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

Raised by Visionally Impaired Parents: An Interview with Glin from Well Eye Never!

by Chelsey Zumpano

Glin is a fellow Blogger and YouTuber, he’s also visionally impaired, but unlike me he has been raised by parents who also happend to be visionally impaired. So I asked him some questions about what it was like growing up.

1 Do you have the same visual impairment as your parents and either way what is the name/names of it?

I have the same conditions as my mother – aniridia and nystagmus. Aniridia means I don’t have an iris (the coloured circle) in my eye, so my eyes don’t adjust to changes in light properly. As a result, I’m very sensitive to glare and I find it hard to adjust in the dark. Nystagmus means my eyes shake and wobble all the time. This makes it harder for me to focus on things, unless they’re close up or enlarged.

My mother’s sight got a lot worse over time, so it’s possible mine could too. But so far it’s been quite stable and I can still see reasonably well.

My father’s visual impairment was caused by a rare condition called Behcets disease, which also affected his blood flow and immune system. But I didn’t inherit that. His sight was a bit better than my mum’s, although still not great.

2 Did your parents have different techniques for raising you (particularly when you were a baby and toddler)?

Not really, they raised me like any parent would, as far as I remember. They were very independent and able to look after themselves and me very well, so we were quite a normal family. We did have support from social services in terms of getting help with any equipment or adaptations we might need, but for general child-raising my parents were no different to any others at the end of the day. They were loving and supportive and encouraging like all parents should be.

3 Do you have any siblings and if not do you wish you did?

No, I’m an only child. It meant I got all the attention, as my parents looked after me well, so I was happy with that! It still could have been nice to have a brother or sister to play with, especially when I was struggling to make friends at school to begin with. But I got used to being an only child and was comfortable with it. And once I did start to make friends at school and gradually become more confident, the lack of a sibling didn’t matter.

4 Did your parents visual impairments help you to accept that part of yourself more easier?

It helped a lot, yes. The very first school I went to was a mainstream school, so I was around kids who weren’t disabled. I was bullied there because of my visual impairment, and the teachers didn’t know how to help. So going back home to my parents was a great comfort, because they knew what it was like for me, and I felt safe and happy with them. If they had been normal sighted and not understood, it could have been even more difficult for me, as I didn’t know any other visually impaired people at that stage. So I was glad and grateful that they did understand and knew how to support me.

And as soon as they saw I was being bullied, they moved me to a new school as quickly as they could. They found a special school for children with visual impairments, which proved to be much better for me. It still took me a while to build up my confidence, but whenever things were tough I always knew my parents would be there for me. And as I grew up they were able to show me how to do things independently despite my sight loss. So they helped me a great deal.

5 What’s your favorite memory growing up with your parents?

Family holidays. We would visit London a few times each year, to stay with my grandparents and see my aunt and uncle, and go out and about in the city. We’d go to museums, have walks by the Thames, explore the shops, go to musicals at the theatre, enjoy pantomimes at Christmas, etc, and we even did a few day trips to the coast of France as well. Where we used to live there wasn’t much to do, so coming to London was always a wonderful treat, as there’s so much going on here.

These days, my mother and I now live in London, in the house we inherited from my nan. Moving in felt very natural, because I’d already spent so much time here growing up, so it already felt like a second home. Being here brings back a lot of fond memories.

6 What are some different ways you traveled as a family?

My parents couldn’t drive, so in our local area we used buses to get around, or taxis if it was more convenient. And when we travelled longer distances, especially to London, we used the train. We would get a train that went straight through if possible, so we didn’t have to get off and change trains along the way. In London itself we mainly used the Underground trains (the Tube) to get around, but occasionally we would use the buses, or my aunt and uncle would drive us to places.

7 Did you ever think that there was anything different about your parents?

I knew my parents found it harder to do some things than other people did, and I understood that, because I was the same as them. And I also knew we weren’t ‘normal’ compared to most other people, because of all the normally sighted children I saw at my first school, and normal sighted adults I’d met as well. I just couldn’t understand why people like the bullies had a problem with it, until I got older and realised they simply didn’t understand and had issues of their own that they needed help for.

8 Did seeing your parents do things independently help you to be confident in doing those things yourself?

Yes. It was comforting to know that they were able to do things, because that meant I would also be able to, and they could help me if I needed it. They always found a way of doing the things they needed to do, so they were able to show me how to be independent, and they helped me to understand that most things are possible, even if you have to do them a bit differently to other people. And I still have that attitude today. If something seems hard, I always take a step back and try to think if there are better ways of achieving it, because there often is.

9 Did your parents use a cane or guide dog and do you have any favorite memories of that?

They didn’t use either. For quite a while my dad could just see well enough to navigate without an aid, so Mum would go out with him and be guided by him, instead of going out alone. And then as I got older, I became a guide for my mum and dad as and when necessary, because I have the best sight of all of us. And I still take my mum out now, she doesn’t go out on her own.

10 Did your parents use any assistive technology?

Yes. They had a big CCTV magnifier for reading things, a monocular (a little telescope) for looking at things when out and about (e.g. signs, bus numbers, train information, etc), and they used gadgets like talking scales in the kitchen, talking watches and talking clocks, a talking calculator, a talking tape measure, etc. And they loved listening to audiobooks too.

Another gadget they had was a Penfriend, which was a device shaped like a fat pen. It came with small labels that you could stick on things. You would record a message for each label, to describe the object that it was attached to, and then scanning the label with the pen would play the message back. It came in useful for Dad to identify his DVDs for instance, as we could stick a label on to each of the cases and make a short recording saying what it was.

So my parents did find talking technology very useful, and indeed my mother still does, as she has a Victor Stream Player for listening to audiobooks and the radio, and we have Amazon Echo machines that we can talk to. But we also use simple solutions like Bump ons, which are small raised dots that you can stick things. They’re useful on appliances like the cooker and washing machine where you have to turn dials, as you can put these dots on the numbers you most commonly use, and then you can feel when you’ve turned the dial to the number you want.

11 What’s your favorite advice your parents gave you about your visual impairment?

It was their general attitude rather than a particular piece of advice that stuck with me and inspired me. They had a very positive outlook on life and always encouraged me to try the things I wanted to do, because there’s always a way of achieving what you want to achieve. So I’ve had that mindset for a long time, particularly as my confidence has grown. I don’t let things get me down too much, I try my best at things, and I grasp opportunities when they arise. You only live once, so enjoy it and make the most of it as best you can.

12 What advice do you have to kids of parents with disabilities and to parents who have disabilities?

To the children I would say don’t worry that your parents are disabled. They are still normal people, they just have to do things a bit differently sometimes. It doesn’t mean they can’t look after you and care for you, and they can still enjoy themselves. They will still love you and support you and do everything they can for you, so that you can be happy and have fun and be successful. And you’ll learn a lot from them too, about how to be independent and make the most of what you have, which will be very important for later life. So you’ll be fine. Many of my visually impaired friends had visually impaired parents, and they’ve been very happy and successful, it’s not held them back.

Likewise to the parents I would also say don’t worry. Being disabled doesn’t stop you from being good parents and helping your child to live a fulfilling life. If you need help and advice along the way, then there’s lots of information and support out there. You may have social services and disability groups in your local area that can help you, there will be national charities that can advise and assist you, and you may be able to get funding for certain items of equipment or assistive services if you need it. And of course there is a wealth of information on the internet, from blogs and Youtube videos where people post about their experiences and give useful tips and advice, to Facebook groups where you can join in with community discussions and ask questions. So you’re definitely not alone. It may be tough sometimes, of course, but the support is out there, so make sure you seek it out and use it.

Blog and social media links:

Blog – https://welleyenever.com


Youtube – https://youtube.com/c/WellEyeNever

Twitter – https://twitter.com/well_eye_never


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/welleyenever/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/welleyenever/

Email – welleyenever@icloud.com

If you would like to contribute to this blog or YouTube channel, please email: viblindresources@gmail.com