Visual impairment and misunderstanding: the answer is in between


How many times have we found ourselves mistaken for impostors or feeling unrecognized in our potential or difficulties? It happens to everyone, but if you are visually impaired, it could happen more often. Nadia Luppi, a visually impaired, counselor and expert on disability, relationships and inclusive processes, explains why – in her opinion – low vision teaches something also when it is misunderstood.

“I saw him walking with a blind white cane, then suddenly, he took a picture.”

“Oh did you see that? He has a white cane to walk under the arcades and then he looks at his cell phone … ”

“How rude I smiled at her and she didn’t even greet me, as if she didn’t see me”

“That guy pretends … Outside on the street he used the white cane but then when he came in he seemed to see us.”

“Strange … I offered her help because I remembered that she was struggling to get around that day. But she answered me just last night that she saw us, she didn’t need ”

“He walked so fast in the meadow under the sun … Then at the edge of the wood, as the sky clouded over, he asked for help because he could see nothing … He didn’t even look like him”.

“I swear to you, she entered the restaurant led by another woman. And then she was the one who read the menu to the one who had guided her! ”

Aren’t they all situations that would be easy news under the name of fake blind?
Ah! Scandal!

Instead they are just some of the possible reactions to a disability that is as variable and complex as it is indecipherable as it is in fact low vision.
A limit that perhaps more than any other changes, allows, hinders or prevents the natural performance of daily activities, from reading to moving in personal autonomy. And faced with deficits so changeable and devoid of negative absolute to which to hold, it is easy to fall into the misunderstanding and – unfortunately and too frequently – in the negative judgment. For each of the misconceptions mentioned above, there is an explanation, but this is not the place. Search for stories on this website, walk and travel with us and maybe some mystery will become clear.

I often find myself repeating in front of other visually impaired people, who should implement strategies in favor of our social inclusion, that we are talking about a deficit, or rather a condition that is not easily communicable even for cultural and social issues contingents: we live in a world where in doubt, we suspect. Today, perhaps more than in other historical periods, in front of what we do not understand or do not know, we are afraid and sometimes even instantly transform that fear into anger, into hostility, into a distance. Diversity perplexes, displaces, scares, and the rhetoric of witch hunts in which it seems to live sometimes at these latitudes, does not help.
But there is good that we always have a choice: suspend the judgment and listen to it. In this the low vision is a teacher.
How a visually impaired sees cannot be understood from the outside, with conjectures and calculations. How many things a visually impaired person can learn to do, cannot be predicted with algorithms and categorizations. The obstacles that can block us we can somehow intuit them, but not always. When confronted with a visually impaired person, as with any diversity, the first and fundamental step is to listen and ask questions. We are all different, each of us sees in his or her own way, while following certain types and almost constant dynamics based on pathologies and diagnoses. But be assured that what holds for me does not necessarily apply to another person with my own pathology. If you take it as a game, as light as it is serious, the contact with the inter-kingdom of those who see poorly will be able to serve as a training for life.
And since we are all mirrors, despite our differences, we also do the training when we have curious mirrors to confront. Every time someone asks me about my vision and asks me how I can read, cook, watch a movie, take steps or move “freely” I have the opportunity to look at myself from outside and reflect on me and on my modalities of action and relationship.

The best answer to the misunderstandings is in between, and it is obvious that I am not talking about low vision only. Low vision, like any other disability, is not a world apart, but on the contrary it can serve as a magnifier (I smile with you given the question) to understand many of human things. But this is another story … of which we will write again and soon.

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Featured image is a screenshot from this video



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