Tag Archives: Blind

So, are you born blind? When to pop the question and when to shut up.

Because as with everything else, there is a right and a wrong time.

 

Not so long ago I made a post on facebook that said how annoying I thought it was when strangers asked me out of the blue, such as on bus stops, whether I’m born blind. Most of the commenters sympathized with me, but I got into a discussion with one of my blind Facebook friends who didn’t really understand my problem. Wasn’t it just positive that strangers tried to learn about disabilities?

 

Yes. It’s very positive when strangers are trying to learn. And I don’t mind questions. But as I pointed out to him, no constructive conversation about disability starts with that question. I would forgive a young child for asking questions out of the blue. After all, I’d rather provide them with proper answers than having them ask their parents who will most likely just guess. And then how will the kids learn? But grown-ups really need to know better.

 

So when is the right time?

 

Really, just use common sense. Are you born blind? Is a personal question and without any talking beforehand, it’s really invasive. It’s not quite as personal as “So what are your sexual fantasies?” But if you’ve literally not said a single word to the person you’re asking, it kind of is just as invasive. And do you really expect someone’s first words to you to be that personal?

 

Now, if we’re going to have any sort of regular contact, you can ask me once you know me. Whether you ask the first time we meet, or a year into the friendship totally depends on the situation. But I’d like you to know the important stuff about me first. For example what food I like what bands I’m into and my favourite travel destination. Then, if the curiosity gets the better of you, ask by all means. You may even have things I wanna ask about after I’ve gotten to know your important stuff.

 

As for strangers, I sometimes have very good conversations with people I’ve never met and will never meet. Sometimes during those conversations the question may come up, but never ever has it started a fruitful exchange. And it probably never will in my case. Some blind people don’t mind you asking straight away. We’re all different, but assume they won’t like it and avoid it until you feel it’s safe to try.

 

And one last thing. Regardless of whether the blind person is born blind or have become blind, don’t say anything along the lines of “Well, then you don’t know what the world looks like”, or “So then you know both worlds.” There is only one world and though I have never been blessed with eye sight, I know what the world looks like. My perception will be different to someone who has been able to see, but it’s no less accurate. And besides, sighted people even perceive the world differently to each other.

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a tiny little revench

The door phone rang. I had just got up and managed to throw some clothes on. It was 9 AM and in just over an hour, I was going to meet my sister and we were going to this beauty clinic for a couple of treatments. I was feeling terrible. For the past three days, I’d been sitting at home writing a take home exam and yesterday; I’d gone out celebrating with the girls because it was over. I hadn’t been drinking anything except one glass of wine. The evening had been perfect. We’d gone to this Thai place which has authentic interior. Bamboo on the walls, plastic tables, chairs and even plastic plates. Your dining experience was enhanced by the sound of tropical birds and the visuals which also made it look like we were eating at a beach resort in Thailand. Once every hour, there was a fake tropical rainstorm. We had ended the evening with cheese and wine at an Italian restaurant my best friend works at. So my headache I confirmed must be a beginning migraine.

“It’s the electrician. I’m coming to do a routine check up of your fuse box.” I knew he was going to come and I was happy he’d come this early since I had to go out anyway. I let him in and quickly tried to make sure I didn’t look as half dead as I felt. I wanted my bed! Then, the doorbell rang. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where my story stops being similar to the classic porn story. Somehow, I’d preferred it to turn out like that rather than how it did turn out. Not that I found the electrician desirable, but wait, and you may agree that some rough morning sex probably would have been the better option.

“Are you tired?” he asked as soon as I opened the dorm I lifted my hand up to my face. Was I really looking that horrible? I didn’t know what to say, so I did the blind equivalent of a blank stare which technically is nothing except probably in my case, was a very confused expression. “Tired?” he repeated and made no move to come in. “Excuse me, who is this,” I said feeling awkward. “Oh, man, you’re blind!” he shouted and took a couple of steps towards the door. “Come in,” I said, wanting this to be over so I could drink my coffee before going. “What a shame,” he said as the door to my apartment closed behind him. “What is a shame?” I said, feeling the headache increasing. He walked through to my kitchen were the fuse box was. “All the things you miss.” “I miss nothing,” I said. I was getting a little angry. Wasn’t it kind of rude of a stranger who had come to do a job to start saying invasive things to his customer? “I’m sure you don’t but, I’d rather lose my hearing,” he said flicking the various switches to make sure they worked. “Strange,” I said contemptuously. “But I guess, each to their own. If you like having communication problems, I guess being deaf would be your cup of tea.” I didn’t add that he wouldn’t have to work on his bad communication skills because he already had them. Why is it that you think of these things afterwards? Of course I don’t think all deaf people are bad communicators, but the “would you be deaf or blind” debate is one I am so sick of, that any deaf reader must have me excused. I’m sure deaf people get it too and that they must be tired of hearing that if they at least could hear and be blind, they’d be able to enjoy music and easier communication. “all my friends would choose blind.” I added. “Because they see how great my life is, just like theirs.” “You must have some special friends then, he said. “Well,” I snapped. I don’t know if you have a girlfriend, but imagine you don’t. Imagine that you’ll meet her next week and that she’ll change your life to the better. You don’t know it’s going to happen, you haven’t met her, and so you don’t miss her now. Imagine also that tomorrow; you’ll see the film that will become your favourite film. You are not sad about missing that film today, because you haven’t seen it yet.” He had moved to my bathroom now and had only two rooms left. “I get your point, but it’s not the same. Oh, and by the way, are you from up north?” “Huh?” That really shocked me. I am a born and bread Oslo girl and my family roots are from the west of Norway. Northern Norwegians are known to be quite big mouthed and snappy, but so are the people from the west, although northerners swear a lot more as a natural part of their language, something I don’t really do. “Your dialect is really northern.” This is when I should have said that if he wanted to be deaf, he really didn’t have far to go, but again, I thought of that later. “I’m getting everything wrong today, aren’t I?” he laughed and but his shoes back on to leave. “Well I’m done and it’s all looking good. I’ll give you a pamflet about electric safety. Could you get someone to read that for you?” He went through the main, pretty obvious points with me anyway. “Who knows, I said relieved that he’d be out soon.

The rest of that day, I lay flat out with a migraine, but not before I’d had a great morning with my sister and godmother, who happened to travel through Oslo just then and wanted to meet us for coffee. Great accept the headache of course. And we laughed at the rude electrician.

So what do you say? Wouldn’t a passionate encounter have been far more exciting? Today, I did something that made me feel a little rebellious, in a sweet way. I was going out to make a radio report on a marching band and I needed to Braille down my questions. The pamphlet paper made for perfect Braille paper, so I tore out a page since I didn’t have anything else. “Take that”, I thought whilst hammering down the keys of my last century brailler. And I thought that sometimes revench tastes sweet, sometimes bitter and sometimes it felt like Braille dots on a pamphlet given to me by a rude electrician who’d rather be deaf.

You will be remembered

“Hi, You’re the girl who’s going to Stratford right?” I turned to the man from the London underground, my face a big questionmark. “Erm, no, I never go to Stratford. I’m off to Acton.” “Oh, I thought you always went to Stratford,” he replied as we started walking down the stairs. “I’ve honestly been to Stratford once, no wait, twice, in my entire life.”

After a bit of confusion, we finally figured it out. The man had taken me down to the tube 18 months ago, and that exact day, I must have been going to Stratford. It may seem a little strange, but this happens to blind people a lot. We do something, and probably because we’re blind, whoever was there when we did it, thinks this must be our habit, and therefore remember it and us when they next see us even though a long time might have passed.

It did use to freak me out, but now I find it rather entertaining and a little sweet. They only want to help after all.

My Stratford story is funny, but the one which has made me laugh the most, was when a friend of mine went in to a McDonald’s restaurant he had visited a couple of years earlier. He had just walked up to the counter to place his order, when the guy behind the counter listed what he had had last time. It was all correct, even down to the size of his drink.

The moral of this post is, be careful what you do if you’re a little bit different. It might just stick with you! And if you work in the service industry, Always ask, unless you know the person well.

Blindness, dating, romance and how to attract blind people.

Through the years, I’ve had my fair share of questions about blind people in relation to dating and romance and so I’m going to write a post addressing some of the most common questions both me and a lot of my fellow blindies have received. I hope it solves a few mysteries for you sighted people out there.

A very common phrase people like to use if they don’t know me very well and we’re talking about who’s good looking and who isn’t is “I guess you’ll just have to go by personality.” Yes and no. Obviously when you’re blind, you’re gonna have to have a certain knowledge about people without seeing them, but you don’t necessarily get those from interacting so much with them. Hearing someone’s voice, observing what they are talking about or perhaps get an idea of their physique by holding an arm or shaking hands as well as their voice can be enough to know that you fancy them. Smell is also important.” I’m sorry Mr Fit body Soft voice, but you aint showered in ages, or you don’t use any interesting aftershave or cream to make you smell interesting.” So going away from personality, which obviously is important whether sighted or blind, physique, good smell and nice voice are things a blind person will go on to determine whether they like you or not.

I’ve also had sighted men ask how they can attract a blind woman. Blind women are the same as any women out there, so there’s no one answer to that question. But like sighted women, blind women appreciate a man making an effort with their looks. She may not be able to see your ketchup spotted t-shirt, mismatched trainers or that pen mark on your right thigh, but if she somehow gets to hear about it from a friend who happened to see you on a date, she won’t likely be impressed with you. So making the same effort as you would with a sighted woman is essential. Smell nice too. No need to use the entire bottle of Hugo Boss, but enough that she may want to come closer to smell you a little more?

As for women attracting blind men, the same rule goes with the looks. Ladies, if you’d use make-up dating a sighted person, do it for the blind man too. My experience with blind men is also that they like it when you wear something which shows off your shape a little. I may be generalizing, but seeing as we’ve had to rely on feel to get a good impression of things, feeling up places which perhaps should be avoided on the first few dates isn’t necessary to feel the shape of someone’s body and determine whether you’ll like it or not. A hug or holding an arm reveals more than you may think. We pay more attention, without actually paying attention to the fact that we pay attention.

Another experience I have with blind men, is that if he is a normal functioning and independent man with good social circle and job, do not mother him to any larger extent than you would mother a sighted man  We women tend to mother men a little too much sometimes, and I know my blind male friends claim sighted women can be a little to over the top.

I have also heard, and I can very well believe this, if a blind man’s sighted friends say that his girlfriend is ugly the blindy well may break up with you. I don’t know if the same goes for women, but I have never broken up with anyone because of the way they look and neither have I believed, have my blind girlfriends.

So in short, if you are trying to attract a blind person, or just want to know the answers to those questions, the answer is, do exactly what you would do if the object of your fancy could see. Not just in terms of behaviour, but also in taking care of your look. It’s got to do with respect more than anything.

Finally, if a person is blind, what’s better. Blind or sighted partner?

Being with someone sighted is a hell of a lot more practical than being with someone who is blind or even at times partially sighted. However, aside from the practicality of sight, being with a sight impaired person has some advantages too. Flirting with a blind man for me at least, is a whole different thing to flirting with someone sighted. A blind/partially sighted man knows what it means to be visually impaired and understand me on my terms in ways the majority of sighted people wouldn’t do unless they knew lots of VI people or have it naturally within them to understand those things, but the latter is rare. I for example, don’t automatically understand what being deaf must be like, because I don’t know a lot of deaf people, so I find myself asking similar questions to what a sighted person would ask me and in flirting situations, that can be a bit of a turn off at times.

I find it hard to be with sighted men because I personally haven’t met a sighted man who would allow me to go about my daily life and business in the way my blind boyfriends or exes have done. They never feel funny about me preparing their dinner for example, whilst the sighted dates I’ve had made sure I never lifted a finger when they were around.

There is a reason a lot of VI people end up together and I believe that a big part of that reason has to do with common ground, understanding and acceptance. Having said that, couples in which one is sighted and one blind or partially sighted do exist, though unfortunately they tend to be in the minority and it tends to be sighted women with blind or partially sighted men.

But really, there is no better or worse. If you find the person who loves you and is ready to take you on your terms and let you be who you are, visual acuity doesn’t matter at all.

Blind, partial or sighted, your comments would be appreciated on this.

Update: Since I wrote this post, I have been very fortunate to find love myself. I have shared
My own romance story
here.