Blinded By Vision

I just got off the phone with someone, and the whole conversation brought a question to the forefront that flits through my mind from time to time. Why are some blinks, and a lot of folks who have any level of vision trouble, so preoccupied with their level of vision? Either they want to make everyone feel like they have the least vision, or they want to use whatever vision they have as some kind of bargaining chip to gain superiority over people who don’t have as much vision.

Let me explain. I volunteer up at a place that is at a corner that just happens to be under major construction. the person I help out is also blind. So, I phoned the place and asked them exactly how bad the construction was. the girl was pretty good at first. she told me if I accessed the place through another door, I would avoid the mess entirely, and if I came up the way I described, I’d be fine. She then said “I have low vision too, so I know how careful you have to be.” Great. Awesome. Someone understands. She then said “I don’t know how much vision you have.” I told her I’m about as blind as they come, which was swiftly followed up by “Well I’m about as blind as they come without being declared legally blind.” Hold the damn phone. We’re not even in the same ballpark. I look at legally blind folks and go “Damn, you seem to have a lot of vision for being declared legally blind.” I mean, some of them can see people from feet away, read signs, even see the traffic lights! But I know there are degrees and while they can do all that, they can’t read print unless it’s smushed into their face or blown up huge, or they can’t see out of the sides of their eyes or when it’s night, all that stuff. I get it. but what I’m saying is if she’s not even declared legally blind, she can even see more than that. Why have a contest with me over who’s blinder? And why does it matter? She may be able to see more than me, but maybe she couldn’t identify her coat in the dark.

And then there are the people who really can’t see much at all, but want to insist that they can. I was out with a bunch of folks and we got lost, and the one girl insisted that because she had the most vision, she could get us out of it. We tried to tell her what directions we rememberd going, hoping we could all sort of team up and figure it out, but she wouldnt’ listen. she was going to read the street signs. We crossed back and forth hoping she could see this sign, then that sign. She couldn’t see any signs and we were all severely disoriented. If we’d just stayed where we were and gotten some directions or help, we would have been home faster. but oh no, the one with the vision had to jump in and save the day with what she didn’t have after all. that same night, other people insisted that since they had some vision, they would read the receipts for all the blind folks. The only problem was they couldn’t actually see the print on the receipts and were trying to guess at what they said. Hmm. How about we be more efficient and get the waitress to read them? It’s worked before.

I just don’t get why it seems to be human nature to define ourselves by our vision. Is it such an important sense that it actually contributes to our perception of our value as people?

I admit that I was guilty of this somewhat as a kid. I would see other blind folks doing stuff well and think “Well, he can see more than I can.” or “Well, she went blind later on, so that’s why she’s so good.” Then I met a whole bunch of people who took that theory and stomped it to earth. I realized that it has more to do with a person’s attitudes and willingness to do stuff than what they can, or could, see on an eye chart. I just wish more people would realize this. Then maybe people would stop saying “Oh she can’t do that because she can’t see.”

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