Tag Archives: Disability

I hate being blind when…..

I usually don’t have an issue with being blind. In fact, I have addressed all the perks about being blind
previously on the blog.

The Nigerian producer, singer and songwriter
Cobhams Asuquo
held a talk once about
The gift of blindness
And I don’t disagree with him. In fact, I share all his sentiments on blindness and sight. I think being blind has opened up a lot of opportunities for me and has forced me to work hard to achieve things I wouldn’t necessarily have strived for had I been able to see. I would even go as far as to say that I am a lot more independent than some sighted people because pride has made me find solutions to everyday problems that I perhaps wouldn’t have felt so bad at asking to get help with had I been able to see.

But we all have bad days or moments when everything just seems impossible. After all, we’re human. I hate being blind, or as a friend like to call it, extremely short sighted, in those moments, because I get reminded of physical limits I don’t think I should have. But it’s ok to be angry sometimes and acknowledge the difficulties, just as long as it doesn’t become a habit and you wallow in self-pity every day.

Be assured that the following list isn’t talking about things I face every day, or things that always make me feel bad when I do face them.

• I hate being blind when websites or pieces of technology I need to use right there and then doesn’t work with JAWS or voiceover and I need to get a sighted person to help me.
• I hate being blind when people talk to me as if I’m a mental retard.
• I hate being blind when religious nutters offer to pray for me. Indirectly they’re saying I’m not good enough for neither God nor humans the way I am and I need upgrading. At least that’s how I perceive it even though they probably just want what they think is best for me…
• I hate being blind when my normal routes are being dug up and I get lost because I don’t understand how to take another way around to get where I need to go.
• I hate being blind when my friends are posting photos on Facebook that I don’t understand, the content of not even from the comments section. I miss the old days when Facebook had more text. That isn’t to say I need everyone to always describe photos in-depth, or stop posting photos altogether in solidarity with me. And I do sometimes click like if I can discern what the photo might show. But I do feel a little excluded at times
• I hate being blind when confronted with Instagram or snapchat. Sighted friends tell me it’s no big deal and that I’m not missing out. Wrong. I am, because it’s a world I can’t take part in. at least not on an equal footing with the sighted.
• I hate being blind when I can’t see my own music videos and album covers.
• I hate being blind when the bank send me snail mail and have no option to send Braille mail.
• I hate being blind when I don’t have the mental energy to find the way to somewhere I’ve never been before by public transport or walking and end up taking a taxi.
• I hate being blind when I can’t assess my own makeup and oversee the work of new makeup artists.
• I hate being blind when I’m faced with bad attitudes that prevent me from getting hired for a job.
• I hate being blind because society is made for sighted, able bodied people. And if it had always been built with all kinds of censory and physical challenges in mind, then disabled people would arguably not have been disabled. Or at least a lot closer to being able bodied.


Of course, we can start eliminating disability by changing attitudes. That goes for both abled and disabled people. But that’s a topic for another post.

Advertisements

Sex toys are on the government- Turning the wellfare system on its head

We are going to continue on the topic of *not a single story. And today, we are addressing the problems of living in a rich country with a good welfare system.

If you’re sick long term, you get sick pay. If you’re pregnant, you get a year off after the baby is born. Can’t get a place for your child in a kindergarten? No problem. You get a support if your child stays at home. Having more kids? You get more money, because you get child support anyway. Need some aid like Braille displays, hearing aids, and a wheel chair? Just send in an application to the government. Need a free sex toy? Find the government application form online. Welcome to Norway!

No, that sex toy thing is real. I know you thought I was joking. So did I when I saw the application form for it as I was looking for an application form for a Victor Reader Stream, which, in case you don’t know, is a talking book and text book player which can record. Very handy for studying.

It all sounds great and it is. I certainly couldn’t afford a Braille display. And what about scree reader licenses? Unlimited secretarial support?So expensive! With regards to vibrators, I’d say they are in the affordable price range. So I don’t know what the government is playing at.

I’m grateful to live in a place where this type of support is available. But there is a flipside to living in this great welfare system. And it’s ugly.

I am due to finish my masters degree in November of this year. After that, the idea is that I’ll be working. I’m young, fit and have no excuse whatsoever not to work. I want to work! I was casually talking about this with another blind friend of mine. A girl who is doing her PHD and who has been through several rounds of getting a job. Like me, she is highly qualified and able to work.

“If I were you, I would apply to NAV for a placement,” she said. NAV being the state body responsible for all the good help Norwegians receive. The advice was well meant, but it made me reflect on the sorry attitude of this rich country I’m born in.

The idea of such a placement is that NAV gets you a job, hopefully in the field of your qualification, and pay for your salary. In my case, this could for instance mean that I got a job in a national newspaper or with the NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. And instead of them paying my salary, they would be paid to have me working for them by NAV, who would also pay me.

You can choose to see this situation from many different angles. You could choose to see it as a positive way to prove yourself to a mainstream employer, who may, when your placement is over, employ you. Or a way to not be unemployed. But to me, the placement arrangement has more negative than positive aspects to it.

Firstly, I think it places the disabled person looking for work in a position of charity and gratitude. I’d be grateful to be taken on by a national newspaper, as would any self-respecting journalist, but being employed on the terms that it’s not really them employing me, but NAV placing me there is a different thing entirely.

Then, there is the proof aspect. I’ve written before about feeling that I, as a blind person, constantly need to prove myself to be as good and better than sighted journalists. If I was taken on as a placement employee, I would feel twice the pressure to prove myself so that the newspaper would take me off the placement and start paying me themselves, making me equal to the other employees. Journalism is a tough field where one constantly has to stay on top of the game to get the good jobs and gigs. And the added pressure would probably have me cracking at some point. It also doesn’t help that certain Norwegian editors have come out and said that disabled people can’t be journalists.

The placement arrangement could help change bad attitudes to disabled peoples by employers, but it’s easy for an employer not to take you seriously if they know you’re just there for a time and that you’re not even paid by them. Accepting a placement on those terms for me at least, would be equal to shitting on my professional reputation and qualification. Pardon my French.

I am not the only one sharing the above mentioned sentiments. I was discussing this with my fully sighted cousin yesterday who has been looking for a job for a long time. She finally found one, but it has taken her long, and she has not received the help needed by NAV in the form of job seekers allowance. She’s lived abroad for a few years and has worked. She’s even worked in Norway and paid taxes, but to no avail.
Acquiring the job she has now, was also not easy. Her employer wouldn’t employ her until she felt she could trust her because her previous employees had worked there for a short while, only to start claiming sick pay from NAV. They did not, according to this employer, seem sick.

I myself know people who are receiving sick pay and who’re not sick. I have also heard of people pretending to have lots of children to receive more money. And it has gone so far, that a term (å nave) translated as to NAV, has made it into the dictionary. This means to simply claim benefits for a time while enjoying life.

So there you have it. The welfare system that does help those in needs sometimes refuses to help others in need and fork out for some who doesn’t need help. The welfare system that give employers excuses not to employ disabled people who would be a great boost to the economy, and could as such, improve the welfare system so that the type of help needed, would be more widely available.

I for one, is adamant to try and make it a freelance writer and set up my own business. I want to keep my integrity as far as I can. Something I feel the Norwegian welfare system is not able to help me keep at present.

I do hope that one day, the system bwill be reformed so that those who have life long disabilities don’t have to prove every so often that they still have a missing legg (also a real example). That employment support, such as secretarial and assistive grants are being more focused on rather than placements for people who can and want to work and making it just that little harder for every Tom, Dick and Harry to claim to be sick without rigorous proof from a qualified doctor. But then, the doctors are writing out those sick notes, so perhaps they too need to be sanctioned if they can be proved to do favours for people who just need time off because they want it. I don’t know. And I’m not a politician for a reason.

Hands on not required. On faith healings and disability.

Today, I’d like to talk about a topic which I am feeling strongly about. Faith healings and healers.

Being a Christian has been mostly a positive experience for me. Through my faith, I have gained an inner strength, joy and peace I did not have when I wasn’t saved. But the bit I find hard when it comes to my faith, is interacting with Christian strangers. I especially hate joining a new church.

Why?

Because often within the first hour of me being in a church, some well meaning, but clueless person walks up to me and offers prayers of healing. “Being disabled was never part of God’s plan”, or “You should pray for the spirit of blindness to leave you in Jesus name!”

I used to get beyond furious when people like that approached me and if I could, I’d get a rude comment in there, or just turn my back on them.

I still get angry, but as I am maturing, I realise that me turning my back on those ignorant people won’t teach them a thing. In stead, I try reasoning with them in the most Jesus like language I can think of such as “Would you give a rich man a million dollars?” or Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” or simply, “I realise eye sight is practical for many reasons, but I don’t understand how, apart from that my life would improve.”

Some get it. Most don’t. And as a result, I only feel comfortable in churches where people pay me no attention, where I have a friend I can escape with after the service or a church where people know and accept me for who I am.

I know many disabled people of any faith share my opinions. Religious people and I don’t call myself religious by the way, are trying so hard to be compassionate that what they actually end up doing is talking to you like you are some kind of inferior being. They try to comfort us with stories of so and so who lives in a remote village in a country on the other side of the world that got healed. I’ve also heard of the blind man in Scotland who got healed and is now a bus driver. Seriously, wouldn’t he do something a bit more high flying than driving a bus if he got his sight back?

I don’t think these stories are true at all. Do I believe faith miracles can happen? Yes I do. But I find it strange that they only happen in remote places and that there’s no news of them otherwise. Wouldn’t someone who suddenly become sighted or hearing be on the news? I certainly would speak quite publicly about it as I simply wouldn’t be able to keep it from the world. I also think they are exaggerated. One woman in the church I used to go to in London, asked me after pointing out that I’d be a more complete human being if I could see that she got healed from sight loss. I asked her how this could be, and it turned out she’d had cataract or glaucoma, can’t remember, and but that whatever she had got removed by surgery and that now she could see again. I heard of a lame that suddenly started walking. But on asking questions, this was a person who learned this with the help of physio.

These can be called miracles or healings in their own right, but it’s not the kind of laying hands on healing these religious people keep talking about. And healing can also be a mental process. For example, there are people who claim to have lost pain in their bodies by having had hands laid on them, but often, these are the results of believing it will work and then, as a result, they feel better after such a healing meeting.

Fake faith healers unfortunately exists. The greatest example of someone like that is Benny Hin who has been exposed in the media for trickery in making people believe they’ve been healed. And those faith healers are clever. They make those who wish for healing write down their prayer request along with their names and financial details on little cards. Then, the Faith healer’s right hand man or woman communicates with them through a walky-talky device giving out people’s names which the healer then communicates in the audience. “Is there a p, Peter J, I feel a name starting with J, Johnson, Jackson?” AT this point, poor Peter Jackson jumps up, goes to the stage and gets a prayer of healing. He really wants to believe that he’s healed of whichever affliction he suffers from. He doesn’t want to disappoint the healer with a bad result and it would also destroy the great shows those kinds of healing meetings are. So he’ll claim that “Yes I am healed” to which the fake healer responds” In the name of Jesus! He has been healed in the name of Jesus! Glory be to God Almighty for an evil demon has left him” or something very similar.

These people are dangerous. Darren Brown once made a programme about fake faith healers where he got a normal man to pose as one. In the program, we heard of people thinking they had been healed from for example cancer and then stopped taking their medication and treatment. They died of course. Darren Brown successfully put up a service for the fake faith healer and at the point the healers normally ask for donations, this man gave a speech warning the audience of fake healers.

I have also been made to feel awful because I refused healing. A pastor at my London church right out told me I wasn’t brave enough to want to see, or had enough faith. If I was meant to be healed, his faith would have been sufficient according to the bible. So I went up and asked for healing, reluctantly and it was awful.

The worst time though, was at my friend’s mother’s wake. After commemorating her life with worship and a sermon, I went up to the pastor to ask for prayers for my own mum who was in the terminal stage of cancer. I wanted to pray for her peace and for no pain. However, on seeing that I was blind, he turned the attention to me. I may have needed prayers in regards to keeping strong through the difficult times, but none for my sight. I left feeling nothing but disrespect for someone who thought a healthy person’s eye sight was more important than a cancer patient’s well being.

Christianity is simple. So simple that many of us, me included fail to grasp the simplicity of it. Love. Simply love. Loving means accepting people for who they are and not try to change them. If you truly love, you won’t go up to that new wheelchair kid in church assuming they want healing. For by being who you are created to be, you fill some sort of roll in the world. I believe in the resurrection, and when that happens, I will no longer be blind. It will be wonderful, but for now, I am who I am. I have found my place in the world and in Christ and through being blind, I have been given a perspective on things which I believe has made me into a better person. I thank God for the blindness just because of this. Not having a certain physical ability, does not mean you’re not a perfectly healthy and strong human being who doesn’t have a lot to give.

So to you lovers of healing, you’ll do a lot more good and cause more healing in a disabled person’s life by including them in the church. Let your first question b if they’d want another doughnut or what they thought of the service rather than asking if they feel incomplete. If a disabled person wants faith healing, they’ll go to the appropriate person. Someone they trust.