The respondent in my interview is a blind man who holds a doctorate in strategic studies and international relations. He requested me to withhold his name; hence, for purposes of this report, I will call him John. He appreciates the fact that he is where he is today because of his disability. He views his visual impairment as a blessing that opened new avenues to him, hence leading to his current successes.
John was born with a medical condition that affected both his eyes; he could see, though, not as clearly as people with normal vision do. He was enrolled in a school that catered for the needs of visually impaired students, which helped him pursue his education. However, while still at the school, he lost his sight completely. He also pointed out that he had cataracts, which doctors advised him not to remove as it would not make any difference to his eyesight. When I asked him whether he still had partial vision, like some visual impaired people in his category do, he said he could not tell. However, he was emphatic that his ability to see had worsened over the years.
Apart from the cataracts, John told me that sometimes tears flowed uncontrollably from his eyes. This forces him to carry a couple of handkerchiefs with him wherever he went. Whereas this, according to his doctor, does not have any effect on his vision or health, John is quick to point out that he sometimes startles people with the tears; they flow without him noticing. His personal assistant takes care of this when he is attending official functions.
John’s disability does not affect his daily activities. “Over the years, I have learnt how to move around doing my things without much assistance. I plan my day ahead; I am always aware of how my day is going to be before I leave my house. This enables me to ask for assistance early enough in cases whereby I cannot manage on my own.” He attributes this to the fact that unlike when he was young, a lot of technological advancements had been made, hence making life easier for blind people like him than it was before the inventions. For instance, he pointed out that he no longer needed people to read his letters for him. Instead, he uses optical character recognition software. This enables him to read the numerous letters that he receives; they are written in regular text. However, is saddened by the laxity with which people are willing to engage blind people. He stated a case whereby he met an acquaintance on his way to an estate agency to look for a new home. The friend escorted him into the agency, only for the attendant there to start addressing his friend, who he thought was his handler. John says that society’s main undoing is the assumption that visually impaired people, along with other physically challenged persons, cannot take care of themselves.
On his goals and dreams, John said that he wishes to get more recognition for what he does; apart from being known far and wide, he wants to be excellent in what he does. Apart from this, his biggest dream is to be able to go home to a loving family every evening. He asserts that this remains his biggest challenge, especially because many would-be in-laws have a problem accepting him for who he is. He, however, remains optimistic and believes that he will get there in a short while.