Quick Q&A | Emily of On the Blink

Adventures in Low Vision is also celebrating Blindness Awareness Month with interviews! Here’s mine. Enjoy!

Adventures in Low Vision

The celebration of Blindness Awareness Month continues here on Adventures in Low Vision. Today I’m launching the Quick Q&A series. Check in over the next few days to hear from people who all have their own unique perspective on blindness. Don’t miss a post–subscribe on the right sidebar!

Today you’ll hear from Emily, the writer of the blog On the Blink. Enjoy.

Headshot of Emily

Q: Name/Region.

A: Emily K. Michael from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Describe your visual impairment in one sentence.

A: I have low vision and am extremely sensitive to light.

Q: How do you want others to refer to your vision loss?

A: I call myself a blind woman, so others can, too!

Q: Why did you start blogging?

A: I began my blog as a way to keep my prose in shape, to play and experiment with my writing. I never thought of it as an educational tool…

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October Interviews: Blindbeader from Life Unscripted

Blindbeader, age 31, is an office assistant and blogger from Northern Canada. She writes the blog Life Unscripted. She enjoys jewelry design, board and card games, running, cooking, goalball, and drinking too much coffee—which obviously pairs better with some hobbies than others.

Blindbeader was born with low vision and learned to read braille. She has no vision in her left eye, and her right eye can see “light, dark, and really really big things in my way. But everything looks two-dimensional, like a pancake.” She travels with a guide dog and loves the fluidity of their movement together. She agreed to join in the conversation about blindness and blogging.

What is the most consistent challenge or frustration you experience with your low vision? How do you handle it?

People’s perceptions of what my life is like. I get comments about how great it is that my husband takes care of me (which inspired a blog post), or how proud they are that I hold down a job (which is a pretty big deal given the unemployment rate of the visually impaired). But it’s often the little things people think of as being so hard… like doing laundry or cooking, or dressing myself… people’s ideas that a blind person couldn’t possibly do these things is probably the most demeaning.

But things that I, personally, struggle with, I would probably say it’s the not feeling like I really fit in anywhere. The blind community at large generally has certain social mores, hobbies, or interests that I don’t share, and I don’t really fit in with pop culture either, so much of what dominates contemporary sighted culture eludes me, too

What resources have helped you to handle your low vision best, either in everyday matters or in moments of crisis?

Friends! Oh, my friends! If it weren’t for friends, I doubt I’d be happy as a blind person at all. I have a couple of friends I reach out to when things are rough, and even when they’re not. They’re the friends who will laugh with me, cry with me, and tell me to snap out of it when I get obsessive and down on myself

What do you look for in a good blog, whether it’s writing your own posts or reading someone else’s?

I look for well-rounded writing. Everyone comes to the table with their own experiences, biases, and ideas. If a blogger can persuade me to their point of view, or at the very least make me re-evaluate mine and/or consider theirs in a different light, then they’ve done their job. I have NO use for blogs that are just mundane daily happenings (“I ate cereal for breakfast, I went to the store and they were out of milk”) or are so vitriolic and angry that they want to brow-beat the reader.

Is your blog your main writing outlet or do you write or publish elsewhere?

It’s my main one. I do write music, but it’s like reading my diary, so I keep it fairly close.

What would you say is the most harmful or annoying belief that people have about vision loss? How do you cope with this belief?

That we are not able to speak, think, or do for ourselves. I tend to be a little more abrasive than most, especially when someone asks anyone with me what “she” would like. I either answer for myself, which hopefully redirects the conversation back to me, or if that doesn’t work, I say something like “You CAN talk to me…”

What’s your favorite way to celebrate autumn?

Running. Autumn is one of my favorite times of year here, with cooler nights and warmer days, leaves crunching underfoot. I LOVE running through the leaves, and this year I’ve started taking my guide dog as my guide runner, which she adores!

What is one dream you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?

To have children. I know that perceptions of blind parents really need to change, and I hope that I can be a small apart of that change when I become a parent one day.

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Throughout October, I’ll be conducting more interviews about blogging, education, employment, and access. I’ll be asking the questions blind people always get asked—and the questions they’ve always wanted to answer. Stay in the loop!

October Interviews: Susan from Adventures in Low Vision

Here at On the Blink, I’m celebrating Blindness Awareness Month by interviewing my blind friends and colleagues. The first interview in this series is with Susan, the creator of Adventures in Low Vision.

Susan, age 33, is an administrative assistant in a law office. She enjoys reading voraciously, writing thoughtfully, and cooking with abandon. At Adventures in Low Vision, she writes about her experiences of vision loss in “Mayberry,” Maryland. She describes her low vision as “a tug-of-war of changes in the past decade or so.” When asked why she chooses a white cane, she says, “It empowers me to move freely and independently and signals to others that no, I’m not drunk or a snob, I have a visual impairment.”

What is the most consistent challenge or frustration you experience with your low vision? How do you handle it? 

Hmmm. Probably not recognizing people/faces like I used to before my vision loss. Friends who understand my disability will announce themselves or whatever, but for all those times I’m in a group or interacting with the general public, I can feel like I’m lost and struggling to understand what’s going on as silent communication like smiles, nods, gestures escape me. I focus on people nearby. When I don’t know what to do, I ask and if appropriate, let them know I have a visual impairment. Later on, when I’m just with him, I’ll ask my husband about things to catch up. Sometimes I’m frustrated, sometimes I can roll with it.

What would you say is the most harmful or annoying belief that people have about vision loss? 

How do you cope with this belief?  That people with vision loss are helpless. I cope with it by being myself and showing by example a disability means you learn new ways to do the things you want to do. I work and play and am a part of society and I happen to use a white cane and magnification to do so. (Has anyone seen my iPhone charger by the way?)

What resources have helped you to handle your low vision best, either in everyday matters or in moments of crisis? 

Wine. OK, seriously. My state’s rehabilitation services helped with services like OT, orientation and mobility therapy, job searching and assistive equipment for work. My iPhone in all kinds of ways. My husband and immediate family and friends, (my Stocktons if you read my blog!) provide incredible emotional support when needed, too.

How has blogging affected you as a writer?

The outlet allows me to experiment and get feedback from different styles.   It’s helped me to find my voice and connect with others.

What do you look for in a good blog, whether it’s writing your own posts or reading someone else’s?

Evidence of edited passion. I cast aside rants and long diaries of daily activity. When I find a piece that’s entertaining, interesting and thoughtful, I am drawn in and stick with it.

Is your blog your main writing outlet or do you write or publish elsewhere? 

My blog’s my first outlet, hopefully not the last. The Baltimore Sun published an essay I wrote. I’ve submitted other essays elsewhere and I’ve finished the draft of a manuscript, but I’m making major changes to it. We’ll see what the future holds.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate autumn? 

Sip mulled cider, perhaps spiked with a little bourbon, and sit by a crackling fire with my husband. Reading whilst wrapped in my Buffalo Bills snuggie with a terrier at my feet is a close second.

What is a book that you could read over and over again? Why do you feel this way about it? 

I don’t tend to re-read many books. I revisit my childhood favorite, Matilda, every few years. Oh, I do have a soft spot for the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale, too. And, once I discover a writer I like, I will plow through most of their work. I’m more of a movie rewatcher.

What book, person, or perspective makes you feel most centered as a writer? 

The kind of mindset I hold after I’ve meditated or done yoga. Also, when I read something from a writer who conveys their thoughts honestly and efficiently with a dash of humor, that resonates with me and reminds me to hold true to that kind of writing.

What is one dream you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years? 

The welsh terrier farm is probably unreasonable. I want to publish a book or two.

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Want to know more? Head over to Susan’s blog to read some “evidence of edited passion.”

Keep reading this month! More interviews are on the way. It’s exciting to have some new voices around here.

Interview: “Dialogue on Blindness and Writing”

With other disabled writers, I participated in an interview for the September issue of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature:

“Jill Khoury, Emily Lund, Emily Michael and Kristen Witucki are four writers whose work in poetry and fiction has openly addressed issues of physical disability. Wordgathering invited them to take part in a discussion surrounding issues of craft and publication for writers with visual disabilities.”

Read the full interview here.

Interview: “Therapeutic music: Edith Moore-Hubert on the healing properties of classical music.”

Today Classical MPR published my interview of a Jacksonville musician:

“With a master’s degree in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music, Edith Moore-Hubert has performed in academic, liturgical, medical, and concert settings for almost 30 years. In 2010, she released a solo CD, Music to Calm Your Soul. She describes her music as therapeutic, and I asked her to share some insight into the healing potential of classical music. ”

Read the full article.