Why I Don’t Use the Word Sighted or Disabled #ControversialThoughts

by Chelsey Zumpano

A lot of my fellow VI/blind people use the word “sighted” when talking about people who don’t have a vision impairment. But I’ve never really used this word before. First off I want to say that I do not care if you use it! You do whatever feels right for you.

One of the reasons I don’t use “sighted” is because I still have sight, (limited sight in one eye, but still sight), and there for it doesn’t feel right for me to use that word. The second reason is that people use the word negatively and that sticks in my brain. They also use it as if it’s the only thing about them that matters! People do this the same with our blindness and that’s never okay! Treat others how you want to be treated and try to help others understand us.

I’m okay with using the word “disability.” To quote myself, “I have a disability, but my disability does not have me!” I prefer to put the person before the disability and you might say, but you’ve put “blind girl” in the titles of your YouTube videos? That’s because I want people to see that and not feel alone. Yes, i’d rather write “girl who is blind,” but sometimes that doesn’t flow right. We shouldn’t just refer to people just by one part of them because we are all people with feelings and lives beyond that one thing! I want people to know that you are more then just one part of yourself. you are many parts that adds up into one person.

The thing is I never refer to myself as being disabled: I usually say, “I’m visionally impaired or I have a vision impairment and that I have anxiety.” (And yes, I consider my anxiety a disability). I don’t like using the word “disable” because for me it sounds negative and like I can’t do anything. I never see my vision as an obstacle to get over and I just have to do some things differently, but you know what? Everyone does things differently! Everyone learns differently, has different shoe sizes, has different favorite movies, likes different foods, and that has nothing to do with a disability.

I use to use the word “differently abled” and I might start using it again. This word sounds more positive and includes everyone. It sounds better to me, then “disabled or even disability.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

What Is Normal?

by Chelsey Zumpano

I hate the word normal! It implies you have to be a certain way or there’s something wrong with you! I use average because it’s a spectrum. If I’m going to say somethings “normal,” I’ll usually say it’s “my normal” because that thing or situation is my experience. Another reason I don’t say “normal” is because it generalizes a situation or group of people.

Much like lables “being normal” puts pressure on us. My advice to anyone who’s struggling right now is to be yourself and be kind to others, try to understand what others are going through. Being kind to others is hard for some people to do and that’s not okay! The same going for understanding what people are going through! My personal opinion is that as long as no one is hurting anyone, then just let them live their life and give them some respect.

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

My Most Used Apps

by Chelsey Zumpano

(I’m sorry there are no links. For some reason it wasn’t letting me use them).

1 Audible because I am a major book worm and I can listen to audio books on my Alexa, Iphone, and Ipad.

2 Facebook is where I post most things for this Blog and YouTube because it’s the most accessible.

3 YouTube because not only do I upload videos, but I also watch a lot of videos.

4 The WordPress app is what this blog is hosted through.

5 Imovie is the most accessible app to edit videos.

6 BARD is an awesome book reading service through the Library of Congress and specifically for people who are blind or have learning disabilities. This is where I’m rereading ‘Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard’ by Rick Riordan in braille.

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

Happy Thanks Giving and What I’m Thankful For Part 3

by Chelsey Zumpano

I’m writing this while the delicious smell of turkey fills my house. Here’s another list of what I’m thankful for.

1 I’m surrounded by a loving family. My family is all healthy and happy.

2 My animals may drive us all crazy sometimes, but I love them anyway.

4 That I have a ruth over my head and food to eat.

5 I’m thankful for this Blog and YouTube and that I’m able to educate and help people with every new post.

6 I’m thankful for every new follower, like, subscriber, comment, and share.

7 I’m thankful for my vision and the fact that being legally blind means I get to help others in our community.

8 My cane helps me get around and for people to recognize me as blind.

9 My coping skills for my anxiety is something I’m extremely grateful for.

10 The fact I will be applying for a guide dog very soon.

Tell me what your thankful for in the comments.

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

We Need Representation!

by Chelsey Zumpano

A girl walking in the ocean with her white cane out in front of her. She is wearing a red baseball hat, her brown hair in a ponytail, purple sun glasses, Christmas tree earrings, a purple sweater, and blue jeans.

(painting credit goes to Chelsey Zumpano).

Representation is extremely important because it allows you to see yourself in that character, to identify with their experiences, to have a character just like you, and to not feel alone. I know of a lot of LGBTQ representation from Korra and Assami who are bisexual and girlfriends from The Legend of Korra,’ Nico  di Angelo coming out as gay in Rick Riordan’s ‘Heros of Olympus,’ and my favorite character Alex Fierro being Gender Fluid and Transgender in ‘Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard’ by Rick Riordan. Then I can name to characters on the Autism Spectrum Sam from ‘Atypical’ and Shaun Murphy from ‘The Good Doctor'” But there is very little representation of characters who are blind.

Imagine all those lives the characters touched and helped come out, accept themself, or give them hope that they can do more then they think! Now imagine you were born blind, or you just lost your sight or discovered that you were going to lose it over time. You need something to show it’s okay and to help accept yourself. No matter what your trying to accept about yourself you need a little help getting there.

I can only think of three characters that are blind!

• Matt Murdock ‘Daredevil’

Now I haven’t watched much of ‘Daredevil’ and so far the representation is okay. Matt lost his sight from radioactive chemicals, (which according to google), gave him super heightened senses. The fact that his senses are heightened is lots better, then just Hollywood making it out like us blind are all super humans. But the one thing I don’t like is that there’s this seen where matt’s two friends are on a date and they are touching each other’s face, “to see how Matt sees” and no that’s not a thing we do! Please don’t add that in movies’ books or TV shows! If we want to know what you look like describe yourself to us. The reason why I think people think we do this is because Helen Keller, (who was both deaf and blind), so she had to touch people’s lips to feel what they were saying. (Don’t quote me on that because I saw it on facebook, so correct me if I’m wrong about her touching people’s lips).

• Toph BeiFong from ‘Avatar the last Airbender’

Toph was born blind and her parents treated her like she was helpless, but she proved them wrong by learning earthbending from the Badgermoles and she then uses this ability to do echolocation by feeling the vibrations in the earth. She secretly participates in Earthbending tournaments where she has several wins. She then goes to teach Aang Earthbending, (against her parentts wishes). She becomes the first metalbender and starts an academy for it. In ‘The Legend of Korra’ she was the former police chief and raised two daughters.

• Ethan Nakamura from ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ by Rick Riordan

Ethan was a Demigod son of the Greek Goddess Nemesis. Nemesis is the Goddess of balance, retribution, and revenge. Epan’s mother promised him that he’d one day balance the world’s power in exchange for his left eye. He proves just because you have a visual impairment that doesn’t mean you can’t fight with a sword and we can be on either side of a war.

That is only three characters, from three different medias and genres. There needs to be way more! Here are some tips for having a blind character.

• Having your character move your cane from side, to side out in front of them in an ark gives lots more tactile feed back because your keeping constant contact with the ground.

• Less then 10 percent of blind people do not have any light perception at all.

• I personaly wear regular glasses, (with out any prescription), to protect my eyes and sun glasses because my eyes have truble adjusting when I go in and out, so keep in mind that others could have light sensitivity as well. I also wear reading glasses when drawing to help with blurryness.

• Guide dogs do not see traffic lights and so the handler has to tell the dog when to go by listening to the trafic, but the dog can stop if there’s a car right in front of them.

• When using a phone I have the brightness and text at 100 percent. I also use VoiceOver, (which is a screen reader for IOS).

• If your character is in main stream school they will have an IEP, (Individual Education Plan), and this is for kids and teens with disabilities to get extra help and accommodations You can read about mine in ‘My true story growing up visionally impaired.’

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

In the comments let me know of some good movies, books, or TV shows with a blind character.

Purple Tuesday UK: Accessible Shopping

by Chelsey Zumpano

Chelsey wearing a purple sweater, purple leggings, purple cat-eye glasses, and gray boots. She has her orange, blue, and yellow cane in her right hand.

Purple Tuesday is on November 13th in the UK and is an accessible shopping day for those of us with disabilities. I think this is a great starting point and should be an on going thing! Now I’m not in the UK, but I’m in the US and I’m going to give some of my tips to make shopping accessible for us blind.

1 Treat us like everyone else and ask us if we need help when we walk in the store.

2 Say I’m looking for a sweater and you say, “It’s over there.” Yeah don’t do that! Take me to the sweaters by doing sighted guide, “my hand on your arm just above your elbow.” I can also follow you or you can tell me where the sweaters are by saying, “The sweaters are to racks to your left.”

3 If I ask what colors you have, then you describe them to me. Don’t just say, “it’s purple.” Say, “It’s dark purple with red tones.”

4 Then when I’m paying let me know where the card reader is. I can put my pin in myself, and let me know if it asks me for cash back. If the keypad doesn’t have the little dot on the five, I’ll do credit instead. Then you will direct me where to sign.

5 Please let me know what bag you put the receipt in. When handing me the bags make sure you hand me both handles.

6 When shopping online please have ALT text on your pictures and this allows you to add image desscriptions. Make sure image descriptions are extremely detailed, from the style of the outfit, to the color, if it has any graphics, lace, if the jeans have holes, or if the shirt falls off one sholder.

7 Make sure all the links are readable with a screen reader and able to be clicked on when using a screen reader.

If you have any tips leave them in the comments and if you went shopping today let me know what you got.

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

An Idea To Help Us Blind and Others With Disabilities During Disasters! #LetsStartTheConversation

by Chelsey Zumpano

With all the fires going on here in California: there needs to be something to help us with disabilities! A lot of us with disabilities can’t drive and there for when something like these fires are going on we can get traped! We need a service that can come check on us during an emergency and make sure we have some way to get out, then if not they can provide a ride to a safe place.

This service can be provided if your on social security, (SSI and SSD), if you were recently released from the hospital after surgery or some other health problem that means it would make it hard to leave in a hurry, people that have a Dial-A-Ride card, people who are in a wheel chair, people who have a seeing-eye-cane, people who have a service dog or emotional support animal, and more.

You might be wondering, “but how is this going to work?” It would be a volunteer service and the volunteers would check on the clients during a voluntary evacuation and if the client wanted to leave then they’d take them to somewhere safe, (which could be the volunteers’ home). We’d spread the word about this service at all different organizations.

In the mean time here is a list of things you can pack in an emergency!

1 water

2 nonperishaple food

3 gummy candy/something sweet for low blood sugar

4 first aid kit

5 a pair of PJs

flashlight and batteries, (even if your blind because you can use it to get others attention).

7 extra food/water for your service dog

My prayers and thoughts go out to everyone who has been effected by the fires. I hope this is helpful and if anyone does want to help me with this project send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com