In a couple of days I’m giving a talk on studying with visual disability. My credentials are I’m a teacher with visual disability. The accident that happened just over a year ago left me without half my vision. I guess that I’m going to be telling my listeners a lot about teaching with disability, but learning is just the other side of the coin.
I shall say that I love my job, and so I put everything I could into carrying on as a teacher. I was helped by my university and especially by my line manager, who I can’t praise too highly. Although the stroke – for that was what I had – disabled my vision, it did not disable my spirit. The most important thing of all is that it gave me an instantly much better insight into how much a student with visual disability has to overcome. And that is what my talk will be about.
But preparing for it made me reflect on my own experience.
I always imagined being told of a serious medical problem would itself disable me, but to my surprise it did not, even for even a heartbeat. I thought only that where many students and fellow teachers have gone before, I could too. I had been threatened by death but like them I could carry on.
And I did, I have.
“Time held me green and dying.
But I sang in my chains, like the sea.”
I was green. I was green and lucky. New to being disabled. And if you lose some part of your nervous system then you must learn a new way and that’s like being tiny again.
When you were little – can you bring that feeling back? – you had to pick up everything from scratch (often off the ground) and every second of every waking day brought something new and exciting.
With vision loss I felt that wonder again. For me, having a stroke was life-enhancing. I did sing in my chains, and push against them too.
But I was lucky and in a little minority.
Stroke causes many deaths, and amongst those that live many have disablement far more serious than me. Many survivors experience severe depression and loss of quality of life. In their chains they sorrow.
I can’t finish really. I’ll put something in another post.