Friday, 14 October 2011


Perhaps some folks will disagree with me but I believe having partial vision is, in many ways, worse than being totally blind. Fully sighted folks seem better able to comprehend total blindness better than poor vision.

Throughout my life, I've had to explain my level of vision. Neighbourhood kids, mimicking parents and other sighted adults, held up fingers and asked me to count them. I hated that. It made me feel like some sort of freak. They also threw stones at me while calling, "blindie, and "four eyes." No wonder I often played alone.

My school days were likewise filled with incidents where pupils and teachers felt uncertain about what I could or couldn't see. At first, I was allowed to draw pictures and play with plasticine because the teacher believed I couldn't possibly be taught anything. When I started learning aurally, she showed me off to the principal as if some sort of miracle happened.

My freedom came to an end in 1964 when a government agent convinced my parents to send me to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. They, never suspecting the institution's endemic sexual harassment of deaf children, sent me there for six long years. I only came home for Christmas, summer, and three Easters. Because the bar magnifying glasses they had there weren't of any help to me, somebody decided I should learn braille. I objected since I had enough vision to read with an eight power magnifying glass. My teachers soon gave up on me and let me read large print.

On September 16, 2011, I blogged about the pathetic vision aids that were provided to me by my parents in junior high and high school. My visual arts teacher gave me the first decent magnifying glass, a type similar to what jewellers use. Though some thug cut the combination lock on my locker and stole it, along with the monocular which I read the blackboard with, I managed to find similar visual aids through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

I've also experienced similar challenges to my truthfulness in several workplaces and in personal relationships throughout my adult life. These are too numerous to mention here.

The crux of the matter is that people feel a sense of unease about me until I demonstrate how much or little I'm able to see. As I've explained in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) and to a lesser extent in When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), I see well enough to get around but I can't see details. I have to go close to something to tell what it is. I've also learned that there are always work-arounds to my difficulties. As long as I can, I intend to live as independently as possible.


  1. As a child, I endured the how many fingers game, even at the Arizona School for the Blind in Tucson, Arizona, but I think it would be worse to be totally blind and have to rely solely on scanning software and speech output devices for reading. Also, if I lost the rest of my vision, I might not be able to take care of my husband so I'm grateful for the vision I have.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome

  2. I've had altered vision for some time but this summer it got bad enough to take me out of work and keep me from driving. I'm awaiting a third surgery on my right eye. When I tell people I am blind, from a social network for instance, they don't get it. My co-workers don't get it either.

    I've been an RN for 21 years and discover that I am less relevant and less able-minded by people who should know better. I spend a lot of time alone because I live in a rural area with poor transportation options.

    I feel blessed to have what vision I have and am mourning the losses simultaneously.

    I wish I didn't have to deal with comments like "I'm trying to figure out just how blind you are..." and the like.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


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