Never grab me, its my biggest hate, makes me jump and immediately puts me on the defensive.
It is understood that people are just trying to help sometimes. But here is a little insight to what should be avoided when in the company of blind people. First, please don’t grab (us or our canes). Imagine being blind folded and being grabbed by the arm. It’s very uncomfortable. Next, it’s perfectly acceptable to offer assistance. One blind person may need it where another may not. If they decline, don’t take it personally. A lot of us wish to do as much independently as possible. Also, there is no need to shout. While blind and deaf sometimes go together, they don’t in every case. Most people who are “deaf-blind” will inform you if they can’t hear very well. Last, if you plan to offer anything, offer an arm. If they want it, they will take it. If not, verbal direction may be what they’re looking for.
My own ‘medical’ was an absolute farce!
My assessor was provided with evidence from all my consultants but still when it came to my visual acuity test I said what I could see and my assessor said ” now try really hard”. As if if I put enough effort in I wouldn’t be blind!
My mum is also going through an ESA appeal as they found her fit for work when she quite clearly isn’t!
These tests cause nothing but stress and are carried out in a way that is often demeaning and causes distress.
They are not fit for purpose.
Today I am inspired by chatting to someone who has only in the last 2 years become visually impaired. Meeting a relative newbie at the start of learning to live life independently with a sever visual impairment has made me think of all the little adaptations and things i do in a strange way without even thinking about it.
Take for example making a cup of coffee and carrying it over to your faviourte spot on the sofa to curl up and watch TOWIE (or whatever the latest TV craze is). How do you get that boiling water from the kettle into the cup? Let alone carry the cup of hot coffee from the kitchen to the sofa around relatives, friends and animals without ending up wearing it?
The bottom line is you don’t I regularly spill boiling water on my hand when I make a hot drink, it does not scold me because by the time i have said a naughty word and waved my hand in the air the water is at a much cooler temperature. On Teaspoon going from jar to cup I always spill coffee and sugar. Not to mention just the other day I tripped over a shoe at a friend’s house and promptly redecorated her hallway with my cup of tea.
My mum rang me earlier today to tell me she had polished her shoes with fly killer instead of shoe polish, you find a can in the cupboard how do you know which one is which? The reality is if it’s not where YOU ALWAYS leave it then mishaps happen. In the past I have been washing my hair and accidentally used sun cream instead of shampoo which is a horrible experience because of the greasy nature of sun cream but it happens.
Yesterday I realised how lucky I am that I don’t have any food allergies, I was buying cake for a friend who does and it suddenly occurred to me that if I had been on my own I would have had no clue which cake would make her ill and which cake would be safe.
Best before dates… Need I really explain?
Think about walking down to your local corner shop, now imagine that with your eyes closed, does the thought of walking to the shop with your yes shut scare you? Then add into the mix all the things you could encounter on your journey; Pedestrians, cyclists, traffic, road works, pot holes, chewing gum, overhead branches, children, birds, wheel bins, lampposts, postboxes… There where some shocking statistics released a few years ago that 8 out of 10 blind people never leave the house alone due to fear and lack of confidence if you couldn’t see where you were going would you make it to work on time?
This is a topic I have written about before I realise both here (You know your a blind person when…) and on the BBC Ouch Website (How to **** in the woods) but the point still remains, things I do every day are different to that of a sighted person, for example right now writing this very post I am not poking at the keyboard or my computer screen, I like to write with my eyes shut and without and screen reader software so its just me and my fingers dancing across the keyboard. I type at my fastest when I and not looking or listening to anything else and its something I really enjoy having the time to do on occasion. Of course when it comes to proof reading and editing my writing I do look at the screen but then still miss half my typos anyway! Sorry blogosphere your just going to have to put up with me writing utter rubbish that is not grammatically correct!
I’m not about to write a ranting raving blog post to you all about how awful it is to be a disabled person –
its alright actually and its normal for me and I would not have it any other way!
What I am going to talk about is insulting and offensive words surrounding disability.
Recently I have gone back to being a guide leader after a 3 year absence and I was shocked by the language they used to insult each other, it appears the word ‘retard’ has come back into linguistic fashion as an appropriate insult for your 13-year-old mate.
I had naively hoped that ‘disability insults’ had disappeared from society when the disability rights movement moved out discrimination and in the Disability Discrimination Act (2004). I assumed that it was no longer socially acceptable to use an offensive slang term for a person with a disability as an insult – I am wrong.
It’s really got me thinking about language and its development and progress though usage in society, I have attempted to think back a decade and assess the disability related insults that were used in my school.
I have many unpleasant memories about my education; of bullying, harassment and verbal abuse. Although I was called a lot of nasty things at various points by people so insecure about themselves that they had to pick on someone to feel good (I REALLY pity them) I really don’t think any of the words used where on a par with ‘retard’.
I could be wrong but I think young people in my generation understood (even if they did not actually realise it) the history behind such words and that the use of them was socially unacceptable.
So I find myself challenging todays generation about their language and the way they insult each other and wondering what I can suggest they use that isn’t the dreaded ‘R’ word?
I also wonder what other offensive terms for disabled people will once again rear their ugly heads as playground insults; mong? spaz? cripple… I’m sure the list could be endless – Which I think says a lot about our society on the whole.
In the current economic climate I think its fair to say the DDA is not being enforced as much as it should be, money is getting in the way and proving yet another barrier to the access needs of disabled people, of which many argue that the DDA never went far enough to change the way society views disability.
I know form my own experience that discrimination against disabled people is still rife I currently feel that Southampton City Council have acted in a discriminatory manner towards me and continue to do so. What will be done about it or change it? Nothing unless at some point I can secure funding for a case under the DDA (something I admittedly have not looked into yet).
With the many cuts and changes to the benefit system effecting disabled people, in addition to negative news stories focused on how disabled people are apparently a drain on society and can contribute nothing to the wider world is it any wonder that our kids are turning to disability to get there insults?
Please take a look at the site I got this from its a real gold mine for Christian friendly mental health information… Not that nay MH info sights are not Christian friendly…ah… You get what I mean and its LATE!
Things not to say
Yes, these have all been said! Yes, actually to people’s faces! In BOLD: What you said. Then: What the person heard!
Just give it to God!
One quick prayer and it’s all over, sorted, done and dusted!
Have you tried praying?
Just a thought, maybe you haven’t thought about it yet, you know even though you’ve been a Christian for 15 years?
Pull yourself together
You need a stiff talking to and someone needs to tell you
We all feel like that sometimes but you have to snap out of it
You know you’re not suffering anything else that no-one else doesn’t feel now and then so why can’t you just snap out of it like everyone else does?
Are you reading your bible?
I know you’ve been a Christian for 15 years and you use to preach, but maybe you’ve forgotten that when you are so ill and you cannot rationalise, you’re seeing things and hearing things, you can’t make sense of your words and anything or anyone around you, you’re visions blurred and your head feels like it’s going to explode, you can just pick up your bible and claim a scripture! It’s great isn’t it, as simple as ABC
I’m not getting into the boat with you – you’re full of self pity
No, I’m not even going to listen to anything you say as that would mean that I’m getting in the boat with you and agreeing with what you are saying and that would mean that I’ll be helping you simmer in your self pity and I don’t want to be classed as a negative person like you
Just fight it!
Just refuse to feel like that in the name of Jesus, refuse it, rebuke it, don’t receive it?
I’d never allow myself to get in that state
Sorry but what’s happened to you, will never happen to me, I’m fit, healthy and loving life, no way will what’s happened to you happen to me!
You’re looking really well
You look like there’s nothing wrong with you, in fact I think you’re making it all up, cause to me, you look like everyone else
It’s your own fault
I was reading Job the other day, what sin is in your life that you haven’t confessed and dealt with yet?
There’s no such thing as depression, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself
What is all this poppycock about depression and illness? you need to get a grip and stop pretending you are ill
You’re a hypochondriac
Honestly, there’s people out there who are really ill, I think you enjoy it
Shouting at someone
I need to disciple you, discipline you and put you right, now STOP IT
Why can’t the doctors do anything?
Why can’t the doctors sort you out? I mean they’ve always sorted me out and everyone I know so why can’t they sort you out? Tell me? It’s very frustrating and I can’t work it out
You should just stop taking all those tablets and just trust in God
Now I have a physical condition so if I stop taking my tablets, I would die, if you stop taking your medication nothing will happen apart from you will be trusting God more and you won’t have any side effects, so simple!
It’s a choice – you can change if you want to
Yeah… of course I choose to hate my self and wish I was dead… Thank you for pointing out it’s just a choice that I need to make
Things to say instead
This is OK to say in BOLD and This is why it’s OK. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just be kind and empower them
If you want to talk, I’m here to listen
I care about what’s happening to you and need to listen to you as a friend to show you that. Then I can understand and help you. I realise this is going to take longer with someone who is mentally ill.
I’m praying for you, do you want me to pray for you now?
I don’t have any magic answers and I’m not trying to give you one but what I can do is pray for you. I know God answers prayer.
I have some practical wisdom I can share with you.
Because I’ve spent time with you and listened to you, I can see you need rest, space, food, spiritual advice etc and can help you.
I have no idea what it must feel like because I’ve never suffered from mental illness but I can understand it better now
I can’t contemplate what it must feel like to be mentally ill and I can now have sympathy to anyone with mental illness because I understand it now.
Could I help you spiritually in any way, perhaps share some scriptures that you may be able to draw strength from?
I can’t imagine what its like to not be able to draw from my bible because I’ve lost the ability to think clearly and be in control of my mind. If I can help by writing some scriptures out or reading from the bible for you, or get some bible tapes for you, I will.
Shall we go out together somewhere? Can I take you out somewhere?
Special times with friends help and if I can help take you out for a while it may help you escape from the same surroundings and focus on something else for a while. It must be awful when you are to not be able to go out at all because you are ill and you’ve lost your work world and other social outlets.
I can see your not feeling great at the moment, do you want me to go and come back tomorrow or another day?
I can appreciate that if you’re having a really bad day, I should come back another time and I’ll be able to help better
Do you need help getting your medication or a lift to the specialists?
This is a really practical thing that you need and half an hour of my time would be a real answer to prayer to you
Talk to them about something positive in their life, or an improvement that you’ve noticed
Sometimes when you are so in the middle of something and experiencing it every day you can’t see the small improvements that are happening or recognise an achievement or progress
Find out any likes, hobbies, what makes them laugh and work towards helping them achieve one of these
Laughter’s good medicine, we all need purpose in our lives and to feel we’re achieving something.
Help them work through a panic attack, and irrational thoughts.
Help them to breathe by going through simple exercises, pray for them, talk through calmly their thoughts and help them rationalise them.) All the physical effects it can feel like you are dying and is very scary. This can be very draining yourself especially if emotionally attached so take time to recuperate yourself after.
Don’t give up on them; it can take along time and a lot of hard work to help someone recover. They need friends and loved ones to stick by them.
Medication alone won’t do it; it’s all the social help and one to one work and prayer that will see the breakthrough
Alan and Amanda Stephenson, 05/05/2010
I was bored and had to take Gus to the vet last week, the video is not interesting but has some interesting naturally occurring cinematic’s! Also as it was shot in the dark with no additional lighting I think it gives views an idea of what I can see… although I can probably see a bit les than how it came out!
This week the organisers of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics announced and unveiled the mascots for the games. They have proved to be VERY controversial as my friend Sam highlighted in his blog, as well as a lot of headlines tearing the mascots apart.
I am pleased that one of them has a link to disability and is remembering that the UK held the first ever Paralympics which is defiantly something to be proud of.
In an effort to be accessible which I am quite appreciating the organisers have released the video showing the first part of the story of Wenlock and Mandeville with audio description, for those of you that don’t know what that is watch it and you will soon understand.
This of course got me thinking of the you know your blind when hilarity this is something I have often discussed with blind mates and it stuck me that I have failed to post something like this before. Thanks Charlie for bringing it to my attention!
I must say all of these things you are about to read are true and have happened.
I would also like to add that if you have your own additions to the list you are about to read stick them in a comment with your name, URL and whatever and I will add them in!
Ok so after all that…
You know you’re a blind person when…
- You accidentally wash your hair in factor 30 sun creme.
- You don’t have a single pair of matching socks.
- You hand your sister a container which you think is shampoo, your slightly less blind sister manages to see that it is in fact Hob Bright oven cleaner.
- You go on holiday and accidentally come back with someone else’s Guide Dog.
- You persuade a friend to play darts with you and hit your friend in the leg when it’s your turn.
- The phrase ‘Blind Drunk’ has a totally different meaning to you.
- You are totally unaware that the city you live in is completely consumed with fog… it always looks like that to you!
- You HATE the idea of Shared streets!
- You hate car drivers except when they are driving you somewhere.
- Because you have some vision strangers refuse to accept that you are blind.
- You get told off by the Police for walking into a bollard, they think you have had enough to drink already; ON YOUR WAY TO THE PUB!
- Having a Guide Dog or cane means you never get ID’d in pubs.
- You have full conversations with what you think is your friend, you later discover she’s not actually there.
- Walking straight past the person you are supposed to be meeting is a regular occurrence even if it is someone you know well such as a parent.
- Reading the cooking instructions on the food you purchase is totally impossible so you guess.
- A person walks up to you says your name and starts a conversation you talk for a bit and they leave… You still have no idea who it was.
- What colour are my trousers?’ is a perfectly reasonable question to ask a date.
- You high-five the persons face instead of their hand.
- Other people tell you to ‘watch out’ and then apologise and get all embarrassed.
- You don’t care about 3D.
- You stop traffic… With your cane/Guide Dog.
- People you meet tell you all about their blind aunt flora (or other relative) and ask if you know her… After all, all you blindies know each other well.
- The thought of you running scares your off duty Guide Dog so much that he proceeds to jump on you to make you stop.
- You wear ear plugs to gigs… your ears are very valuable.
- Walking along you hold on to your friend’s arm EVERYONE assumes you’re a couple.
- Audio Description gets you VERY excited.
- You forget that the friends you are meeting can see, you text them telling them exactly where you are sitting instructions on how to navigate to your position and what colour jumper you are wearing.
- ‘How long is your cane?’ is a totally innocent question.
- You spread Marmalade on your toast and take a big bite… Only to discover its actually mustard.
- You walk into glass doors.