NCBI marks World Sight Day by debunking myths about sight loss
Thursday 14th October 2021. To mark World Sight Day, NCBI is keen to debunk myths and public perceptions around what it is like living with sight loss. As a low incidence disability affecting nearly 55,000 people in Ireland often members of the public, employers, politicians, teachers, transport operators etc. are unsure how to interact or understand what it is like to be blind or vision impaired. This can lead to misperceptions or incorrect assumptions about the person’s ability to do tasks.
June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications said “World Sight Day is an ideal opportunity to educate, share and engage the public to have a greater understanding of what it is like to be blind or vision impaired. It shifts the focus onto a person’s ability rather than disability”.
Here are 5 things that people who are blind or vision impaired wish you knew:
- Not all of them use a cane or guide dogs
Since there different eye diseases there are varying degrees of visual impairment and blindness, some individuals use white canes to help them navigate, others use guide dogs and others rely on their remaining vision.
- They can have “bad” and “good” vision days.
Because having a vision impaired varies so much, vision can be affected by how sunny or cloudy it is outside. Other times it depends on eye strain, the time of day, lighting inside vs. outside, and even how many trees or landscaping are around casting shadows, causing the eyes to play lots of tricks.
- They are not super-sensory and may not have heightened senses.
People who are blind or vision impaired may rely more on their other senses and develop a strong memory or are tuned into auditory cues but they don’t have a sixth sense.
- They enjoy being spoken to with normal language.
You don’t have to hold yourself back from using vision oriented language, continue to use words like look, see, watch, witness or even viewpoint! However, if you are giving directions be sure to give verbal instructions and not just point in the correct direction. Remember to always offer verbal assistance never to grab an individual to assist them across the road.
- Their world doesn’t only focus on being blind or vision impaired.
People who are blind or vision impaired do lead full lives just like everyone else. Some of them like football. Some of them hate football but love audio books. The point is, just like you, they have varied and fascinating interests that don’t involve their loss of vision. They have adapted to enable their participation. However, unfortunately many structural barriers do still exist that can prevent full participation e.g. inaccessibility of public transport, build environment, digital technology and fewer employment opportunities.
This World Sight Day take the proactive steps to debunk myths and misperceptions so that it helps create a more informed, equal and inclusive society for the benefit of everyone who is blind or vision impaired.