Living In An Uncertain World Part 8: The Inner Circle
As humans, we all have a small group of people, the "Inner Circle," that we ask anything and feel comfortable telling anything. This holds true for the blind/VI community as well but to a whole new level. From my own experience as well as in my constant interaction with others that are blind/VI, it seems as though there is a constant pressure and need to prove our independence. There is a reluctance to show that we may need help with some tasks because there is an overarching belief that we need help with everything. This can create a constant struggle in our heads and for some can even lead to the belief that they are less of a person. This is of course not the case but these are the thoughts that living in an uncertain world can create.
A friend of mine, Walter Ranere once told me, "I don't consider myself as disabled merely by being blind. I consider myself as having discontinuous ability. That is, tremendous ability in many areas separated by gaps." I truly believe this to be true and have added onto this quote of Walter's by saying, "These gaps in tremendous ability are bridged by accommodation and adaptation.
Many times, especially out in social and community settings, the accommodation that we utilize is assistance from someone from in our "Inner Circle". Just like anyone else in society though, we are very selective on how many people and who we include in the "Inner Circle", as we can be assured that those in this small group understand what we need, when we need it and will not consider us to be less independent if we do call upon them. In the finale of the NBC show, Growing Up Fisher, Mel touched upon using his "Inner Circle" very selectively. Mel used his "Inner Circle" many times in the show to make it seem as though he in fact could see totally fine. Many of those in the blind/VI community, especially when they are younger or still coping with their visual deficits will attempt to hide their impairment because they are embarrassed by being a little different while those that are old pros at being blind and are very comfortable with their vision loss still choose to play off as if they can see because there is no reason to walk around screaming "I am blind," if its not necessary.
A few examples of using my "Inner Circle" include but are not limited to; asking a friend to tell me who is in a room and where they are located prior to entering, having a friend tell a score in a sporting event so I am up to date on what is happening , having my parents take me to a location I have never been before so when I am by myself it seems as though I know exactly where I am going, allowing others to go in front of me in line so I can let them be the ones to make a fool out of themselves and creating tactile cues and sounds to represent different actions occurring in my surroundings.
As you can see, we as blind/VI individuals live a very interesting life and are probably a lot more clever and sneaky than you think. We are great actors and so don't think for a second that if you see someone with a white cane or guide dog that they don't know where anything or anyone is in their surroundings. It is most likely that they know where things are and are pretty confident that you think they don't know this information. In the same way, if you see someone without a visual identifier (white cane or guide dog) don't assume they have full vision because you could actually be talking to another blind/VI individual in disguise. Better yet, you may be talking to me and not even know it (LOL) :p