02/12/2016 Edited by Mike Taylor
In our final episode of 'a day in the life of a blind man', one of our screen reader analysts takes us through his routine, and gives us an idea of how he adapts to life without site.
My work day has come to a close and I’ve travelled home. My daughter has already been picked up from her school, and on a good day has had her tea. We are lucky enough to live opposite a local park, and also live near to the beach. We love nothing more than taking a walk through the park, walking around the local duck pond where I am able to push my son in his push along car in safety, and maybe calling in at the play park. On these occasions I again walk with my daughter, who has grown very good at a young age of guiding her Daddy where he needs to go, these moments to me are precious. I do panic sometimes in the busy play park, as I’m afraid I’ll lose her or that she might get hurt without me knowing. Fortunately my wife is always there to keep an eye out should something go wrong, which it hasn’t yet! If it’s not the park then it’s often a film. My daughter tends to choose the recent classics such as Paddington or Frozen, although my son is now giving strong competition with Toy Story! Funnily enough I now know these movies off by heart, but at first these films were difficult to understand without being seen visually.
Many TV programmes and movies have audio description on them. This is a backing track where a person describes wat is about to happen seconds before the event takes place, for example “Paddington puts the tooth brush in his ears.” I couldn’t get along without audio description, as it is hard to follow what is happening on screen. I went to the cinema a few years ago to watch a movie, and then watched it again with audio description a few months later. My experience and perception of the film changed dramatically, as I picked up far more of what was happening with the audio description and so I now tend not to watch anything without this aid. Sadly not all TV programmes and films do have audio description, particularly older films and programmes. I tend to find that many TV series do not have the description, and so are not really worth buying on DVD or a streaming website, meaning that I can’t access many of the programmes I would be interested in. My daughter has grown used to the audio description, and when it’s not turned on tends to tell me what is going on anyway to the best of her ability, it’s really cute actually.
If it’s my turn to cook and I’m glad to say this is rare, I tend to avoid the hobs where possible. This is because I lost my sight about eight years ago, and so find pots and pans difficult to use. This is only for me personally as many people with sight loss do use the hob, but I prefer to use a steamer in the microwave. Far less risky I think. My daughter loves my pasta when I’ve got time to make it!
Once food is out of the way, and of course bath time if required then it’s time for bed. As I’ve previously mentioned in another blog post I have a good memory for stories, and so tell my daughter the story without a book. She is used to being told a story, and often asks for a new one. Fortunately I also have a good imagination, and so can usually conjure up a story to fit the occasion. My son is not a great sleeper, and so we tend to spend the evening together to allow my wife to watch some of the soaps in peace, which is a good thing as I can’t say I’m a fan of Albert Square or their equivalents. My son and I get up to a variety of things during this time such as playing with his dinosaur or his friction cars, watching the football if it’s on the telly or listening on the radio if not, and also an audio book from my phone on occasion. I make sure that the material is suitable for his young age. We’ve had titles such as Peter Pan and Beatrix Potter so far. It is a lovely time to bond especially as I’m not able to make eye contact with either child, or at least not that I’m aware of!
Finally it’s time for bed, hurray! The children are hopefully asleep which gives me and my wife a chance to catch up on our day. Usually this is about work and the kids, or funny comments that we’ve heard. For a long time my daughter would mix the phrases, “I can’t see” with “My eyes don’t work” and so would ask for the light to be switched on by saying “Daddy, I can’t see my eyes!” Being blind can be a pain, but it can also be fun. You never know what you’re going to get on a single day, as you have to take note of what is around you. I think that you tend to take more in if you’re blind. You tend to appreciate more the things you do have, music, the sound of seagulls above the house and other such things. I’ve found that I appreciate far more than when I had sight the power of conversation and therefore communication as it is a core of my daily life. I couldn’t be without speech as I can’t point at what I mean, and I also can’t see what people would be signing to me. My days are often full, hectic and yes sometimes stressful, but if we’re being honest who’s isn’t? I wouldn’t change them anyway!