006: When Do I Tell Someone That I Am Visually Impaired?

[Podcast] When Should I Tell People I Am Visually Impaired? - Episode 6

One of the things that is hardest to deal with after sight loss is letting others know about what is going on with you. If you have been sighed for a long time, it can be very awkward to have the conversation with close friends and family, not o mention with strangers who knew you from afar. But, in certain cases, it is very important to tell someone about your vision impairment, regardless of how awkward the conversation might get.

News & Updates

1. Canadian Blind Hockey

Many sports are adaptable for blind and visually impaired people. But, one sport I had not considered is hockey. But, apparently, I was wrong. There is a National Blind Hockey Tournament where a variety of players come to fight for gold against other blind hockey players. Check out the video below to see just how serious this game is and what it means to people.

2. Boston Marathon Runner Uses Guide Miles Away

This year, a visually impaired man ran in the Boston Marathon. Though this isn't new for him, he did use a technology that is different. It is call Aira (Pronounced Ira) which allows a remote guide to help him. It is basically a pair of glasses with a camera equipped so the agent can see what the person sees. They can help with navigation as they can see the person's location via GPS. It seems like a promising technology. My only issue is the pricing scale, as it is subscription based. Find more details about Aira by visiting their website. Below is a video with a basic demonstration of how it would work.

3. An App for Audio Description on the Go

There is a new app on the market that will allow visually impaired people to access audio descriptions for different movies right on their smartphone. Much like Disney Movies Anywhere, this app, which is called Movie Reading, will listen to where you are in the movie and sync up the audio description. The app is limited at this time with only about 4 titles to choose from. But, the hope is that in the future, more titles will become available. It would be a great app and allow movie goers both in cinemas and at home to enjoy the movie with their sighted friends.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think about these stories? Have you got a piece of news or an update you'd like to share? Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or by Email!

Those Awkward Conversations

Over the years, I have had plenty of moments where I have had to tell someone that I am visually impaired. Some for professional reasons and some just because I felt it was important to the relationship. But, in every case, one thing was sure: It was awkward. Usually, most people don't know how to react. They say things about how they have bad eyesight without glasses, they have a 2nd cousin who is blind or ask why I don't get glasses. In any case,I smile and nod and wait for them to adjust.

Recently, I had someone ask me when should you tell someone you are visually impaired. This is a great question especially if you have recently lost your sight. So, here a few scenarios and why you may or may not want to mention it.

Work

If you are at a job that is sight intensive, you should probably let your employer know you are now visually impaired. They need to know these things as accommodations can usually be made, but not without them knowing about it first. Being up front and honest will help in the process of transitioning.

The other time work is involved is if you are interviewing for a new position. Most people don't want to mention it, as they feel they will be discriminated against. But, keeping it from them can make it look like you are withholding information. Plus, being up front about it and assuring them it will not hold you back can help them see you are a “go getter” by nature.

Regardless of the situation, having a job is important. And letting the job know about your new found sight loss is important as well.

Medical Reasons

Letting your medical professional about sight loss is an important step. I don't mean the optometrist or ophthalmologist who diagnosed you. I mean other doctors, like your family practitioner or a surgeon you might see. This will help them to understand your physical health in a complete way. Plus, if they are trying to explain things with charts and graphs, they might want to know you cannot see.

Friends and Family

This one is a little tricky. I don't know if you need to send out an email blast saying, “I'm blind!” but it would be good to let key people know in your life. Most likely, the people that really need to know will be close enough that they are going through this journey with you. But, for some on the side lines you can give them a call or send them an email explaining what is going on. Again, it will be awkward, but determine who “needs” to know and make sure you tell them yourself. After all, you'll give the best explanation and answer the questions they might have the best.

Strangers

So, who are strangers exactly? Well, basically, anyone you don't know. This could be the mailman, a person you meet on the bus, a parent of your child's friend, a teacher, etc. The key here is determining what type of relationship you will have moving forward. Will you see this person often? Is it important they know you can't see? If so, then find a good time and just let them know.It doesn't have to be a big deal. But, letting them know sooner rather then later will save on a lot of awkward moment.

As a side note, you don't have to tell everyone. I have been with people at restaurants before and they will feel the need to tell the waiter I am blind. There's no real reason to tell them. It just seems to make them feel better. It doesn't usually bother me, but in those moments, the waiter probably doesn't care. Then, they have to process this information in a kind way. And, that usually means giving me an, “I'm sorry…” and walking away. So, no you don't need to tell everyone.

Why wouldn't I tell someone?

The real question here is why you wouldn't tell someone. It might be because you don't want to draw attention to yourself. Or maybe you just don't want to have another conversation about it. But, one of the main reasons is we feel embarrassed and don't want to have awkwardness between us and the other person. If this si the reason you aren't telling people, you might want to reevaluate things. I understand pride, self reliance and all that. But, sometimes, even though it is awkward, telling someone can be the best thing.

Remember, it is going to be awkward. Period. But, a little bit of awkwardness now will save on a lot later. And, avoiding telling someone doesn't mean they won't find out. It just means they'll find out in a way you wish they wouldn't have.

So, tell someone. It might just be easier than you think!

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