I think it is amusing that I am more likely to get an apology when I tell someone I’m visually impaired – something that is absolutely not their fault – than I am to get an apology when someone (usually looking down at their phone) walks into me. The fact of the matter is, I understand why people apologize, but I still can’t stand it. Don’t apologize to me when I tell you I am visually impaired; I have a wonderful life!
I know that it is the easiest thing to say when you just don’t know what to say, but it simply isn’t necessary. Especially because nine times out of ten it is followed up with one of the following: “Will it get worse?” “Is there a cure?” And, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
Three. (Side note: I usually can’t see how many, but people are creatures of habit and three is the magic number so…)
I also understand the temptation to begin to give words of hope and admiration like: “Hopefully there will be a cure soon!” and “Well, I’m so glad this isn’t holding you back!” And both of those statements are valid. Yes, it doesn’t hold me back and yes, I hope there is a cure one day too. The one thing people may not quite understand is that I don’t need to be cured. I am not broken. I am whole, I am happy, and I am grateful for all that I do have; I just live life a little bit differently.
While being sighted would definitely be easier, it isn’t the end of the world if they didn’t find a cure in my lifetime. I have lived with this diagnosis since I was 11 years old and I have had glasses since kindergarten. Being visually impaired is all I have ever truly known. Honestly, I think it would be somewhat difficult for me to unlearn the habits I have because of my eyes.
What I truly hope for, more than a cure or a treatment is for people to look at disabilities differently. To look for ways to create a more accessible and accepting society as compared to one that pities and treats those with various abilities like they can never be really happy. Let’s stop looking at people with disabilities as something to fix. I have learned a lot about life from living it differently.
I wouldn’t change who I am. I wouldn’t change who my siblings are. I wouldn’t change the many individuals I have had the privilege of meeting with a variety of both visible and invisible disabilities. We are whole, we are happy, and we are grateful for all we have.