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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Turning Points: Letting Go and Moving On

August 1, 2018 | 2 Comments

by Kathy Austin, CVA

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Two monitors, one showing magnification set at 6X and the other at 12X. These monitors show the difference between magnification set at 6X and the other at 12X.  Imagine using the higher setting several years back when monitors were half as wide!


David Flament, our Manager of Assistive Technology at Second Sense, tells his clients that when they need to use a 6x magnification with ZoomText on their computer, it’s time to start thinking about making the switch to a screen reader.  When I first got a computer and started using ZoomText, I began at 6x.  By the time I gave it up, I was at 12X, sometimes 16X and not seeing much on the screen.  The stress and frustration at that time was overwhelming.


Letting Go

Making the change from using your vision to letting it go is a huge step.  I think our brains are just wired to use vision.  Letting go of the impulse to see something isn’t an easy thing to get over.  For me, though, the day I said, “Enough!” was a day I truly felt I stepped into another world and was free.

It was like someone turned out the lights and turned up the radio making me focus on the sound, not the vision. Now it was easier to listen instead of looking.  Perhaps at that moment, a neuron in my brain passed up my visual cortex and went straight for the audio center and a new synapse was created. When this happened, it was the first time I felt liberated from my vision loss.  Losing the frustration of looking and not finding was a huge relief.  Granted, it was going to be a struggle to learn the keystrokes I would need to use a screen reader.  But, I began to concentrate on the new things I needed to learn to keep me going on a positive trajectory.


More Letting Go

Another place where I had to let go of my remaining vision was training with my first guide dog, Jethro.  I got to guide dog school and was still trying very hard to use what vision I had left.  I remember trying to use the shade line from the building as a straight edge to walk a straight line.  This certainly did not help Jethro, who was trying very hard to keep me from tripping over the huge pieces of uneven concrete sidewalk.  My guide dog mobility instructor, in his infinite wisdom, and who had probably seen many others do the same, told me, “You can’t trust your vision anymore.”  He was right.  After I stopped trying to see, the better I got at working with my guide dog.


Making Positive Changes

As a later-in-life college student, I had to once again let go of my vision if I wanted to succeed.  I needed too many things.  Handwritten notes in Sharpie markers in hundreds of spiral notebooks and note-taking assistance in class just didn’t cut it anymore.  Finding readers for exams, ordering books well before the beginning of the semester and informing my new professors of my situation were hard things to do in the beginning.  Once I did though, I realized this was an easier path than trying to get by with what little vision I had left. Letting my professors know up front before class began, helped me build a positive rapport and understanding with each professor.  Accepting where I was also taught me how to be a better advocate for myself.


Life Gets Easier

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I still miss – seeing my kids as adults, seeing my husband with his now gray hair and admiring my work in the garden.  This makes me sad, but most, not all, of the frustration is gone.   Once I accepted and moved on, life got a lot easier.

My advice–sometimes letting go is easier than trying to recapture what may not be coming back.  It takes time and is different for everyone. But, accepting allows room for positive changes one can make to feel better.

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense.

2 comments on “Turning Points: Letting Go and Moving On”

  1. Sharon says:

    Good Morning Kathy, How delightful to rev up my computer this morning, coffee in hand, and find your thoughtful post. Letting go. Hanging on. And not only with vision but with other aspects of our lives: injury, aging, relationships, challenges, even possessions. We are so capable of making deliberate choices and shaping our lives for the better. Still, we all have experienced situations when holding on to fragments of the known is the comforting rabbit hole. I agree, making the choice brings relief and freedom. Moving along brings hard work but, more significantly, excitement, possibility, and joy.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thank you Sharon. As always, you have such a special and thoughtful way of saying it the way it is. I’ll be writing soon — birthday coming soon!

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