I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Visualeyes 8

I went to have a low vision evaluation. For those unfamiliar with the term "low vision" it's used to refer to people who obviously have difficulty seeing but can possibly be assisted with magnifiers, special types of lens, or computer hardware or software. This evaluation is really to assess the functionality of one's eyes rather than acuity. My acuity is still quite good so I'm able to read with my glasses and only use a magnifier to read at night, when my eyes are tired and might strain to see small print.

The women I worked with were all kind, supportive, and eager to see what they could do to help. They showed me various magnifiers and we discussed assistive technology, such as Acrobat which uses a small mounted camera-like magnifier that can turn 360 degrees and can be used for: doing close-up work (like my jewelry making), putting on makeup (but who really wants to see all those lines on your face?), projecting the TV images close to you even when it's across the room, writing in a notebook or computer (so I can still write children's books). All I need is a spare $2400 to get one! Someone want to buy it for me for my birthday this summer?????? Yeah, just kidding.

We also discussed the need for mobility training. Sometimes it's referred to a "safety and travel" but it comes back to the same thing- using a white cane. Now you would think that anything would be preferable to smashing your shins and knees into concrete benches, wastebaskets, low-lying coffee tables, small children, or smacking your shoulder into columns, walls, and SUV side mirrors. I would think that too, except that it means using a white cane, the universal symbol for being blind. It's not quite as bad as a neon sign flashing" blind person comin' through", but recognizable none the less. As much as I know I'm visually impaired and may end up totally blind, I don't feel I'm there YET. So my hesitation is purely emotionally based. (Geez, I feel like a goober even saying that I'm not ready. Using a cane is so helpful, I'm told) But somewhere inside, I have a memory of watching people stare at a blind person with a cane, and the look of pity on their faces. And the people who step quickly out of the way  of someone with a cane as if blindness was contagious NOT because they are trying to get out of the way. Those are vivid images that are tough to overcome.

I need to say that being open with everyone I meet about my visual impairment is still new to me. It's only in the last 3 years (out of 32 years knowing about the condition) that I've openly talked about RP. And maybe my reluctance to have a cane is still part of trying to appear "normal"  or sighted to the world. You know, as I write these things, I almost want to bang my head against the wall for acting so silly. This is my opportunity to stand up and say: "I'm not going to let this RP rule my life. Watch and see all that I can do!" I spent 30 years trying to be a role model for children & help them learn that you can't let difficulties hold you back. That's exactly what I'm doing though.

Well, the car will go this weekend and while I'm starting a new life chapter, I might as well try the mobility training too. I have empathy for Sisyphus in Greek mythology, pushing that boulder uphill. I certainly can relate. Some days, though, it feels like I've got ankle weights on as well.


  1. You have made a good start and I hope you keep it up.
    Where you live may make a difference, so better tell us.
    My other suggestions follow:

    #1> Warn everybody wishing to comment to save their comment before submitting it because in going to sign in, they may lose it. I did and am writing this in an email to take advantage of its spelling checker. I will copy from it and paste in the comment form,

    #2> You and your readers ought to know about the American Foundation for the Blind and its website, afb.org. It has many resources for the low visioned.
    On their home page, under Community, click on Message Boards. There are many, but the one I use is Tech (nology) Talk. There you will reports and discussion on assistive technology (AT).

    #3> Abledata.com is a gov't supported database for all sorts of AT and is important as well for its consumer section for its user reviews and its classified ads for buying and selling AT devices. I urge all who use AT to review it there. They have a good check list of factors to cover which you can find by looking at a review. Just copy it and substitute your answers for those you find there.

    #4> I keep abreast of what is going on with Google Alerts for Low Vision and Assistive Technology. That is how I found my way here.

    Good luck !!! ===gm===

  2. Thanks for reading and thanks for the tips!