Crutch

“Don’t use your visual disability as a crutch!!” Although I know it can be a razor blades edge occasionally. Everything in my life is impacted by my disability. My character, my personality, my intellect, my emotional maturity etc.. When things go wrong sometimes its hard to keep perspective. Sometimes its hard not to blame everything on the disability.

The current economic “recession” has been very nasty for me. Its hard to think that my job search has not been impacted by employers perception of my vision. I feel a bit like the under the bus guy right now. The guy that you have to interview because of the legal requirements around the hiring process. I’ve never had the experience in my career that I’ve gone through one let alone six job interview loops and not been offered the job. I do know for a fact I loose at least three interesting job prospects every time I’m searching as soon as I disclose.

Having a degree. When I went to school the funding that was available to visually impaired and blind people required that you took a full course load. I just didn’t have the visual energy budget. My eyes were devastated with eye strain. So much so that the whites of my eyes were bleeding. The ophthalmologist was clear, degree maybe if your sight lasts or sight. I quit school. A lot of companies are filtering candidates on degrees and certification. There is no way to compete.

When I am working and something doesn’t work out the way I’d hoped its easy to blame my vision. I worked at Microsoft for a number of years and I had great career velocity in Canada I was promoted four times in two years. When I moved to the US with Microsoft I wasn’t promoted at all in four years. It was hard not to feel that because of my vision I couldn’t compete. The conclusion I’ve come to after being out of Microsoft for a year now is that the corporate culture and I weren’t a great mix. I wanted a better work life balance than was possible. I have sense done other work and the results were awesome and the customer happy. Fit is everything.

In relationships you wonder sometimes if you get dumped because you can’t see. I’ve learned after being dumped a number of times now. If someone doesn’t want you because of your eye’s your better off without them. More often or not relationships are impacted by low self esteem or family of origin issues. At least that’s my experience.

I find it very hard when something happens because I can’t see. Like not being able to read labels. It amazes me how much money you can save when you have a shopper who can read the price tags. I’ve roughly benchmarked it and my sighted shopper can save forty percent over what I’d spend on food.

I feel a twinge of grief when I make a visual mistake or there is something I can’t do or I run into a lamp post. The one thing I struggle with constant still is driving. Driving drives me mad. The one experience I’d love to provide in is driving a two seater with my lover and have the top down on a summer day. I’ve participated as the passenger in this but never with my lover. Its one of the things I struggle with. If my lover was driving with someone else in this manner it would probably kill me.

I live. As anyone else. I’m not special. I have a recognized disability. But the people with bad attitudes are more disabled or handicapped than I’ll ever be. It is hard not to blame the disability for everything that doesn’t go the way I’d hoped. I call it logistics now where there are things I need to figure out to get things done or do things. Its not roses by any stretch but its not a matter of me being who I am because I’m blind its a matter of I am who I am despite of being blind. Its just a feature. In the end it is impactful and sometimes contributes but its all up to me.

Posted in: Living
Kyle Bergum

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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