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

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

A Day Of Not Looking At My screen!

by Chelsey Zumpano

As a Blogger and YouTuber: I spend a lot of time looking at a screen, but this isn’t good for my eyes, (or anyones really). I read that your supposed to spend twenty minutes looking at your screen and twenty minutes looking away from it, but I did one better and didn’t look at my screen at all for two days! It really helped my eyes feel good. What I did was turn on VoiceOver and then I turned on the screen curtain. I read with my BrailleNote and listened to VoiceOver talk. It’s something I want to do all the time now.

I want to work staying off my Ipad all together and doing more things that don’t involve looking at a screen. Here is a list of hobbies to get myself off the screen.

1 walking the dogs

2 playing with the dogs

3 sewing

4 painting and drawing

5 reading on my BrailleNote

6 listening to an audio book

7 writing on my BrailleNote

9 dancing

10 learning guitar

11 doing craft projects

12 going on a bike ride

At least three of these are still on my Ipad, but the others involve me doing something else. If you have anymore ideas for me or want to share some of your own hobbies, tell me 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.

Meet the Blind Month: Stephanae’s Journey

by Stephanae McCoy

It was 2005 and as long as I live I’ll never forget the moment it happened. I took out my right contact lens and while still looking in the mirror—my face vanished. 

 

Hi my name is Stephanae McCoy, abilities crusader and founder of www.boldblindbeauty.com a website designed to empower blind and visually impaired women while connecting sighted and non-sighted communities. Thank you Chelsey for inviting me to participate in your Meet The Blind Project for October.

 

My sight loss journey spanned four years and began with one macular hole in my left eye. There were no warning signs and the best I can surmise is that it happened sometime during the day it appeared or the night before. 

 

As a high myope (extremely nearsighted) all of my life, my contact lenses brought everything into clear focus. Since my prescription was so strong when I took out the right contactrendering my right eye almost sightlessthe remaining vision in my left eye couldn’t detect my face because of the macular hole. 

 

At the time of the first macular hole, I could still detect light and colors but everything I looked at with my left eye was distorted. It was like looking in a funhouse mirror where the jumbled reflection was similar to looking through a kaleidoscope.

 

Due to a number of factors my prognosis was extremely good and I was assured by my retina specialist that my sight would be restored. The restoration process included a number of surgical procedures which worked of a time, then failed. Fast forward four years with issues in both eyes including: a macular pucker, epiretinal membrane, retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts, broken blood vessels, and uveitis I was declared legally blind.

 

I have no usable eyesight in my right eye and rely heavily on the residual sight in my left. Since I can no longer see the eye chart my doctors measure my vision with finger counting and hand waving. 

 

When I was declared legally blind this was the moment where I was told nothing more could be done. While it was true nothing more medically could be done I’m so thankful that wasn’t the end of my story. There are many tools and trainings available to help people who’ve lost their sight regain and sustain their independence.

 

Today I run Bold Blind Beauty sharing with the world the capabilities of blind and visually impaired people. The idea here is to dispel misconceptions and build awareness and appreciation for our unique attributes. Bold Blind Beauty believes Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.

 

You can connect with me on the following social media platforms:

 

Website: www.boldblindbeauty.com

Facebook: @BoldBlindBeauty

Twitter: @BoldBlindBeauty

Instagram: @BoldBlindBeauty