Visually impaired people & the role of family and friends

Text by Reddit user Blind Insider

Family plays a very important role for the affective and emotional development of individuals. It is the core where our cognitive abilities, our values and our character will develop.

For visually impaired people, the way they interact with their family will directly influence their development as an active and productive member of the society.

For a visually impaired person to feel fully integrated within their family, all members have to accept their differences in an inclusive way.

They must recognize that everyone has limitations, different tastes and preferences that make them different but equally valuable.

It is also important that they talk about visual impairment in a candid way, without prejudice and mockery.

When this happens, the visually impaired person will feel relaxed and with a greater sense of self-esteem.

And speaking of self-esteem, it is necessary for the family to always motivate the visually impaired person. They have to put aside negative phrases such as: "you will not be able to do it", "it is dangerous for you", "you should not try this given your condition", "leave that. I will do it", "I am here to do things for you", etc.

It is best to encourage the person with a disability at all times to feel useful and safe. Phrases such as: "you got this", "yes you can", "try again", "do not give up", "I believe in you", "do not feel intimidated" etc.; create a different approach that will help them not to use their disability as an excuse.

It is also very important that the family instills values such as, love, positive thoughts and a sense of belonging.

When visually impaired people can express themselves within their family without fear of rejection, being judged or being attacked, they will behave towards others in the same way.

When living within a loving environment, the visually impaired person can also help others in a similar situation understand what is happening to them and overcome it. That is why it is important that feelings are always expressed in a calm and positive manner.

It is also important that the visually impaired person is not isolated from society or family activities.

Although stepping outdoors should ideally be carried out in safe environments, it is essential to go out into the world for people to generate a sense of trust and self-sufficiency.

Isolating a visually impaired person will make them feel insecure, nervous, with difficulties in establishing personal and professional relationships and above all, it will make them feel unhappy.

Therefore, it is best to include them in as many activities as possible. From those inside of the house to those that happen outside; these may be: cleaning the house, learning to cook, adapted education, and in extracurricular sporting activities, recreation and entertainment.

Many visually impaired people like going to the supermarket, eat out, watch audio-descriptive movies, walk around the park, go shopping for clothes, have coffee with friends or play board games.

The family should ask the visually impaired person what activities they prefer, which activities they feel comfortable with, and which they could help them do better. Bearing in mind that helping them does not imply doing everything for them but teaching and helping them out.

In the same way, it is necessary that the relatives of a person with visual impairment receive aid and support from other people.

They may need to reach out to groups made up by family members of other persons with disabilities or professionals who could provide guidance.

When you feel surrounded by someone who understands you, everything becomes easier.

In reality they will be able to realize that they are not the only people going through this situation and that when many support each other, everything is simpler and more natural.

Everything we have mentioned has great relevance because relatives of people with visual disabilities usually abandon them during their journey or at some important stage where they need their support.

Then the visually impaired person is left adrift and their fears return.

We understand that this is not an easy situation, but it can be overcome. People with visual impairment show their desire to move forward on a daily basis, their need for others to recognize them as their equal without their disability conditioning what they are or can do.

Although sometimes frustration, anger or sadness settle in us, we must always keep in mind that a visually impaired person only needs a little push and that our main role as family members is to give them all our love and support.

When they have all this, they will get ahead without a doubt.

As for friends, the truth is that they are paramount for visually impaired people to feel integrated into the social environment.

They are the friends with whom you will spend most of your time at school, but also with whom you can hang out with to talk about things that are not usually discussed with parents.

When friends integrate the visually impaired person into school activities, they do not feel segregated or rejected and their self-esteem and confidence rise because they understand that they are at the same level as others.

It is friends who will also be able to defend them and accompany them when others intend to make them feel less or attack them.

If friends can accept that the person with a disability cannot see but is able to do everything else, then their lack of vision does not become an issue or something they have to worry about.

On the contrary, friends who accept a visually impaired person have developed empathy and can help other people also create empathy and better understand the condition of visual impairment.

For a visually impaired person, having friends is of the utmost importance, as it generates a sense of belonging and true inclusion. And we don't mean that one should only have friends with the same condition but friends with different tastes, preferences, races, genders and beliefs.

For a friend it is easier to explain to a visually impaired person what is fashionable at that time, which artists are the most followed, what a social network is, how you can have a date with someone and even what they can wear.

The simple fact that they have similar ages, things in common or become confidants makes them one of the first people to turn to in case of support or doubt.

Visually impaired people like to take trips with friends, outdoor activities, talk for hours and hours and also moving in together with shared expenses.

One friend never abandons another, no matter the circumstances. The value of friendship is precisely that, to stay with the other in spite of everything.

They will certainly have fights and arguments but nothing stronger than the affection they profess each other.

Visually impaired people do not seek to have friends to make a profit, they do it because they need to feel part of something, be heard and be understood.

What we can conclude is that the visually impaired person together with their family and friends make a perfect triangle where they create a solid foundation with two pillars supporting them so that they never feel alone or unprotected.

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