Have you ever listened to the radio and subconsciously given the voice a face? Or have you read a book and, if the author hasn’t described what someone looks like, done this yourself? Well that’s what I (Dave) do nearly every day.
I can’t see any detail now but, on a good day and in the perfect conditions, still see a rough shape/outline of someone that I then build upon using their voice or from how someone might have described them. Or, if I have known the person for a while, I might even pull a face out of my memory from back when I could see them and fit that to the shape!
When I think about this though, I do wonder whether the picture I create is actually of someone as I remember them rather than what they look like now. Take my parents for example, I know they’re both in their 70s but am I remembering them from when I could last see them? And the answer is, probably but I don’t know. Perhaps they don’t look anything like I think they do!
Some sighted people stereotypically assume that I need to feel someone’s face in order to create a picture but I’ve never done this… well not seriously anyway. And, no matter how well someone describes themselves or someone else, I never really know how accurate my picture is of them.
Do I know what I look like? I have a memory of what I looked like when I was 30 and have an impression in my mind of what I look like now but I don’t really know. I’m told every time I have my haircut that I’m getting lots of grey hair but I’ve never seen them… so I can only think that people are joking with me J
So does it matter that I don’t really know what people look like? No, not really, in fact, I reckon I’m sometimes better off not seeing! J What I do know is that I don’t have any preconceptions of someone from what they look like. I get to know people from how they speak and behave and this has definitely helped when working with people in my other role as a Community Employment Specialist.
Is it useful to know what people look like? This depends on the situation. If I’m supporting someone with getting back to work then it is helpful to know some things, but this is usually more around appearance and not what they look like. For example, it is useful to know if someone has lots of tattoos or wears lots of jewellery or if they have an obvious impairment. I also like to know if someone has a tidy and clean appearance as this is important when seeking work. However, for most other situations, it really doesn’t matter what someone looks like.
Do I miss not seeing people? How do I answer that…? I miss not seeing and why wouldn’t I want to see what my wife and kids actually look like. However, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to see clearly again so, being the realist that I am, I don’t think about this very much. I live life with what I have and think I’m doing ‘alright’! (This is an ongoing joke as everything is just ‘alright’)
Ultimately my life is like a huge radio programme; lots of voices with no visuals…
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.