looking at life through a platinum blonde fringe.

A note from the grown ups

There was a conversation on facebook recently in which adults discussed what frustrates them about their vision.You know on the most part, most PWA are happy with what they have, as they don’t know anything different. They don’t see the doom and gloom and down side, most are just busy getting on with their lives and wishing everyone else would let them do it. However, there are some things that grate. There have to be, we’re normal!
Some of those listed (I asked first if I could use the comments) include things you might not think of first up:

Like POS/eftpos machines. These vary from bank to bank and store to store, so buttons, swipes and so on aren’t consistent. You can feel like a Wally trying to swipe your card down the outside of a machine… that in the store next door was the location of the swiper.  Sometimes the buttons are tiny, the screen invisible or hard to read, or the store’s lighting bad, and generally they can just complicate the situation, especially if the salesperson is impatient or having a bad day, or the machine is attached to the register and you need to pretty much lie on the counter to see it.

Try: admitting you have a vision issue and ask for help, or laugh it off.

Like mobile phones. Depending which you use, you’ll most likely need a magnifier to read texts. In certain lights the screens can be hard to read. Buttons can be small and using someone else’s phone can make you feel like a technophobe, simply because you can’t see screens buttons or functions.

Try: a variety of phones to see which suits you. A lot of pwa love apple and androids with large screens, but find what works for you.

Like microwaves, washing machines and other electronic gadgets that used to have a knob you could feel, find and move. Now it’s all touch screen and again the screen can be hard to read and the ‘buttons’ not defined enough. Sometimes buttons have finely etched writing which a PWA needs to turn to the light to read (so there is a shadow cast) or worse, fine etched writing in the same colour!   And turning something to the light isn’t practical. Many failures and interesting adventures have ensued from their attempted use.

Try: marking different buttons or calibrations with colored tape or liquid paper.

Like fast food menus. The type on the wall, behind the counter. These are a nightmare. The pictures aren’t clear and the writing impossible to read. Asking for help is awkward, and asking the same friend for help every time you visit a restaurant makes you feel like a nuisance. Monoculars help but are conspicuous to those who are shy. Some people just order the same thing time and again because it’s easier. Others take a digital photo and zoom in. Still others always have someone with them to read the screen.

Try: A lot of chains have their menus online, so it might be an idea to look there before you decide.

Like putting on makeup. Trying to get the mascara just right, the lipstick and eyeliner straight… And the nail polish on your nails not the skin or the chair… And tweezing… Tweezing what you can hardly see…

Try: getting it done! Waxing and tinting of lashes and brows, manicures and pedicures.

Like watching TV when it’s in front of or near a window. The glare means the screen is impossible to see, or the screen may just be a silhouette. And trying to read subtitles. Or see the gun in the murderer’s hand…

Try: if it’s your house, move the tv or your chair.  Sit closer. You can’t always buy a bigger tv, but maybe streaming the show/movie afterwards on a PC or tablet might make it clearer.  If its someone else’s house, ask if they’d mind closing the curtain, or admit you can’t see.

Like talking to people outside in bright light. Glare, their becoming a silhouette, having to close your eyes even with sunglasses, a hand cupped over them and a hat… Or a total whiteout wherein they are a faded image of washed out colour.

Try: telling them you need shade, or redirect your position.

Like not being able to find the dropped pin, push pin or medicinal tablet. Especially if it blends in with the floor or carpet. (our dog ate my meds one morning when one fell on the similarly colored carpet. He found it first).

Like not knowing where the stapler is at work because yesterday it was on the left of the desk and today it isn’t, and it’s black, up against the other black stationery items.

Like not being able to find anything in a handbag because the inside lining is black. The phone is black and it might be dark.

Like losing that handbag because it was sitting on a black chair with a black jacket and we didn’t see it.

Like having a big handbag because it has to hold a hat, sunblock, monocular, folding cane,  sunglasses and magnifier before we add things like cameras and purses.

Like not being able to tell the difference between credit cards if they’re a similar color without looking at it up close.

Like not seeing your child score a winning goal at sport because you can’t tell which is your child.. They all look alike.Or in a parade or a recital. Even if they are dressed differently, by he time you single them out it can be too late.

Like going to the bathroom or canteen and on return not finding friends in a theatre, cinema or sports venue unless you remember something nearby like an exit sign with the ‘T’ damaged, or that they are five rows across and three rows down from where you turned left.  Like coming into a venue last and not having a clue where they are and they’re too embarrassed to call out or hold a flag so you can find them.

Like walking past people you know well and not recognizing them.  Like people who’ve known you all your life being hurt because you walked past them without acknowledgement.

Like losing your kids in the school playground because they are in a group and you can’t tell which blonde head belongs to your baby.

Like having to memorise what people are wearing in case you get separated and you need to find them again.

Like having people tell you things are “over there” and vaguely pointing.

Like not being able to read the subtitles on foreign films and having them read to you which you know (or assume) lessens the enjoyment of the other person.

Like not getting subtleties and nuances of conversations because body language and facial expressions are lost on you.

Like not being able to read the power point presentation or the handouts at a meeting or conference or school.

Like being able to see some things and having people think you’re faking it.
The list could be added to.

It could go on forever; we all have things that bug us, things that other people don’t understand and things we wish we could have on a tshirt to stop stupid questions.

“yes my hair is really this color.”

“yes, people would pay good money to get hair this color”

“no I don’t have red eyes”

“actually I have pretty crappy eyesight”

“yes I need this much sunblock”

“no I’m not Swedish or Norwegian ”

“no nobody else in my family looks like me”

“Guess what? You have a 1/70 chance of carrying this gene too”


And no matter how much we tell people, there will still be questions. Some may seem dumb some not so.

Some we think are dumb only because we know what they don’t know.

We don’t know about their life and its situations either.
It’s about education. Subtle and gracious education.
And being thankful for what we do have and can do.
And we’re good at that, because we learn tolerance and empathy because we struggle.

And learning to laugh at the painful mess of it, because, really, what else are you going to do?

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