Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To tell or not to tell

In my experience, most of the people don't care how difficult it maybe for you to live. We have all become insensitive to each other perhaps. And perhaps we all have our own set of woes to deal with on a daily basis. There is no space for others.

I've gone through phases in my life. When I was younger, people would think I fake it and they wouldn't believe I had a problem, because I was better at academics, my vision in the better eye was still 6/24 then. And usually there was never any problem with familiar places. I used to find it difficult to tell strangers (at fastfood counters or bakeries) that I cannot read the menu or tell the name of what I want. Five years back I had travelled for 30 days across Northern Europe alone with a zoom camera as my only aid. I didn't ask people for help then. 

Now I do not hesitate in telling people I've an eye problem and if they could help in reading out the menu, bus number, sign board etc. Although, I only talk about it if it is realy necessary. For e.g. at a department store, I prefer to be independent. I end up walking a lot if I am visiting a supermarket for the first time but once familiar I know where to pick what from. In case I need to buy a new product, I google the image to know what I need to look for. I'm really scared of cursive font and/or 20 page menus or the ones where the paper/font contrast is not good. In case I am not carrying magnifier, I ask them their best dishes out of starters/main course etc.

At Work

Personally, I feel you should never disclose completely about the progressive nature of your disability in a job interview or even later until you are sure that people will accept it and not create problems for you. You can state that you have low vision if you feel you would require your employer to purchase lowvisual aids for you (Screen magnifier/reader). If you can rely on windows accessibility, then you don't even need to mention low vision.

No one understands what it is to see like we see. Just like I can never fully fathom what kind of perception of the world a blind person has.

My teammates know that I've low vision and I use screen magnification (windows accessibility features). If I need to give a presentation to a client or internal staff, I prepare the slides in normal font but take printouts in large font for myself to present the slides. If other people are presenting, I ask them to provide me with large font printouts or email me their presentation before the meeting.

Recently I discussed in detail with someone from another team about my vision impairment. And this person thought that I should not be allowed to translate because I might misread and mistranslate something. I would have lost my job if this person had any authority to determine my eligibility for the role of a translator. I told him that our work is proofread before it is delivered and so far I've always had good feedback for my work and never any "misreadings" in the correction feedback tracker. I told him that I'm a proofreader as well still this person was not convinced that I should be fit for the job. 

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