Today, December 3 is International Persons with a Disability Day. I’d rather talk about our abilities.
The word disabled does a great disservice to those of us who have vision loss. It sounds like we’re broken, like a disabled car. While we may be able to recite a long list of things we can’t do, such as drive or make eye contact, there are many gifts we can be grateful for, that still remain as part of who we are.
My abilities, like many active blind people, include dancing, cycling, skiing, and swimming. But you don’t have to be a super athlete with mysterious talents in negating blindness and You don’t have to be a mountain climber or a pole vaulter to say you have abilities. Consider some simple everyday tasks, functions, and yes, talents that you might be overlooking.
Although I had to struggle with mastering the computer, I write every single day. Writing is a talent I did not have to give up with my vision loss.
I love singing. I sing with my church choir. It takes a lot more work for me to do that than my sighted friends, because I have to transcribe the words of the anthems into braille and learn the music by rote, but it’s a talent I didn’t have to give up.
I studied dance when I was young and hoped to be a ballerina someday, but with the onset of RP, that dream was not going to become reality. But I didn’t have to give up dancing. I enrolled in private ballroom dance lessons, so I could use that talent with the help of a dance partner.
Over the years, I have developed organizational skills for my personal life. Arranging for rides, making appointments, and budgeting my time are all abilities that allow me to live independently.
I’m not a great cook, but back when my family was young, I did the cooking at my house, the meal planning, and the grocery shopping. While I’m not fond of wrapping Christmas presents, and that’s putting it mildly, I am able to do it none the less. My gifts wouldn’t win any prizes, but they do the job.
I like to knit. I make simple things like scarves and dish cloths. It’s very relaxing to me, and it’s easily done by feel.
I clean my house, do my own laundry, rake leaves, and shovel snow. I walk every day with my very athletic and enthusiastic Seeing Eye ® dog.
When people I meet along my life’s path exclaim that they think I’m amazing for having these abilities, they often say, “I can’t even do that, and I can see.” That really pushes my hot button. What makes them think that being able to see is a prerequisite for living a full life? As a visually impaired person, I have more abilities than disabilities. It’s just that blindness is the big one, and the biggest disability of all is to get people to see beyond it.