In this video, 16-year-old Maaria shares her story about living with a congenital visual impairment known as station night blindness. She was diagnosed in year six and mainly struggles in low light and on extremely bright days. To navigate her surroundings, Maaria uses a long cane and adjusts her phone’s text and font sizes for better legibility.
Maaria highlights a common misconception about visually impaired individuals: people often assume they are completely blind when using a cane, but the reality is that the majority of visually impaired individuals retain some degree of vision. She advocates for greater awareness and education about vision impairments to help people understand the challenges faced by those with visual disabilities.
Maaria discusses the discomfort she experiences when people stare into her eyes without realizing she cannot see. She encourages others to be more aware and considerate of visually impaired individuals, offering them support and understanding rather than making them feel uncomfortable.
For young people struggling with vision impairments, Maaria advises seeking support and guidance, suggesting they reach out to organisations like Henshaws, which has been helpful to her. Henshaws provides assistance with technology, magnifiers, and other tools to aid in daily tasks, such as reading prices while shopping.
As for parents, Maaria emphasises the importance of being supportive and attentive when a child expresses vision-related issues. Open communication and seeking a diagnosis early on can make a significant difference in finding appropriate help and resources.
In conclusion, Maaria wishes the world would view visually impaired individuals as regular people, without labelling them solely based on their disability. She reminds everyone to be considerate in their language and interactions, understanding that everyone faces unique challenges. By offering support and understanding, we can help visually impaired individuals lead fulfilling lives and realise that they are not alone in their struggles.