An Interview with Carol The Invisible Vision Project (Guest Blog Post #2)

Hi everyone, I got the pleasure of interviewing my friend Carol. She is a fantastic blogger who runs The Invisible Vision Project. Many thanks to Carol for allowing me to interview here and for her featuring my interview on her website. Don’t forget to check out her website 🙂

  1. What is your name?
    My name is Xin (Carol) Sun
  2. Age?
    I am 28 years old.
  3. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging?
    My guidance and teachers (sometimes, I call them my positive team members in life) have been the core inspirations and supporters in my life and in my work as an activist and a blogger.
  4. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
    In my spare time, I love to read, listen to music and watch Japanese anime & TV shows.
  5. Name a bad habit that you have?
    I have a quick temper and I can be impatient sometimes.
  6. Name your best quality?
    I am caring, considerate, and reliable. I am also very organized-I like to plan things out before doing them.
  7. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?
    I don’t think I have anyone (living or dead) that I would like to interview. I just haven’t really thought about it at all.
  8. What is your college major/Minor?
    My major is in Gender Studies. I don’t have a minor but, I do have a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
  9. What school (college or university) did you go to?
    I am an undergraduate student at Queen’s University
  10. What is the title of your blog?
    The title of my blog is called The Invisible Vision Project
  11. When and why did you start your blog?
    I started blogging since April 2016. The intention of my blog is share my story and, to raise awareness on issues of Accessibility, Disability, Gender, Mental Health and Social Justice.
  12. Where do you see yourself in five years?
    This is a tough question. But I think, I can see myself living a life of having a manageable and stable career, that is, working as a motivational speaker and a disability and social justice activist.
  13. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment?
    I have several eye conditions but one of which is an eye condition called Degenerative Myopia.
  14. How does your visual impairment effect you on a daily basic?

Despite that I can see objects close to me but things in the distance are very blurry. Also, my night vision is significantly impaired, more so than my day vision. Fortunately, I can manage daily life just fine, provided I use my assistive technologies/equipment.

  1. What do other people feel about your visual impairment?
    For the most part, people around me feel OK about me my visual impairment. I didn’t lose any friends because I have a disability or that I am visually impaired. Also, people around me generally try to be helpful when they see me struggling or needing a hand.
  2. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment what would it be?
    Don’t let your visual impairment define you. You are stronger than you think!

Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

 

Blog: https://theinvisiblevisionproject.com/

E-mail: theinvisiblevisionproject@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theinvisiblevisionproject/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theinvisiblevisionproject/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tivp_official

 

 

Riding Escalators, trying Barbecue Chicken Wings, and learning to pour liquids (independent living skills series 13)

The van was actually on time, and I was on time for class. I was early enough to talk with my classmates. Soon we all gathered in the conference room to be assigned our lesson for the day. I, along with another student, was assigned to an Orientation and Mobility lesson. I had worked with this classmate before and she told my teacher and I that she felt better with me coming along because I was willing to do the lesson first.

My classmate lacked confidence with riding escalators, and I wanted to be sure I was 100 percent confident that I could go on and off with ease, because of this, we asked our teacher if we could do a lesson on escalators. Since I had a few lessons before my teacher decided to go to a different location than the one I had previously went to.

Once I saw the moving stairs and heard the sound of the escalator I lost my confidence. My teacher took it slow and getting on was easy. I really need to get some grace when it comes to getting off. Going up is easier for me than coming down; my guess is because of my depth perception and balance. I still went down the escalator though. Then it was my classmates turn. She was nervous, but I am proud that she faced her fears.

Because our nerves were so shot we went to Starbucks. I had a cookie and a sweet peach tea. My classmate had a piece of cake and a sweet peach tea, while our teacher had a coffee. We enjoyed our snacks, and headed back to the center. When we got there, we followed the smell of garlic to the kitchen. Come to find out another one of our classmates had been baking Barbecue chicken wings and had been making a side salad.

The chicken and salad were tasty. A classmate and I tried a tangy avocado dressing. The dressing really complimented our salad quite well.

Once our meal was eaten and the dishes were cleaned and put away I worked on learning how to pour hot and cold liquids.

I feel more confident with how to pour liquids now. However, I am starting to question my future. Being visually impaired can be quite expensive. So I asked my teacher about ways to save for the future. The simple answer is to start a savings account just for my equipment that is related to my disabilities. How do you guys save for equipment? Is there a special program or organization that can help? Tell me in the comments below.

I am not sure what my next lesson will be on. It is a mystery.

What I did today. My classmate took this photo.

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Plans Change: Job readiness (independent living skills series 12)

I was an hour and a half early for class. I was eager to do well with my Orientation and Mobility lesson. There was a wild rain storm outside, and I was glad that one of the staff members made my classmates and I coffee and popcorn to munch on while we waited for class to start. However once our teacher came in to tell us about our assigned lessons we found out that Orientation and Mobility was canceled. We were given a choice: either take Job Readiness or Assistive Technology (AT). Since I’m doing fine with my Alexa Echo Dot I decided to stay for Job Readiness. We had two new students joining us, so we first went around the room and introduced ourselves.

Today’s lesson was on how to handle your first day on the job. We talked about the first day jitters, and how no matter if you have sight loss or not everyone gets nervous. The main thing to do is to stay focused on the task that you are to complete. I asked about having a job that you hate, and my teacher’s response was, “eat humble pie.” At this point, his Iphone came on saying, “Sorry, I can’t do that.” The whole class cracked up laughing. His phone continued to act funny by playing music, since he was having problems with getting the music to stop, we joked that he should be taking AT. He finally got his phone to stop by hitting the power button 😊

We continued our lesson with him telling stories about blind and visually impaired people showing hard work ethic and having success. One story that touched me the most was about a blind man and his wife who traveled across The United States.  This thing made me raise a question about family members that are not supportive of your dreams and goals. You see, my dream job is to be able to be a freelance journalist and travel the world. I know to be able to do this I must have thick skin and to be able to have confidence and great travel skills. That is why I am pushing myself so hard with my classes and the volunteer work that I am doing.

Despite my dream, one side of my family wants me to fit the typical stereotype of someone with a visual impairment: Get on disability and stay at home. I refuse to do that. I see myself being independent and happy.

I almost burst out in tears when both my teacher and another classmate said the way to get them to change their minds is to have confidence. That would have a stronger impact then having them attend any “Walk in my Shoes,” program; however I wish they would attend a program like that so they could better understand the training that I have received.

Then we broke for lunch. I ended up having a sweet tea, chicken sandwich with fries from Chick-fil-A.

After lunch my teacher and I did a mock interview in front of my classmates. It was nice for me to get critiqued by my classmates. I did pretty well except for the “why should we hire you?” which is a way for the interviewer to ask for the history of the company. You can also mix in your own personal connection to the company at this time. The other question I struggle with is “why do you want to work here?” this question should be answered by connecting two to three skills that you have with what the employer is looking for, as well as how your career objection fits in with the need of the company.

The last part of the class we looked at examples of cover letters. It was a long day and I was happy to be able to go home and get some rest.

 

Crossing the streets blindfolded (independent living skills series 11)

I was early for class, and I was glad I was because my classmates and I were able to connect on levels of being visually impaired, and the impact of having a disability. Soon we headed inside and we started class on time. We all had our assigned lessons and we went our separate ways. I had Orientation and Mobility. The lesson we had was reviewing how to cross streets, however to help us focus on our skills we were going to do it blindfolded.

Now before anyone freaks out, our teacher does this one student at a time and stays within our space and she will grab us if we make a wrong move. This will keep us from getting hurt.

I was going with another student who was nervous about our lesson, however I had confidence. Because of this fact I volunteered to go first. Once we got downtown, before I put my blindfold on, we chose our landmark. I put my blindfold on and my confidence left. I walked slowly because I was scared. My teacher told me I needed to walk with confidence, and to focus on what my cane felt. Soon I came to my first street crossing; I knew I had to use the sound of the traffic on my right side as a guide.

I heard the sound of the traffic and I took off, but then I hesitated. My teacher helped me get back onto the sidewalk and she said I had to walk with confidence. Once again, I used the traffic noise as a guide and I took off at the right time. I was panicked as I crossed the street, so much so that I missed feeling my cane hitting a curb. If it was not for my teacher being there I would have landed on my face. Because my crossing was so bad, she led me back across the street for a second time. This time I was calmer and I felt my cane hit the curb. Success.

We continued on our journey, and I learned how to move around objects. I also learned how to use the traffic as a guide to keep me moving in the right direction.

Soon I was able to take my blindfold off, and I was grateful.

It was my classmates turn, she did fine with her travel. One thing we talked about was being as independent as possible if we were to lose our site completely.

By this time, it was time for lunch. We went to a local hamburger joint. I volunteered to walk up to the restaurant blindfolded, and I had to re-learn how to open a door. I took my blindfold off during lunch. I had a milkshake, a basic burger and fries. Which is one of my favorite meals. 😊

After lunch, we went and dropped off my classmates at school, and my teacher and I went to the mall. I was still nervous about learning how to step on and off the escalators. However, I found out I had my cane too far out in front of me. Once I had it in the right position, I was able to get on and off with ease.

My confidence was so high that I called a friend, via video chat, and I had my teacher follow me with the phone. It was great to show off my new skill and confidence.

Crossing Busy Streets of Downtown Pensacola and riding Escalators (independent living skills series 10)

Once again, I was early for class. I was excited to finally have another lesson in Orientation and Mobility. But before my lesson, my classmates and I had a few minutes to catch up on how we were all doing; it was nice to hear that everyone was doing well and that everyone was eager for their lessons.

I was to have my lesson with the assistant Orientation and Mobility teacher. Before the lesson began I had some concerns that I wanted to address. I feel that my night blindness is fluctuating more than normal. This is concerning. Some nights I can see perfectly fine, other times I can see some lights and shadows, and on really bad days I can see nothing at all. This makes me feel sad especially since a classmate recently asked me about what I would do if my sight got worse. I really do not know what I would do if my sight would deteriorate. I guess I would just adapt to life. My second concern was the color of my sunglasses. I wear wrap-around style and the color of the lenses are light pink. Even though they are stylish and fit me well, they are not dark enough in this wonderful bright Florida sunshine. My teacher said she would watch for signs of distress during the lesson.

We quickly drove downtown. The first thing we reviewed was the use of landmarks, and environmental clues to help me establish my route.

I chose the fountain that was running, the post office sign and a restaurant. We quickly walked to our first intersection, and my teacher quizzed me on the terms: blended curbs, which is where the curb and the street blends together. Ascend, which means to go up a curb, and finally, descend which means to go down a curb. Once these key terms were established, we reviewed that when there is a strong traffic surge on my parallel side then it is okay to cross the street. However, if I am unsure then I need to wait for the next cycle. I walked down to the next block, then another. Each time I was growing in confidence compared to when I first had Orientation and Mobility lessons years ago.

As I walked to the next street I noticed that Pensacola has bumpy bricks and its tougher to walk smoothly until you get used to it. By now it was lunch time, so my teacher and I stopped by Subway. It was nice to get out of the hot Florida weather. It was even better getting my belly full with a meatball sub with spinach, green peppers, onions, and a little bit of salt and pepper. I got sour cream and onion chips, two cookies to take home, and I had a Dr. Pepper to drink.

After our bellies were full, we hit the streets again. My teacher taught me a lesson of how to line yourself up if the street and domes are not centered. I nailed my final street crossing, and my teacher said my skills were great; I should be able to cross any street anywhere.

We quickly headed back to the center to check back in. Once we were checked in we were told to continue our lesson so we headed to the mall. We walked about the mall so I could practice my search and location skills. As always, we started off with finding landmarks.

The store I wanted to find was Bath and Body Works. I found it quickly due to the fact that it has a fresh soap smell which is an environmental clue. I enjoyed looking at all the products they had to offer. From there we practiced ascending and descending stairs. The only correction my teacher had to give me was how to position my elbow when traveling the stairs. This is so I will not hurt myself.

Because I was feeling so confident, I just had to open my big mouth and say, “let’s go tackle my fear of escalators.” So off we went. Once I heard the noise of the steps, my confidence decreased. It lowered even more so when I saw the steps moving.

“Come on, Amanda. Bump, Bump, step up,” my teacher said. I was clearly fearful and kept backing away from the steps even after I had felt the steps move with my cane. “I just can’t. I’m fearful,” I said.

“Yes, you can. Bump, Bump. Step on. Don’t look at it, and hold on to the rail for balance,” my teacher said once again.

I continued to protest and be fearful. An employer came over to us to check on me. I explained that I was in a lesson for travel and that I was just lacking confidence in re-learning this new skill.

After this, I did step on, but not very gracefully. Once we were at the second floor, we went around to the second escalator. Once again getting on wasn’t much better. But at least I tried it. I’m really lacking confidence. The next time I have an Orientation and Mobility lesson my teacher and I are planning on doing another lesson on escalators. I hope with time I gain more confidence and am able to step on and get off with more ease.

 

Bargain Shopping and cooking fish and whole- grain biscuits (independent living skills series lesson 9)

I was early for class; I was also eager to get my orientation and mobility lesson started. Come to find out, it was cancelled again. That made me feel disappointed because I really enjoy my lessons on travel.

On top of class being cancelled, many of my classmates were out for one reason or another. So, two of my classmates went to the technology lab for a lesson, and I went and had a one on one lesson with my cooking instructor.

For those of you who do not know I am on a special needs diet known as “The No White Food Diet.” This diet basically eliminates all white food such as sugar and flour. My instructor knows about my dietary needs and he looked up a whole-grain biscuit recipe. The recipe was simple and it used some of the same skills that I had learned from the previous lesson.

Our mission was simple, go to Ever’man Cooperative Grocery & Café and get the ingredients.

The shop was busy with people and I was fascinated by the variety of products they had. If it was not for the prices of some of the products, I would shop there regularly. It felt like they had everything I would want to eat on my special needs diet, however the prices were so high.

My instructor got a small bag of coffee, and we also got the flour that we needed for the biscuits. Before we left the store, we looked at the bread, meat, produce and the vitamins. We compared prices per pound for some of the items. My instructor pointed out that since this store was a specialty store it would carry some specific items, like the flour, I would want to buy for the price they had listed, however some items, like vegetables or meat I could shop elsewhere and save money.

Once we got the flour and coffee, we went to Bailey’s Produce & Nursery. We looked at all the fresh produce like peaches, plumbs, squash, and corn. We talked about certain recipes that I could cook and how buying from a store like this would be healthier and better for my wallet. While we were shopping, one thing kept coming back to me in my mind, “How does someone like me, who has limited public transportation go get groceries?” The answer was simple, buy what I can with Amazon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables when I go shopping. Living by a bus line or using Uber would be helpful.  Pushing my feelings aside, we stopped by a fast food hamburger joint to get me some lunch.

We had one more stop to make to a discount grocery store. While at the discount grocery store I got milk and baking soda. Before we left, we stopped by the meats and produce and compared prices from the notes that I took from the Everman’s. This discount store had a lot of items that were a lot cheaper.

Once we got back to the center, we put all my ingredients into one bag. I got a special treat, I got to watch my instructor cook a piece of fish, then he told me how to peel and dice an avocado. He also diced a tomato.

His lunch looked better than my hamburger and fries. It was a great day and I learned a lot about how to be a successful visually impaired person.

P.S. Once I got back home I went ahead and baked my biscuits. They came out great. 😊

 

Inspiring Visually Impaired Youth and Cooking Breakfast (independent living skills series 8)

“Hey Amanda, you want to join us outside?” my Orientation and Mobility teacher asked as she, another Orientation and Mobility teacher and a small group of visually impaired children waited by the door. “Sure, let me grab my cane.” I responded.

After grabbing my cane, we all headed outside to a nearby field. Seeing the children laugh, run and play made me feel good.

Everyone was fine until one student said he did not want to play with the ball because there were spikes on it.

My Orientation and Mobility teacher tried to reassure the child that he was not going to get hurt and that the ball was soft. He was still hesitant, so I stepped in. “You guys know that I have sick eyes too.” I said to the children. “Let us look at this ball. See the ball is soft.” The boy was still scared that he was going to get hurt. “I can touch it, and I am not getting hurt.” I said as I patted and touched the tactical ball.

At this point, my Orientation and Mobility teacher chimed in, “It is tactical so you can feel it.” The student was still nervous about getting hit in the face, so to combat that fear I had another student throw the ball. After I caught it and threw it back, the student’s fear was relieved and they started playing again. Joining the teachers again, we talked about the Children’s summer camp and about Jingle Ball. As we talked about these things and as I watched the children play it made me stop and reflect on my own childhood. Sadly, when I was growing up I was not involved in these kinds of programs. I wish that I was because I know that these programs help children build confidence and independence early.

Soon my cooking teacher and some of my classmates showed up. So, I went back into the student conference room. I hoped we would be baking a cake, like I requested, however instead we were going to cook a simple breakfast which included; biscuits, eggs, hash browns and sausage.

To start the cooking class off, another classmate and I peeled some potatoes. I had already previously used a peeler when I peeled some carrots, so I felt confident about this task.

After the potatoes were peeled, we had to cut and dice the potatoes. I had used a chef’s knife before, so I had some confidence already in my ability to complete this task. However, I went to fast, and I had to remind myself to slow down while I was dicing. While the potatoes were being prepared and put into a large bowl another student started making biscuits. I was curious about making biscuits because the last time I made biscuits they came out harder than rocks. I was hoping for a better outcome this time.  When it was my turn to make my batch, I was nervous and I felt unsure with my cooking abilities, and I lacked confidence which was heard in my voice as I talked to my teacher.  The dough felt sticky as I kneaded it. I did not like how the dough stuck to my hands; and I was glad when my biscuits were on the cookie sheet. Once that was done, I was relieved when I could wash my hands. I then had to face my fears and I had to place my cookie sheet into the hot oven. Before I did that, my teacher gave the whole class some tips.  I was able to put the cookie sheet in the hot oven without any problems. The battle was won. While my biscuits were in the oven I watched another student cook sausage. I was then instructed to crack and whip some eggs into a bowl. I had cracked eggs before and that was no problem. However, I had to be taught how to use a whisk. Because of my Cerebral Palsy I could not be as fancy as my teacher did it, however the way I beat the eggs got the job done.  While this was going on my teacher went from station to station checking on each student. Soon, the meat, the first batch of biscuits, and the potatoes were done. All that was left was my biscuits and the eggs. The timer beeped and that meant it was time to take the biscuits from the oven. I too had to take up this challenge and get over the fear of the heat. Before I took the biscuits out of the oven, my teacher gave us a lesson on how to safely remove the pan. He also allowed me to do a practice run of where I would put the pan before I actually took it out. I took the pan out with ease. My confidence rose. I still have a lot more pans to pull from a hot oven before I get my full confidence, however I will get there.

Once I was finished with this task, I transferred the finished eggs to a serving dish. I felt good about myself at that very moment.

It was time to eat, and the staff, and all the students enjoyed the meal.

I’m featured on my school’s website. 🙂 #School #Independent #Living #Skills

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