#HowISee

93% of people registered blind or partially sighted can see something, meaning that only a very small percentage of visually impaired people are completely blind. The RNIB’s #HowISee campaign aims to raise awareness of this fact and dispel the misconceptions that surround visual impairments such as using a guide dog or white cane means that you are totally blind, or that not using a mobility aid means that you are fully sighted.
Watch the #HowISee video here

 

I am one of the 93%. I have been registered blind since I was seven years old, but I have a limited amount of residual vision which I used to its full advantage.

 

I have a condition called Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) which means that my retinas don’t function properly causing my Visual impairment. I also have Nystagmas meaning an involuntary movement of the eyes as they try to focus.

 

My condition has meant that I have never been fully sighted, but when I was a child I did have a considerable amount of residual vision which meant that I could read, see colour and use magnification for a time.

 

The nature of my condition however means that my site has been gradually deteriorating since birth, culminating in a sudden deterioration in my teens. This left me with light perception in my right eye and a small amount of residual peripheral vision in my left. My site has stabilised since, though there is the possibility that it could deteriorate again.

 

I try to use my remaining vision as much as I possibly can, which is something I have had to learn to do. It was only when I received mobility training from a rehab worker who is actually also visually impaired herself two years ago that I was able to teach myself to utilise the remaining vision that I have.

 

With the peripheral vision in my left I, I can distinguish contrast and rarely I can make out a bright colour. This doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised how useful even that is in daily life. It means that I can follow a building line by distinguishing a white building from a darker one; I can see distinctive road markings such as a zebra crossing; I can find the counter in a Starbucks by spotting the bright lights. All these things help immensely in my orientation and are things I use on a daily basis when getting around independently.

 

This is my experience of visual impairment, my experience of LCA. But that is not to mean that everyone’s experience is the same. Out of all the visually impaired people I know I don’t think I know two people who see the same thing. Not even people with the same condition as me. I know others with LCA who have enough residual vision to read print and yet others who are totally blind.

 

I am often asked if I am my guide dogs trainer because I apparently “don’t look blind”. I’m not entirely certain if this is because of how are use my residual vision to get around, or just because I am a reasonably confident young woman who doesn’t fit into the traditional stereotype of a plain old blind man with a white cane. Either way this always feels like a bit of a backhanded compliment to me, because besides the fact that I’m not totally blind so why would I look as such, what does blind look like anyway?

 

I have mentioned previously on this blog that the spectrum of visual impairment is huge, as is is the spectrum of ways that people live with their visual impairment. This is why it’s problematic to put people in boxes such as guide dog user must be totally blind, or symbol cane user must be able to read small print.

 

The important message that the #HowISee campaign is trying to convey is not to judge a book by its cover, or a blind person by their mobility aid (or lack there of). Everyone is an individual, even blind people 😉

 

Join in the campaign by explaining how you see the world and sharing your own stories of any awkward moments or misconceptions you’ve experienced using the #HowISee hashtag throughout August.

Advertisements

#GuideDogTag #InternationalGuideDogDay 

Today is International Guide Dog Day!

 

To celebrate, I have completed the Guide Dog Tag recently created by Emily on Fashioneyesta.com and which I’ve been tagged to complete by Holly from Catch These Words.

 

1. What is your guide dogs name?

 

My guide dog’s name is Jazzy AKA Jaz, Jazzy-wazz and J Dawg.

 

2. What is the breed of your guide dog?

 

Jazzy is a black Labrador golden Retriever cross. She looks much more labby in appearance with short hair and quite a square face, though with a fluffy Retriever tail!
3. How old is your guide dog?

 

Jazzy celebrated her 3rd (in human years) and 21st (in doggy years) birthday last week on the 21st of April. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this royal highness celebrates her B-Day the same time as the Queen.

 

4. Where was your guide dog trained?

 

Jazzy was puppy-walked in Manchester. Her puppy-walkers fostered her for a year, teaching her basic obedience and socialising her.

She then receibed advanced guide dog training at a guide dogs training center, before she was part of a trial Guide Dogs Liverpool were conducting that has dogs receive one-to-one training with a trainer for about 3 months before being matched.

 

5. When did you qualify with your guide dog?

 

Jazzy and I qualified on the 26th of February 2015. In guide dog terms, we are a relatively new partnership.

 

6. Is he or she your first guide dog?

 

Yes

 

7. Summarise your guide dogs personality in five words?

 

Sensitive, loving, endearing, cheeky, protective.

 

8. What is the best thing about your guide dog?

 

The best thing about Jazzy is her brilliant memory. She has astounded me more than once after we’ve been to a café/shop/restaurant once, and the next time we go passed it she indicates that place to me again. She continues to do this whenever we pass that place from then on, so that after I’ve been somewhere once I can be pretty sure that Jazzy would find it for me next time.

 

9. What is the funniest thing your guide dog has ever done?

 

Jazzy makes me laugh every day because she’s such a funny character. I think one of the funniest things she’s ever done happened when I was at the cinema with my family.

Jazzy licked the ear of the man sat in front of my mum, but he failed to see the pitch black culpret in the dark theater, so when he turned around he gave my mum a very dirty look. Jazzy had immediately hidden under my chair as if she knew exactly what she was doing!

 

10. Has your guide dog ever gotten you into any embarrassing situations?

 

Not long after we qualified, Jazzy initiated herself as a true student by scoffing someone’s discarded kebab from the floor and reproducing it later on in the middle of my lecture. Such a fresher!

 

11. What is your guide dog like on harness?

 

Jazzy is quite sensitive so she needs a lot of encouragement on harness. She is a brilliant worker and her distraction levels are reasonably low. Like I mensioned she has a fantastic memory and I know she loves her job because her tail is always wagging.

 

12. What are some of your guide dogs quirks?

 

Jazzy acts as my personal alarm by shaking her whole body repeatedly until the bell on her play collar wakes me up. She never sleeps when we’re out, she’s always people watching and will make sure to position herself with a good view. She has a habit of rubbing herself on your legs, a lot like a cat. If you sit on the floor, she will definitely try to sit on you. She is very interested by anyone putting on socks or shoes and will have her face right beside your feet, watching closely. When I let her off for a free run she jumps and prances like a lamb, before rolling like a mad thing in the long grass.

That’s just to name but a few!

 

13. Where does your guide dog seem to work the best?

 

Jazzy can get bored quite easily so I definitely think she works best on new routes, whether that be in the middle of the city or a quiet neighbourhood. She’s a very inquisitive dog.

 

14. What is your guide dogs favourite thing to do when off harness?

 

Playing tug of war, eating carrots, sitting on my lap or running wild.

 

15. Has your guide dog ever done anything that goes beyond the call of duty?

 

I’ve recently realised that Jazzy is very atune to my emotions. I think she goes beyond the call of duty every time she nudges my hand when I’m feeling anxious and every time she plonks herself in my lap when I’m upset. She’s my calming influence and my comfort blanket.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my beautiful life changer on #InternationalGuideDogDay and please check out my Dog Blogs for an insite into Jazzy’s world.

 

If you’re a guide dog owner, why not complete the guide dog tag about your own furry friend.

 

I nominate The Upside Down Chronicles to complete this tag