Those with Low Vision Collect Information from the Environment differently

Those with Low Vision Collect Information from the Environment differently

Posted on Nov.05, 2012, by , under Educational

Those of us with low vision or blindness collect information about our environment differently than sighted people.  That stands to reason when you consider that we have one less sense to rely on.

I often hear that people without vision or who have low vision have their other senses enhanced.  Let me put that to rest.  Other senses are not improved.  Rather, we just rely on and use them differently.  A couple of examples may help to explain this.

When I walk on a quiet street I can generally hear traffic even if I cannot see it.  Now add someone cutting the grass with a power mower.  The sound will oftentimes mean that I cannot hear traffic either. As a result I sometimes take a different route when someone has the unmitigated gall to cut their lawn while I am walking!   Speaking of traffic, all you Prius owners should get a real car.  I know you think you are all cool being green and all but you piss me off!  I cannot hear your damn car!  Forget the environment.  This is about ME.  And for those drivers who do not pull up to the stop lines thinking you are helping when I am waiting to cross the street, think again.  I want to know where you are.  I don’t trust you anyway so as least be sporting and let me know where you are lying in wait.  Oops, I mean where you are idling.

Another difference in collecting info is when we go up or down stairs.  A sighted person sees the stairs and automatically knows where the handrails are, the approximate number of stairs, where the landings are, whether or not there is an obstruction on the stairs, etc.  This info is usually collected and processed in less than a second.

I deal with stairs with the use of the long white cane.  With the cane I will know when I come to stairs and how to go either up or down them.  I can do this through my senses of feel (through the cane) and hearing the sounds that the cane makes going up or doesn’t make, going down.  Obstructions are a little harder but hardly impossible.  Occasionally people will decide to sit on, oh say, subway or train stairs.  These stairs are not park benches where you and your friends can sit and amuse one another.  To the person that I recently hit in the head with the cane, it was not an accident.  And when I said I was sorry I didn’t mean it.  Keep out of the way, will you please!  I have enough trouble without having to fear tripping over your idle butt.

I also hear about people out riding bicycles, walking, jogging, etc. while wearing dual headphones.  Do yourself a favor.  Get a single headphone device which puts your stereo channels into a single ear bud.  They are not great but a lot safer than blocking both your ears.

If you are blind or have low vision you just have to get a long white cane to assist you with your orientation and mobility.  (You could get a dog but that’s a whole other deal.  Any questions?

Dick Barbuto