New year new beginnings

Please share:

As another year begins and the festive season draws to a close,  all thoughts turn to getting back to our daily routines. For some that could mean school or work. Maybe you’re a stay at home parent. But what if you’re like me, part of the almost 75 percent of people from the visually impaired and blind community that’s unemployed.

I haven’t worked full time since I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa nearly 9 years ago. I like so many others found it very difficult to find employment from the moment the world viewed me as disabled. The roles I could normally do easily I was no longer considered for by potential employers. As soon as I mentioned that I was going blind I often was greeted with excuses or even the phone hung up. There are barriers around employment that need to change and as we start 2023 there is still a lot of work to be done. But like so many other people I know I made my own path. I created my own job and as I always tell people that at the beginning the biggest thing I struggled with was my loss of purpose in this world. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life that would give me some sense of value in the world. But through my new found talent for writing poetry and sharing my experiences in living with sight loss, I found my purpose once more. I remember clearly telling my wife that the poetry I was writing would be the thing that turned our lives around and that’s exactly what it did. It didn’t happen over night it took hours and hours of hard work, belief and determination to turn it into what it has become today. This is something I’ve seen so many others do when faced with the adversity and the challenges in finding employment with disabilities. Where the world let’s them down and shuns them of the opportunities they should be entitled to they create their own. Quite often when speaking to people who are newly diagnosed or at a crossroads in their lives not knowing which way to turn I’m often asked for advise. I tell them that I’ve learned that disability isn’t an excuse to do less but a reason to do more. It can be the reason to go for something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Taking something you’ve always been passionate about and turning it in to a business, a source of value in the world. There’s plenty of organisations out there who can help give you advice and point you in the right direction. All you’ve got to do is take that first step, that’s always the hardest one.

This year could be your year to chase those dreams.

We think the conversation about blindness has progressed

but unfortunately most people stilll would fall a simple test.

It’s not all black and white

there’s many ways to lose our sight‬

and the way we’re still misjudged today

this simply isn’t right

Why is it they can’t grasp the fact that we don’t just see black

and that vision in our minds is not a skill that we all lack

Too many unemployed for our disability

no need for segregation

it’s not you and us it’s WE!!

So let’s remove the awkwardness that we still know exists

the elephant within the room

the point that you have missed

I don’t look blind

No outward signs to my anxiety brought on by being doubted for the way that I still see

This cane i use please don’t confuse

I still can use my phone

Thanks to assistive tech I feel a little less alone

My guide dog shouldn’t be refused the law says let us in

Too many of us turned away when will the change begin

I’ve talked to people just like me who’ve now stopped going out

The places that they used to love now filled instead with doubt

It’s not too late don’t isolate

our fate is ours to choose

But they portray a stereotype in stories on the news

So I am here to share my tears

to speak of our frustrations

To start a conversation with these rhyming explanations

In hope this bottled message floats across the deepest sea

To change the way the world today still judges you and me

But none of this will happen if my words today aren’t shared

If we can’t speak tomorrow’s bleak for this I’m not prepared

The blindness in our eyes don’t mean that we should be confined

Together let us change the way that blindness is defined