Recently YouTuber, Molly Burke, did a video called, 10 WORST Things About Being Blind!. Even though I am not completely blind, I have low vision. Some of the things Molly mentioned in the video I cannot relate to. However, some of them I can, and I would like to explain some of my own personal experiences within the topics that Molly mentioned in the video.
- “Feeling vulnerable”- I feel this a lot when I have my white cane out. Especially, when people think that I am faking or that I am using it without the training that I have had. I have two stories to share, to explain what I mean, the first one happened when I was at the local college, I had just come out of the restroom, and a classmate said she saw a man walk into the woman’s bathroom and a few minutes later come back out. Since we did not see any sign of him being a staff member, we wanted to report it. I went with my classmate to report it, the staff member refused to listen to me saying, that I was blind and could not see; therefore, I did not know what I was talking about. I explained that I had low vision and that I could see some. I felt like I was not heard. I am not sure what happened after it was reported.
The second story I have to tell is from the same school. It was raining, and I had to get a paper towel to wipe my hands and bag. I needed to travel to the next building; and I knew that I was going to be needing my cane. I got it out, and finding that it was wet, I wiped it down. I left the restroom, and started to go my way when a student looked at me with shock. She had seen me before without my cane. She was polite and asked me why I needed my cane sometimes and other times I did not. I was able to explain my condition. I do not mine when people ask questions, and are nice about it, however, I hate it when people say, “You have glasses; you’re faking it.” or “You do not have any training with that thing.” Another thing that makes me feel vulnerable is when I have my cane out and I am traveling by myself. Even though I do not qualify for a guide dog, I feel that I would be safer. I remind myself that there are good people in this world, but I still have to be careful. I even feel more vulnerable while I am waiting for the paratransit bus; especially if it is running late.
- “When people, in general, expect less of you,”- This one really hit home for me. From the time I was young until all of my disabilities were diagnosed and I was getting the proper treatment, there were low expectations by my teachers and doctors. I held a higher standard for myself by getting a regular rather than a special diploma and getting a college degree. I have dreams of getting my master’s one day. What is worse besides the educational system is society. Let’s be real, in the video, Molly states that society has low expectations for people with disabilities because there is a lack of education about blindness. I feel that way too especially when it comes to employment. Society, I feel from my own personal experiences, expects us to either have crummy low wage jobs or no job at all because of the barriers that we face.
I feel low standards from my caseworkers. Last year, Division of Blind Services wanted to drop me all because of lack of employment placement. I had to appeal their decision because I felt like I needed more help with daily living skills. It hurt, even more, two years ago when I did a vocational assessment, and the summary of the report said to give up on the job search due to my many health issues. I refuse to do that because I see my full potential in gaining self-employment. The last and final point I want to bring up on this topic is how my family treats me. They refuse to learn about my conditions and how I can reach my potential. I have set higher goals for myself rather than giving up.
- “Accessing information and education,”- This one hit a nerve. Because until I was diagnosed with my visual impairment and started getting large print some of my school work was very inaccessible. I can remember that my mother used to either read my homework out to me or write notes explaining that I could not see my work. This, in turn, would make my teachers upset. Even in college things were not as accessible as I was hoping they would. I took a computer class and because the disability office had problems getting the book in a proper format I struggled. I passed my class but just barely. Thankfully, at the end of the term, I received Kurzweil 3000 which is a text to speech screen reader.
- “Having to rely on other people”- This one hit me right in the heart. Probably more than any other topic. I lack the ability to drive and I either have to rely on public transportation or friends and family to take me to where I want to go. When I was younger, I dreamed of being able to hold a restricted driver’s license. My eye doctor was not sure what my future held for me and there was hopes for better treatment and advancements in technology. In recent times, I am learning how to become independent by taking lessons on cooking, technology aids, and travel.
- “Lack of employment opportunities”- This one I can relate to as a person who has been looking for employment for five years. Finding a job is not easy. I agree with Molly when she states that its easier to build your own success then it is to prove it to other people.
- “Being more at risk for sexual abuse and violence”- I feel strongly about this topic because I know a few people who have experienced this themselves.
I am sure there are more topics that can be talked about when it comes to having a visual impairment, but I think I can agree with Molly that this is a good place to start talking and how to improve these topics and more for the community.