Many challenges come with vision loss, particularly for those new to visual impairment. Some people who are blind have a great fear of not being fully aware of the environment. Lacking details typically gained through visual information, gives a sense of loss of control when making choices that may affect personal safety.
It’s the seemingly small, yet important, details that create feelings of discomfort. Details such as being able to look around when getting on a bus or L train and having the ability to pick the seat furthest from the crazy-looking passenger or bigger issues such as knowing you do not have the ability to run away at full speed,. If you are female, a person with a disability or both, you are at greater risk of becoming a victim of crime in today’s society than the male beside you.
As a result, you may simply decide not to go anywhere alone, on public transit or before or after daylight hours. This can severely limit leading the life you truly desire. Fear of personal safety curtails pursuit of work, time with friends, exercise and personal interests. Being afraid to leave one’s home can restrict physical activity, leading to poor health. All of these factors can result in depression. It is important to take action to overcome these fears and learn the skills to help protect yourself if the need arises.
I recently attended an hour-long seminar that gave just a taste of the 1 Touch Self-Defense Project. This is an internationally recognized program designed to teach people with vision loss a “hands-on self-defense technique for dealing with assaults, aggressive behavior and bullying.” The program also addresses the feelings behind the sense of insecurity. I saw a small woman with a guide dog instantly make a man stop his attack using a simple technique.
Can you imagine feeling confident that you had a way to face a very scary and dangerous situation and come out safely on the other side?
Can you imagine how society might stop viewing people with disabilities as helpless if everyone knew more about self-defense techniques?
How would your life change if you felt more confident about being out alone or after dark?