Welcome back to my #DisabilityQ&A campaign 🙂

Today’s interview is brought to you by Holly, she has quite a social media presence and is a fantastic advocate for people with disabilities, especially visual impairment. I got in touch with her via Twitter and asked if she would like to join and she agreed 🙂

Over to you Holly;

Tell me about yourself:
Hi, I’m Holly
22
and I live in Coventry for university, but York is my home.
What is your job?
I am a student, studying Spanish at Coventry University.

What hobbies do you have?

Reading and reviewing books, writing, making videos, and travelling.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?

I have LCA (Lebers congenital amaurosis).

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?

Yes

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired, Sight
Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?

Blind.

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?

I am a guide dog handler but was previously a cane user.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please
explain why.

I don’t really have a clear answer for this. I am really comfortable with
who I am, and am not sure that, if given the choice, I’d want to see. When
people go blind they require a huge amount of rehabilitation and I believe
the same would be true if I regained my vision, especially as I’ve been
blind since birth.

My blindness is part of my identity, it has shaped my choices and
experiences and I’m not sure what my life would be without it at this
point.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?

I have light perception only.

How has your disability effected you?
*Socially

I think that socially there are two sides to it. On the one hand, people
feel quite uncomfortable when faced with disability and this can certainly
affect the way they behave around me. On the other hand I have met many
people through travel and attending events that I would never have come
across otherwise. In many ways I believe that blindness has given me the
opportunity to expand my world view.

*physically

Although my eye condition doesn’t affect me physically I do have joint
problems, most prominently my hips, that cause me pain. I am still able to
do almost everything, though found I wasn’t physically able to participate
fully once I joined my university’s ice skating society this year.

*Mentally

I get very tired sometimes, I suspect from sensory overload which can be
quite disruptive, but in general I am absolutely fine 🙂

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?

I think I have had experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise, for example
making friends with people in many different countries. This has lead me
to travel which is an amazing thing to do, and I’m glad I’m doing it now
I’m a student and have the time!

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your
disability?

I often get asked why I’m blind/what’s wrong with me. Unless the person
has a reason for asking, for example they have become friends with me, or
they are doing so for medical purposes I usually decline to answer. I feel
like there are many more interesting things about me, and strangers should
get to know me first, rather than fixating on my disability.

What are the positives of having a disability?

Shared lived experiences with a diverse community, opportunities for
travel, creativity to find a work-around for inaccessible situations.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

You often have to work harder to access things which can be tiring and
frustrating.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?

The most difficult thing for me is constantly challenging peoples
expectations of blindness. Sometimes I just want to go somewhere and not
have to educate, but at the same time I believe that education is really
powerful.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily /
weekly
basis that frustrate you?
*outside your home

I don’t really like to be touched, especially by strangers and it
frustrates me that people will often grab me without asking. I am always
grateful to receive an offer of help, as I have the choice to accept or
decline. However when that choice is taken away from me I feel very
uncomfortable.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on
to another
VI/ disabled person?
*Colour coordinating your clothes

I learnt what colours match and I pair my clothes using that knowledge.

*Applying make up?

I apply all my own makeup, and have made a video tutorial explaining how i
do this. I’m planning on making more in the future as I realise it’s an
area where we are lacking in information.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

Yes, I use Blindsquare: this is a GPS app designed for the blind.
I also use TapTapSee: A photo app that briefly describes images that you have taken whilst in the app itself.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going
through a
deterioration in vision / or mobility?

Gain as many non visual skills as you can. People think when they lose
their sight that they will become helpless, but this doesn’t have to be
the case. As a blind person you can live a completely full, independent
life. But it takes time and effort. Seek out your local sensory support
service and request to receive services from them. If you know you are
going blind then practise skills under blindfold. It might be scary at
first but you’ll know you are prepared, rather than feeling like you’ve
fallen in at the deep end once you lose your vision.

Surround yourself with positive blind role models. Ask them how they cook,
or clean, or use their computers. There are no stupid questions. Challenge
your preconceptions of blindness, there are so many things you can do as a
blind person.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?

Never assume that a blind person can’t do something, just because they are
blind. Maybe it takes longer for them to find a specific doorway, or they
go about it a different way, but the way we navigate, or cook, or raise
children is just as valid. Always ask before jumping in to help, and be
willing to learn something new 🙂

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your
family
deal with your situation?

Not really, but as a young adult I have attended activities ran by VICTA a number of times.




Where can people find you out in the world?
*Blog: http://catchthesewords.com
*YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/holly2094
*FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/catchthesewords
*Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/catchthesewords
*Email: holly@catchthesewords.com

Thank you Holly for taking part. in this series. I found your interview extremely interesting and your thoughts definitely opened my eyes to yet another perspective on disability! 🙂

Please don’t forget to follow her links, and why not share the love? Leave her a comment, we would both appreciate it!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?
Interview 1
Interview 2
Interview 3
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10
Interview 11
Interview 12




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