Eyes and Independence
It’s now starting to feel more like a journey of sharing my thoughts along with what I have observed. Currently, I am holidaying with my mother who just happens to have Macular Degeneration (which is kind of like the reverse of RP) so her central vision is affected initially. Credit to her, she strives to continue to be independent and not want to share too much about what she is not seeing. On holidays in New
Zealand, she is adjusting to a different place each night to stay, re-packing and packing for the next day’s needs, changing bathrooms, different layouts of a room and searches for where the tea & coffee and the hot water jug might be on this occasion. Sitting amongst different people on tour, she may have a conversation with a couple from the UK one day and some Canadians the next, but finds it difficult to identify the same people the next day as she never got to
recognize their face (due to central vision loss). When we sat up the back of the bus today as it was our turn (new seating each day), she could read the digital clock up at the driver’s mirror which was basically the bus length (approximately 6 metres away) but identifying a NZ dollar coin in her hand was more taxing.
As a daughter, mother myself, teacher for vision impairment, Orientation & Mobility Specialist, it can be a challenge to decide what role I take when on holidays with ‘Proud Mum’. I guess one goal I was hoping to achieve was providing opportunities for her to see the benefits of wearing a badge that identifies her – “I have low vision”. I have encouraged her
to wear it daily so that she can be identified at a table when someone offers her a plate, to assist her when getting on board a boat from a moving jetty, when searching for the female toilets in hope for a familiar sign. These are just a few suggestions where I know that a ‘sighted person’ may then have more understanding of why she appears to be ignoring them when spoken to, she may just need that extra assistance at a shop counter in knowing what range of drinks are on offer, or simply the reason why filling in a standard hard copy evaluation form from a motel room hasn’t been completed. She hasn’t been wearing the badge much. There has been some discussion with her and guests on tour about her vision loss, with some interesting additional questions and surprisingly, those conversations have taught
others a few things to consider....and it has also jogged their memory of their dear old Auntie …. with MD who doesn’t go out much anymore. I wonder if she needs a badge too?
Although this blog doesn’t refer directly to children and their vision impairment, the experiences that an adult with a vision impairment encounters can be so similar to younger ones. For families of children with a VI, just think about that when you plan a holiday, organize a day trip or a sleepover at Grandma’s. Going back to the same camp site or holiday resort is not such a bad idea when familiarization can
build such confidence in a person, particularly one with a vision impairment.
Kerri Weaver is a passionate and caring service provider. She loves sharing her knowledge and skills to supporting those with vision impairment and additional disabilities. Kerri has worked in the field of disability for over 30 years. Her experience includes working in Tonga with a specialist team on multiple occasions.
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