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The Face of Legal Blindness Post New Entry

What Does it Mean to Be Legally Blind

Posted by Yvonne Felix on November 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Just to warn anyone reading, this is written as a stream of conciouness and there is very little editing onvolved. 

Since the age of seven I have lived with the diagnosis of being Legally Blind. I choose to use the words "I am" as opposed to "I have " for several reasons.

It actually does not define me which may be a confusing statement when using the phrase ; I Am Legally Blind;. Bare with me as I try to articulate this position.

Living with a blind spot your entire life not only affects your vision but also plays a huge role as to how your brain encodes the world around you. When you are a child and a parent or educational figure telss you the letter ;T; is a stick with another stick laying across the top of  another stick and visually demonstrates how this letter is created, there is instantly a language created to describe of two very  concrete realities. That "t; in the world of a child with partial sight is acually a fuzzy, upside down capital ;L; that only exists when it is two inches infront of thier face written in a 24 point font. For the teacher or parent showing the child the letter from ten feet away on a sign or black board it actually does not exist at all  to the child with vision loss. 

Imagine your entire world is formed by a language you can barelyy understand Unfortunately the only way for you to survive is to pretend you know exactly what is going on to make it easier on everyone around you. You are seven years old and you feel bad about everything that happens. Feelings of guilt that people want to help but they just do not know how.

Imagine spending the first ten years of your life missing crucial non verbal communication skill building activities. Going to school where all of your classmates actually want to make friends but you are excluded because you miss that simple look of eagerness and curiosity. You think everyone hates you and they think you are a snob. 

Then when it comes to school work all you really have are your ears to understand what is going on. No books, technology or even educational support from staff to take the time to help because there just isn't anything available like that at your school board.  Your entire world of what you are supposed to be learning with your peers becomes obscured and abstract. Trying to follow is like trying to run an uphill marathon on an escalator that has no start or finish. 

The best patr is there is no escape.

I am a mother, I am a woman, a am a sister ....and.....I am Legally Blind. 

I am also fortunate enough to have the ability to have more sight through the use of technology as well. It has been a two year journey so far and I am beginning to slowly change. I can feel aspects of my undstanding of the visual affect major parts of my relationships with friends and family. Sometimes growth can be a terrifying thing and I want to hold on to everything I already know. At the same time I want to get to know a world that I don't, it is like learning about a new culture. I new planet Earth really. It is unbeleivable how connected our vision is to every part of our existance. Don't confuse this understanding i HAve for a put down of not having the ability to use technology or treatments that restore sight. It is my choice to experience this and I know not everyone in the world can have that opportunity.

My art is changing...How I look at the world is changing....I would like to share this with people in the hopes that we can accept our fellow human for who they are. We all have our own paths to walk but we walk in paralell to one another our entire lives. Sometimes our paths may cross but there is nothing stopping us from watching how we each take our course on this journey.

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1 Comment

Reply Jennifer Marcum
10:47 AM on January 26, 2015 
Hello! I just saw your sister's amazing video on Friday evening and it changed my life. I was raised by a single legally blind mother, and it has shaped my whole exsistance and who I am now as a woman. She is my hero, as I know you are to your children and I honestly think (like your son reading before the other children) my mother's disability has given me strength, grace and empathy that I would have never obtained otherwise! I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are to me!