“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.