Another festive themed post – it’s all Christmas this month with VIDA! In this one we tackle the socialising side of Christmas and going out to all the different events that go on. I (Vicky) was really shocked the other day to hear 2 disabled people I know talking about how they often feel other people ‘pass over them’ at social gatherings. I don’t know why this happens to them (and neither did they) but they both felt it definitely related to them having impairments.
As Dave said in an earlier VIDA Insight (no. 6 - Sorry, who are you?) ‘I used to be a social person and enjoyed getting out and meeting people, using my sight to pick out a person or make eye contact with someone in a crowd before going over and chatting. Losing the sighted ability to do this has changed who I am. I still enjoy talking to people but now have to rely on someone to help me find who I would like to speak to or wait for someone to make the effort to come to me. I know that there are many people that I pass on a regular basis that I have no idea who they are, not to mention all of those people who I’m unaware of but who can see me… I find this a bit frustrating and it reminds me that living in a blind world can be quite lonely.’ And presumably this feeling can only be exacerbated at this time of year with so many social events going on.
I know my husband is now finding pubs too noisy and can’t always follow all of the conversation due to too much background noise, he has mild tinnitus and maybe also some deteriorating hearing, probably due to working on building sites and in joiners’ shops all those years ago - so we’ll soon be joining Dave in his preference for a quieter environment!
However, from another angle, there’s also people’s assumptions about what people with vision impairments might enjoy and it’s come up several times in the books we’ve read.
A quote from ‘Stargazing’ by Linda Gillard highlights it nicely -
‘People often ask me why I go to the opera when I can’t see the singers act, I can’t see the set or costumes and I can’t see any lighting effects. Why don’t I just stay at home and listen to a CD, surely it’s the same? I tell sceptics and doubters that I go to the opera because opera pours a vision of a wider world into my ears in a way that no other art form that I can access does.’
However, the book ‘Touching the World – A blind woman, 2 wheels, 25,000 miles’ by Cathy Birchill and Bernard Smith captures it really well and as always in this book (which we’ll review in the New Year) with an added element -
“People asked variations around the concept ‘what’s the point of doing this when you are blind?’ Interestingly it is always sighted people who ask that question. Never once have either of us heard a blind person ask this.”
However, when talking about travelling on the longest road – running continuously from Alaska to South America, both Cathy and Bernard happily agree to give this a miss. Cathy admits she would be asking of others ‘Why?’ and then comments ‘Perhaps in this question I become as guilty as those who have asked the same thing of me.’
Maybe we have to accept we’re all different in many, many ways – and that’s why it’s interesting to chat to everyone at parties 😊
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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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.