One of the things that frustrates me most about living with blindness is the way that I’m perceived. It’s incredible to me that in 2022 too many people think that you are either completely blind or not at all. They think that if someone is walking down the street with sunglasses on using a long white cane or a guide dog that they must be completely blind. I’ve spoken before in one of my previous blogs about how although this is no one’s fault it does have a huge impact on people like me and our independence. It’s also is part of the reason there is such a high rate of unemployment within the blind community due to employers being put off from hiring visually impaired people because of high risk in the work place or too much effort needed to make the role accessible. Of course none of these are valid reasons and with the right assistive technology, training and support we can compete with any fully sighted person. In fact a lot of the strengths we have developed living our lives with disabilities make us more resilient than most.
I believe a lot of these misconceptions come from the way blind people are portrayed in the media. Whether it be in films with fully sighted actors playing blind characters or tv shows or commercials trying to capture what they believe a stereotypical blind person looks like. The problem is these examples aren’t realistic. Not only that I believe they add to the misconceptions and are a big part of why I still get people saying to me most days “you don’t look blind”.
Even charities who specialise in supporting people with sight loss will more often than not use a person who looks more like the perceived idea of what the world thinks a blind person should look like in order to not confuse people and get their message across quickly. But that once again adds to the problems. I’m not going to mention names of organisations but I once got down to the final two people in an audition for a tv commercial for a charity and the director chose the other guy “because he looked more blind than me”.
If that was for an organisation that should know better what chance have we got with the rest of the world.
But I for one am not giving in. I will continue to use my poetry to educate, raise awareness and erase the misconceptions. What does blindness look like. It’s not a thing you can necessarily see in someone’s eyes. It’s about time the media helped us show that too.
My Blind Secret
I have a secret from the world,
that most of you don’t know.
Won’t hear it in the way I talk
and eyes no clue will show.
If you listen to my story,
something new to learn you’ll find.
For though I’m looking straight at you,
I’m legally blind.
It’s not a simple yes or no,
I’m more a shade of grey.
I rarely venture out alone,
as things get in the way.
For what I see affects my days,
in much more ways than one
and this for some continues,
until little left has gone.
But still these pains invisible,
to those that pass us by.
There’s some afraid to hold a cane, because of questions why.
Accused of making up our claim and made to feel a fraud.
Feel drained of all my confidence, feel trapped behind this door.
Now hardest thing to come to terms,
that makes my days feel long.
It holds us back,
knowledge they lack,
for all who’ve got it wrong.
To hear they’re judge and jury,
even though their facts aren’t straight.
Feel misdirected fury,
wish opinions now could wait.
To take the time to get to know,
the visions that we share.
Come join me in this tunnel,
hold my hand and show you care.