Invisible Disabilities: Blindness

three cartoon figures, one with a cane, one seated, another standing with hands in pockets

As part of Disability History Month 2021, a student shares their experience

To see me I’m normal, but what is normal? If you know me, you know how difficult my life has been and still is. Having hidden disabilities holds many different and difficult challenges for me, and my family and friends on a day to day basis. I’m registered blind and have been for around 12 years, so this was big change in my life, in my late twenties everything was a whole new learning curve. It felt like my family and friends no longer knew how to treat me and still now many don’t. Just over a decade ago I lost my independence. I used to be a driving instructor, but suddenly I couldn’t drive myself to the supermarket, read my own post or send an email. Luckily I had the support of an organisation called Kent Association for the Blind who were very supportive and ran peer support groups which allowed me to speak we people who experienced similar problems as myself.

I have over the years felt that I have been discriminated against because of my sight impairment. I believe that it is just due to pure ignorance that this is still happening into the third decade of the 21st century. It’s not all bad over the last couple of years I’ve thrown myself back into education, and have found that the tools that are available now are unbelievable. I’m able to use a free electronic library, Bookshare, which not only works as a normal library but also has a web reader. What I’ve learnt is that the more people are taught about disabilities, particularly hidden disabilities, the easier all our lives will be.

Written by Wayne Wilsdon, second year student at Kent, 22.11.21

DHM at Kent

The University of Kent and Kent Union are proud to collaborate to raise awareness of the issues people with visible and invisible disabilities face today, and share ideas and opinions both within our community and the wider community to educate, de-stigmatise, and work together for a more inclusive and equal society. The full programme is available on the Kent Union website, and there is expert support for students with disabilities at Student Support and Wellbeing. For information on assistive technologies mentioned above, check out Kent’s webpage on accessing alternative technologies.

We hope you enjoy the programme and that you use it as a starting point for deeper thought and conversations with your friends and colleagues.

Follow #DHMKent21 on social media for the latest, and if you would like to contribute your experience and perspective to conversations, podcasts or articles on this theme during the month, please email StudentServicesWeb@kent.ac.uk.