A wide shot of the Andes Mountains with a snow covered Mt. Ausangate in the center. The 2020 team of eleven are hiking in the foreground on a beautiful day.

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“Haunted House” – Living in Fear
31 Oct
2011
By 2020
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By Randy Pierce

The house is deep into darkness as the stirrings and creaks start to multiply, allowing the imagination to flare with thoughts of doubt, confusion, and fear. This is not your typical Halloween haunted house–rather, it is a situation that holds panic potential for someone learning to live without vision. For most people, 80% of interactions are visual in nature, which is why “things that go bump in the night” are so fear-inducing. Our sight offers us the security of more easily discerning who or what is present to cause a noise, or, perhaps of equal importance, of telling us when nothing is there. Without such, our imagination takes over and Alfred Hitchcock moments can abound.

Though one’s own home can be full of frightening noises, it is still familiar and thus less fear-inducing than the outside world, which hosts so many unknown, unwelcoming, and quite frankly dangerous things. Assembling the cacophony of complex and confusing sounds into an understandable world is sometimes challenging even for those who have the luxury of vision, so it is not terribly difficult to understand why so many people transitioning through vision loss can readily become intimidated and withdraw from the outside world.

How can we prevent that scary reality? Well, we start by asking a few relevant questions that break down the world into manageable pieces. How do you learn to discern each noise that you hear in your world? More importantly, how do you extrapolate the meaningful sounds which can guide you? How do you read the intent in a footfall? What do the echoes of your own footfall tell you about the environment? Better still, how can you learn to utilize all your available senses to create an adventure in resolving the mysteries of interacting with your world?

The answers to these questions can be found with careful and patient attention, but ultimately without help this task may be too daunting for many. On this Halloween, that sense of being helplessly overwhelmed is the real horror for many without vision. It is also precisely why through our efforts with 2020 Vision Quest, we hope to make sure organizations like Guiding Eyes and the NH Association for the Blind are able to continue to provide the essential skills and education which opens up a world of independence for those in need.

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