Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Favorite Ball Sport = No.

Having a heart transplant didn't solve all my problems. It did a lot of good for my blood supply, but my optic nerves are still pretty awful. This is a blog post on being disabled. People forget how disabled I am all the time. I tell them my vision is terrible, but because I look pretty normal they tend not to remember. Professors forget to enlarge my tests. Friends forget they can't throw things at me to catch. Even my family occasionally forgets I can't read street signs. I compensate pretty well overall. I can get around daily life quite easily. These are just the couple of things that pose big problems.

Sometimes college can be an issue. I'm in the middle of classes, and I am plodding through. As an English major, I do a lot of reading. My  poor vision means I don't read books in the normal sense. I can't comfortably read anything smaller than 14 point font and publishers typically don't print their textbooks that large. Since sixth grade almost all of my books have been enlarged with photocopiers, large print editions, ebooks, audio books, or pdfs blown up ridiculously on my 23 inch computer monitor (I justify the screen with my vision, but we all know it's for the gaming). I've had great support in high school and college to make alternative study materials possible and it's great, but every semester is a new game of how to get good formats. My favorite is ebooks. My kindle has text-to-speech and I love it. On its highest setting the speech rate is such that most people can't make out individual words, but I've had a lot of practice and I can speed through texts like John F. Kennedy. Normal books I can't scan and I read quite slowly, but I can listen with precision and speed. Last semester none of my books came on Kindle. They were all accessible to me, but I was so pumped when I queued up my books at the start of the semester. I was so relaxed. I was like, "I remember how quickly I can procure information. I wasn't stupid. I was just disabled." I have done well every semester, but it is more of a struggle when the materials are hard to use.

I don't really believe in learning styles like a teacher should. I feel like the evidence behind them is shaky at best, invalid at worst, and that it's best just to present information in a lot of ways multiple times if you want someone to understand. Despite this, I would always rather have a text-to-speech system over a book. I love lectures and hate PowerPoints.  I'm just unsure whether this is due to being visually impaired or being an auditory learner. I have a feeling it is the disabled thing.

Then there is the casual experience. People wave to me all the time and I miss it. They get offended until I remind them I literally didn't see. I think everybody should play catch with me just once in their lives so they can watch me suddenly see the thing as it hits me in the face. I won't see projectiles at all so my favorite ball sport = No.

Then there is the worst of it. I always have to live in a city, or at least until Google gets their act together, (http://www.emilysatrium.org/2013/02/google-should-do-for-me-yesterday.html) because I can't drive. That means all future jobs will have to be urban. It makes me kind of sad because I like trees so much, but I think it is fairly manageable. I just wish I had a choice about the matter.

I'm really grateful for the vision I have. I think my low vision helped mold me a lot when I was little because I had to learn how to adapt and compensate. Even if I could have chosen to have perfect eyesight I don't think I would, but sometimes I wish I could see street signs, blackboards, and balls. Sometimes I wish it wasn't quite so invisible.


Suzanne said...

I think you have a choice about urban living. Over the past 6 weeks the ability to drive was taken away from me due to my treatments. I have been amazed by how much I can still do. If I lived downtown, it would be even better because I could get to even more places (with kids in tow!).

Don't cross any options out ~ not yet. You'd be amazed what you can make happen when you really want it (ha...as if you, of all people, need to be told that!).

Bob Singer said...

You did mention about your great hearing but your other senses are great too. One story...I came home once in a borrowed grey Prius similar to ours but with many differences. You got in the passenger seat without seeing any differences, sniffed, and said, "who has been in this car?" I asked why, and you said, "it smells like an old person." Relieved it wasn't me, I explained it wasn't our car.