Dave: Being blind doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing things, however, there are things that I can’t do due to not being able to see – driving for example (although I can’t wait for self-drive cars). I’m talking about housework, laundry, gardening, etc. These are all things that, with the right attitude and a very methodical approach, can still be done – sight or no sight. I still like to wash and vacuum our car and still get the mower out of the shed and cut the grass. I vacuum and I do most of the laundry, including putting the king sized duvet cover on to the duvet… try this with your eyes closed for a challenge! However, when I do all of these things, I have to do them in a methodical way to ensure that the job gets done correctly. Take cutting the grass for example, I use an electric @FlymoOfficial (other brands are available). I ensure that the children are not around when I do this.
I start at the point nearest the plug socket making sure that all of the flex is behind me. I then cut the grass in horizontal strips, slowly working my way up the lawn to the furthest point from the plug. I will then, with the mower off, go back to the start and repeat the process. I’ll sometimes do this a 3rd time thus ensuring that I have (hopefully) cut all of the grass. I’m the same with the car; I’ll wash it in a methodical pattern, starting with the roof, then the windows, then the top half of the panels before making my 4th lap of the car to do the bottom part of the panels and finally the wheels. You might think that it’s quicker to wash each panel in full and slowly work my way around the car once but I like to wash from top down ensuring that I clean the dirtiest part of the car last (can’t forget what I learnt from my car valeting days). I use touch to feel the panels as I wash, feeling for any dirt (or birds ****) that I need to pay particular attention to. I will then rinse the car, again using feel to detect any missed bits, before drying with a ‘flunky’ (the best Ultimate Synthetic Chamois you’ll ever buy) ensuring that the car is definitely clean. All of these tasks take me much longer than it would a sighted person and there are times when I might miss bits or suck something up the vacuum that I shouldn’t have… but I think it’s good for me to do them – after all, what else would I be doing with my time?
Vicky: There’s potentially lots to comment on here – but the main point I’d like to make is that there’s lots to think about as to appropriately supporting/assisting someone and not making assumptions about what someone with a vision impairment can or can’t do. But there’s also appreciating why someone might do things in a particular way and not taking over or interfering with the assumption that you can do it easier. Whilst not everyone with a vision impairment will be as methodical as Dave a lot of people will be and this might relate to how they organise things at home, having certain places for things; always putting things in the same place in the fridge for example, and again this is something to bear in mind if you’re visiting someone in their own home as a friend or when providing support. On the duvet front – here’s a couple of photos from the ‘Duvet Derby’ competition we sometimes run on our training that illustrates this nicely (and that was only a single duvet).
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.