services gets mad at me when I want to try
different methods for doing things. Also I am often called the blind girl
with cane because another girl goes here who is vi who uses a dog guide.

I don't think every blind or vi person should be required to feel
comfortable speaking about their vi or blindness. It depends on the
person. Advocacy is a skill one develops over time and sometimes I
don't want to be an advocate. My theory is though if I don't tell people
about my blindness I am doing them a disservice by not teaching them about
how I do things. I often point out that all people who are blind or vi
don't do everything the same way. Sighted people have the tendency too
stereotype us what I do to accomplish a task all blind people must do the
same thing.”

Lisa (Iowa USA)

**22. I didn't mean to write in twice, but I wanted to address some issues brought
up by other responses. To address the issue raised about informing
teachers/professors about your vision. I personally, make it a point to go
in within the first week of a new semester and talk to my professors. I do
this mostly to ask if they can make me large print tests, but also to let
them know I am in there class, and bring up and issues I’ve noticed in that
first week like if they don't talk about the things on the overhead
projector or they don't say what they write on the chalk board. An earlier
response said how they didn't feel like they were excepted by the totally
blind, or by the sighted and I'd have to agree that sometimes I don't feel
like I am a part of either group, but that doesn't stop me from
participating in activities involved with both groups. And on a final note,
as someone who doesn't currently use a cane, sometimes when I'm asking for
directions I feel that it would be a lot easier to get help if I was using a
cane because if you aren't using one and you ask where something is,
sometimes people look at you like your an idiot, like duh! you should know
where this place is. Has anyone else had one of these experiences?”

Randi Strope (Wayne, Nebraska USA)

**23. “Just a quick thought here on this subject. I have RP and until around 6 months ago, I still had partial vision, but now only have the ability to see some
difference between light and dark. Believe me, I would trade all the questions in the world for having that partial vision back! What difference does it
make how many people ask questions or wonder about what you can or can not see? I also had many questions and I know how difficult it is to explain, but
like with everything else connected to blindness, you just do your best and go ahead with life. Enjoy what vision you have and hope it lasts as long as

Marie, (Vancouver, Washington USA)

**24. “I have RP and it is at the stage where I can see only a short distance straight ahead of me. It use to be clear and I could read and recognize people, but no longer. Seeing in the dark or in dimly lighted areas has been impossible for years. All this was hard to get use to for me, but I’ve come to grips with it and now use a white cane and belong to a consumer group for the blind. It is still hard for others to understand what I can see or can’t see. This has become easier for other people when I started carrying a cane. Now they start off our interaction knowing I have an eye problem. Before it took longer for them to understand, now with the cane it is easier and I appreciate that. So my advise is for the person with enough blindness that they do have problems traveling, even if it is just sometimes, to get a cane and get going with acceptance.”

Sue Spring (Maryland USA)

**25. “Many people have stated that what you see varies in different circumstances. I have found that some people are uncomfortable with the situation and ask questions for their own comfort level. I take responsibility for what I can and can't see. I tell friends and even strangers when asked, "Don't assume anything. If I get in trouble I will ask for help, until then relax and let me take care of me". That usually takes care of the questions. Having lost my eyesight after my son lost his due to RP, I realized something very significant. Although I educated myself to help my son go through his adjustment, I didn't understand or fully know what his experience was until I lost my eyesight.”

Sandra Oliveira (Long Beech, California USA)

FROM ME: “Putting someone else at ease with your blindness is a skill. And talking about skills, would you say that if your blindness skills are good that you will get fewer questions about your vision, than if your blindness skills are poor?”

**26. “Afraid I can't speak for that one because I'm total, and anyway when I was partial, it was so minimal it didn't matter. I have trouble, though, convincing enough people (I don't even try anymore) that I'm really blind. Go fig.”

John Coveleski (New York, New York USA )

FROM ME: “I too have had this problem. That is, I get around well, have good eye contact, am pretty graceful in handling myself in most situations, and I’ll get people thinking that I must have sight. Think about that, why?”

**27. “It's been a while since I've posted, but I have a few comments on this Provoker...

First, I am total as the result of an auto accident also. With both optic nerves severed, there is nothing to carry the message to the brain. When people ask what I can see, I explain that to them and highlight it with an example of a car battery being connected to the headlights. In this case, the battery is my brain and the headlights are my eyes. I explain that the connection between the two has been cut off and there is nothing flowing between the two ends. This seems to work well for expressing my situation, even for very young audiences. Outside of the optic nerves, there was no damage to the rest
of my eyes. Outside of being totally dilated, my eyes appear normal to others. It sometimes confuses people when I look them in the eyes when talking to them and follow them around by sound as they move about during a conversation.

This leads to the second question..."If you can't see anything, what do you see? Is it just pitch black?" Like Robert, I have a mental image that is present 24/7, eyes open or closed. Mine is a dark burgundy color and is like a wide curtain from one side to
the other. There are also indiscriminate black and white specks that will periodically dance around on that burgundy screen. I've found through my own observations that this phenomena of seeing a mental image of some color occurs with some regularity in people who have had sight and recognize the color of that mental image, but the color varies with each individual.

My final point is about discussing my needs with my professors. I was 31 when I went blind, so it wasn't an issue I dealt with growing up. When I began understanding my blindness, I also realized that I had never known anyone else in my life who was blind. The questions I had as I began to deal with my
new life concepts were an understanding that many people I meet and deal with in the future may also have never known anyone who was blind. I understand
they have questions, but when I first meet someone I am gaining information from, such as a professor, I need to be able to communicate to them that I see nothing, as well as suggesting alternative means of getting that information to me. As my college career has continued and I advanced in my use of technology, I also expanded means of delivering information to myself.
When I enter the classroom with Quarry, my Seeing Eye dog, there is no question that I have some impairment. The professors do not know the degree of my limitation, so it is then up to me to let them know. When I meet with my professors on the first day of class, I cover the basics with them. What I have found is most often the case, a strong sense of self
confidence and a complete understanding of what will work for me serves me greatly to put the professors at ease. This has been particularly true when taking classes that deal with visual and graphic figures such as algebra and statistics.
Explaining to the professor that I don't know what they mean when they point to something they have written on the board and say "What if you took this and added it to this?" makes them realize that they can improve their communication skills when teaching. Professors whom I have stayed in contact with have repeatedly said that my directions for passing along this information had made them more effective teachers and the whole class benefited from the
clarity. Self advocacy and effective communication are two of the best tools we as blind people can possess. When dealing with sighted people who are awkward in how to proceed or what questions to ask, the baton is passed to us to show them the way. Concrete examples work best and are more easily understood, like
the person who said they saw little fuzzy Christmas lights.

One final thought...Attitude is everything. This not only refers to yours about your visual impairment or blindness, but it also refers to the people you are attempting to communicate with. If someone is closed minded when dealing with someone with a disability, such as the science teacher another person wrote about, you can only put forth your best effort and leave it at that. That closed mind is like a closed gate that will not open unless you have the
right key. Give it your best effort, but know when good enough is good enough.”

Ron Graham (Houston, Texas USA )

**28. “People still ask me "can you see at all?" or "You can see a little bit, can't you?" So far, my plastic eyes have not come out to answer them, hahaha!
I did see light, dark and colors for 28 years. I don't miss the pain, moving lights, or overly-bright situations. However, I do still wish I could see colors, though, of course, I can function just fine without them; still I would prefer it.
When I could see slightly, I strained to see things I really couldn't see. I especially strained to see doorways, whether stairs were up or down, turns in sidewalks, and other clues. Problem was, sometimes I could make them out and sometimes not. I would be so busy straining to "see" that my concentration
would be in the toilet and that was when I was most accident-prone.
Even when I first began using my long white cane, I would still "cheat." Sleepshades gave me terrible headaches, but I did use them before my right eye was enucleated, just to prove to myself that my world wasn't disappearing or anything. A friend who had already lost the slight vision he used to have had informed me that being totally blind was not like being in the dark which gave me more
courage to have the necessary surgery.
He was right! I am no longer afraid of the dark. However, I do sometimes tend to forget to turn lights on or off. Women have sometimes been startled to find me in a public restroom, lights out, managing okay. Since it is soooooo confusing trying to explain to some people, I prefer that people not ask me such direct questions. What business is it, anyway?
Now, if they really, seriously want to know, I will stop to explain. However, much of the time it is just gossipy curiosity or said from not knowing what else to say, like all one can say to a blind person is something related to blindness. Strange!”

Lauren Merrifield (Washington USA)

**29. “About just what we do “see” Robert, I was interested in your description of being totally blind but still having the flat screen with colors dancing across it.

I did loose a significant, and nearly all of the rest of my usable vision about a year and a half ago.

Even though I had very limited vision, I couldn’t get to sleep when a light was on, when sun was coming through the window, etc. Now, not being able to reliably perceive light, sometimes the room may appear totally dark to me when it is filled with light or sunshine, and, really strange, sometimes “light”
will keep me from being able to go to sleep when really it is quite dark!

Go figure!

Another thing I just thought of is to ask sighted people if their vision is constant.

They will tell you “yes”

But you could bring up examples like

“so you can see just as far and just as accurately when there is fog?”

“what about a brilliant sunny day when snow is on the ground. Do your eyes experience any discomfort and degree of visual changes?”


“so you can see as accurately if you had to look for a dropped coin outside at night as you could during day light hours?”

I bet these examples would get people to thinking,

But it might get them doing a lot of justifying, defending and telling you that you are comparing apples and oranges when you try to compare the differences in vision and changing vision between people with “normal” sight and people who are partially sighted.”

Laura Collins (Rapid City, South Dakota USA)

FROM ME: “Eye doctors tell me that all people who have vision will experience vision changes through out a week or a month or even the course of a day. This is due to our human physiology, being sensitive to chemical changes within our systems and/or barometer changes within the environment we live and/or we get tired, etc. It is just that having a high degree of vision, means you will not so readily notice a small percentage of change, nevertheless it is there.”

**30. “I think that the appropriate time to explain your visual
impairment/blindness, other than when you just want to, is when it
affects your ability to do something that affects someone else. The
visually impaired grocery store worker, for example, had a responsibility to his employer, to disclose his disability because in some areas it affects his ability to do his job or at least affects how it will be done. He also had a responsibility to disclose his disability to the blind customer he was assisting because it affected the quality of the particular service that he was able to provide her. Also the ADA does not require an employer to accommodate an undisclosed disability. By "passing" when he can't effectively do so, he is risking losing his job and can't claim discrimination. If you ask someone to tell you where something is they are probably going to point if they don't know that you can't see well. If you ask the bakery worker what they have, they are going to point to the display and say "everything that's here," unless they know that you can't see it. When the carpet cleaning man asked me yesterday what I thought about his work, I said "I can't see very well, how does it look to you? Did you get those dog stains out?" He said "oh, yeah they came out ok." Sometimes my partial vision is an issue at work because things have to be packaged a certain way. So the boss will ask me if I can see where some writing or a bar code is in order to figure out how I can tell if a sticker is facing the right direction for example. If I can't use vision to do something then they need to know that so that a nonvisual technique can be figured out. My coworkers also need to know
that I can't see very well because I often have to ask them what color
some paper is or where certain labels are, or how many sheets the paper says to count for each color and what order they go in, for example. On the hand, the person sitting next to me on the bus doesn't need to know what I can or can't see, although I may choose to try to explain it to him/her.
It is often helpful for the cab company to know that I am blind so that
the driver will know to look for me rather than expect me to flag him
down, but what I can and can't see isn't relevant.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)

**31. “I don't normally write in again but I just wanted to respond to the question that Robert brought forth after my response. "What sort of disability training do Special Education teachers get in college?" In my experience, just having graduated with a degree in elementary education but I took some special ed stuff, very little is taught about the abilities of the blind and how to deal with the sight impaired. Most of what is taught are generalizations, like "someone who is blind will need assistance in reading textbooks." There is very little discussion about what adaptations a sight impaired or blind student may need for lessons in the classroom (i.e. what is written on the board or overhead, experiments, textbooks, worksheets, manipulatives, etc). One thing that I remember well in my one special ed class was the mention of large print. There was really no explanation, just that "a visually impaired student may need to use large print textbooks and have worksheets enlarged." I think this is a good start but when I asked the professor what was meant by large print he had no clue. He said to me and the class "well I guess like 14 point or something like that." I can assure you that for most partially blind
people I've known, including myself, that wouldn't be big enough. As a standard I always requested at least 18 point font because 14 point is not much bigger than the standard of 12.

I also think there could be more said in education classes in college,
special ed and regular ed classes, what adaptations could be made as well as what specific problems the student may have. No, the teacher will never be able to fully understand the student's situation, but maybe something can be done to make them more sensitive to the student's feelings and needs and more receptive to helping them.

Also, a very interesting question was posed, how would it look if you
looked through my eyes. I imagine at times it would be confusing. As others have said it depends a lot on circumstances. My vision is best when I get up in the morning. That is when things are the least fuzzy in both of my eyes, although there I always have to look through somewhat of a fuzzy hazy in my left eye. As I use my eyes during the day my eyes get more tired and thus it is harder for me to focus in one details and things and that hazy starts to form. By the time late afternoon comes my eyes
start to hurt a little and it grows more intense until I go my eye drops
and go to bed. How much they hurt depends on what I did that day and how tired they are. If I was around a lot of light, my eyes are more stressed. If I read a lot they are very stressed. One hindrance is that looking through my eyes you may only be able to read a couple pages of something printed before having to stop to rest your eyes. No matter what time of day it is hard for me to focus on details. I can see people, if they are within 5 or so feet, but don't depend on me to be able to tell you details like eye color because I can't. If someone waves at me I usually don't see it. I can see colors, although I'm not good at seeing the difference in two shades of the same color. Now all of this is thrown out the window somewhat if my eye pressure is elevated that day or I have a migraine or my sinuses are causing pressure. And some days I wake up and for an unknown reason my eyes just are what I called tired, meaning I
know I will have to do as little with my eyes as possible that day because they are feeling weak. I admit sitting down and trying to think how to describe how I see is hard as it is for most all of us but I think maybe it is something we should all consider in case we are ever asked to explain it.”

Wendalyn (Nebraska, USA)

**32. “Something peripheral with the thought provoker. I've come to think of sighted people, as a completely different culture/society. One which believes that everyone should speak their language, even in the privacy of their own dwellings. The question from you about the professionals, really brought it to mind. It seems to me, that many a people assume I receive my information in the same manner as they do (much like the concept of universalism). and that
while they may know that I can't see many things that they themselves do, they are unaware of it (its a surface knowledge rather than something that is a part of their own lives). Hmm.. this might sound a bit odd, but its like.. if we were two different species, then sighted people would think of me as funny looking humans. not sure if that makes sense, or expresses what I'm trying to say.”

Tarran (San Antonio, Texas USA)

**33. “You asked a couple questions concerning this thought provoker so I am writing here regarding these. Today my sight is little. On light but cloudy days I can see some shapes as well as our sidewalk and gather some color when coming to the out buildings.
On bright days everything is a fuzzy blur or glare!
I resisted using the long cane for far too long but today I use it whenever I go out of my yard. It has really helped in mobility. I have a friend, one who can still see some, but he will use his cane when we go walking. Other times he walks with out his cane. When the two of us are
walking down the road some cars respect us but we must really be on the guard for we walk on roads without sidewalks or curbs. The other day we both wore our dark glasses. What a difference this made! Every car slowed and went way around us. Does this mean the public still thinks
all blind wear dark glasses? Does the general public think if we do not wear the dark glasses that we can still see fine? My eyes do feel better on bright days when I wear the dark glasses for light gets in to the eyes. Thus bright light hurts my eyes like it hurts those with
no vision trouble. People find this hard to understand when I tell them for they say if I can't see why should bright light hurt my eyes.”

Ernie Jones (Walla Walla, Washington USA)

**34. “As for me I am without any sight .No big deal at least to me. But what gets on my last nerve is when someone will say "you do things so well" and add "for a Blind person" .I am not out to prove to the sighted world that I can do things so well. I am the best person I know how to be .Rather I am Blind or not has little baring on who I am. I have had a friend tell me about color this is not something I have every seen and makes so little sense to me. I do not understand why the sighted are so curious about us. I for one believe in live and let live. Just my 2 cent's.”

Wanda Burtan (USA)

**35. “I am one of the partially sighted people on the list, and often times, I notice this "now you see it, now you don't." Two incidents of particular note stand out in my memory.
1. My freshman year of college, I had a roommate who was very insensitive and generally aloof, not just to VI people, but all people in general. One day, we were in our room, and I was looking at a Dr. Pepper lid to see if I had won anything. She commented, "I notice you can read this lid, surely, you can
see where 'over there' is." Like someone in one of the previous responses commented, seeing "over there" is different than being able to read print.
2. In October of 2001, a former friend and I were walking to various stores. Usually, this person was good about letting me use my cane to find obstacles and so forth, but on this particular day, for whatever reason, he was not willing to let me be independent. Rather, he told me where every little thing in my path was. I could not believe how insensitive he was to my former state of independence. When he started doing this, I got frustrated because this
is something he never did before then.
3. At one point, my mother made a comment that is so true and that I am sure others on this list will understand. She said it is tough to be a "partial" and that it would be easier to either have all of my vision or no vision. Sometimes, I agree with her, especially when I do dumb things like miss one or two steps and cause a mild sprain.
Just some thoughts to ponder.”

Alexis Read (Moorhead, Minnesota USA)

**36. “I just tell people that my vision fluctuates depending on a number of factors. If they really want to know, I go on and ex plain about lighting, glare, stress, fatigue, systemic illness, etc. It just depends on the situation. If I see the person regularly, I think it's important for him/her to have some idea of what I do and don't use my vision for and how it can change in different circumstances.”

Sarah J. Blake (Blindfam)

**37. “It must be easier for people that have been sighted and gone blind at least
they can explain it from knowing what they have lost. I've learned not to
tell people what I can see it makes life a bit easier. My right eye has
20/2000 vision but I can sometimes spot a penny laying on the sidewalk with
it. I can't explain it myself must be a few retina cells that work once in a
blue moon.”

Charlie Web (Blindfam)

**38. “I have the same thing happen to me where some days I swear I can see things
better and other days I seem to not be able to see much of anything. Once
in a while I will see, right away, something I drop, but the next day I
can't do that. I, too, have always wondered why this is.

I have low vision and like you, I don't even let people know I can see,
because then I have to explain what I can and can't see and sometimes I feel
I don't even know that myself because my vision varies so much from one day
to the next.”

Bev (Blindfam)

**39. “”I have macular degeneration and it changes with the weather or maybe it is how my body reacts to what I have eaten. I belong to a group of older visually impaired people and most of them also have macular and they all experience the same. All I know is that one day it will be at its best and a couple of days later it will be down and I wonder if I’ve lost more sight and it is going to stay there. this changeability was hard to get use to. It made some of my family and friends question what was going on, if I was playing games or if I was starting to get ultimers disease.

In our group, we meet once a month and talk about visual impairment. Sometimes we have trainings and learn to function when our vision is poor. This has helped. When you are having a bad eye day, have a non-visual method to fall back on. The biggest help is to have a support system of friends and other visually impaired people, people that understand.

I think you have to explain to family and friends that your vision changes. Tell them your sight is impaired and if they accept that, then they must understand that like all parts of the body, some days it works better than other days and this is a lot like something your friend or family member have experienced with some part of their body. But like I say, the most important part of this is for the visually impaired person must get use to it themselves and get a support system and learn non-visual methods.”

Maxine (USA)

**40. “ I know I wrote in once before, but there is something that came up last weekend that I would like to discuss that I feel fits in well with this topic. I have a very good friend with only light perception in the right eye due to ROP. I had known before last weekend that he only had light perception, but because I have more vision than this, I did not truly understand what light perception was or how he could see light and dark. I knew he used a cane and echolocation so I could infer that he had less than "partial" vision. However, I wanted to educate myself on what light perception was and how he
saw light and dark.

When we talked on Friday night, he explained that what he saw was "white light." These are his words, mind you. I am sure others with light perception might not say they see "white light." I was not comprehending what "white light" meant so I asked him further what this was. The next day, I sent him an e-mail with a possible idea for a simulator for me to understand this, which was a piece of paper held against a Halogen lamp or another source of light. He said that he could not see the paper if it was not "conducting heat." (Again, his words and method of explanation).

I got more confused because I did not understand how "conducting heat" had to do with seeing light and dark. I e-mailed him that afternoon and asked him to explain further. He gave me a simulation idea that was so simple that I wondered why he had not given me this idea earlier in the day to prevent more confusion. He said to close my eyes, what did I see? When I responded that I didn't see anything, he said that I should turn on a light; what did I see then? When I responded that I could tell the light was on, he said THAT is how he sees. I was like, "PRESTO! I understand!"
The reason I relate this experience is to show that even partially sighted people might not totally understand what it is like for another VI person, especially someone with light perception. The reason I wanted to understand this from his perspective was because I plan to get my Vision certification,
hopefully, from Portland State, and I wanted to have at least a basic understanding of what my future students might or might not see so I could better accommodate their needs.
Maybe this whole experience with him was inappropriate, I don't know, but I really wanted to try to understand what he could and could not see, more so than the experience when he was visiting me at my college in 1999. At that time, I knew he could tell when a computer monitor was on or off, but that
was all I knew about his vision. He could not tell what color something was, even though he has mental images of colors. However, I wanted to understand
more than his just being able to tell if the computer monitor was on or off.

This is just my own experience that I wanted to share.

Alexis Read (Moorhead, Minnesota, USA)

**41. “The more of these letters I read, the more I realize the complexity of this mysterious thing called "blindness". How can we possibly expect a sighted person
to understand what we do or don't see? Even though I am visually impaired, I have often wondered what others who are also visually impaired or totally
blind see. As for me, I live in a world of fog. Most of the time, I am able to make out objects (although very fuzzy) but sometimes the fog gets so
thick, I can barely make out anything. I see absolutely no color except for an occasional glimpse of red somewhere in my side vision. My field of vision
is never quiet. Somewhere there is always something flashing, fluttering, or jiggling. Brightly lighted geometric shapes float in and out of my vision
at times. When I am in the sun, my yellowish fog turns black and I am totally blind. Try to explain that to a sighted person!!
I keep hoping to find someone else who has the same story but I guess we are all different and I guess that's why it's impossible to explain.”

Pat Wagner (Portage, Michigan USA )

FROM ME: “Maybe I should have a THOUGHT PROVOKER wherein we all describe what it is we see, be we totally blind or partially blind or fully sighted (not all sighted people see the same either). then we’d have in one place an accounting of the range of human sight and/or non-sight. what do you think?”’

**42. “I would like to comment on a couple of things about this update. One is the question of whether a person's blindness skills determines how much help a
sighted person tries to give. In my case I do not find this to be so. I have a guide dog and the sighted person tries to do the work for the dog. I
even had a lady ask if she could put a pair of socks in the drawer that I took them out of independently that morning. I also sympathize with the woman
who has the friend that tell her every little thing she might hit. I have a dog and that still goes on with me. People also have the assumption that
I cannot hear traffic. This gets on my nerves. It never seems to get better.”

Angela Farmer (Dothan, Alabama USA)

**43. “What a great subject line here. I believe Ron, from
Houston summed it up very well . He stated that it is our
attitude and education of our blindness that can and does make a
difference. Part of this fits into an older Thought Provoker which
asked" what a blind person looks like "? at age 56 plus I have
been a total for over 20 years and as others , including Ron it
has taken education and patience working with family, friends
and of course the public..

White canes and I never did well and then one day many years
ago, I took the advice of a friend and became a Dog Guide
User. There is no bad stories in traveling for my dog and I.
Each of my dogs has opened so many opportunities for travel and
fun. Even today setting in a restaurant some folks will ask if
Cannot see even a little and I just grin and say no. Folks we
need to have a sense of humor and just continue to educate and
understand a sighted world where some of us were atone time.

at the same time the A D a has opened even more doors for us
and if we continue to share here in this format , possibly more
can be helped, just by sharing information. It is easier to
laugh then cry . It takes fewer muscles to smile than to use a

Oddly enough I can still dream in living color which is neat.
My eyes move around as I have always followed voices and "looked"
for sounds. My training for Public Speaking years ago was funny
because we were taught to look from side to side to carry a
message which I usually explain to a sighted audience . At
times to break the stillness I will ask if there is any other
blind folks in the audience . If you want something friends, ask for it and if you don't
have it, then stride and work for it. Each of us are individuals
and there are opportunities that some of us can expand on.
we are only here once, as far as Know, so enjoy life and take
one day at a time. the snow is melting so step out with your
dog or cane but step out and help all of us strive for a better
world for all persons with a disability.”

Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York USA )

**44. “In a psychology class many years ago, I learned that everyone has a blind
spot. There are actual visual "games" to demonstrate this. If the
subject, for example, looks at a dot on a sheet of paper with one eye, he
sees a solid line near by. In actuality it is a broken line, but when
focusing on the dot, the break in the line falls on the blind spot.

The brain works like a probability generator. It takes in information and
computes a likely solution by filling in the unknown with the most probable
information. This is why the person sees the broken line as a solid line
in the example above.

For those of us who have partial vision, our brains become very "good" at
filling in missing information. I may see a whole table top as empty. The
items on it are just "hiding" in a blind spot. My brain fills in those
spots with more table information because that is a likely solution.

As my sight decreases more and more, I find my brain making more and more
errors because it has less actual data and confabulates more and more
visual input. A friend once told me that she sees colors like a
kaleidoscope. Some days, this is a very good description of what I see,
colors but no definable data. When I am in familiar territory, my brain is
much better at making up the whole picture than when I am in new
surroundings. At times, it takes me a second or two to make sense of my
surroundings visually, even in familiar territory.

I have often thought I would like to get one of those sheets of paper with
the visual "games" on it to present to people who have difficulty trying to
figure out why "now I see it ... Now I don't. At best, I saw 20/600 in my
only usable eye. Now it is counting fingers at 1 foot when I was last
checked. The other eye is a prosthesis (plastic). I have ROP. When they
removed my eye at 7 months of age, they took as much of the optic nerve as
they could get because they thought it was malignant. In that eye, there
is no vision. I see the same through that eye as I see through my cheek on
that side. No vision at all. Mo blackness. In the eye that has some
vision, I sometimes have a haziness that, in the total darkness, is a light
glow. I am noticing it more and more as my vision deteriorates.

I often speak to groups of people of all ages about blindness, and I am
careful to explain the problems of partial vision. For very young
audiences, I use concrete examples including covering eyes with hands to
simulate near total blindness, covering the eyes with a piece of computer
paper to simulate light and dark perception, using waxed paper to simulate
decreased acuity, and looking through a tube of paper to simulate limited
visual fields. This is a poor representation of the actual visual deficits
but it helps people to appreciate the differences.

It is on us to make those around us feel comfortable with us. Be up front,
light hearted, and informative. Most of them want to understand. If they
do gain better insight, we all win. Be careful to ask questions in such a
way to get the answer you need. "What street am I facing?" Please help me
pick out a greeting card. I can't see well enough to read them for myself.’”

Joleen Ferguson (Walla Walla, Washington USA)

**45. “I would like to respond to this thought provoker.
This is my second response.
First I would like to comment on the issue of menus at restaurants. Being
basically a totally blind person from ROP I find it funny that servers at
restaurants almost always give me a print menu. Along with the rest of my
family members. I always think this is odd. I realize they might think
that I am low vision but still I find it comical. I usually try and ask
for a Braille menu or my mother will ask about a
Braille menu. Often this leads to the restaurant manager coming out to see
what's going on. Some places haven't updated their Braille menus in years. Why I don't
know do they think the Braille menu once Brailed somehow keeps up to date
without needing to be rebrailled?
Once at a restaurant a waitress offered to read me the menu and I tried to
tip her for it. She refused.
One time I was at the Olive Garden and they had their menu on tape. This
was my first experience with menus on tape. This is my only experience
with that. They brought a little tap recorder with it so I could listen
to the tape.

The format for Braille menus differs from place to place.
My theory always is if you update the print menu update the Braille menu.
When I was younger there was a restaurant we frequented that didn’t have a
Braille menu. When I say we I mean my family. Anyway my mom and I
offered to make them a Braille menu. We did and this was probably the late
80's early 90's. It desperately needs to be updated but we don’t' have the
time to do it.

Now on to the issue of spec education.

I am majoring in spec education with elementary education. I am constantly
amazed at how profs don't want me to discuss how vi students learn. They
basically say that isn't the point of my major. I am getting certified to
work with ebd, ld, and md kids. Mental disabilities, emotional behavioral
disorders, and learning disabilities for all of those acronyms.
When I ask questions in class about how would a vi student adapt to
situations I am told that isn't the point of the class. Often profs are
like they don’t' know the answers to my questions and don't seem to want to
help me gain those answers. I want to know because I want to teach
children who are visually impaired. I keep thinking it has to be better
when I get into that specific certification someday it has to be but will
it be?

Also if I explain that I want my handouts emailed to me or better yet
Brailed out I am basically told if I want that I will have to pay for it
myself. This semester I have hired a lady who is a certified Braille
transcriber to transcribe charts that are visual for classes.
I could get VR to pay for it but it is so much easier for me to pay for things
myself. Saves a lot of time. In the real world that's what I would have
to do.

I had an experience the other day I feel is worth sharing.

I work with a sixth-grade girl who is totally blind. Her classroom teacher
asked me how I do my work for my college classes. I explained that none
of my textbooks are in Braille that I survive on readers and tapes. She seemed surprised. I hate it I tell people I want my things in Braille and
they act like if I can't accept learning how to read auditory then I am
just out of luck. And they teach us about learning styles in education
classes. I am a "visual" learner. I have reached the point where I want
proof of this in writing to show the people at the disability office and
for profs. I don't know how many times profs tell me I am sorry I forgot
to email you today's handout. I keep thinking thank God this isn't K-12
classroom situation and you weren't supposed to get your stuff prepared for
the student who is vi ahead of time. You would never make it. My other
thought is you actually taught in a classroom once you professors. You
can't accommodate a college student I hate to know what you do with a
student in the K-12 system.

It just worries and concerns me. Sorry this is long and probably full of

Hope this makes sense.)

Lisa (Iowa USA)

**46. “I had the hardest time getting my friends to first believe me that I was going blind. It happened so slow at first and I didn’t say anything about it to anyone. But the day came when I couldn’t recognize my friends faces and had to fess up. I have macular and I’m told I’ll lose all my detail vision, but not the side vision. Now I can still read some print if I use a 10 power magnifier. but what I can read is very slow and hard work. At first my friends thought all I needed to do was get stronger glasses and I tried, but it didn’t work. Magnifiers have worked for reading, but they are now starting not to be enough. I also have a CCTV or close circuit TV and with it I can read the best, but that is also getting harder. Trying to use it gives me a head ache and almost makes me sick to my tummy.

I know I will not go totally blind, but I can expect that I will be able to see objects around me, but nothing that I look straight at. Now I have to look off center to see what I can see. Also when you have vision like mine they teach you to read by bringing the material from far out to close up and when you find the point where you can see the clearest, you hold that distance and keep your head still and move the paper to see what is on the line. This was had to get use to, but it works.

also I need more light than I did when I could see better. natural sun light works the best for me. I also use more color contrast now too. when I put my things down on a table, I make sure I place them on a back ground different in color than the object itself. I like it when our church put brightly colored strips on the edges of the stairs going from one floor to another. When I am out side I now use a blind cane. this was hard to come to, but it works and I feel better crossing streets and walking in my neighborhood.

To teach others to know what you can see or can’t is important and takes patients. but the goal is for all to know and know that all is still beautiful. thank you for this forum.”

Micki Saltsly (USA)

**47. “I would like to respond to comments made by Lisa in Iowa. First of
all, I think that Braille menus are wonderful, especially when I am
alone in a restaurant. However, when I am with a sighted person, I
find that it is a lot faster to just ask that person to read the menu
to me.

I imagine that brailing menus can be rather costly and since
restaurants frequently update their menus, some establishments
probably cannot afford to update their Braille menus as regularly as
their print menus. Now, I like the idea of the Olive Garden's menus
being on tape. These menus would certainly be easier to update than
the Braille menus.

I also disagree with Lisa's views on school materials in certain
formats. Once again, it is probably too costly to Braille college
textbooks. I never had any of my college textbooks in Braille. In
fact, during my junior and senior years in high school, most of my
textbooks were on cassette and I found that they were just as easy to
use as the Braille books. In fact, I now prefer having material read
to me by a live human being on a tape as opposed to listening to my
computer's synthesized speech read it to me.

Also, I don't think teachers in either public schools or colleges
should be responsible for providing materials in special formats to
students. Teachers have enough to do since they must also plan
lessons and grade papers and I'm sure once Lisa becomes a teacher
herself, she'll realize this. In the meantime, if Lisa is used to
using synthesized speech, I would suggest that she look into
purchasing a scanner with the help of the Division of Vocational
Rehabilitation or some other state agency. That way, she can read
these materials herself.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.>)

**48. “The subject of what one sees is very complicated. Like any characteristic, one's sight is unique. None of us sees the same, not even sighted people.
There have been studies that have shown that 2 people who witness the same event, don't have the same reactions nor see the same things.
Of course, this is based on a number of variables. 1. our actual visual acuity 2. perception of the world based on our experiences; Education, emotions
Degrees of " vision " are both ends of the spectrum from some people having better than 20/20 and those of us who are totally blind and live in total
When one lives in a world which he/she has some sight but not " full sight ", it is extremely difficult for not only him/her to make sense of but others
as well.
I myself, was "partially sighted " or blind" depending on how you looked at it, for most of my life. I have congenital Toxoplasmosis * a parasite * and
had 20/200.
This level of "vision" to most seemed poor and is equal to only 10 % of what a "fully Sighted " person can see.
I, however did not think anything of it and thought I had good "vision". For, I could read regular print most of the time, though, I had to hold the book
a few inches to my face.
I could recognize people and objects well at 10 feet away and could see things fair at 20 -to 30 ft. This, was only out of my left eye.
I saw best on overcast days, when it was partly cloudy, with some sun and the sun was not shining in my eyes.......
I had to wear telescopic glasses to read the blackboard, could not see the volleyball when it would reach the ceiling lights in gym class, could not
read street signs without using a monocular.....
Yet---I, thought, I had "good vision". And, now, that I am totally blind have no sight whatsoever, having 10% of "sight" is excellent! It is all relative!!
Although, I sometimes miss being to be able to "see", I consider myself to be a well adjusted blind person and don't feel bad about being in the dark.
This took years and will take each person their own amount of time and style of adapting, if he/she has had "sight" and has lost it.
I admit, growing up, I felt awkward and tried to pass as a sighted person. Like many legally blind people, many of my peers, made fun of me by teasing
me about what I could not "See". Children, can be very cruel.
Though, it hurt a great deal way back then, I have realized, those who made fun of others, had a lot of insecurity and all children have their own growing
Even adults, don't understand, anything "different". Most, don't realize, that each of us is unique and has a disability of some kind ---some are invisible
As a partially sighted person, I had different kinds of issues then I do now as a totally blind person. In more ways, I think those people whom are partially
blind, living in 2 worlds, have it more difficult.
Most people, don't understand anything, if they themselves, have not experienced it. They have this notion that if one is blind, he/she can't see anything
and perhaps, even not capable of taking care of themselves needing a caregiver. I often, have experienced this, people assume I live with a sighted
person and have a caregiver.....because, how, can I take care of myself.
They, imagine, a world of darkness, loneliness, sitting in a rocking chair all day doing nothing....others making our meals, doing our laundry and other housework, taking
us sighted guide everywhere.....We can't "see TV, we hear TV, can’t watch movies, have jobs, have a social life, be in a relationship, be a parent and much
Sometimes, we think we are making progress at Educating the public, but when, I hear ignorant comments, I think not.....

They, not all, but many, don't realize most of us whom are blind", can be productive members in our community and are happy. We are just like everyone
else.....They, don't understand, there are various degrees of "sight" just as there as different colors of the rainbow......
As someone here stated, it is about attitude and education. Those of us whom are blind, need to have a positive attitude and sometimes it is beneficial
to educate the public. Though, sometimes, I would just rather, they figure things out for themselves by observation, listening and so forth....
I often, feel that we the blind, frequently see more then our sighted counterparts.

It seems to me, that "sighted people, "see" less then blind people.

For example, "sighted" people usually only use their sense of "sight" to make sense of their surroundings.
Instead, of listening to the people and/or auditory cues, their sense of smell, touch to make sense of what is happening.
I have known "sighted" people to be amazed that I am so aware. It blows them away, that I know, so much of what is going on in my environment. I mention
to them, I use all my senses while you, as a sighted person, mostly, too much, use your "sight". Of course, they don't make any changes and continue to
use their "sight" to make sense of their world.

So, this will continue to be an issue, until all sighted people can understand, what it is like to be blind, and what we "see" or don't see".
And, it won't happen, we only really can understand, if we walk a mile in someone shoes" and, there, will always be "sighted and "blind people just as there
will always be others with various disabilities.
We, all need to be more accepting of others, their needs, differences and work hard to "see" how they "see" the world.
A positive example of this, would be, if more Restaurants had their "menus" in Braille and more "blind People could read Braille. More Restaurants are having
their menus transcribed into Braille but many are not.
Even when, they do, it is often, done quite a while after their new printed ones are made. My friends and I, have often made suggestions such as when
they are ready to update their "menu”, they send the Menu to be transcribed into Braille first and wait for the printed ones to be ready before, they
presented their new updated "menu to their customers.
If more Restaurants do this, we as blind people will have equal access to information as well as "sighted people will "see" that we too can read and make
decisions for ourselves. This is true of other things too, such as employment.
If more of us have the skills, our out there competing with the "sighted”, more people will "see us in a positive light.”

Take Care
Karen Hughes

**49. "I know I am not part of this mailing list, but when I
ran across the short story about the "Now You See It,
Now You Don't Blues" I felt the need to add a response
of my own.

I am not blind, but I am autistic.
Autism in itself has its own stereotype. You know, the
aloof people that rock back and forth while staring at
a spot on the floor, never speak, seem to ignore you
and always be in their own little world. But just like
there are many types and degrees of blindness, there
are also many degrees and types of autism.

I have Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise
Specified. It's a developmental disorder as well as a
mental disability. I'm 21 years old, but people say I
look around fifteen or sixteen. Mentally I'm probably
twelve or thirteen, and emotionally I'm an
eight-year-old. I have a very short attention span,
probably fifteen minutes or less, depending on what
I'm doing. If something isn't interesting, my mind
wanders within five minutes. With other projects, I
can stay focused for longer, but I still need to take
breaks and let my attention wander at least a little.
I take medication for hyperactivity, and that helps me
focus just like glasses would help you see a little
clearer. I have trouble doing tasks that involve
several complicated steps unless they're written down
so I can check myself during each steps. Pictures with
words or demonstrations also helps because I'm a
visual learner. If you just lecture to me in class, I
won't absorb much, but if you draw a diagram or show
an example, I'll understand better. My range of
interests(this is typical in all forms of autism) are
so narrow that I often have nothing to talk about
because it isn't a conversational piece for my age
group or older, but I can be quite chatty if I'm with
a bunch of friends(like at a party for my church
choir, where everyone but one person is old enough to
be my parents/grandparents!). I get very
uncomfortable introducing myself and feel more at ease
if someone introduces me or the other person
introduces themselves first. It is also next to
impossible for me to walk up to a total stranger and
start up a conversation, probably the only time you'd
catch me doing that is during an emergency, or if you
just happen to mention something that is in my narrow
range of interests. But the realness of my disability
shows in my academic strengths and weaknesses. My math
skills are TERRIBLE. I can do basic math on paper with
some difficulty on longer equations, but I can't do
problems in my head if it requires carrying numbers,
borrowing, etc. The only one I can do instantly is
twelve times twelve equals a hundred and forty-four
- only because my grandma taught me that one and I
never forgot it. Anyway, my other weakness is
pragmatics, and I don't have a clue what that is. But
my strengths all involve my ability to understand
words, spell, you know, the stuff you learned in
English class.

Believe it or not, for my whole life until fifth
grade, I had no reading comprehension. I could spell
words perfectly and read them perfectly, but I
couldn't put them into correct sentences. I wouldn't
associate a word on the page with an object in front
of me. For example, if I saw the word "ball" on paper,
I didn't recognize it as meaning the round rubber
object in my hand. If I saw 'the pencil fell off the
table', I wouldn't associate it with a pencil falling
off the table. And the teachers just kept passing me
ahead to the next grade without even testing me. Then
I finally got enrolled in RSP, and later full time
Special Ed. Then my fifth grade teacher sat me down
and paired pictures with words until, just like Helen
Keller had an epiphany with water, I realized the word
'ball' meant the round thing in my hand, and 'the
pencil fell on the floor' meant the pencil falling off
the table next to me. I've loved to read and write
ever since. I'm sure those of you who learned to use
your cane or learned a new technique that gave you new
independence had the same feeling.

The place my autism irritates me the most has to be my
talking. Sometimes I take things too literally, say
something to respond and get weird looks. My speech
isn't limited in any way, but I often have a hard time
trying to find the right words. Sometimes I'll mean to
say one word and say another instead, and have to
correct myself, or I'll try to talk as fast as I'm
thinking and sound like I'm doing a very bad
impression of that Micro-Machines guy. I repeat myself
a lot and tend to say 'you know' between every other
word(I HATE it when people tell me to stop saying
that, because I can't help it. It's like telling
someone with a tic to stop twitching.) I can't retell
stories very well unless I know them by heart. Even
when I type, I have a hard time finding the right
words to put down and have probably been using the
same words over and over. If I go back and edit I can
probably improve, but that would just disprove what
I'm trying to show to you.

And it ticks me off when people go around thinking 'oh
she's not autistic, she can talk' or 'Oh, her verbal
skills are so good, she can't be autistic!', you know,
stuff like that. The most hurtful thing you can say to
me regarding my behavior is 'grow up'. That just cuts
me to the core because I CAN'T do that. I know some of
you must get a bit peeved when someone says 'hey, if
you saw that then you're not blind!'

Just like some of you have vision that fluctuates, my
mental status and attention span is very fickle. One
minute I'm hanging onto your every word, and the next,
I'm spacing out. My mood also affects my attention and
behavior. I never hide my feelings unless it's a
social must.

Sorry this was so long. I just wanted to give an
example of my mental impairment and how it can be
similar to a visual impairment, and that I can
understand why you would get a little upset with
people who go around assuming the difference between
sight and blind is seeing everything or seeing nothing.”

Cyndi H

**50. When people ask me what I can and cannot see or assume that I can see something, I just explain to them in simple terms what I can and cannot see.
Simply put, though I have light perception, I can only see light and dark, and some colors, depending on the lighting in the room. To put it simpler when
talking about what colors I can see, I explain that I can only see colors very well if I'm standing outside in the sun and holding the object directly
under my eye (I can only see out of one eye). I also explain to people how I choose clothes with neutral colors--blue, black, white--that match with anything.
It usually gets the point across as to how I know where to make eye contact when talking to people and how I manage to not dress like a Christmas tree
or Christmas goose. When people ask me how I know where something fell or how I know what's going on in a movie, I explain how I listen for auditory cues--listening
for where the object fell, following the auditory cues and/or what people are saying in the movie.
I have done classroom speeches on blindness as either encouraged by the teacher (in fourth grade) or as a topic presentation for speech class (in college).
Otherwise, I just answer their questions on an individual basis. I prefer to explain on an individual level rather than talking to a group, as I've found
many times that doing speeches limits the time for people to ask their questions or the information I've given them is so overwhelming to process and comprehend
that they don't know what questions to ask in such a limited time frame. Also, answering people's questions on an individual basis lets me know that those
asking are sincerely interested as opposed to only asking during a class presentation just to appear interested when they may not be. Don't get me wrong,
there are many who ask questions during a presentation because they sincerely want to know or because they feel more comfortable asking in a group situation,
but dealing with people on an individual basis is more personal to me.
Yes, there are going to be those people who will still not get a clue after all that you've explained to them. There are those who sincerely simply
just don't get a clue after all that you've explained to them of your limitations and capabilities. Then, there are those others who understand but don't
want to accept that you have visual or hearing limitations; thus, where they might see you as playing blind or deaf even though you're not being fraudulent.
My mother was the kind who would appear to accept that I couldn't see everything yet expect me to know when something is on the table in front of my face.
These kinds of people, you just have to accept their limitations of not being able to understand or refusal to understand and accept.
The best way to prepare to answer questions about your blindness, or any other disability, and how long you've had the disability is to accept that
there will always be questions along the way and to either answer the questions or kindly say that you prefer not to answer the question(s). I don't think
that there's a correct way or particularly appropriate time to answer questions. To me, it's more a matter of individual preference and discretion. Blind
people of all ages should learn how to advocate for themselves, answer people's questions, and be upfront about their physical limitations. First, it
starts with the parents doing all the footwork with the child's presence. This way, the child learns by the parents' examples how to deal with these situations
of questions and assumptions later in life. After all, the person is going to have to learn how to explain and advocate for themselves sooner or later.
To me, the one who is upfront with themselves and those around them about their disability, their limitations, and capabilities goes much further than
the one who tries to hide their disability or doesn't explain their limitations. People are more apt to work with you properly if they know your limitations
than they would be if you try to pretend that you can see something you actually cannot see. For example, if you tell your supervisor that you cannot
read certain kinds of print because of the print size or the lighting, then you would not be assigned to assist customers in finding items, reading product
labels and the like. Moreover, if you're not upfront about what you can and cannot see, then when a situation that requires 20/20 vision arises, you're
not seen as playing a game when you say that you cannot do the task because you don't have 20/20 vision.
In writing all this and how to deal with answering questions, I'm not saying that I don't sometimes feel like I'm being put on the spot when I'm asked
about my visual acuity, as I sometimes do. The thing that solves this problem of feeling put on the spot, though, is thinking about how much the questioner
can learn from my answers. You never know who you're talking to. The person asking you questions may have a relative who was born blind or just recently
went blind, so to refuse to answer a question is only doing them a disservice.

Linda Minnesota USA

FROM ME: In regards to this ladies comments on handling the matching of clothing and getting the colors to coordinate; many of us use an ID system of some sort. Like, each garment has a safety pin attached to it in some unique spot and that garment has its very own hanger; the hanger has a label in Braille on it, telling of the color of that garment that belongs on it and also where the pin is found (making it possible to get the correct garment on it). Then, we have a chart that lays out what shirts or sweaters go with which pants.

**51. I started to write a response to this Thought Provoker several weeks ago but it got lost in the shuffle somewhere. I have spoken to various groups about
my blindness, and the results were always very positive. There are two particular instances which I remember very well.
The first time I spoke to a group about my blindness was about two years ago. A Webelos den leader called me one day and asked me if I would mind talking
to his troop. I accepted his invitation, so that evening one of his assistants picked me up and we went to their meeting place. I had brought along some
Braille books and my Type n Speak, as well as some standard-print books on the subject of blindness and visual impairment. First I talked to the group
and told them how I became blind, and pretty much how I function daily. After some questions from the boys and their leaders, I got out the books and the
Type n Speak. They were very intrigued and asked some great questions. I unfortunately didn't have much time to show them the Type n Speak, but they got
a brief look at it.
The second time I did this was for a group of fifth- and sixth-graders who were doing a service project on people with disabilities. A friend of mine who
has cerebral palsy was also asked to talk, so his mother went with us. He has a speech impediment, so his mother helped out when the students couldn't
understand him. She brought along some things he uses daily, such as a rubber matt that holds his silverware in place on the table. They also took along
his scooter, which he uses when walking long distances. I again brought along some books and my Type n Speak, and I showed the students my cane and how
I use it. There was a bit more time here than at the Webelos den meeting.
I enjoy talking to groups like this. Sometimes people are curious, and I think this is a great way to demonstrate our capabilities while at the same time
making new friends. I received thank-you notes from the groups.

Jake Joehl, Illinois USA