The term “Visually Impaired” is a politically correct term for “Blind as a bat”. Just kidding. It does refer to a group of people who meet the condition of being Legally Blind. There are two main criteria, as I understand it, to meet the legal definition of blindness. First you have to have a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse. Second, your vision cannot be correctable. I have many friends who cannot see beyond their nose without their glasses, but see normally while wearing glasses or contacts.
I am very blessed that my vision is about 20/200. That means that a person with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet what I have to be 20 feet away to see. You are probably thinking wow right now, and if I had ever seen 20/20 I might be thinking the same thing. However, I was born this way, and I don’t have any idea what I’m missing. In fact I feel blessed that my vision is better, and more stable than other VI people I know, including my husband. I do not use a cane, and most people don’t even realize I’m VI unless I need to read something.
My eyes are always dilated as I was born with out an iris. If you have ever had your eyes dilated you know how much brighter light is. Natural light kills me, and I wear sunglasses even on a very cloudy day. Luckily, artificial light is no problem except for strobe lights. But, two benefits of extra light coming in are my eyes adjust more quickly to the dark, and I see colors more vividly than most.
I also have nystagmus which causes my eyes to bounce slightly side to side. This makes it difficult to focus. Thus reading print, and street signs are nearly impossible without a magnifier or monocular ( a small one handed telescope). My eyes fatigue easily, and it takes me a long time to read something like a book. I am always the last one finished with worksheets, or questionnaires. It would take me forever to complete reading assignments in school, but I almost never mind, because I am so grateful that I can do those things myself.
Technology has been a game changer in my life, and for others with disabilities. Apple products have great accessibility that allows even my completely blind friends to use smart phones, and tablets. I have a computer program called Zoom Text that magnifies my PC computer screen. Our biggest obstacle to living a typical life is not driving a car. Even that will likely not be a problem for our children, and grandchildren. The powers that be are working on a completely automated automobile. How cool is that?!?!