"Winners don't do different things. They do things differently." - Shiv Khera. Too early to say if I is a winner because to be a winner you need to be successful and success is subjective and for me the road to success has always been under construction; or it's just the excuse I give myself and others. In this post I share with you a few tips and tricks that help me live with a life with blindness. For those who aren't aware, I lost my sight progressively due to a medical condition called Glaucoma in the year 2011. I hope what I share here is not only educative but entertaining at the same time. Just remember this I don't do different things, I do them differently!
Simple things like putting toothpaste on your tooth brush; close your eyes and try it just the way you do it every day with your eyes open. Did you get the paste on the brush? Did you miss? It's not a test but an experience I wanted you to have. I don't aim the paste on the brush and squirt it on; instead I collect a pea size of the paste on my finger and then put it on the brush so that there is no mess and waste by spillage.
I don't buy colored socks; not because I am a discriminatory person towards color; but because if I mix them up, I won't be able to pair them with the right color. So all my socks are white; some buy only black socks. Even if they are mixed in the laundry, you don't have to worry about a mis-match. This now is an outdated practice as the wife is now in control of my fashion needs and in charge of the laundry. She ties the pair together after the wash is complete. That way I always am wearing the correct pair with no mis-match of color.
My music/ movie CD/DVD collection went to friends and some in the bin because I copied everything on them to my computer which I could access using the screen reader; an assistive software for persons with blindness. This too has become a thing of the past post access to music and movie streaming applications on the smart phone. I have a lot of space on my 500GB hard disk!
Shampoo, conditioner, bodywash and other things in the bathroom: either have rubber bands or a dotted sticker to help me find them in the lot on the shelf that is shared by the family members. My nightmare is that one day I apply hair removal cream thinking it's shampoo on my head. Yes, you have to be really stupid to do that, because one is a cream that comes in a tube and the other in a bottle - If you can't tell the difference between a tube and a bottle with your eyes closed; may God help you!
Round neck t Shirts: Ever since they started this trend of not having a label at the back it was difficult for me to identify which side was the front and which side was the back of the T Shirt and if it was inside out. Some T Shirts have the back collar a bit thicker than the front which helps me to a great extent in figuring out the front and back. I can tell if I am wearing it inside out by feeling the stitching on the shirt. However, a fool proof system to get this correct all the time is to stich a button on the back of the collar on the outside. Cases were reported that I did make a fool of myself and have worn the T Shirt inside out; but never the front to the back. I am only human, don't put your blame on me.
The damn chappals/ slippers. Whenever you go to a place of worship or someone's house for a group event you are expected to remove all footwear outside the premises. I usually wear a pair of slippers/ chappals to such events because they are easier to remove. But when you get back, finding them in the lot of slippers is such a nightmare when you can't see them. To overcome this challenge I on the heels of each slipper to help identify the ones that are mine have used a round flat silver shine push pin. I get someone sighted to find them, when they ask which one are yours, I tell them the ones that have a silver round pin on the heals.
The plate and my meals: I eat my food at home on a silver plate; no pun intended; it's round and when I am served I am told what is where on my plate using the clock method. This is interesting and I learned it during lunch time at my rehab institute. Imagine the round plate to be the clock, right opposite is 12 O'clock and right towards me is 6 o'clock. Like wise you can be told that the salad is on your left at 9 O'clock etc. This technique works in many variations like when arranging things on the dining table before a meal. I don't use cutlery not because I am ill mannered, I just don't have the patience to grab my food chasing it with a fork or a knife. Sometimes I use a bowl when eating rice OR noodles with a fork or a spoon. I once was challenged to eat a steak at a fine dining Restaurant and I did a good job with the knife and fork - bonus points when I accidently spilled a mug of beer on the table that didn't exist earlier.
Thumb rule" Keep things in place, stay organised and stay alert; this is one stressful job when you have a todler at home that out of play rearranges things for you to add to the challenge of finding things. There is no hack to this unfortunately, but patience is the key - you can't punish a child for being a child. However, if you have read about child proofing your house those tips really help avoid any danger.
Pouring liquids into a glass/ mug/ vessel: This is a really tough one and depends on what kind of liquid you are pouring hot/ cold. It's not that simple to explain but if you are just pouring water to drink out of a glass you can actually by ear hear the water level but if you are pouring tea/ coffee i.e. hot beverages you can over spill and burn a finger. I have a bottle for water, which I fill by myself and use the hearing method. I get my tea/ coffee served. But please don't assume that all persons with blindness have the same level of skill as me they even cook!
I shave with a regular DE razor; some recommend the cartridge razor for safety but that hasn't been an issue for me. I enjoy my shave and then run my fingers over my face to feel if any stubble is left over and the final approval does not come from the mirror instead my wife if the shave is clean.
A question I am asked often; if you are blind how do you use the computer and type on it? To use the computer I have an assistive technology called a screen reader installed on the computer, this software/ application converts text to speech, in other words what you see, I hear. To type, I use the regular keyboard and anyone can do it without looking at the keyboard. If you have attended typing classes you would already know this secret: the F and the J key have a raised dot; where as on the keypad of the keyboard the 5 key has it. This helps you orient your fingers on the keyboard, after which it's all muscle memory and the screen reader speaking the letters and words I punch in. You can become a ninja at typing if you typed this sentence a zillion times for practice: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" - it is an English-language pangram—a sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet.
I haven't documented all there is to know in this post, simply because they are changes that I made and adapted to so quickly and they have become second to nature to me. I would have to make a concious effort in making such notes - these were the ones I could recall and write about. Would love to hear from the readers of this post if you do things differently? Irrespective of ability I am sure you do, may be it's something as complicated as putting a thread into a needle, there are hacks out there which are not shared or discovered and may be this might be a good time to spill those secrets.
Your questions are also invited if any thing however silly; please ask them in the comments.
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