Interrupted Beginnings

Sarah Hirst has been perfecting her own personal expertise in being legally blind since birth, and is here to share some of her personal experiences to help others navigate and understand the world of the vision impaired.

by Sarah Hirst,

I have always loved to write. Since I was little one of my favourite things was to sit down in a sunny bright corner somewhere, pull out a super thick black texter and a note pad with nice dark lines, and drift into my imagination. Nowadays writing with a pen strains my eyes too much, so instead I type.

Typing my thoughts with the screen reader chatting away in the background as I go, doesn’t quite have the nostalgia or the smell of paper. It also somehow lacks that special feeling of harmony between mind, hand, pen and paper, which I always believed made the magic happen. Nevertheless I have come to enjoy writing on my laptop, and even the babble of the screen reader has become part of the rhythm of words.

When you have a disability it can sometimes feel like each day is a test of your ability to adapt to life’s intricate twists and turns. It could be moving from pen and paper to a laptop because reading makes your eyeballs want to explode, or learning to cope with the big wide world of work, study, independent living, love and housework, (they rarely go together). Navigating life can be tricky at the best of times, but I have been vision impaired since birth. Regardless of my years spent perfecting the art of being legally blind, every time life coughs up a new challenge, I still find myself needing to take a moment to problem solve outside the square. I am also still learning about what it really means to get out there and live life as a person with vision impairment. There are highs, lows, and plenty of somewhere in-betweens, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am getting ahead of myself though. My name is Sarah. My eye condition is called Leber’s Amaurosis, and while I work with a guide dog to help me get around, I do have some remaining functional vision. In this blog I want to share with you some of my experiences as a person with vision impairment. My voice is only one of many, so I will also interview other people to get their thoughts on life, the universe and everything. One thing I have learnt though, is that every person’s experience of vision impairment is unique to them.  So it is important that readers know that when I talk about things I struggle with, or things I am fabulously awesome at, it is me talking about me, and can not be universally applied to every person with disability.

I will be tremendously excited when anyone uses the comment section. When you have a question about how I manage a particular aspect of life as a vision impaired person, go right ahead and ask. If you are vision impaired, and your experience of vision impairment has been different to mine, feel free to join the conversation and to share. All I ask is that comments are respectful of difference.

Right now, my musings have been interrupted. My guide dog Gigi is demanding a walk. In my next post I will be spreading the word about SSI’s Info Day. My post about the day should not be missed, they day itself certainly must not be! So register soon 🙂