10 things for those writing about people who are blind/have low vision...
So…finishing up my portfolio and I just thought I’d share a few things:
1. Person first language: people who are blind/ people who have low vision/ people who are visually impaired. However, keep in mind not everyone likes first person language or identifies as such. It’s a lot of politics and where you’re located, and tends to be tied to professions.
2. It’s a cane… not a stick
Side note: Please have your characters be safe travelers and use canes or guides some of the time, not just super powers all of the time. It’s hard enough for some young kids to use their canes without comparing themselves to Kanan Jarrus or Daredevil…
3.You don’t get super senses… but maybe you become more aware of what you’re sensing and differentiating what you’re sensing
4. As far as I’m aware and according to people I’ve talked to…touching faces is awkward and not effective
5. People who are congenitally blind may not turn to look at who’s talking because it is a learned skill that may need to be explicitly taught to them. However, people who become blind/lose their vision later in life may still turn to face who’s talking or face things that they are focusing on regardless of whether they can see it
6. Some people turn their heads at angles or appear to be looking away from you because they only have vision in that part of their eye that’s currently facing you. They can’t see you if they look straight on.
7. When you can see, you learn things whole-to-part. You, who are sighted, see a house, you think house. Then you learn door, window, roof, chimney, shutters etc. If you can’t see, you learn part-to-whole, and you need to rely on touch/hearing/smell/taste (when appropriate) to form a concept of something you might learn like this: door, smell of home, window glass, window frame, brick of a chimney, panels on side of the house etc. But then putting in all together as a house is difficult to conceptualize if you’re going off random pieces of the puzzle. You may need a tactile model or something to fill in the gaps if it’s something you’ve never seen and can’t touch in its entirety.
8. Cane stuff: Not everyone taps their cane when they use it. Most that I’ve been with don’t or if they do, they do not use it all the time. Think about it. You miss a lot of tactile feedback and there’s a greater risk of missing things to trip on. There are three types of formal cane techniques: two-point touch (the classic tapping side to side), constant contact, and verification technique. The first two the cane is held at the center of the body and the person moves it from side to side wide enough just so that it goes past their hips. As they move it to one side, their opposite foot steps forward. This gives someone the most protection when moving. Verification technique is when the person holds the cane low in their non-dominant hand and uses constant contact as they see possible obstacles/terrain changes in their path.
9. Counting steps is a myth. People don’t take even steps generally. Sometimes it’s easy to count doors if it’s a small number. But if you’re at school and you have to travel across the building, are you really going to count 20 doors? What if you bump into something and lose count? You’d have to start all over. Most people create landmarks for locations. It could be something like the door with the only bulletin board in the hallway. Or the door with the water fountain next to it. Or the door that is one door to the left directly across from the water fountain. Another thing here, is that you can kind of feel when you’re getting close to somewhere you’ve traveled to before. Like when you’re driving home and you feel like it’s been a while and your turn should be here, when suddenly the turn is here! That’s called time-distance estimation.
10. Most people are not totally blind. Only 2% of the population is visually impaired and only 2% of the population that is visually impaired is totally blind no light perception. This means that most people who are blind/visually impaired/have low vision can see something, and everyone is different and reacts different to their visual impairment and how they use the vision they have.
This got long and slightly ranty, which was an accident… but I hope someone finds it useful. And now that I have this off my chest, remember creative liberty is a thing :)