Thursday, February 26, 2009

You are as the world sees you? Or are you?

There's two sides to every story. And the same applies to identity. On the one hand you have "the way you are perceived or labeled as" and on the flip side there is "the way you see yourself to be".
Labels You may wear.The world treats you as you are labelled. People usually act nicer when you show that you are disabled. Sometimes its out of pity, sometimes out of generous gesture, but often its just because they don't know how else to act. They judge based on these labels they put on you. The truth is irrelevant, you are treated by the label you are given, so when they see you as a blind disabled person, they will treat you differently than a normal sighted person. Don't be stubborn and try to change these labels, accept them as how the world is and learn to take advantage of people's generousity. If help is available, why not make good use of it?
Who you really are...Understand that just because you may be labelled a certain way doesn't define your character and who you really are. There is no shame in having a disability, although it sometimes may not feel like that. Be confident about who you are and odn't let anyone tell you otherwise. When you are confident about yourself and comfortable in your own skin, you worry less about what others think.

Perhaps I am only able to say thsi after going through some soul searching and finding my place. It's a process of self-discovery but even if you are just starting to understand, remember this... "believe in yourself, you are unique and you don't have to be who people think you are"

I can't look straight anymore

One of the issues I've been struggling with recently is the fact that my eyes seem to not be looking straight anymore. The loss of my central vision is causing me to use my peripheral vision and as a result my iris seems to be looking in the direction slightly left or right of the object I would be look at.

This is causing some inconvenineces especially when talking to people. It used to be that I can get away with not telling people about my vision considition. But now its gotten worst, it's sometimes hard to "act normal".

I considered surgery, that is until I found out that its not my muscle that is causing the problem, its simply the fact that I cannot see in the central part of my vision. It was until recently, when I went into the eye doctors that I realized how off my eye is. I didn't reazlie I had lost most of the central vision since everytime i look straigh my eyes jsut automatically adjust and focus. It wasn't until I was doing an eye exam that when they told me to stare at the dot in the middle of the circle that I realized when they asked me to look straight, I moved my eyes around and eventually hitting the blindspot where its in the centre yet I can't see the dot anymore.

I'm not sure if this is omething I simply have to deal with or if there's a way of adapting and working around the situation. A friend suggested focusing on the blind spot and you will know you are looking straight. However, I am having trouble since my vision naturally shifts to focus and see. I'd love to hear others ideas of ways you have learned to overcome this challenge.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Accessibility in Life

As a visually impaired person, if I had to go out in the world without any aids, it is rather difficult to survive very comfortably. Our ability to adapt relies on a keen sense of memorization to details about our surroundings. Now imagine if we were put in a completely new situation/place, our ability to survive comfortably is very limited since the world around us is not very acessible.

Whether its road signs, building numbers, restaurant menus, grocery store labels, or even a simple price tag in any store, we are unable to see. All of which has one commonality and its the fact that I cannot see without outside aid. Sure thereis nothing wrong with asking for directions or help, but if it came down to how accessible these thigns are to a person with visual impairment, bottom line would be its inaccessible.

I would have to say the two worst things are menus in a restaurant, price tag in any stores. I mena really, do price tag need to be that small, wha'ts the harm in just up-ing the size of the font by one or two pouints, it would make everyone's life so much easier (even senior citizens) You have no idea how much I struggle with looking at the price of a piece of clothing or a product.

The world of the sighted can be a difficult place to live in. It is only recently that Toronto has began taking notice about the inaccessibility of our city. Like I mentioned, the transit system finally decided to implement a system wide upgrade in its stop annoucement program. We put the beeping sounds into the pedestrian crossing trafic signs.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in order to make life more accessible. Whether its online or offline, I look forward to a more accessible environment in the near future.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Staying Mobile

No matter what city/town you live in in the world. I am sure mobility will always be one of the top issues when it comes to living with Stargardt's. I live in Toronto where the public transportation is considered as one of the top cities in North America. Although to tell the truth its not ideal, but then again I can't complain since it can still get me from point A to B relatively easy.

Take it from me when I say, NOT DRIVING SUCKS. I've hd Stargardt's since I was young, so I never had the chance to drive, although I'm sure if I ever did, I would love it. Afterall, I love the freedom of being able to go anywhere, anytime and in your own private space instead of having to wait on schedule busses.

However when it comes to public transportation, the city has had several accessibility improvements. First and foremost being the stop annoucements on the buses. It may sound fairly insignificant, but but its saved me numerous times from asking the driver to annouce the street name. Yeah, people will help if you ask them, but just having the automated annoucer gives back a certain independence that otherwise would not have been possible.

Although lately, I have been considering alternative transportations. One of which being the electric bicycle/scooters. These new "toys" offer a possible alternative in mobility accessibility. Since I cannot get a licence, I cannot drive a car nor ride a motorcycle. But these electric bikes are a good middle ground between driving a car, and having to take public transit or exercise myself. Unfortunately one of the major downside is that battery technology is still unstable and therefore the elctric bike is unable to travel long distances. Nonetheless, the beauty behind it is since its a hybrid between eletricity and man power, you can always ride it as a regular bike when you are out of electricity. (Now if only they can find a way to regenerate electricity into the battery) Why is it that I can't ride a motorcycle but can ride something like this, the answer is simple, the electric bike usually is very slow and can only go up to 60 km max but often averaging around 30km only.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

natural lie detector

I was watching an interesting documentary and this time it's about lying in human nature. We all ie, whether its white li to help spare others feelings, others lie to make themselves look good. Regardless of the reason, it seem to hae come a part of human nature and everyday life.

So what does this have to do with Stargardt's? Well I'm not sure iits true for others, but for myself, I realized because of my inability to see, I have developed a way of observation method based on body language, voice, and just an overal instinct. It's interesting because it also allows me to detect abnormality in people's behavior, and I guess in a way become nature's lie detector.

Perhaps part of the reason why we areable to detect lies better tahn sighted people is we tend to pay more attention because of th fact that we cannot see, and also, many people may be good at lying with their faces but fail to notice the settle tone and pitches in their voice. They saya key in being a good lie detector is the attention to details, maybe it not so much that eople can't tell if someone is lying, but more so they just on't care. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives they often could care less if someone else is lying or not.

Just tought this wasaniteretig topc. Whether its a good or bad thing that we can detect lies, that's a whole other discussion.

View the following docclick below

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Importance of barrier free communication

Wagner explored the science behind secrets. It began with an experiement putting subjects into a room to speak as they liked. Prior to going into the room, they were instructed NOT to say "white bear". Sounds simple right? Well, not exactly, the participants went in and spoke as they liked, but they kept finding themselves tempted to say w"white bear". The overal psychology behind this is the more you try to suppress and limit a thought, the more conscious you are of it. This phoenomenon can be a secret, a fear, a temptation, or any other restrictions or parameters. As a result, it shows the importance of barrier free communication.

When a person is able to freely express themselves, they remove themselves from the stress and anxiety of keeping a secret. However, if one chooses to be fearful of their fears, it will only build and amplify itself. So the moral of the lesson is, don't be afraid, don't try to hide something, because the more you try to hide it, the more stress it will cause you. The most you can do is try to free yourself of these restrictions.

I know its easier said than done. But have the courage to confront these "secrets" and you will be free at last. Let go some of the emotional baggage you hold, and you will become a much happier person.