5 Things Blind People Shouldn't Have To Justify To Anyone

I have learned that when I feel the need to justify myself, some part of me is almost always of the opinion that others must be right and I must be wrong. Defending, explaining, and justifying my choices as a blind person is something I do more than I’d like to. Because some of you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes… I wish you wouldn’t question why I walk the way I do. Here are 5 things blind people shouldn’t have to justify to anyone.

1. When we don’t want to use our white cane. Perhaps we find ourselves in a place that is familiar and safe, and we don’t want to use our cane, so we don’t. Maybe we find ourselves in a situation where we are feeling a bit self-conscious about using our cane, so we don’t. We can, and we will, let the people we’re with know that we feel more comfortable using them as a sighted guide. Our decision doesn’t have to win anyone’s approval. After all, it’s our white cane, not yours, and we will use it at our own discretion.

2. The words we use to describe our vision loss. If we are asked about our vision, it is our choice on how we respond. I have heard people say things like, bad eyesight, don’t see very well, vision disability, visually impaired, vision impairment, partially sighted, low vision. We may even use the “B word”…BLIND or legally blind. Some folks don’t like the “B word”, and prefer not to use it. Others may be okay with it, and use it more freely. Obviously…I don’t mind it! Identify your vision loss the way YOU want to and not how anyone else thinks it should be.

3. Why we need blind friendships. Our sighted family and friends are never going to truly understand our down days or daily difficulties. How could they? They’re not blind and we would never want them to be. Creating blind friendships through social media, in person, or over the phone, can build a wonderful support network for us. We like to know we’re not alone and that someone else can relate to our troubles and triumphs.

4. Why we may need a helping hand. When we ask for help, it’s because…we…want…help! It’s not because we want to annoy you. We may want assistance with something that’s very simple for you, yet difficult for us to do. If we don’t need help, we will gladly tackle the task….. but, giving someone a hand should never be too much to ask. And just in case you’re wondering…yes, yes we can hear the fake friendliness in your voice when you feel forced to oblige.

5. Why we want all the details. We want to hear what we can’t see. Why do you think they created “audio description” for movies and TV shows? Because Us blind kids want to know what’s going on. That’s why! Giving us the details about what surrounding us or in front of us is more than just small talk. You’re fueling our visual imagination and enabling us to feel included. Paint the picture and fill in the blanks….and don’t even think of leaving out the juicy details!  Inquiring blind minds want to know!

Will the people in your life always support your choices and desires?  No, they won’t.  But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating a happy life. A life that happens to include vision loss. Your friends and family can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So, make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own decisions. You shouldn’t have to justify your who, what, where, when, and whys to anyone.  

Well, THAT’S what I think! – GGB

30 Comments on “5 Things Blind People Shouldn't Have To Justify To Anyone

  1. Thanks for posting this.
    My vision fluctuates, and there are days I am legally blind. I am age 49, mom/primary caregiver of a super cool teen who happens to be autistic.
    I was primary family breadwinner for years. Past 3 yrs, my vision crashed. Unable to work.
    I quit trying to get people to understand my situation. Some people very close to me do everything they want, while its not uncommon for my request for assistance to be met with THEIR FRUSTRATION because it’s not fitting into their plans.
    I am still adjusting, and have no other vision impaired friends.

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    • Hello Kristy – I’ll be your friend! I’m newly blind and don’t really know any blind people. It’s a bit lonely and isolating as you may have read in my note here. I too am trying to adjust to this new world of complete darkness. My name is Carla Anne Ernst, I live in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I am single and also have an autistic daughter. My email is cernst@carlaannecommunications.com, and my phone is 414 614 6873.

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    • I totally understand where you are coming from. I believe, with my friends, I can offer you help, support, and a great deal of understanding. You are not alone. If you want to make new friends, and meet other people dealing with similar issues, please feel free to contact me. I only want to help! ☺️☺️☺️

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    • Hi Kristy….
      Thank you so much for your comments and I’m so sorry that things have been difficult for you. I started losing my vision at the age of 49 and was legally blind by 50! As moms, we have so much responsibility as it is and adding vision loss to the mix will certainly create more frustration for us. And unfortunately, Others may not adjust to our new world as easily as we need them to. Which does suck! I hope you are able to connect with others in our situation through Facebook or Facebook groups geared towards the blind community. I feel that so important to do to create a support system for yourself. Feel free to contact me through the “contact me” tab above if you’d like to connect personally. Hang in there sweetie…. xx

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    • I only lost my sight two and a half years ago and I’m still adjusting to I’m 44 single but have managed to make a few blind contacts was really helpful if you’d like to get in touch for free to contact me

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  2. Your explanations of life with a visual impairment are very insightful and, as always told very articulately and always humorous…you are such an asset to the visually impaired who suffer mobility and independence loss…again, maria, you are my super heroine and i love you

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  3. Great blog post! Just yesterday I felt the need to explain why we are changing all our light fixtures in our new home. The ones that came with our home are lovely, but they do not provide enough light for me. It seems odd to folks that we are going to the expense of buying new light fixtures and paying to have the new ones installed when we already have such lovely-to-look-at fixtures. And I find myself explaining even to those who do not even ask.

    I do take exception to your use of the term “vision loss” when you talk about visually challenged people as a group. I was born with low vision. True it has gotten worse, much worse, over time, but for me, low vision has always been a part of my life. Loss of vision has presented new challenges but it is low vision (legally blind) that has been my partner from day one.

    I am grateful to have on-line low vision/blind communities to share with and learn from. I am 66 years old and have never known a person with low vision. I was raised to see, or at least pretend to see. I have never been around people with low vision or blindness. and I am sure you can imagine the challenges that presents.

    Thanks for a great article.

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  4. I’ve only been blind for a year. I’m 38, have 3 children 8, 13, and 17. It can be very lonely being blind. My family is supportive, but there are so many times that they get annoyed when I ask for help. All 3 of my children play sports and my husband or one of my children have to commentate all of the sporting events so that I know what is going on and they are not always willing. I have found that when I was sighted, people would speak to me, but now they just walk by and don’t say anything. My kids will tell me the person walked by. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t know what to say, if they just feel awkward, or just figure that because I can’t see them they don’t have to waste their time, I’m not sure. I have a wonderful guide dog, I hated using a cane. However, I have found that people are so uneducated about guide dogs. It aggravates me when people says “Why would she bring a dog in here!” My response, “Because I’m blind and he is my guide dog.” I guess they don’t think I’m blind because I don’t “look blind.” Everyday is an adjustment. It’s hard knowing I won’t see my daughter in her prom dress or watch her walk across the stage for graduation this year, but I’m thankful and blessed for what I have!

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    • That is so true and typical Chrissy. I’ve been blind now for close to a year and have experienced most everything you have. I don’t have a guide dog, but I do have and love my cane. I find that my dark glasses and cane tend to minimize the “You don’t look blind to me” comments, which I still get, but I just answer, “You don’t look sighted to me!” That seems to work. My daughters are grown and out and I live alone. But recently, I unfortunately fell and broke my ankle and am now home and completely immobilized. Now this is isolating!! My daughter and fiancee drove up from Nashville to Milwaukee for the weekend to help make my apartment accessible for when I can someday get into a wheelchair. My sighted friends ask why I just don’t use crutches. That would be fun, trying to use crutches and my white cane, and not put any weight on my broken ankle. Now that would be a for sure death sentence! Good luck with your journey Chrissy. I tell people that blindness is not a death sentence, but rather an entry into a new life, with most of what I did before still very much in it. Best, Carla Ernst 414.614.6873

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  5. Hi I have been legally blind since birth. Sometimes I feel like people don’t want to interract with me because they are afraid that blindness is catching. I too have a guide dog. I get a lot of static when I take my dog into stores and restaurants.

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  6. Hi everyone
    I hear everything you say and applaud it
    People don’t understand because you look normal!!!
    I love it when my friends say my eyes are like yours!!
    Helllllooooo you drive a car!!
    Keep up the blog xxx

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    • Hi Alyson….
      Ha Ha! You drive, I don’t! Big difference there! Thank you for you for reading my blog!! xx

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  7. Ive blind for about 5 years now. Im sorry to admit ive lost most of my sighted friends

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    • I’m so sorry to hear that Lina, and I hate using the sorry word since I get that all the time from my sighted friends when they hear I’ve lost my vision. When they say their sorry for me, for their perception of me of now having a death sentence due to me blindness, I just respond, I’m not sorry! I’m fine with my blindness, it’s always the people around me. But I’m worried now hearing what you said, fearing I too will loose my sighted friends. My blindness has only been about six months, so I’ll guess I see I get a case of Blind Girl Sighted Friend Repellent.

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      • I think if your friends has lasted the first 6 months they will continue their friendships with you. I found some people did drop me as a friend but for each of them it was early in the progression.

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      • Hi Ros,
        Yeah…. True friends will stick around!! I believe that the ones who don’t, just don’t know what to do or how to act around us blind kids. Unfortunately, they choose to stay away. It’s not the quantity of friends, its the quality of friends… Right?! Thanks for reading my blog! xx

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    • Hi Lina…I’m so sorry to hear that sweetie. Please know You have a friend in this blog With It’s followers!
      The friends Who Are not willing to educate themselves about the blind, are just losing out on what could be a wonderful friendship. Sometimes it’s the quality of friends, not the quantity. Thanks for reading and commenting. xx

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    • Hi Lina…
      I’m so sorry to hear that sweetie. Please know You have a friend in this blog With It’s followers!
      The friends Who Are not willing to educate themselves about the blind, are just losing out on what could be a wonderful friendship. Sometimes it’s the quality of friends, not the quantity. Thanks for reading and commenting. xx

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  8. Can I give you another perspective? I am 62 years old female with full sight, my mother,and father were both totally and permanently blind from birth, my younger sister is also blind, looking back on my life I realise that being the sighted person in my family was the disadvantage, the enormous guilt I felt that I could see and they couldn’t coloured every aspect of my life, I was told by so many that I had to try harder, to help more, it’s wasn’t my parents fault they couldn’t see, I used to somehow think as a child that it must be my fault then. Nobody can know what it’s like to be blind unless they are but sometimes I feel like blind people also can’t know what’s it’s like to see and they can have an unrealistic idea or expectation of what or how the community views them, you have to understand that to most people not being able to see is so frightening to them, they can’t really comprehend it at all and in turn they do not know how to react.

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    • Thank you so much for your insightful comment Terrie! It sounds like you had a huge amount of responsibility growing up as the sighted one in the family. I know it’s hard for my family and friends to know how to handle me or help me… the learning curve is a rough one on both sides! so, One way of educating them (And others), is through my blog. I appreciate your perspective very much. Thanks for reading my blog!! xx

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  9. Great post and responses. I am 52 and have been on permanent disability for just over 4 years. Being “legally blind” is one of the lonliest places one can be. My job was a “lifestyle” job….meaning when I left my job I lost lost most of the people I knew well as I worked most of my waking hours. The disease necessitated me filing for divorce as my spouse would not agree to move to a more accessible area. People run like hell when they find out you are blind as they don’t want to get involved, feeling you will “want stuff” from them. I believe I have reached the botom and will hopefully start to rebound from what has been a hell ridden few years of losing my job, losing my E500, pretty much losing my 12 year old and anyone I was associated with previously. Time to move on and pick up the pieces and make some new ones.

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  10. Ive really enjoyed reading this blog.
    All this is new to me.
    Im losing my sight.
    Thanks so much for sharing

    Like

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