Our faithful Scribble has commented with more questions, and since I’ve always got an opinion, I’m happy to spout off on this one too!
How did you become blind? Or is ‘visually-impaired’ a better word to use? How do you feel about the PC-ification of our language?
I have a form of albinism, and it’s genetic. It’s recessive, but no one knows of any history of it in my family (or, rather, on Mom’s side – the research wasn’t quite as thorough on Dad’s). So either it goes back a long way, or I’m a mutant. Yay!
There are several types of albinism, including some that just affect the eyes, particularly the retinas. So you can’t necessarily tell by looking at me. There are other effects of the albinism. For example, most people with albinism have nystagmus, or involuntary movement of the eyes. Mine go back and forth. I’m also very light-sensitive, again as a result of the albinism. I also have strabismus in one eye; my left eye turns inward slightly, which means the acuity in that eye is worse. Plus I have all the normal stuff like myopia and astigmatism and all that.
I’m of two minds about “visually impaired”. I’m a high partial; I’m pretty blind for a sighted person, and pretty sighted for a blind person. Legal blindness is actually a fairly broad spectrum, and includes issues with field of vision, acuity, etc. Most blind people aren’t totally blind without any light perception or anything, although quite a few are. So if I’m describing myself in a way that emphasizes that I do have some usable vision, I use “visually impaired”, because I’m not totally blind. But if I’m just making a general statement about myself, “blind” is fine. That’s just me, though. A lot of people hate euphemistic terms, as do I, and consider “visually impaired” to be among them. I hate stuff like “sight challenged” (what?) and all that. And I’d never used “visually impaired” to describe a totally blind person, because their vision isn’t ust impaired, it’s nonexistent. But each person has their own preferences. If I’m talking about people in general, I talk about people who are blind or have low vision, and it works for me. Frankly, I have very little patience for sugar-coating things, because I don’t think blindness (or disability) is an evil thing that needs to be sugarcoated to make it more palatable. It just is what it is.
A little kid called me “hard of seeing” the other day, and I thought it was adorable, but I’d find it a bit less adorable from an adult.
Hope that didn’t confuse things further!