Myths about visual impairment

Text by Reddit user Blind Insider

Half-truths or lies thrown into the air waiting to become true?

When people speak without knowing and spread stories without first investigating they are generating myths that have nothing to do with the truth.

In the case of myths about people with visual disabilities, the only thing these foster is a communication gap  that leaves a sector that is already vulnerable and a minority in a state of helplessness.

Myths are caused when we tell stories and give false details to try to justify what we do not know, but in that eagerness we affect others.

We cannot continue to support those stories filled with discrimination and stigma where finally the most affected are the visually impaired because people stay away from them or have wrong ideas about what they are and this finally also cause hatred.

Unfortunately a lie told 100 times becomes true and we do not always give the other a chance of his right of reply.

Ignorance is one of the great evils of humanity, when you do not bother to investigate something or ask someone about topics that you do not know that ignorance also becomes an assumption, because then you only assume something that you do not know and that you are not willing to check.

Unfortunately for centuries people have found it easier to generate myths about the visually impaired instead of sharing realities.

Below I will make a list of some of the biggest myths surrounding the visually impaired and try to explain what the truth is.

  1. Visually impaired people are withdrawn, moody and they prefer to be left alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this world there are very cheerful people and others are very lonely, there are cranky, happy, shy or extroverted people but that has nothing to do with visual impairment. Most visually impaired people like to socialize but generally find greater empathy with people who have the same condition because they feel confident and supported by others who understand what they are going through; however, this does not mean that they do not like to talk to people, socialize or share experiences with others.
  2. Visual impairment is a disease. This is also a myth, because visual impairment is not a disease but a condition. While it is true that it could derive from an illness it does not mean that the disability itself is a disease. So to clarify, visual impairment is a condition that may or may not stem from a disease.
  3. Visually impaired people are completely dependent on others. False and we cannot generalize. Again there are dependent people who do not have a condition of visual impairment, the dependency refers more to the character of a person than their disability. There are many visually impaired people who have managed to lead a totally independent life and who help others to achieve it.
  4. Having a visual impairment prevents you from learning new things. This is another big lie that many believe. Nowadays technologies are advancing by leaps and bounds and this allows people with visual disabilities to have greater access to education and learning new things. There are even people with a double disability who have graduated from universities, have completed master's degrees or have managed to create their own companies. In addition many visually impaired people teach as their main profession and not only as teachers of the visually impaired but also for those without one.
  5. Visual impairment keeps you isolated. This is also false and this comes hand in hand with the previous point. Companies and individuals have been accompanied by technology and various institutions to create programs, applications and devices that allow people to interact with technology. Screen readers have been created for cell phones and computers, assisted mobility devices, applications that help describe scenes, objects, texts etc. These days, isolation, refers more to an aspect of infrastructure and economy than again to a condition of visual impairment.
  6. Visually impaired people need special treatment. Categorically false, what visually impaired people need is to be treated in a respectful and inclusive manner with equal conditions. Let's stop encouraging the myth of them having special abilities and that therefore they need special care and attention. For people with visual disabilities, the only thing they lack is eyesight and they do not need special treatment, only to be recognized as thinking beings, capable of carrying out any activity they put their minds to and with the same rights that concern others.
  7. Visually impaired people must go to special schools and cannot work. Two of the greatest and oldest myths that endure till these days Over the years it has been proven that schools where people with disabilities are segregated are not functional in practice, since they isolate people causing feelings of introversion, guilt and fear. People with disabilities must live freely in diverse environments within schools with students of all characteristics regardless of race, creed, ideology or disability. Being able to interact with any type of person will strengthen your confidence and communication. As for people with disabilities not being able to work, it has also been shown that with the use of adapted technologies they can perform work with the same quality and efficiency as those who do not have disability status. Regardless of whether they work in private companies, in the public administration or in their own businesses, disability has never been an impediment to their professional practice.
  8. Visually impaired people cannot have their own family and all they aspire to is to have a partner with the same condition. This is totally false as well as classist and discriminatory. A visually impaired person is fully capable of having a partner without any conditions of blindness or diminished vision, not being able to see does not limit them to love and share life with someone. If people with visual disabilities do not get a partner, it is more because of social prejudices and this type of myths dragged for years since people do not give themselves the opportunity to meet them. However, when they manage to create affective bonds, the most common thing is that they form a life as a couple and with it undoubtedly a family. Around the world there are children of visually impaired couples who have had a full and normal life, without affective deficiencies and without carelessness that have put them at risk during their childhood or when they needed the care of their parents. A person with visual impairment knows perfectly their limitations and will be much more aware of their children at all times.
  9. Visually impaired people cannot make their own decisions. Sadly, this is a myth that greatly affects all visually impaired people around the world. For years, there has been a struggle to recognize their individual guarantees and the rights enshrined in international law to have access to voting, financial freedom, reproductive freedom and independent living. The condition of disability does not affect your power of opinion, your reasoning, or your will.
  10. Visually impaired people are prone to having accidents. A big mistake, because we are all exposed to having accidents and many of them have nothing to do with having a disability. Contrary to popular belief, visually impaired people are twice as careful when carrying out their daily activities, as well as being people who better develop their sense of hearing, touch and smell.  This does not mean that they have superpowers, they are simply in greater contact with their other senses and pay greater attention to their entire environment. Most accidents that a visually impaired person has are caused by those who can see, because they are distracted.

Based on all the previous points we can conclude that people with visual disabilities are able to lead a full and normal life like any other person, the fact that we do not give ourselves the opportunity to meet them does not imply that everything we talk about it is true. Then let's stop assuming and ignoring and start asking, learning and empathizing.

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