This review is part of our bookshelf series
Author Shares His Story of Blindness
In 109 pages, Steven Obremski truly accomplishes his goal—to answer the question posed in the book’s title “How Do You Do It Blind” for both the general public and people who are newly visually impaired. Answers are provided by hundreds of visually impaired people Steven has worked with in the blindness field, people he interviewed for this book, and his own life experiences.
In chapter one, Steven Obremski tells his life story from age eight, when his dad told him he would eventually go blind, to the present. Steven describes the struggles of attending public school as a student with a visual impairment with minimal materials and adaptive equipment. He recounts incidences of bullying and letting his hair grow long in order to fit in. In college, Steven discovered an interest in psychology and his natural abilities in group counseling. After graduation, two events occurred that helped set the course of Steven Obremski’s life: He got his first guide dog and his first job leading group counseling sessions at a new agency in Florida. Eventually, he became its Executive Co-Director of Adult Services and Fundraising.
Overview of Other Chapters
The other seven chapters in this book cover types and causes of vision loss; attitudes toward blindness; interacting with people who have a visual impairment; education of visually impaired children; living independently as a person with low vision or total blindness, and traveling with a white cane or guide dog.
In every chapter, Steven gives clear succinct definitions, descriptions, and practical suggestions for the chapter topic. These are followed by a plethora of personal experiences in the words of people with visual impairments. For example in chapter two, Steven describes “normal vision” as 20/20 acuity, which means you can see at twenty feet what the “normal” eye sees at twenty feet. If, however, you have 20/100 acuity, it means you must be twenty feet from something that a “normal” eye can see at one hundred feet. Following descriptions like these, people with various types of vision loss relate what they can and cannot see. For example, an individual with glaucoma states, “So, if I don’t recognize you or ignore you when you wave at me, it’s because I can’t see you when you are far away from me.”
Chapter three is about attitudes on blindness. It begins with statements like this one: “I see a blind man walking down the street with his dog…I know I could never do that. Just thinking of it scares me to death.” Statements like this one are compared to others provided by people who have learned to live with blindness. “I got a call about a training program I could go to…it changed my life…I was taught all kinds of thing.” Interspersed among the personal accounts are Steven’s suggestions for handling your own feelings and for handling the uninformed public.
Parents of visually impaired children will enjoy the personal stories found in chapter five. In addition, there are explanations of the laws associated with obtaining a free, public education, educational materials, technology, and participating in their child’s individualized education program.
Chapters six and seven illustrate the differences between living with low vision and blindness, including the techniques and equipment used. “I learned how to use my computer with large print and how to use a large print checkbook program to take care of my banking,” explains one person. Another person shares, “I do a lot of shopping online. My PC has a screen reading program that tells me what’s on an Internet page.” The most visible trait about people who are blind and visually impaired is the tool they use to get around. A long white cane or dog guide is most frequently used, but many people with low vision use no mobility tool or only use a cane occasionally. Here are a few examples from the book:
“I carry my cane just to let people know I have a vision problem.”
“The only time I’m nervous about getting around is after dark; that’s when I use my cane.”
“I’m totally blind and my cane helps me see what’s in front of me.”
“The nice part about having a guide dog is if a car is coming at me the dog will stop me and not move until it is safe.”
In Chapter 8, the experiences of people who are blind or have low vision are used to compare and contrast the pros and cons of using a white cane or a guide dog.
Book Highly Recommended with One Concern
I highly recommend “How Do You Do It Blind” to newly visually impaired individuals, parents of children with vision loss, their families and friends, and especially to the sighted population who were afraid to ask questions until now. Every reader will find this book informative and will be touched by every emotion—hope, anger, laughter, and tears—from the quotes of the many voices heard through this book. I have only one concern. Several individuals with low vision confessed that they are still driving even though they know it’s not safe. If you are still driving, talk with your eye care physician about your state laws regarding driving with a visual impairment. Some states allow people with low vision to have a restricted driver’s license using special glasses called bioptics and provide training on how to use them.
If you would like more information on these and other topics related to blindness and visual impairment, Steven Obremski recommends that you search the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) website.
If you would like your own copy of “How Do You Do It Blind: Answers from People with Blindness and Visual Impairment” (Kindle Edition) by Steven Obremski, order through Amazon.