I am blind, not visually impaired

My first day at Saavi, before I started my “blind education”, I went for a support group. This little old lady was talking to me in the lobby and she said, “You’re not blind, you’re visually impaired.”

I was thinking no, I’m blind. But I didn’t say it.

this thought plagued me for awhile and I thought ok, maybe this is one of those politically correct things. Is the word “blind” taboo? Should I not say “blind”? But I’m blind.

So I asked the question to Anna in my Stars class. She works at saavi and has been blind since she was a child. I asked her if blind was taboo, because I know she’s total blind, but she says “visually impaired” a lot.

She said its a preference, it really doesn’t matter. She asked me if I considered myself to be blind. I was like, well duh, I can’t see. Anything. So she said I can call myself blind.

I still think about that though. I think “visually impaired” confuses people, and I’ve talked to sighties about that. They are confused. They say to them, “visually impaired” means people can see a little. Yeah, this is how I see it too.

So this is how I look at blind, visually impaired and low vision. When I hear the word impaired, I think of drunks. I know a lot about drunks, because I’m a recovering drunk.

So. “Impaired driver”. This driver can still drive, though he shouldn’t. But he still can. So, visually impaired to me means, he can still see a little. I did a lot of things while impaired. I drove, I played pool, I cooked, I applied make-up. All these things improved dramitically when I sobered up. I was no longer impaired. So to me, visually impaired means “still a little functionality”.

Low vision is kinda like visually impaired, but maybe a tad better? So maybe its like 6 beers instead of 12? Though for a non-alcoholic drinker, 6 beers might be more like impaired than low vision, but I digress.

So now to blind. Blind is being passed out drunk. Not in a black out, because even in a black out, I was functioning, just not aware of it. When passed out, I was not functioning, so thats like blind.

Am I sick for thinking this way? I don’t know. I just know I am not visually impaired, because my eyes aren’t impaired, they’re passed out.

Sometimes, every so often, I’ll catch what could be called a shadow. But only if its moving or if I’m moving. Like a T-Rex. If something is stationary, I don’t catch any hint of it. Every so often if its really bright, if there’s a black cup on a white counter, I might know something is there. In the mornings, if I wave my hand between my face and the window and barely catch movement, I know its light out. At 3am there’s nothing. Someone asked me if its like looking through wax paper, but I never looked through wax paper before, so I don’t know. Probably?

But, since these “shadows” are not useable vision, I am not visually impaired.

Like ok. What do they call those things that hang in windows, vertical or venetian? They call them blinds. Because they block all vision. When they are cracked a tiny bit, they could be called “impaires”.

This is just how I see it. And I’ll be honest. When someone who has some vision calls themselves “blind” sometimes I get offended. Because no, you can still see that leaf if you get real close. Its only on bad days that this offends me, and I’m not mad at the person. It is my own lingering resentment at those who still have vision, no matter how much or how little. This resentment has faded, but its still there.

Now, someone without even my “shadows” or sometimes my light perception, like, someone who has no eyes, might be offended that I call myself blind. And I wouldn’t blame them. We always want a little more right? So like, I wouldn’t necessarily mind that little ten degree vision like looking through a straw, because its more than I have. And the person with prosthetic eyes, might want my shadows.

So like in my last post where I finally decided to write about this, I’ll say it again. I do not mean to offend. I’m just talking about how I see it. I’ve read in other blogs that blogging is cathartic. I don’t know what that means, but by context I’m gathering it means theraputic. So I’m getting this off my mind here because it helps me make sense of what I’m feeling.

So yeah, comments?


Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, rambles

11 Responses to I am blind, not visually impaired

  1. You’re blind , S is blind. There is no other way to say it. I think all of this ‘politically correct’ crap is just that, crap!

    But I take umbrage at being called a ‘sightie’! Just because I can see does not mean I can SIGHT-SEE! (lame joke here)

    We have this visually impaired lady at church. She came up to S today, introduced etcetera etcetera, but asked if he was blind because she is only (I say only, lightly here)) visually impaired.

    You keep using the term blind, S will keep using the term temporarily- blind- until- the government- decides- to- get- off- their- tush, and help him.
    And me I’ll play along and act like I can see. hahahahahahaha
    okay if you drove with me, you’d SWEAR I was blind!

    Take care Ray!Smile and own what is placed in front of you, it is yours! God only gives us what we can handle! Remember that.


  2. R

    Yikes, I’m glad I’m not holding out for the government to help me see again. In my case its just not likely, so I’ve accepted this. Before I rully understood my condition, I had hopes of new optic nerves or something, but now realizeing how far into the future this will be, I’ve accepted that for today, I’m blind. I think hope is a good thing to have, but in my case, that hope just wasn’t feasable, so I put my hope in other areas like getting really good with my cane and applying for a guide dog. I’m not in any way saying that anyone should give up hope, I’m just seeing the gratitude in my own situation, that I don’t have to wait for the government because there’s nothing they can do.

    Does that make any sense? I hope I didn’t come off as crass. Man, why am I so worried about offending people???!!!!! 🙂

    Its the co-dependent in me, me thinks.

  3. I know what you mean. I have asthma and I get offended when someone says “I can’t breathe”, like if they have a cold or something.

  4. lol You don’t offend, no way! I like blunt and honest people. Is there any other way to be?

    Believe me, I hold no hope in my government. (We do have the same government,right?) haha

    I only have hope in the Lord and He can do greater miracles than the government, for some reason, I believe this (lived through too much not to)

    You’re fine. Not offensive in any way. 🙂


  5. L^2

    Like you said, I think a lot of people use this term as an attempt to distinguish between those who are totally blind and those who are partially sighted. It seems to be inevitable these days that I will encounter some smart-ass that has seen me walking around town with my guide dog while I’m taking pictures or doing some other activity that they think only sighties can do, and they will come up to me and say, “Hey, you’re not REALLY blind!”. Then I have to explain what the definition of legal blindness actually is and that my visual acuity falls far, far below that. So, while I’m not completely blind, I am visually impaired.

    I find myself using the term Visually impaired more than I’d like to actually, but it’s not because I dislike the term Blind. And it has nothing to do with being politically correct. I know this isn’t the point of your post, but personally I like any of the other terms better than Visually Impaired, because to me that one makes us sound more incapable than we really are. And that “impaired” part seems to be what irks a lot of people with low vision or no vision that I know. However, this seems to be the term that sighted people understand best, at least in my neck of the woods, so I just go with it.

  6. R

    I think discussions on this kind of thing is good, and thats partially why I decided to go ahead and post it.

    I’m also learning about it all, having been a sightie my whole life. And I use the term sightie in an endearing way tee hee.

    I hear you on the word “impaired”. I feel the same way with the word “disabled”. I hate that word. Hmmm…maybe that’ll be another blog discussion. 😉

    Anyway, I think if comments veer a little, thats just the natural flow of discussion. I want to hear from everyone, with no vision, low vision, whichever. Because I’m also still learning how we all feel about it too, ya know? I met a guy at Saavi and he said he has partial vision. He didn’t use visually impaired or low vision. So I called him a “partial sightie”. Glass half full, right? He got a huge kick out of that. I really don’t think I coined that word, but everyone sure thought it was funny 😉

  7. Okay lets see if the word visually handicapped gets tossed in the mix.
    I think in a world where we all try to please people and are afraid of offending someone we look for the right terms to use.
    What that person did to you L, is just plain rudeness. They are manner impaired.Morally impaired? Morally handicapped!
    This same discussion could be for the deaf, who want to be called hearing impaired.

    Years ago it was okay to say someone was deaf,blind, or handicapped but now we’re all looking for a term that won’t offend?

    J, a sightie, (love the term R, really)

  8. R


    Oh this brings up yet another thing. Deaf people. I have a friend who is majoring in American Sign Language, and she does a lot of work with the deaf community. She asks me a lot of questions about blind as she learns about deaf. With the deaf community, there are like these levels. People who were born deaf or have been deaf most of their lives are in one level and then it goes up from there. I can’t remember what they call themselves. But just like with blind, they don’t prefer to be called hearing impaired. Most of them hate that label and are happy to be called deaf. For them its like a culture. People who “come into the circle” later in life, might want to be called hearing impaired, but my friend says that most of the deaf pepeople prefer the word deaf.

    So I guess there are misconceptions everywhere. Oh yeah, she also said that the deaf kids at the deaf and blind school liked playing tricks on the blind kids, because they didn’t believe they were blind, so they’d jump in front of them. The blind kids couldn’t retaliate supposedely, but I bet they got them somehow 😉

    Maybe I did come up with sightie. Hmmm. I wish I could remember…I actually think it was Dave, my sighty O & M teacher. I’ll have to ask him.

  9. Hey there. Darn you, you stole our impaired/drunk joke! We’ve even called our blinds that hang on the windows the visually-impaireds. And sighty? Hmmm…I’ve called folks sighties for years. Like that better than sightlings. Eek.

    Yup cathartic is like getting it off your chest.

    And I think it’s good to not wait around for a cure. I’m afraid of anything that goes into my brain. What if they fix my eyes but break my ears? And what if I had waited years for that? Life doesn’t wait.

    Go get ’em, tiger!

  10. R

    Hehehe I guess nothing is original anymore eh? Sightlings haha hadn’t heard that one before!

    Yeah, the drug in the UK I heard about that was giving MS patients some function was actually a cancer drug. Yikes. I’ve watched someone on cancer drugs…so I might get some vision back, but would I lose all my hair? Not worth it, to me. Wow just realized how vain that sounds, but I love my hair……… 😉

  11. And along with your hair, your immunity, and your sense of well-being. It doesn’t sound so vain after all, now does it?

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