Holly is currently at university studying to become a teacher. She’s blind and writes a blog documenting her everyday experiences. Here she talks about some of her awkward moments as part of our #EndTheAwkward campaign.
Using a cane
I was using my cane around school, doing the usual left-to-right motions when I accidentally knocked someone with my cane. This person was in the same year as me and she started shouting and swearing at me in the corridor in front of others. I felt really embarrassed because it was an accident. This really did knock my confidence when using my cane and at one point I didn’t use it at all because I was so anxious. I have always felt that when using my long cane it makes me stand out so I don’t look “normal” so as you can imagine, this encounter really did have an effect on me.
“Everyone close your eyes so you know what it’s like to be blind”
It was my first day of year seven, and like everyone else I was very nervous because I was starting a new school and meeting new people. I had my first P.E lesson (I hated doing P.E) so I wasn’t really looking forward to it but I had to do it anyway.
Things were going well until one moment which changed everything. The teacher said to the class “everyone close your eyes and carry out this activity so you know what it’s like to be blind, and you know how Holly feels.” I felt embarrassed and upset and angry. Not only was this wrong, I also thought that people would just have that opinion of me, ‘the blind girl.’
I would just like to point out and say that this is not a representation or a true picture of what it’s like to be blind. Many people that are blind or severely sight impaired, including myself do have light perception or other vision.
The teacher did eventually apologise but this is something that I will always remember.
“She’s blind, she can’t sit there”
A few years ago I was going on holiday with my mum and dad and was pretty excited. We arrived at the airport to check-in etc and when it came to getting our seats, my mum and dad asked if we could sit near the front. The woman behind the desk simply told my parents “she’s blind so she can’t sit there.” They asked why and she didn’t really say. We came to some arrangement but then she said “Does she even have a passport?” Just because I’m blind why would I not have a passport? I’m just like everyone else. I felt quite self-conscious and embarrassed.
Also, why couldn’t she have asked me myself instead of asking my parents for me? Whenever this happens I do speak for myself all the time but it still makes me feel very awkward in situations like this.
You’re blind so how do you have an opinion?
I’ve come across many people that think just because I’m blind, I cannot have opinions or like things that everyone else can. I have often been asked this when I’ve been talking about a band or artist I like, or clothing for example. I’ve been asked when I’ve been on the way to a concert, “You don’t know what they look like so why are you going to see them live?” I do have other senses that I can use to determine my opinion!
How do you play an instrument?
I’ve been playing the flute since I was nine and have been in a band and taken part in many concerts. One thing I often get asked is “how do you play the flute when you’re blind?” I always say “just like you are doing. I learn in exactly the same way apart from the fact that I read braille music.” Disabled people can carry out normal activities just like any other person.
These are just a few of the awkward moments that I’ve experienced, they might not seem awkward to you but there’s so many more that I could include – I just had to select a few!
Personally I think that if you aren’t comfortable with your disability, can’t laugh about it or talk about it then it makes other people feel uncomfortable about it as well. If we share our experiences then we can raise awareness and help #EndTheAwkward
Find out more about our #EndTheAwkward campaign.