What it’s Like to Look Blind

“I don’t want to look blind,” they say. I hear it time and time again in discussions with other people, those who have recently lost their sight and also those who have been blind since birth.

“I’ll use sighted guide, if I walk with someone nobody will know.”
“I won’t use a cane. I can’t go out much, but I don’t want people to know I can’t see.”
“I don’t want to learn braille, it makes me look so blind.”

Guess what, I look blind. I look really, really blind. I walk down the street, my labrador guiding me in and out of the crowd. I visit a friend, jumping on and off the train, cane in hand. I pull my computer out in class, plugging in my headphones so I can hear my screenreader. My phone rings and I swipe my fingers across the screen, listening to the voice that tells me who is calling.

Don’t I look blind? Yes, yes I do. And I love it, because by looking blind I have owned the thing that makes other people fear me. I live the life most people are terrified of having, and it is a wonderful thing.

When I walk in the street, whether with dog or cane I am able to choose where I go, as everyone else does. My computer, with its robotic voice enables me to study, to read, to laugh at videos on YouTube, to write this blog. When my phone talks to me I know who is calling, I text my family, check a route I’m planning on travelling on Google Maps and buy a train ticket.

I am not shackled to the family member I rely on to leave the house. I don’t fall, or fear crossing the road because I have no cane and can’t detect bumps in the pavement. I can read books easily, my fingers dancing across the page in a rhythm I know by heart.

I look blind, so very blind. And I am free.

  1. Torie left a comment on January 14, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I think people think blind people will walk hunched over and shuffle along. Maybe that can happen, but eventually you can learn to walk straight, looking straight ahead an stepping out. Blindness is just a part of you, like the way you can’t change how you have blue eyes.

    • Holly left a comment on January 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Definitely. There are lots of misconceptions floating about regarding blind people. I just try and live my life, embracing the things that help me, that are obviously linked to my blindness. As you say it’s another aspect of who we are 🙂

  2. John left a comment on January 15, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    First, congrats Holly for writing this and for your honesty. I’ve been blind since I was a baby and I agree with a lot of what you’ve written. The thing is, if people are going to look at you strangely, which they will; if they’re going to ask you strange questions, which they will; and if they’re going to try to guide you to places you don’t want to go; then I’d rather I was in control by using all the navigation gadgets I can, from canes to phones and beyond. I can’t see and I don’t like it much, but I’ve been that way a very long time and I’ve got a life to live so I’m going to live it, and if people want to watch me, well I can’t stop them 🙂

  3. Lynne Nicholson UK left a comment on November 29, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    We’ll said Holly.
    It took 9 months from diagnosis of my sightloss until i got my wand of power (white cane). I love the independence Wanda gives me.
    I would like to learn braille but can’t find local lessons so not sure how i will go about it. Local charity says technology is the way forward not braille and my sister tells me at my age it will be too hard to learn.
    I still plan on trying.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *