Hello everyone and welcome to a new year and a continuation of my #DisabilityQ&A series!
To kickstart the new year we have Amelia, she is full of fun positivity and most importantly honesty! I’m very lucky to call her my friend! I hope you love her interview as much as I do!
Over to you Amelia…
Tell me about yourself:
Hi I’m Amelia Khan, 26 and I live in the sunny south (one can only dream)
What is your job?
I work in the Charity Sector
In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, having me time, socialising and following technology stuff.
Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?
What is the medical reason you have a disability? i’m Visually impaired, my condition is called Peter’s Anomaly
Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth? Yes.
Which terminology do you prefer?
Blind – but generally not amazingly fussed.
Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?
If you could extinguish your disability, would you?
No, my disability has helped me to be the person that I am today. I come from a culture where people with disabilities are made to feel inadequate – people see the disability rather than the ability. This is reflected in the way that I am perceived by people within my own community. But My disability set me apart from their thinking, as I was singled out by them. Therefore, I am more open minded, don’t judge others as easily as they do, and respect people for who they are, as apposed to whether they have a full working body. But, overall, it has shaped my outlook on life and has encouraged me to push boundaries and challenge stereotypes.
For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?
Nothing… but my brain does try to give me visual representations of my surroundings based on what people tell me and what I think is around me. However, my brain does decide to branch out sometimes and gives me some exciting colours in the form of random shapes (also known as floaters)
How has your disability affected you?
*Socially – I find it hard to meet knew people, get out as much as I would like to, and starting a conversation with people for the first time due to lack of eye contact and being wary of how they might perceive me.
*physically – I am not as active as I used to be, but slowly working on that one. My eye condition means that my eyes look smaller than other people’s, but thats no bother cause I still look hot 🙂
*Mentally – since losing my remaining vision, I have to really battle with myself to try new things, stop fearing the worst possible scenarios, I try and come across as more confident than I actually feel at times, which then makes me more anxious because I am trying to hide the fact that I am afraid/not comfortable with the situation.
Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
Yes – people see disability as a limitation, so my desire to prove people wrong, this has made me determined to achieve and push myself to my limits even if it is hard initially, but it has definitely made me a stronger and confident person.
Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability?
How do you choose your clothes – I am someone who likes to look presentable, so I have a secret system to aid me in this task. It obviously works because everyone is amazed at how me as a totally blind person can coordinate my hijab, top, trousers and shoes.
What are the positives of having a disability?
Jumping cues, especially at train stations, not waiting for the ticket barriers, train staff ensuring you get a seat, people having little expectations of you, so no pressure to live to other people’s standards (of course that doesn’t mean that you should not try to be the best that you can), the funny reactions I get when walking with my cane – either people jumping to avoid me, a group of people parting like the sea or someone just tripping over my cane as they were not looking where they were walking.
What are the negatives of having a disability?
When people make assumptions about what you cannot/can do. When people talk to your companion rather than you. When people talk to you in a tone that makes you feel like a 2 year old. Having to deal with the annoying DWP no matter if you are unemployed (on ESA) or in work (using Access to Work),
What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?
The time it takes to complete simple tasks such as making a cup of tea, or making toast, or walking from A to B.
As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home – finding my stuff that has been moved without my knowledge,
*outside your home – having to navigate street furniture, staring people and badly parked cars.
Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
*Keeping socks paired in the washing machine? – Maybe use pegs/hooks to keep them together.
*Colour coordinating your clothes – either wear black trousers with a coloured top – or the other way round. Yes, colour detectors do exist but I don’t find them amazingly reliable.
*Applying make up? just splash the foundation on your face and hope for the best *joke!!!* – I don’t wear make-up
Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?
Yes, I use a screen reader called JAWS, a Braille note to access the internet, read books and write notes.
I use a liquid leveller for making drinks. I also use apps like Google Maps when I’m out and about.
What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?
Initially it seems like your world has stopped, but this is to be expected. Ensure that you get the right support and just go with your emotions. If you don’t feel that you are ready to do something such as work or going out on your own, then don’t. Try and make a list of all the positives in your life and review it. Try and reflect on what you have achieved and assess your progress, only then will you see how life can be rebuilt again.
Yes sure it will be different, but its not the end of the road. Most of all, I would say – don’t feel like you have to go it alone, get support from family/friends, professionals if required.,
Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?
Dare I say it, we are all ‘normal’ people, so next time you see a person with a disability/visual impairment, stop and say hello instead of watching them as if they are gonna explode into a million bits any second.
Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
Yes. I have had support from local and national sight loss charities.
Where can people find you out in the world?
*Twitter – @amelias_words
Anything you’d like to add my lovely?
Life can definitely throw twists and turns which seem unbearable at times, but I wouldn’t change my sight loss for the world, as someone once wisely said “your disability doesn’t define you, but never forget how it has helped to shape you”.
❤❤ Thank you so much Amelia for taking the time to be interviewed! I love your positive attitude, and your sense of humour! It clearly shows your drive and determination to see the positive in life rather than the negative. I think we could all learn that lesson from you! Your honesty, sincerity and humour are fabulous traits to have. Thank you for sharing your story and giving some fab tips! ❤❤
If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?