The visually impaired community struggles every day with their loss of sight. However, this disability doesn’t make them any less human. It doesn’t make them worth any less than a sighted individual. It doesn’t make them any less capable.

Yet, they are faced with challenges such as a lack of access to information, stigmatization, and stereotypes.

Sight is something most people take for granted. It is far more valuable than we realise. Just one glimpse of our surroundings makes us aware of everything around us. More than half our knowledge comes through the means of visual information (billboards, signs, landmarks etc.) and unfortunately, braille isn’t as prevalent as it should be. Therefore, information is not easily accessible to the visually impaired community. Often, they aren’t given access to appropriate education, making life much harder for them.

On top of this, they face an abundance of stereotypes and stigmas. These go to the extreme ends of a spectrum, from people thinking they’re worthless to people finding them far too inspiring. Intentionally or unintentionally, people tend to show pity instead of empathy. They over-help, thinking a disability makes them incapable. This is extremely shunning and makes it seem like they are completely dependent on sighted people. A decline in mental health is seen in many cases of visual impairment, or disability in general. The stigmatization degrades their view of themselves. When people think they are incapable, they start feeling helpless. As they say, words can be stronger than daggers. Comments negatively impact everyone, and the visually impaired face them every day.

In order to not make life harder for them, let us keep a few things in mind. Firstly, always and always ask for permission before assisting them, though if they do say yes, do not hesitate to let them take your arm. Do not relocate objects or furniture without informing them, as spatial awareness is very important for them. Do not infantilize them, use ordinary language when talking to them. Lastly, don’t think of them as blind or disabled or inferior or incapable or brave or inspiring. Just think of them as people. Just people like you and me, who just happen to be unable to see.

To conclude, ableism has deep roots in our society. From the lack of blind-friendly structures to the complete glorification of their lives. They stem from the inaccessibility of our world. They need to be given more credit and respect.

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