Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Look Like You Can See By Chelsea Stark

My friend Ashley Nemeth did they post titled You Look Like You Can See. I found it so interesting I did my own version. So here I go. 

My name is Chelsea Stark and I am legally blind. When I tell people I am blind the first thing I hear is "You Look Like You Can See.” I would like you to read this question below and really think about it. Before you read on.
"What does blindness look like to you?

Now that you took some time and thought about this question feel free to read on.
Being legally blind I'm not sure what blindness looks like. I guess they're expecting something different than what they see. I have been told many times that I "don't look blind. I'm not sure what people are expecting me to say after that. So I usually just say thank you just to be polite.

I Count myself one of the lucky ones. Because my mother would not give up on finding a way to fix my eyes and my vision. I believe the credit should go to her because she is a reason why my eyes and visionare the way they are. When I was young I was extremely cross-eyed . Which meant I had double vision. Could you imagine how frustrating it would be being a child and trying to pick up your favorite toy and possibly miss. And navigating was really a challenge. Such as stairs. My eyes also did not track together. Thankfully were able to fix the double vision. And make my eyes track together. Over the years I lost the vision in my left so now only my right eye has vision. So I guess my left basically is there to go along for the ride. 

For some blind or visually impaired people being told you look like you're not blind, or you look like you can see could be interpreted as rude. 
One should not really say to a blind or partially sighted person, " you don't look blind" or " it looks like you can see me". You have no idea what they can see or can't see and that is quite a personal thing to say and it is offensive. It insinuates you think the person is faking it. This is not something anyone would ever do.
Living life as a blind or partially sighted person can be very frustrating at times it is not worth faking it, and this is very offensive. You must think of it from the perspective of the person you are speaking to. Would you be offended if I said to you " you don't look like you are very intelligent" or "you don't look like you work out". Before you decide to say something like "you look like you can see or you don't look blind to me." Think about how you would feel if someone said something to you about your personal appearance.
Blindness comes in many forms. 

It does not mean that your eyes are cloudy or we all have prosthetic eyes. It does not mean that I look out into space when speaking to someone or that I am not able to look in your direction when having a conversation. These are the farthest from the truth. There are many people who do have "cloudy" looking eyes or prosthetic eyes but not all blind or partially sighted people do. There are many many conditions that cause visual impairments of all levels. 

Common causes that lead to vision loss or visual impairment.
Include injury to the eye, inherited conditions, infections ,cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration AMD, corneal opacities ,diabetic retinopathy,childhood blindness, trachoma and onchocerciasis just name a few. To learn more go to this link. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Causes-of-visual-impairment.aspx

Using a white cane or even a guide dog does not mean that the person is completely blind. They may in fact have some degree of vision just not enough to safely move through the streets. This YouTube video Are electric cars dangerous for blind people? - an interactive video from Guide Dogs and this post  called Electric and Hybrid cars and Blind and Visually impaired People  touches on this subject quite well.

 Don't forget to check out Ashley Nemeth Post also called You Look Like You Can See.


  1. I went blind in my left eye a couple of years before my right started to lose its vision, but I got really used to carrying on as normal using what I had left in that right eye. When I started using a white cane and began vision training in Atlanta, GA I felt sure that people on the street could tell "I wasn't blind" because of the speed I could still walk and the ease I'd navigate around obstacles. In those early days the cane was mainly to help me detect steps and kerbs since I didn't have any depth percenption. I don't remember how I became comfortable using the cane without feeling that I was a blind imposter, but thank goodness I got over that hang-up! One other result of having no sight in my left is that I find I still close my left eye as I'm walking around, and most of the time I have both eyes closed ... I don't see much at all anymore but I find the brightness of a sunny day is tiring for my eyes being opem ... maybe I should get a t-shirt saying I AM NOT ASLEEP! It's funny that I'd never thought of sighted folk saying that somebody doesn't look blind, but now you write about it here I wouldn't be surprised if it's not an infrequent thing!

  2. Thank you Giles for sharing your story. I'm wondering if you would be willing to share your biography for life story on a another blog I have. The blog is called blind all around the world. Here is the link to the blog Take a look and let me know if you're interested in sharing. http://blindallaroundtheworld.blogspot.com