Things Us Blind People Really Wish You Knew | Angela Fowler

Dear Sighted Reader,

First a little disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend. I’m a tell it like it is kind of girl with a wicked sense of humor, and I want to both make you think and make you laugh.

With that said, here it goes.

The things I, and countless other blind people, really wish you knew.

Our level of skill at a given task probably has nothing to do with our blindness.

I’m an excellent writer. I absolutely suck at organizing. I know blind people who are super organized but aren’t good writers. It’s not a blindness thing, it’s a human thing.
We have developed countless ways of perceiving the world that doesn’t involve eyesight. We may be at varying stages of learning those ways, but once we learn them, those ways enable us to live a full, productive, and independent life — just like you.

Unless of course, things are designed in such a way as to necessitate eyesight. For example, when at the airport, an overhead sign that says, “flight 158 to Denver will be leaving from gate C13” is not helpful to us — particularly if we’re not even aware the sign exists. If we’re hanging out at gate B-32 because that’s the gate we were verbally told to go to, we’re not getting to Denver. “Welcome to flight 905 with service to London…” “Wait… no! What do you mean we’re already taking off?” Ok, I’m sure it wouldn’t come to that, but you get the picture.

We have the same rights to personal space as you do, and frankly, we’re really getting sick of having to tell people this.

It’s like dealing with children — “No, don’t grab. Don’t touch. Don’t pull on the white cane.” Ask yourself, would you touch or grab a sighted person like that?

We have interests that don’t involve blindness.

Some of us like football. Some of us hate football but love to watch movies. Some of us like to knit, while others love to cook or work with wood. The point is, just like you, we have varied and fascinating interests that don’t involve blindness. If you want to get to know us, ask about those first.

However, sometimes it is relevant to ask about blindness. Go ahead and ask us “How do you do this,” or “What techniques do you use to do that.” This implies that you believe we can do it, but you just don’t know our methods. We get that. We are a small minority after all. Avoid saying, “CAN you do this?” which implies that you don’t believe in us, and that may make us feel sucky and not want to interact with you.

Stop doing things for blind people.

Ok, pick your jaw up off the floor, I didn’t mean it like that. But what we really need is collaboration, not charity. Do things with us, not for us. Find out what we need and help us help ourselves. That’s empowerment. 

When we ask you to help us in certain ways, please respect that. When we ask that products or services be made accessible, we want nothing more than to participate equally in society. Involve us in the process and I guarantee you that accessibility for us will benefit everyone, including you.

We are human just like you.

Remember, we all share the universal experience of being human. We struggle with bills, experience financial success, love our children, get mad at our children, do great work and make mistakes. Blind or sighted, we’re all riding a big spinning ball through the solar system and just trying to figure out life!

So, let’s grab a coffee! – Angela

About Angela:

Angela lives in Northern California with her 13-year-old son, her dog and her cat. She works for a community college and makes and sells several flavors of beef jerky. She loves football, grilling, and is quite the true-crime junkie.

20 Signs You’re Successful Even If You’re Not Feelin’ It

This is not the typical blog topic you would find on my website. It isn’t centered around losing vision or living with blindness. Nope. Not this time.

With 2019 being such a challenging year, I found myself gravitating towards personal growth and reflection — struggling to understand if I was doing anything right. Am I doing too much or not enough? Am I headed in the right direction or completely lost? It’s been messy and I’ve questioned many of my decisions and undertakings. I suspect I’m not alone here. Perhaps some of us have had that day, week, or month in the last year where we felt we simply have nothing good going for us. It’s easy to fall down into the proverbial rabbit hole – wishing we had the confidence and courage to DO more or hoping for the patience and perseverance to BE more — keeping us from seeing our successes. 

This lack of clarity can make it easy to believe that we are failing horribly, even when all the evidence in our life points to other conclusions. If we are too busy in life battling the bullshit, managing the minutia, or dealing with drama, we may never take the time to realize our own success. We could already be successful and yet we’re just not feelin’ it.

If you haven’t taken notice of your own successes heading into 2020, then this is the blog for you! Here are 20 signs you’re successful even if you’re not feelin’ it!

1. You are not afraid to ask for help anymore.

I doubt many people have ever succeeded in isolation. Sometimes it takes a team effort to accomplish tasks and there is nothing wrong with that. Asking for help does not mean you are weak, it is a sign of strength and shows that you have grown as a person.

2. You say “yes” to new opportunities.

New opportunities don’t come around every day, but when they do – you say “yes:!”.  Maybe you have no idea what you’re getting into, yet you go for it. Successful people take those leaps because they know one good opportunity can lead to bigger and better ones.

3. You have raised your standards.

You don’t tolerate bad behavior from other people. You hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t spend time with the “Debbie Downers”, “Angry Andys”, Nasty Nellies”, or F’d up Freddys” in your life anymore. Successful people have no tolerance for them.

4. You let go of things that don’t serve you.

No, this is not narcissistic even though it might seem like it. Self-love and self-respect is a success. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t work for you, serve your purpose, or drags you down. 

5. You don’t seek praise.

If you aren’t hanging around waiting to get the proverbial pat on the back at work or at home, you are more successful than you might even know. Being able to do your part without constant praise or a thousand “At-a-boys” is an internal success. If you choose to wait around for others to tell you have great you are, you may be waiting a long time. 

6. You have learned that failure is a part of personal growth.

Failure can be the point needed to succeed. You need to hit the bottom before you can reach the top. Being able to crawl back from failure and try and try again, is a sign you are successful. 

7. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you.

If you have figured out the people who “have your back” and recognized the ones who don’t, then you can add this to your list of successes. This is a painful realization, but once you learn to see the signs of betrayal and smell the bullshit, you can stay away from those people. They do not deserve a place in your tribe.

8. You don’t complain much.

Because you know there really is nothing to complain about. Unless you have gone through a debilitating diagnosis, unimaginable loss, or a traumatic experience, most of what we all go through on a day-to-day basis is just the small stuff. Successful people don’t sweat the small stuff and strive to live in a space of gratitude.

9. You can celebrate others’ successes.

Just because other people succeed, that doesn’t make you a failure. Applaud the people who rise to the top. The more positive energy you give to other people’s victories, the more positive energy you will create for yourself. Jealousy has no place in success.

10. You are driven.

Anybody without an engine and a willingness to get through the hard times and the difficulties will struggle to succeed. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves    and getting down and dirty, you are better off than you think.

11. You have things you look forward to.

If you don’t have some cool things going on or planned out in your life, in which you are eagerly anticipating, then that little pep in your step may soon fade. Successful people create activities, goals, and plans that they are excited about. They let this excitement fuel their spirit.

12. You wish to help others.

Giving is a gift you give yourself. If you are able to provide people with guidance, compassion, and act as a pillar of support when they need it, success is in your corner.

13. You offer mutual respect.

Success tends to come from your own experiences in life, including going through stresses and difficulties. If you understand the value of treating others with respect, you already have a grasp on a bit of success.

14. You love deeply and open yourself up to be loved by others.

Love is risky and sometimes scary for people. It’s the one thing we all strive for, but it’s also intimately tied to the one thing we fear the most – rejection. If you open your heart enough to love and be loved, without fear, you have a heart full of passionate success.

15. You refuse to be a victim.

You know that life doesn’t always happen to you. Many times, you are the co-creator of your life experiences and outcomes. Successful people know this and refuse to be kept down by life’s bad days or play the “victim card”. No. They rise up and carry on.

16. You don’t care what other people think of you.

Successful people know they can’t please everyone. You know that the standards with which society judges people can be unrealistic. So you just keep true to yourself and love the person you are.

17. You learn from negative experiences.

Life can be full of regrets and dismay – and some choose to hang onto them in a negative way. Successful people convert what happened (or didn’t happen) into learning opportunities. No negative experience is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.

18. You are assertive.

You understand that simply saying yes or no is not enough. Explaining your reasons in a clear manner is essential for others to understand that you are an individual with your own thoughts and boundaries. This does not mean being inflexible, but while being understanding, successful people still stand their ground. 

19. You practice patience.

Patience is a virtue that successful people practice on a daily basis. Without patience, it can be hard to ever make the type of impact or influence you want to have in the world. It also takes patience to learn new things as needed to keep up with your professional or personal path. Successful people know that obtaining new habits, new skills, or, umm, losing those pesky extra pounds, doesn’t happen overnight.

20. You are happy.

This may be the ultimate success. It doesn’t matter what the balance is in your bank account, how big your house is, or how many luxurious vacations you take. If you are happy, then you are succeeding in life. And, life is too short not to be happy.

Even if you don’t see yourself in many of these 20 things, don’t fret. It’s okay. Be happy that you see yourself in just a few of them. In time, the rest will come. Keep moving onward and upward — taking note of success when you create it.

Alrighty loves, let’s make 2020 our most successful year ever! ❤️ ~ GGB

I Ordered From White Cane Coffee And This Is What Happened

If you know me really well, you probably know I am a coffee lovahh! As far as I’m concerned, coffee is the nectar of the gods!

With today being National Coffee Day, I thought I would share my recent experience with White Cane Coffee.

I follow White Cane Coffee on social media and I have wanted to order coffee from them for some time now. I mean, let’s think about this. White canes, coffee love, and supporting the blind community. I am so here for it!!

Because life gets in the way, I finally placed an order with them last week and this is what happened.

For a small business, White Cane Coffee has a nice variety of coffee blends to choose from in both bags and K cups. I thought their website was simple and easy to use. I wanted to buy the Sample Box, and unfortunately, it was out of stock. (Must be a popular item!) So, I chose two blends for my order. I received my box of coffee within a few days which was awesome. I opened the box and inside were two boxes of K cups. Oops, that’s not what I ordered.

I ordered a 16 oz bag of French Roast and a box of Dragon’s Roast K cups. Receiving the order the way it was would not have been a big deal, except I had specifically ordered the French Roast bag to give to a V I friend and she does not have a Keurig coffee machine.

That evening I emailed the folks at White Cane Coffee and kindly told them of the mix up on my order. By the next morning, I had a response from White Cane Coffee, and this is what it said.

Maria,

Please accept our sincerest apologies for the mix-up. We are sending you the 16 oz French Roast priority mail to you. I have included a 1 pot pack of Dark Roast also. Once again, we apologize for the error in shipping to you.

Cheers,

Bob Willma

White Cane Coffee

Wow!!

Now THAT, my friends, is excellent customer service!!! In the business world, it’s not always about how great a company’s product or service is — but how well the company handles mix ups or mistakes that will keep customers coming back! Bravo, White Cane Coffee! Thank you for making good on my order!

I brewed a few cups of the Dragon’s Roast this morning and it was really good. I hope they get the Sample Box back in stock soon. I would love to order and try more of the blends White Cane Coffee has to offer!

Like me, you can follow White Cane Coffee on Facebook and Twitter!

GGB Note:

I did not write this blog as a collaboration or in partnership with White Cane Coffee. I just love coffee and support their mission to make lives better for the blind and disabled.

Sight Versus Vision | Madisyn Taylor

Vision comes from within and shows us how to navigate the realms of thought, feeling, and emotion.

Sight is the ability to see the physical world while vision is the gift of seeing beyond it. Sight enables us to take the physical world in so we can participate in it with knowledge. It brings us pleasure through our eyes, which perceive the colors and shapes of all the myriad expressions of nature and human beings. It helps us feel in control, allowing us to see what is coming toward us, which way we are going, and exactly where we are standing at a given moment. We are able to read signs and books, navigate the interiors of buildings with ease, sense and perceive how a person is feeling by the expressions that cross her face.

As anyone who has lost their eyesight can tell you, though, there are things that are clearer when you cannot see the world through your eyes.

One of the reasons many meditation instructors advise sitting with the eyes closed is because we automatically become more in touch with our inner world when we are not distracted by the outer world. It is in this state that vision becomes our mode of seeing. Vision comes from within and shows us how to navigate the realms of thought, feeling, and emotion. It enables us to see things that aren’t yet manifested in the world of form, and it also connects us to that part of ourselves that exists separately from the world of form.

As we age, even those of us with perfect eyesight will generally lose some of our acuity, but this loss is usually replaced with inner vision. This is the time of life when we are meant to turn inside and take what are sometimes the very first steps of a journey that cannot be traced on a map. We call upon intuition and feel our way along a path that ultimately carries us beyond the realm we can see with our eyes and into the land of spirit.

About the author:

Madisym Taylor is an amazing and insightful writer. I follow her words of wisdom via emails from DailyOM. Learn more about Madisyn here.

If you like this, you might want to follow DailyOM on Facebook!

Original article was published on DailyOM – September 2019.

Supporting A Loved One With Vision Loss – At Home, With Better Communication, And Riding Out The Emotional Rollercoaster | An Audio Recording

I spoke at the Foundation Fighting Blindness conference last year and thought I would share the audio recording here on the blog. Now, it’s cataloged on my website – which makes it easier for you to listen, learn, and share it with anyone else you feel needs to hear me tell IT – Tell it like it is.

Below is the audio recording of the session I presented at the FFB VISIONS 2018 Conference. (The play button is an orange circle at the top left side of the embedded audio from Soundcloud.)

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While House Hunting Blind – These Were Some Things I Kept In Mind

I recently moved from my home of 26 years.

When I was on the hunt for a new place, I wasn’t willing to just move into any random house, townhouse, condo, or apartment. No way, and I had my reasons. 

If you read my blog titled “Seeing My Way Through Some Big Life Changes” you would know that I am in the process of a divorce. Divorce is not for sissys and it has not been an easy road to navigate. During one of the meetings we had, there was a moment, one of many, I will remember for a long time.

 In this meeting, the conversation was going in a direction I was not expecting, I was asked, “If you move out of the house, what are some things you might want or; uhh, require?”. Requirements? Of course, I knew she was alluding to my disability. I was not prepared for this question. Not even a little bit.

I immediately felt my anxiety rise up from the depths. Which would appear first? My tears or my voice. I didn’t know.

My thoughts ran wild.

Wait wait Wait. WHAT? He stays? I move? Oh god… this wasn’t what we had previously discussed. What is happening?

I suspected this was now the direction the conversation was headed in. I could barely speak and this was not the time to pretend that everything was fine and stay quiet. Speaking up and being assertive when I needed to be were things I had not been comfortable doing for many years. For some of you, that may be hard to believe, but you don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors – even with your closest friends.

The thoughts continued. 

Don’t panic. Breathe. Stay calm. If there was ever a time to gather all your courage, it’s NOW! So, keep it together and speak up. Do it! Your future is at stake.

There is a quote that says, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”, and that’s exactly what I did.  

These were some of the things I said that day. Depending on your own life experiences, you might relate to one, none, or all of then.

1. I want to stay in my community.

I have lived in my community for 28 years. 22 of them with full vision and 6 of them legally blind. I am familiar with many of the businesses and shops as well as the people who work at them. I have worked at the same gym, in the middle of town, for 16 years. And most importantly,  the friendships I have formed here are priceless, irreplaceable, and make up an incredible support team for me. I can not and will not leave my terrific team!

2. I want to remain somewhat “convenient” for my friends.

The part of town I have lived in for decades is close to the places I am familiar with. Most of my friends live in this area too. If I can stay in this part of town, it would still be convenient for any of my friends to pick me up and/or drop me off for work and play. I don’t want to be too far “out of the way”, adding more miles and time for those who regularly drive me. 

3. I want to live in a house, not a condo or apartment complex.

A house is more times than not, simple and easy for friends, family, paratransit buses, and rideshare drivers to find. The corn maze-like layouts of some complexes can be ridiculous. Constantly giving directions to drivers on how to find me — in hopes that they do find me — would leave me feeling anxious (and quite frankly, would become a real pain in the ass!). Remember, I can’t look for my rides, they have to look for me. So, yeah. Let’s keep the Hide ‘n Seek game simple for all involved.

4. I want to reside in a neighborhood I feel safe in.

I suspect most people would feel that way, blind or sighted, when looking for a home. Every town has that one sketchy area, so don’t judge me for saying it. I can’t see who comes to my door or whos walking down the street. So, yes, a nice quiet, and safe neighborhood is preferable.

5. I want a house that would be manageable for me as a blind person – with or without my kids living with me.

I thought a single-story house with a simple layout would be the best choice. Many of you understand that some stairs leading to/from a second-floor can be visually tricky. Appliances and any special features should be accessible or could easily be made accessible for me. (Hello Bump Dots!) A house that has poor lighting or gets little to no sunlight is dreary and does nothing to help me utilize the cloudy peripheral vision I still have. Usually, a house has a front and backyard and I’d prefer it to be simple and easy to maintain.

6. I’m not so sure I want this one, but maybe I need it.

Perhaps I need to look for a new beginning. A new space to fill as I want to — physically and emotionally. I could bring in the thoughts and things that would serve me best. A place to settle in and figure out a new normal. Maybe. Just maybe.

So, where ate things at now?

Well, I decided I would move out of the house. It was the best choice for everyone. The hunt for a new place that would include the things I wanted was overwhelming. When I say overwhelming, I mean, it would take a whole nutha blog to discuss and describe that stressful process. Let’s just say that being fully sighted and having a car with the ability to drive is a huge plus when house hunting!

Today, my kids and I (plus 2 cats) live in a nice little house, and we call it home. Did I get all the things I talked about above? No. However, I think hitting 5 out of 6 with a backyard POOL, isn’t too bad. And with time, we will adjust to living in our new pad.

Blind Reflections | Chrissy Terry

A family photo of the Terry family. Chrissy is the woman on the left, along with her husband and 3 kids.

Will Seeking Compassion And Providing Education About My Sight Loss Ever End? | A Blind Reflection By Chrissy Terry

“This is my long Facebook post from 2 years ago (2017). Every single word is still very true today. We are still seeking compassion and still trying to educate others. If you haven’t read it, please do. If you have, thank you! It is a great reminder about what my family goes through still.” ~ Chrissy Terry 

My Blind Girl Life | July 17, 2017

So, I share many moments from my life to try to give those around me a little perspective into the daily struggles and accomplishments of a blind person. Before I became blind, I knew one person that was blind, so I know most people don’t have a reference for this knowledge, nor do they understand there is a spectrum for sight loss. No matter where my family and I go, we can’t just shop, eat, or go to the beach without running into uneducated people. I say this not to be rude, but it takes a toll on you when people are constantly making comments to you or your family about your disability. For instance, the stereotype of if my eyes are not “weird”, I’m not wearing sunglasses (I do a lot, even inside when my eyes hurt, but not always), and if I’m using technology then I don’t “look” blind to them. So, what does blind look like? Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles? These are the references for most people. However, this is very, very inaccurate for 85% of the blind population.

Here is the definition of blindness from the American Foundation for the blind (AFB):
Blindness: A wide array of conditions ranging from a limited ability to see objects with special aids to the absence of light perception. Most people who are blind have some light perception.”

After just over 21 months of sight loss, I’m still getting used to it. When this type of loss occurs in your life, you don’t automatically know how to deal with it or know what is available to help you deal with it, if you have never experienced it before. However, you adjust what you can and use what you have. I’m still learning what is useful to me and what’s not.

In my family, we joke about my blindness because that’s how we get through it. I say we, because what people outside the four walls of my house don’t know is how it affects my family and the stresses we go through on a daily basis. We have faith, we are strong, we are optimistic, we overcome, but we are human.
No matter how strong we are, it often becomes difficult to hear people repeatedly say that they “forget I’m blind because I get around so well” or “I see you around, you must be better.” Well, thank you because I do try my best. However, we can’t forget, it’s a daily reminder for me and my family. No, I won’t get better, I choose daily to be the best I can each day. Every time someone screams at me because I have a dog and they’re afraid (you just scared me by screaming in my face and he’s in harness, he’s my guide dog, my eyes), every time someone tells me I shouldn’t take a dog into some place (kind of need him to get around and not trip or run into things), every time we go anywhere knowing we can never truly have a “normal” anything because things are different, it’s a reminder.

I don’t expect people to fully understand because most people have never been a young mother (yes, I consider myself young!) dealing with sight loss. For most, their dealings with sight loss occur in the older generation that have already raised children and grandchildren. Those people that have had the chance to see their children accomplish major life events, graduations, weddings, and such. As hard as it may be on those caregivers of the older, it is so much more difficult for a young child to understand why their parent can no longer see. Or for a mother to try to understand why her child can no longer see. Don’t get me wrong, sight loss at any age is a very life-changing, emotional loss that should never be downplayed by anyone.

My hope is that people will be compassionate, but many times that is just not the case. What people don’t see is that someone is usually with me giving me clues to what is going on and who is around me, or I’m using what I have (peripheral’s, hearing, smell, shadows, movement) to figure it out. I also use the assistive technology available to me to do things that supposedly “blind people can’t do” and I love the advances that are making things more accessible for me. There have been many caring people that have helped us and I am truly thankful for them, friends and total strangers.

I love the new relationships and deeper friendships that this loss has allowed. I love that I am able to share my faith with people daily because of my disability. I have always been independent and will continue to seek ways to do what I’ve always done and love doing, just in a different way. I love educating people about sight loss, guide dogs, accessibility, and overcoming, because that’s what I am, I am an educator and always will be!

About Chrissy
Chrissy Terry was clinically diagnosed with Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) by Dr. Nancy Newman, a leading expert on LHON, at Emory University. Chrissy lives in Hampton, South Carolina with her husband Brock, her two sons, and has a daughter away at college. On many days you can find Chrissy woodworking. Creating, cutting, and painting decorative art pieces has become a passion of hers. She is an avid runner with her guide dog by her side, and of course, she loves spending time with her family.

If you related to this, you cam also read Chrissy’s first Blind Reflection here – I Watched My Children’s Faces Fade As I Lost My Sight | A Blind Reflection by Chrissy Terry