Lately there has been some media coverage on a form of technology for the blind, and it has been made out to be that magic pill that will give your sight back. Now I want to preface this post by saying I am not against technology, I believe you should use technology to enhance the vision you have and to help you make life easier if possible.
What I do not agree with is technology being portrayed in the media like it will fix the person and make them be able to enjoy their life again. There are a pair of glasses that magnify the world around you on small screens in front of your eyes, these can be a great tool for people with low vision when trying to read or see things around them but they do not give them their vision back. They will not make them sighted again, they are simply a tool that one can use if they have low vision. Also the group of people that these glasses work for is so small it is not a “fix” for many people. When they are advertised as “blind woman sees her children for the first time.” I have a real problem with that because it is misleading.
The reason I am bringing this up is because these glasses have been in the media lately and last night my grandma called me very excited. She began by saying “Oh Ashley, they have these new glasses that will help you to see again, there is a lady on the news that is totally blind and if she can get these glasses they make it so she can see her children again and have her sight back.” I knew what she was talking about and I had to then try to explain to my grandma the reality of what these glasses really were and how they worked and that the woman was not totally blind. My poor grandma was heartbroken and then asked me why on earth people put these stories on TV and in the paper and make them sound so much different than what the actual reality is. She said that they are giving people false hope. Even my grandma was given false hope, she just wants to find that cure for me and she really thought this was it.
I have now had the conversation with my grandma explaining that I am not looking for a cure or a magic fix, because I am not broken. I am really happy and comfortable in my life, I would not change a thing. These magic fixes do not give me that ability to work, to be happy to fully participate in my children and families lives. Because I am doing all those things successfully right now with no vision at all. Vision does not equal happiness, vision does not equal success. It is crazy to think that there are people out there that associate blindness with such negativity and inability. Life is what you make it, and I will not sit back and let blindness define my life. I will live life the way I want to.
This notion that I need to be able to see my children faces to be happy and to be able to fully participate in their lives is craziness. I am fully participating in their lives every single day. I am enjoying their laughter, the feeling of their arms around me when we hug, the conversations we have, their descriptions of their art work they hang on the fridge. I am loving the family vacations we take, the sightseeing we do, playing in the back yard with them, going for walks and spending time doing their homework. So explain to me what I am missing out on?
When people say with these glasses it will enable me to work that is not entirely true. You have the ability to work even without vision and your ability to work is not the issue. Despite all the technology that can aid employment of people who are blind and partially sighted, convincing employers that you have the ability to be a productive employee and an asset to their company is the problem. Just because you get a magic pair of glasses does not mean you will change society’s view of blindness. So if we have people who are partially sighted or blind saying that with these magic glasses they can finally be happy and live their life fully, how are we going to convince society that vision does not determine what you are capable of?
I know the difficulties some people have with accepting their blindness, there was a time in my life where I would hide my sight issues and did not like to admit to my blindness, it was like admitting defeat. However, at that time in my life, I was not truly happy either. You have to look deeper than your eye sight and truly love yourself and every fault and imperfection that you may feel you have. This does not happen overnight, but it will get you much farther in life than playing the poor blind girl card. Everyone in life has difficulties, even if you were sighted life would not be perfect because that is not reality having things you need to work on and overcome is reality. Having people look at you as the poor blind woman, is not healthy for you or anyone around you. I want people to see me as a strong independent woman, and have my disability not even part of the equation because it does not define me and what I am capable of!
Until Next Time !
Ashley and Rick