Here at On the Blink, I’m celebrating Blindness Awareness Month by interviewing my blind friends and colleagues. The first interview in this series is with Susan, the creator of Adventures in Low Vision.
Susan, age 33, is an administrative assistant in a law office. She enjoys reading voraciously, writing thoughtfully, and cooking with abandon. At Adventures in Low Vision, she writes about her experiences of vision loss in “Mayberry,” Maryland. She describes her low vision as “a tug-of-war of changes in the past decade or so.” When asked why she chooses a white cane, she says, “It empowers me to move freely and independently and signals to others that no, I’m not drunk or a snob, I have a visual impairment.”
What is the most consistent challenge or frustration you experience with your low vision? How do you handle it?
Hmmm. Probably not recognizing people/faces like I used to before my vision loss. Friends who understand my disability will announce themselves or whatever, but for all those times I’m in a group or interacting with the general public, I can feel like I’m lost and struggling to understand what’s going on as silent communication like smiles, nods, gestures escape me. I focus on people nearby. When I don’t know what to do, I ask and if appropriate, let them know I have a visual impairment. Later on, when I’m just with him, I’ll ask my husband about things to catch up. Sometimes I’m frustrated, sometimes I can roll with it.
What would you say is the most harmful or annoying belief that people have about vision loss?
How do you cope with this belief? That people with vision loss are helpless. I cope with it by being myself and showing by example a disability means you learn new ways to do the things you want to do. I work and play and am a part of society and I happen to use a white cane and magnification to do so. (Has anyone seen my iPhone charger by the way?)
What resources have helped you to handle your low vision best, either in everyday matters or in moments of crisis?
Wine. OK, seriously. My state’s rehabilitation services helped with services like OT, orientation and mobility therapy, job searching and assistive equipment for work. My iPhone in all kinds of ways. My husband and immediate family and friends, (my Stocktons if you read my blog!) provide incredible emotional support when needed, too.
How has blogging affected you as a writer?
The outlet allows me to experiment and get feedback from different styles. It’s helped me to find my voice and connect with others.
What do you look for in a good blog, whether it’s writing your own posts or reading someone else’s?
Evidence of edited passion. I cast aside rants and long diaries of daily activity. When I find a piece that’s entertaining, interesting and thoughtful, I am drawn in and stick with it.
Is your blog your main writing outlet or do you write or publish elsewhere?
My blog’s my first outlet, hopefully not the last. The Baltimore Sun published an essay I wrote. I’ve submitted other essays elsewhere and I’ve finished the draft of a manuscript, but I’m making major changes to it. We’ll see what the future holds.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate autumn?
Sip mulled cider, perhaps spiked with a little bourbon, and sit by a crackling fire with my husband. Reading whilst wrapped in my Buffalo Bills snuggie with a terrier at my feet is a close second.
What is a book that you could read over and over again? Why do you feel this way about it?
I don’t tend to re-read many books. I revisit my childhood favorite, Matilda, every few years. Oh, I do have a soft spot for the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale, too. And, once I discover a writer I like, I will plow through most of their work. I’m more of a movie rewatcher.
What book, person, or perspective makes you feel most centered as a writer?
The kind of mindset I hold after I’ve meditated or done yoga. Also, when I read something from a writer who conveys their thoughts honestly and efficiently with a dash of humor, that resonates with me and reminds me to hold true to that kind of writing.
What is one dream you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?
The welsh terrier farm is probably unreasonable. I want to publish a book or two.
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Want to know more? Head over to Susan’s blog to read some “evidence of edited passion.”
Keep reading this month! More interviews are on the way. It’s exciting to have some new voices around here.