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Legally Blind This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Walking down the hallway at school, I hear a deep voice say, “Hi, Nicole.” As I turn to determine the speaker, all I see is a blur of graying hair and a dark shirt walking in the opposite direction. Although I could reach out and touch his arm, I can’t see his face.

“Hi,” I respond politely, hoping he won’t realize I don’t know who he is.

As a legally blind teenager, I routinely face obstacles that may seem like major challenges. I may need larger print or extended time on tests, but I am just like everyone else. When others see my enlarged worksheets or tests, they stare, and to the few who ask about them, I explain that I am legally blind. This doesn’t mean that I can’t see at all, but that my vision is worse than 20/200 and can’t be improved with corrective lenses. For example, a legally blind person with 20/200 vision has to be as close as 20 feet to identify objects that people with normal vision can spot from 200 feet away.

I was born with albinism, which means I have little pigment in my eyes, skin or hair. I am sensitive to light and squint a lot when I am outside, even with a hat. (I don’t wear sunglasses because they affect the little I can see.) I wear glasses for up-close work, but not for distance because they don’t help. In school I use a monocular, a small telescope.

People ask what my vision is like and I find it hard to describe because I don’t really know what theirs is like. I can see people’s faces when they stand four feet away, but without very much detail. I can read without glasses, but the text needs to be very close. When objects are near, I can see more detail.

I take part in extracurricular activities just like anyone, including dance and working with farm animals. I blend in and feel just like everyone else. Working with the animals makes me feel like an equal because I can do anything with them. Sometimes in class I prefer it if a teacher forgets to enlarge a paper because I feel normal. But then again, normal is overrated.

I don’t often get asked about my handicap because it’s not immediately obvious. I might not be able to drive a car, but I have had seven years of orientation and mobility training in how to read a map and travel by train, bus, or foot. I feel ready to take on the world even if I don’t get my permit.

It may seem strange, but I love to read. As a child, I was very shy and rarely talked to others, so I read books. My visual impairment doesn’t disrupt my daily routine much because I have learned to adapt. I have been very successful in school and when I am particularly challenged, I get in a I’m-never-going-to-give-up-even-if-it-kills-me mood and triumph over the challenge. Just because someone can’t see well doesn’t mean they are less determined to succeed.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Eazye 145. yahoo said...
Mar. 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm
I have bad vision, too but my parents wont liesten to me, they think that im dramatic, but it  is hard for me to see.
 
Bubbles99 said...
Feb. 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm
I can really relate to this article. I have been told that I am legally blind by my eye doctors, but I suppose my case is less severe than yours. I'm not sure what my prescription is, but I know it's somewhere around 20/200. It's not so bad that it can't be fixed without contacts, which I am extremely grateful for. But without my contacts all I see are blurs. I have to keep my contacts in until I'm literally in bed about to fall asleep. It's tough, but I really sympathize with you, and I can't i... (more »)
 
Healing_Angel said...
Jul. 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm
I have problems with my vision too and not many people understand. It can be tough.
 
Bethani said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm
thank you for saying the name of the condition you have. i know who also is legally blind and it isn't easy for him either. keep it up!
 
kkatie.chapmann said...
Jan. 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm
That's really horrible that it's like that for you. I have an eye disease. It makes it that my eyes will never stop getting worse than what they already are. They are already pretty bad and eye doctors are telling me that if my eyes keep getting worse at the rate that they are right now that I will probably be completely blind by the time I'm 30. I not worried about it but I live my life with my vision to the fullest because I have no idea if I'll be blind one day.
 
Swimming_Beyond_The_Horizon said...
Feb. 19, 2009 at 12:17 am
Wow. I'll never take pity on myself again. In my school, I am called the blind girl. I have only 20/70 (I think...) vision and have a case called "myopia" which basically means my eyes are too big and the light that enters my eyes isn't reflected properly. I also can see little without my glasses.

I once broke my glasses and had to go to school. I walked into someones locker that day...And fell down the stairs. You see, (No pun intended) without my glasses I lose sense of col... (more »)
 
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