Back in October, Francesca, one of our Directors of Psychology, shared some deeply personal memories and reflections of her dad, Don's, experience of blindness.
Francesca tweeted daily throughout the month to help raise awareness of what it is like to live with blindness from her dad's perspective, as well as her own.
To continue her work and support Retina UK we wanted to share some of these reflections with you. We hope that some experiences explored here, promote discussion and reflection of how we live and work with people with disabilities and other difficulties...
"October is blindness awareness month. I don’t claim to speak for blind people, I’m just going to attempt to put a memory or reflection up every day about my dad, who is registered blind."
"To find his way around my dad often learns the steps between places, from the door to the chair, from the chair to the table. Somewhere new he’s aware he doesn’t know distances and he’ll focus on counting afresh."
"Walking up & down stairs is equally tricky but emotionally different. Steps can be large, small, uneven & not knowing the number is stressful. Walking down steps is particularly anxiety provoking, stepping out into space & hoping one doesn’t fall."
"My dad has always loved sports, watching and playing. Now he listens to a lot of sport on the radio. It must be hard knowing he’ll never see any sport again and he’s only heard about how many world famous players play."
"Public spaces are a nightmare for my dad for many reasons. One obvious example is pavements, with ‘pavement furniture’ such as A boards, cars parked on the pavement and low hanging branches. An unseen obstacle course every time."
"My brother has been with his fiancée for 14 years. My dad met her regularly while he still had some sight. However he’s now forgotten what she looks like. I can’t imagine how that feels to know one can never get that knowledge back."
"Dad has to be so organised with his belongings. He has a bag with compartments & pockets for cards and money. It makes me feel tired sitting with him listening to him feel & describe everything in order as he finds the thing he needs!"
"Everyone gets annoyed when they lose something, think how hard it is if you can’t see to look. My dad once spent 2 hours feeling for a pill that had fallen on the floor but didn’t find it"
"One on one my dad is extremely chatty, he has always been so, even before he went blind. But I do wonder now whether his need to chat at people is partly because talking fills the darkness."
"My dad finds restaurants hard. We know what food is easier & we ask waiters for a bowl& spoon. We cut up food and tell him where everything is. these actions get us judged by people at times which upsets me - we only do what we have to."
"Dad & I love colour coordination, we are the only ones in the family who do! We enjoy discussing outfits in detail! Only now dad has to trust what I say and I try to describe it well so he can at least imagine it and feel he looks good."