Q and A Blind Edition

Hello Everyone,

I have asked for questions on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I got some great questions, so today I am going to answer some of them for you !

1.What is your eye condition ?

I have a form of albinism and I have some other issues with my eyes as well, like nystagmus, astigmatism, strabismus,  pressure issues and iritis. This has caused me to have low vision my whole life and it took a turn for the worse and I lost my vision completely.

2. What do you see ?

I only see small amounts of light, I can not see shadow or movement. My eyes are very very light sensitive, even though I only see small amounts of light, that light causes me a lot of pain. This is why you will always see me wearing sunglasses even inside. The sunlight feels like my eyes are burning and very painful, even lights inside can cause me pain and usually do, this then causes me to have a headache for hours and days on end.A good way to kind of get a sense of what I see according to my eye doctor is to close your eyes, you can tell that the light is on but that is about it.

3. What is the craziest thing you have done ?

I think it is snowboarding, people are always amazed that I snowboard. After they get over the shock they then think I have lost my marbles.

4. How do you want people to help you ? Is it helpful or just annoying when people take your arm or describe things to you ?

I like it if people ask me how they can help me in that specific situation, and let me make the decision if I truly need the help. I am always willing to ask or explain how someone can help me. I also want people to respect when I say no. There have been many times when I have said “no thank you, I am fine right now, but thank you for asking”. And people have questioned whether I am ok and they think I  really need their help.  I may look like I need help to you but in fact I do not, I just go about doing things differently sometimes.
I never find it annoying when people are describing things around me at all. I enjoy it when people are willing to describe things like it is a normal part of their day. I will always appreciate it when someone does this.
I do not want people to take my arm ever and lead me around, I will ask to take your arm if I feel I need it. In most situations I will have my dog follow you and if I need to take your arm I will tell you how to best guide me.

5. Are braille buttons in elevators useful ?

YES !!! Every elevator is set up a little differently so when there is braille on the buttons this takes away the guessing of which floor I am going to. It is even more helpful when you get off the elevator and the doors to the hotel rooms or conference rooms have braille on them.

6. How does technology help a blind person ? How does it frustrate you ?

Technology has made it so that I can do almost anything that a sighted person can do. I am able to use a computer, phone, iPad with the help of a screen reader. I am able to travel independently to new places using a GPS device, I am able to get help figuring out grocery items through an app called BE my Eyes. (All sighted people should sign up as a volunteer). I am able to read books on my phone with audio apps, more and more books are becoming available on audio format.
Technology does not really frustrate me, the people behind the technology frustrate me. There are so many websites that are in accessible due to the way they are designed. If all websites were accessible I could access them and there is nothing more frustrating than having to ask for help because someone has designed something in accessible. In this day and age every web page should be accessible. Also PDF is a major frustration, so many people send things in PDF and I can not access it, a screen reader can not read an image it can read text.

7. How are you able to know if you are opening a can of beans or a can of peaches ?

I personally use a pen friend to label my cans. This is a device that looks like a large pen, you put it over the re-recordable labels and it will read whatever you have recorded on the label so peas, beans, peaches etc. Before I can put that label on I will ask my husband or kids what it is or use the app Be My eyes . If I go to the store to buy canned goods I will ask the store staff to help me get what I am looking for.

8. How old do you have to be to be able to get a guide dog ?

It depends on what school you go to to get your dog, but a general rule would be 16. But the most important part of the process of getting a Guide Dog is that you need to be very independent with your cane skills. So you need to be able to navigate to many different places using your cane on your own. You need to be able to cross difficult lighted intersections without audible crossings. It is a lot of work to have a guide dog and get a guide dog but it is worth every minute of it !

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I love answering your questions because that is the best way to truly understand how to help someone with a disability. It will also be what helps people to understand I am a capable independent woman living life just like you are !

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Rick

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