Archives - June, 2016



11 Jun 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy speaks in front of the McGreal centerSeveral hundred people descended upon the McGreal Sight Center for the NH Association for the Blind’s 13th annual Walk for Sight on Saturday, June 5, 2016. 2020 Vision Quest was represented by a team of 20 walkers who raised over our goal of $2,020 for the event.

One highlight this year was NHAB’s “Walk in My Shoes” program. Several fully sighted walkers chose to work with a Mobility Trainer from the Association to experience what it is like to travel with sight impairment. A little instruction and the use of sight simulators for glaucoma, macular degeneration, and several other common sight disorders, including a blindfold for the fully blind experience, enabled these walkers to truly understand some of the challenges faced by those served regularly by NHAB.

"Walk in My Shoes" - sighted people guiding people with blindfolds to mimic the experience of blindness.Since our team had a collection of children on the team, they wanted to experience a form of this and with their parents helped it to take place. I was able to walk amidst them with Autumn guiding me. Listening to their excitement and observations made me appreciate the enthusiasm of youth as well as their candor. Our version only involved closing their eyes so we didn’t get the sight restriction from them, but I did hear from several that trying to use limited sight was almost more strain in concentration.

For us the first and most common concept for them to experience was the trust in their sighted guide. It wasn’t reasonable to have them train for cane or dog but sighted guide is a common method for a sighted person to help with simple guidelines (no pun intended) to lead them along our city route amongst the crowd of fellow walkers. All seemed to become very aware of the ground on which they walked which they formerly took for granted. Each crack in the sidewalk, curb, sewer grate and even patch of sand became a little more noticeable for the potential hazard it represented.

While I expect at 6’4″ of height I may need to duck at times, it was surprising how many shrubs had our shorter team members ducking – even Tracy at her towering 4’11″ (and ¾”!!).

A final observation which I find quite true but was surprised to have noted by one of our youths was how much their awareness shrank to a smaller group than they were used to. Eyes allow you to understand what’s happening at a distance and in the noisy environment the world reduced to just a couple of close-by people and the concentration to manage the terrain.

The day was beautiful with many laughs as we relaxed together to celebrate helping a good cause while spending time together. I hope that next year we again assemble an even larger team to either experience a little walk in my shoes or help us support both our charity, 2020 Vision Quest, and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind! Thank you again to all those who joined us, all our many donators and especially to those who delved a little deeper this year!

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5 Jun 16

By Randy Pierce

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
– Søren Kierkegaard

Man in a canoe at sunsetOn June 9, 2016 I’ll reach my 50th Birthday and accordingly a half-century of reflections. One aspect of these involves thinking of myself as a fully sighted person who became legally and eventually completely blind. Knowing my fully sighted years ended roughly on my 22nd birthday, this suggests the majority of my life has now occurred while under the label of blindness.

Yet I do not think of myself as a blind person who was once sighted. I could write a book on reflections of my life and in fact I am in the process of that very thing. Presently I am simply reflecting on a small portion of my self image regarding my blindness.

I am not a blind person but rather a person who happens to also be blind. That definition is sufficiently comfortable for me that I find no offense in those who express it differently. While it is a rare day my blindness doesn’t cause some form of minor frustration in my life, it simply does not feel like a defining feature for me. I’m similarly a person who is tall and while getting into a compact car or shopping for pants  may result in some challenge, I do not dwell negatively upon my height. Simply the realities of my blindness have resulted in my making some adjustments and accommodations to how I approach my days.

Yet the many years of having chosen this path effectively hides those changes from my common consideration. Why then do I not identify more strongly with the blindness as a part of myself in these reflections? It could be that first impressions are often more lasting. It could be that I feel so normally and conventionally invested into the world that it takes a purposeful reflection to realize. Either way, as I cross this landmark birthday, I suspect I will finally escape from an inaccurate and all too common statement in which I’ve often suggested, “I’ve been fully sighted most of my life.” I’ve now been blind most of my life and while I still would love to see someday, hope to see someday, and perhaps will see again someday, I’m very happy with my vision of who I am regardless of sight.

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