Sunday, October 17, 2010


I was on a training course 2 days last week, and one of the things we had to do was to don a pair of glasses to simulate some degree of visual disability.

I chose the Retinitis Pigmentosa ones, because I had in the past taught a girl who had this condition, and wondered how it would be to walk a bit "in her shoes".

Scary was how it was. We left the room, went down some stairs and then out the door and round the block "what, you think I can walk on a footpath with only a pinhole of vision? Impossible".

(picture courtesy of Cruisin with Cricket blogspot)

Initially, I had my hands held out in front of me for balance, and was quite hunched, but eventually I got some handle on it, with our tutor beside me , pointing out rough ground and obstacles.

Half way round the block, we got to swap glasses, so I was thrilled to get a pair where I had poor peripheral vision- a doddle compared to RP. I was then the "guide" for my colleague wearing the RP glasses.

My evening walk on Monday was such a joy!

I was able to scrunch these leaves quite joyfully, and look down too, not having to scan metres ahead for possible tripups.

I remembered my past student fondly, and her determination to succeed at Accounting. It must have been a nightmare trying to write numbers down from the board with only this tiny pinhole of vision, and she did it with courage, grace and a hunger for learning. I know that I was sympathetic, but until this week I didn't really know what it was like for her.

Isn't it a pity that students without a disability don't always appreciate their vision?


  1. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to take for granted what just IS in our lives that not everyone has? I am guilty of this all the time. But I want to be empathetic as a human being!

  2. A pinhole of vision? Wow, how incredibly difficult. And yet, I suppose she was thankful for having any vision at all. Are babies born with this condition or does it progress over time? Yes, we do take things for granted, don't we? I'm glad you are sympathetic before, and now empathetic. Thanks for sharing about this, Mimi.


  3. Many of our seniors suffer from macular degeneration which gives a similar tunnel vision. Even when not too diminished it's difficult for them to judge where the step, or unevenness is. Or even if it is there at all.
    We all should have an opportunity to walk in another's shoes. It's very hard to just imagine although that is the best we can do usually. Good for you to have had the experience.

  4. Losing my eyesight is one of my worst fears. Something like this really makes me count my blessings.

  5. Thanks for your comments.
    Amy, yes, children are born with this condition, but the pinhole gets smaller all the time, until it's gone.

    I agree with everyone else,we should not take our sight for granted (even though we do! me too!), we're lucky to see the trees in their autumn beauty.

  6. It does me the world of good reading posts such as this. Reminds me of how lucky I really am. I think your course sounds fascinating, it is good to have a safe environment to try something you would never normally experience.

  7. What a powerful experience. My sister is legally blind and I often wonder what it must be like for her. She never lets it slow her down though, she's a real inspiration.

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  8. I wasn't aware of this condition. What a neat learning experience for you. Thanks for filling us in on it. :)

  9. What a great thing to do. It's the old Indian thing "don't judge me unless you have walked in my moccasins". Davy had impaired vision due to diabetes and eventually lost his driving licence. It made me aware of how lucky I am to have my vision.

  10. It must be really terrible to have this condition. I think it is good that you went on this course. I think we should all do one.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May