Manage episode 377401038 series 2868703
Today I’m sharing the interview with Jerry, conducted March 11, 2001. He is visually impaired, but not mobility visually impaired, except at night. His experiences at night in winter snow demonstrate the resilience of mankind in the face of daunting odds, but also how alone people with visual impairments feel – never once had he considered bringing up his difficulties to a trained professional to seek out additional training and support or new tools to try and make his travel easier.
Jerry grew up with a visual impairment that he felt he was able to move about without a long cane and also benefited from the long cane, once he got one. He neve indicated his acuity - it was worse than 20/400 – or legally blind, and he had more difficulty at night. That he learned to use his long cane wearing a blindfold, did not ultimately seem to prepare him for night travel.
A preferred alternative is to actually teach someone with low vision at night, that way they experience the benefits of their vision and the challenges of having less information. Night blindness is much more pronounced in people with a visual impairment than people who are sighted – so under the same conditions of night time, sighted people are able to see more with less light than someone with a visual impairment.
Jerry is rightly proud of himself and what he is able to do- but in my estimation, he was never given the permission to consider returning to get more O&M to get additional support for these very challenging situations he finds himself in – nighttime, streets covered in snow banks, and perhaps implementing the latest technology (not an option when he was interviewed) but certainly in 2023.
The field of O&M is essential, but there are very few instructors, limited budgets and even less time and money spent developing new instructional strategies. So, Jerry breaks his cane in frustration, rather than pick up the phone and call for a refresher course. Why is that?
He continued to take public transport in his 50s and this puts him in places with unsavory characters – never thinking perhaps he should just find a way to get a car and driver – he has a good job– likely he could afford it…
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