How it feels to be visually impaired

Have you ever loss eyesight? What would you do if it happened tomorrow? Last week Acces2Digital attended a visual impairment training hosted by Daniel Williams.

I was part of a 10 people group, greeted with breakfast at the Canal Museum, where the meeting was hosted. In this friendly and enjoyable ambiance, Daniel said “ok, now put on these black eye mask and keep introducing yourself”. The sudden loss of visual sense was very disconcerting and it only takes seconds to realise that being visually impaired is not an easy.

As the morning went on, Daniel talked us through training material, with no eye mask on this time. We learnt about different illnesses that could lead to visual impairment as well as how it was to be blind in daily life. As an example, we learnt that there were different types of white canes. Did you know that the ones with red stripes in them mean that the person is blind and death?This was followed by a test. Daniel challenged us by making us wear special glasses that altered our vision in different ways. The pair I was wearing limited my vision and range of sight by more than 60%. Reading was almost impossible and it took me several minutes just to read and understand the questions.

To me, an important take away was that communication is key when losing visual perception. Our next activity was to give instructions to someone blindfolded to accomplish a specific task. Filling a glass with water turned out  to be a challenge and we all realised that it only worked when clear instructions were given and communication had to be simple. Being aware of such challenges will help me in my future interactions with visually impaired people.

At the end of the morning, our final practical training was a visit of the museum blindfolded. I found out how much confidence you need in the person or dog that is guiding you when you can’t see. Losing visual perception I became touch-sensitive, willing to touch and feel everything. I felt my brain and body were over-reacting to temperature change and the visit turned out to be an olfactory experience as well.

“Be confident, don’t be afraid to ask, if you don’t ask you will never know” Daniel kept repeating. His practical training is a unique experience that put me out of my comfort zone yet I felt very comfortable doing this awareness course. I am a very proud VISUALISE® training certified and highly recommend anyone to attend Daniel’s session.

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