When you don’t feel blind enough - Nothing’s off limits podcast

10 August 2021

In Australia only 10 per cent of the people who have vision conditions are blind, while 90 per cent have low vision.

It’s a spectrum.

But for the sighted majority, it can be a hard thing to comprehend.

Some can end up with embarrassing questions like, “have you tried glasses?” or even worse hold up a few fingers to test their vision themselves.

Someone learning to use a white cane alongside a Vision Australia worker.

Caption: A lot of assumptions are made by sighted people when they encounter people who are blind.

In episode nine of Vision Australia’s podcast series Nothing’s Off Limits, hosts Tess Herbert and Polly Goodwin delve into the blindness spectrum, and the assumptions around fully blind and low vision.

They are joined by a panel of people with varying eye conditions from Vision Australia, including general manager of commercial services Michael Linke, chairman Andrew Moffat and service connect officer Samantha Hardy.

“People think that anyone with a vision condition can read braille,” Michael says.

“I don’t think people understand that there is this spectrum of people with limited vision all the way up to total blindness.”

Listen to the full interview in the player below:

In one example, Michael says he was brought a wheelchair when he asked for assistance to find a gate in the airport.

Samantha says she often wonders what people think when she intermittently uses her white cane on the way to work.

“Are they thinking to themselves, what is going on here? I thought she was blind?” Samantha says.

All seem to dread the inevitable questions that come from overly curious sighted people.

“You feel like you either always have to explain yourself every time or sometimes have to pretend that you’re blinder than you are to get things done.” Samantha says.

She has workshopped a few explanatory sentences that seem to stop any annoying follow up questions or long descriptions.

“I would say to someone “I have low vision, I have some sight, but maybe if you could tell me what’s on the board that’s really all I need,” she says.

Nothing’s Off Limits is a 10-episode series and aims to tackle life’s more awkward, embarrassing and uncomfortable topics from a blindness and low vision perspective.

Episodes are available as podcasts from the Vision Australia websitePodbean, and Spotify.