Whilst reading Dave’s blog prior to posting, I was reminded of Jen Pearlstein’s article on The Mighty - https://themighty.com/2017/06/when-people-say-they-forget-about-my-disability/#_=_desribes which details how she now doesn’t find it a compliment when people forget she has a vision impairment and actually finds it offensive when they could assume it is. It’s a really interesting article and well worth a read. It also outlines to me 2 important things:
Firstly, a very common theme from our training about how everyone is different. Get to know someone or ask them rather than making assumptions. So, as in the case of this article, as a sighted person, don’t assume that a vision impaired person would want to be thought of as sighted – that may be your viewpoint but one they don’t share.
And secondly, that it can be a fine line between supporting someone appropriately who has a vision impairment versus only registering that person as someone with a vision impairment or ignoring their vision impairment completely. As Jen says in the article, ‘although it is flattering that [her colleague] does not see me as defined by my disability, my vision loss is a core piece of my identity that impacts how I live my life.’
So, to highlight this within our own VIDA training partnership and our other working roles, I couldn’t ‘forget’ that Dave is blind and walk off not sight guiding him in an unfamiliar place. However, I also acknowledge that he is taller than me and so can reach things for me and is also stronger and therefore better at, for example, lifting our training suitcases out of the car. I might need to give directional prompts for these things to be achieved successfully but although Dave’s vision impairment is an important element of his life and impacts how we work together, there are other factors about both of us that we need to take into account too. If you’re interested to read about this further, we recently published a post entitled ‘Playing to our strengths’, which was our Insight at the beginning of this month - No. 70.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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