Challenging the disability misconceptions
By Amanda Nelson
I vaguely remember receiving my first large print book in school. I felt different, my peers did not understand why I was getting large print and neither did I. I remember the first magnifier I received. My peers teased me and judged me about the equipment I was using. Flash-forward to college, it was a beautiful day as I was sitting on a bench waiting for the bus, when someone came up and asked if I needed help-all because I was using my white cane. Now let’s take a look at this past week. It has been filled with lots of bumps; bumps of having people judge me all because of my disability.
Ever since I heard the words, “You have low vision and that means that you are visually impaired, because of your Nystagmus,” I have felt judged about what I can and can not do.
This has made me go back and think about society as a whole. Ever since I’ve been labeled, “Someone with a visual impairment,” I have felt judged by teachers, doctors, my family, and employers, and I felt misunderstood too.
Ever since I was little, I was either told, you’re visually impaired enough or you’re not visually impaired enough. I have also been questioned by people who do not understand my visual impairment. When I was little my mother had to fight for my rights to get my work in large print because, at first, the doctors and teachers thought I would be able to achieve regular classroom work without any problems, however after I started struggling with accessing regular print, she took me to many specialists who stated I needed large print. I was tested and assessed by how well I could see and achieve daily tasks, and it was decided that I was visually impaired.
From that time, I have been judged.
It really hurts my feelings when I’ve set a goal for myself, and then I hear someone say, “How can you? You have low vision.” From traveling to setting goals as a writer, I constantly hear people question my abilities. Thousands of people who are blind or have low vision travel or set and achieve goals every day, why do I have to be any different?
I set a goal to receive a standard high school diploma; I met this goal in 2008.
I set a goal to attend college and get my degree in Journalism and a minor in education. I met this goal in 2013.
I set a goal to work for a magazine, guess what, I achieved that too.
Now my goal is to work on my freelancing career; and even though it’s been slow I am achieving it.
I have a dream to get a passport one day and to travel abroad; someday, that dream will be achieved.
It really hurts me when I hear my family say, “You should be getting more help.” When in reality, I have tried several times to get more help, and with some programs with the level of vision I have I do not qualify for more help than what I’m already receiving. I am doing the best I can.
All I ask from society is before you judge me and my other friends who are visually impaired, see us, see us as people, the qualifications we have, our achievements. Not just our disability, not just the cane, the guide dog, the braille book we read.