11 Oct The Emotional Toll of Passing as “Sighted”
Many of my low vision students could tell the next story, but Jody W. Ianuzzi has shared her personal experience with me that fits so many. She has gone through the experience "passing as sighted, of not using a cane and not learning blind skills" and how it almost killed her and her 4 year old son from not seeing a car. She has come out the other end to confidently travel and do anything she needs with blind skills. She now has a son 36 years old and a 26 year old daughter, who can attest to her "trying to pass as sighed."
Trying to pass as sighted takes a "tremendous emotional toll" on a person, as Jody explains, "They feel they have a horrible secret to hide and if it is found out they feel like they are a failure. They feel they must pick between being an incompetent blind person or a competent sighted person. They don't realize they can be a competent blind person with skills to succeed. So much effort goes in to 'passing skills' they miss out on learning the blindness skills they really need to succeed. Then when they can't succeed as sighted, they hate themselves and they feel like a failure.
I got past all this myself but it took years. I look back and I am angry at my parents and teachers for not teaching me what I needed to learn and for expecting me to be something I was not. On one hand, peope did not label me as blind, and was allowed to do more because I was passing and did not have that blind label follow me! Children labeled blind are often restricted on what they can do because the ignorance of those over them stops them. My self-esteem is intact now, but at what price. I know other blind people who had the same experience growing up in the 60s and they didn't do as well emotionally."
— Thank you Jody for this except