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Legally blind does not mean I cannot see

Updated on January 14, 2015

Legally blind is one thing, totally blind is another

The truly frustrating thing that upsets many just diagnosed legally blind people. Far more frequently than you may believe, crossing paths with a sighted person that simply doesn’t understand there is a difference in what a legally blind person can see, and a totally blinded individual that cannot see the light of day.

The truly frustrating thing here, most folks that deal with legal blindness issues, do see just enough to allow their minds eye get them into trouble from time to time. Thereby giving skeptical people, all the reason they need to question the effects of blindness.

People diagnosed as being legally blind, live with the challenges low vision problems cause. With eyesight below legally defined visual acuity and or, field of vision limits. Which simply put, a legally blind person either has fuzzy, out of focus visual acuity and or, a very small field of view that is crystal clear.

Either way, these often-hardheaded people, refuse to give up on their everyday activities do their best to go about leading a normal life. Use the eyesight they have so as not appear disabled, or vulnerable / easy prey.

This type of behavior causes many sighted people to misunderstand these types of vision problems. Making them believe we are faking, lying, or trying to take advantage of an often-misunderstood disability.

Many people inexperienced in dealing with vision loss problems misunderstand low vision problems. The legally blind diagnosis means a health care professional has administered several visual tests, and the results of these vision tests have determined a person’s vision is less than the 20/200 threshold required in our best eye. Subsequently, confirming many people’s worst fear, classified as being legally blind.

This turn of events, forces not only individuals with low vision problems, friends, and family also. Accept the understandably emotionally overwhelming truth, and fear that accompanies the legally blind diagnosis. We will need to change the way we do our everyday tasks, deal with others, and explain what we can and cannot see.

What is visual acuity

Instead of giving you some long drawn out textbook definition, how about I tell you what it means to me.

Just let me say, visual acuity for me is exactly how clearly we see the world around us. For blind people like me, one of the single biggest heart breaking realities, is not recognizing the expressions on friends and loved ones faces. Think of it this way, for the legally blind person seeing your loved one’s smile at more than arm’s length, for the most part is out of the question. Just think about how that would affect your day-to-day activities for a moment.

· Imagine not seeing the look of excitement on a child’s face when they first learned they could ride a big kid’s bike.

· Imagine not seeing your first grader’s first elementary school play, not because you could not get away from work. Oh, no you were in the auditorium, you just could not see what was happening on the stage a mere twenty feet in front of you.

· Imagine not simply jumping into your car, pickup, SUV, or motorcycle to go to work, the market, or that championship game everyone has been talking about for weeks.

· Imagine how your life would be different not being able to use all the cool apps available for the android, iPhone or iPod touch. I have to tell you, it is not the end of the world but in that instance, it sure does suck to be blind.

· Imagine how it feels, when friends, people you meet, and other members of the community think you are faking for one reason or another. Adding insult to injury, the self-absorbed a-holes go around talking about how you are not blind, and all that “Legally Blind” B.S is just crap.

Using a red-tipped blind cane is a good thing!

Legally blind people use the red-tipped white cane to find their way!
Legally blind people use the red-tipped white cane to find their way!

Learn new skills and adapt

I completely understand many blind men and women. Regardless their age or background, do have problems learning how to use let alone embrace the use of adaptive technologies. One such low-tech adaptive technology is the blind person’s cane. Oh yes, the red-tipped white cane is a huge turnoff, in fact many people find the thought of ever using the blind cane horrifying.

In the beginning, we all fear the stigma real and imagined that accompany the use of such things that do little more than draw attention to a person's perceived inabilities.

For those unfortunate people that feel and think that way, I have three extremely powerful words I want to share with you that will absolutely change your life for the better.

Get over it.

Acquire either the easily folded folding cane, or a sturdy walking style cane that will support you, learn how to and use the red-tipped white blind person’s cane and get off your backside.

High tech adaptive technologies

The act of writing this or any article may seem a bit daunting if not impossible. Let me assure you, not that long ago I felt exactly the same way. Then I discovered, I really could, from the security of my own home. Through the marvel of cutting edge, adaptive technologies software installed in my Dell desktop loaded with ZoomText screen reader / magnifier. Write articles, post to my blogs, surf the internet, join Facebook, and even publish this article here on Hub Pages. If you ask me that is pretty darn cool.

Personally, I discovered the benefits of the Zoom Text 9.1 software while attending the vocational rehab program at Hines VA Hospital in Hines Illinois. Please believe me when I tell you. I highly recommend anyone dealing with the challenges associated with low vision or legally blind. For all you normal sighted people reading this encourage your legally blind friend to get off their backside, do yourself, and the folks that love you a huge favor. Deal with the fear. I know it is not easy. However, swallow your foolish pride, attend vocational rehab for the blind, and get on with your life.

Adaptive Technologies for the legally blind improve quality of life

There are many adaptive technologies available today. Technologies designed specifically with each particular challenge low vision, legally blind, and the blind person deal with every waking hour.

Take the large number display, talking alarm clock for instance. The large number display makes seeing the time easier for the legally blind. Where the talking alarm clock with the touch of a large easy to find tactile button, speaks to those of us blind since birth, or due to illness, are without vision.

The white cane with the red tip (blind person's cane), do you know what it means? It never ceases to amaze me, believe it or not. Many people do not know blind people all around the world use a red tipped white cane to find their way. Oh, no it is true, just so, you know, the white cane with the red tip is not a fashion statement. It is actually an important tool used by blind people to find their way.

Magnifiers, you know just like the hand-held magnifier your grandmother used to read the reader’s digest, the obits in the newspaper, and her favorite novel.

Omni vision combines a pair of eyeglasses and the magnification features of a monocular or telescope. Technology at work helping the legally blind watch a ballgame, play or a songbird in the garden goes a long way to lifting the spirits of the visually impaired.

Screen magnifier, one of the coolest advancements in pc technology in my opinion anyway, the features of computer software like Zoom Text 9.1 program, the screen magnifier makes accessing pc technologies easy for the blind. Today’s computer technology advancements make it easy to adjust both magnification, and the color or the Font and background adding the much-needed contrast.

Application reader, for those of us who would benefit from a technology that makes it possible for your computer to speak to you, I have a bit of good news for you it really exists. Yes, loaded with the proper software, your computer will read your favorite website, email, word documents, Facebook posts, and much more. Believe me when I tell you I have used this technology for over five years and it works great.

ZoomText software with screen magnifier & app reader


Please allow me to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read this article. It is my hope you will find it, both useful, and informative. In the event you have any questions I may help you find answers to, leave them in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them.

Best wishes, Mike

The author of this publication, Mike Teddleton owns the copyright to Legally blind does not mean I cannot see. The rights to publish this article in print or online can only be granted by contacting me the author in writing. You may use the intro and link back to the article directing the reader back to my post here at Hub Pages where they may find the article in its entirety

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    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      2 years ago from Midwest USA

      Peggy W. good to hear from you.

      moonlake hope all goes well with your vision problems.

    • moonlake profile image


      2 years ago from America

      I know my kids didn't understand that I was having problems driving. I'm ok on a highway but I have a real problem in town with lots of traffic. My left eye is almost complete gone for the most I just keep it closed. My right eye is pretty close to as bad as my left eye according to the doctor. I have stopped driving. I get catatacts removed on the July 7th the doctors are hoping this will bring back a lot of my sight and that its actually not the Mactel that's causing my sight loss. They just aren't sure. Your hub is very helpful. Thank goodness I can enlarge the text on my iPad and can still read and write.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is a most informative article which I first saw on FB. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with being legally blind. Will share this here, on FB, Pinterest and twitter.

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      3 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks, be well I hope you the best of luck with your low vision challenge.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Mike, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am legally blind in my right eye after having a "stroke" in my eye - aka Central Retinal Vein Occulusion (CRVO). You are so right, you can lose your sight in a day. I also have issues with my "good" eye so I am trying to prepare mentally and technically for any eventuality - at the same time enjoying life as I go along! Thanks again

    • Pamela-anne profile image


      6 years ago from Miller Lake

      This was a good read Mike I can honestly say I understand what living with a disability is all about as I suffer from grandmal seizures (Epilepsy). I live alone and so far so good I am still going strong. I decided many years ago that I would not let my disability run my life but be part of it. Take care and all the best to you. Pamela-anne

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      I also +1'd it and shared it!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Mike, you are a true inspiration! I learned a lot from reading your wonderful hub, and I rated it up.

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Minnetonka Twin thanks so much for your inspiring comments. I would not be telling the truth if I said, folks talking about how I must be faking, really bothered me at the time.

      After all, my ability to deal with all of the challenges of being legally blind, require a lot of positive thoughts, encouragement from my wife and kids,, and a lot of hard work learning how to do things in the world with a low vision problem.

      FloraBreenRobison, all the changes to HubPages is very much a problem for many of us. The small text hidden in out of the way places quite honestly, escapes me most of the time. For instance, the A on the stats page after a hub title notifying me about the missing summary, does not appear when I use the latest version of IE. In order for me to see that bit of useful information, I must use latest version of the Firefox browser.

      All the hidden code on the page really plays havoc with my screen reader software at times. The crazy thing jumps all over the page. Thanks for your comment and insightful question. I hope you well discovering all the wonderful positive features available to us here at HubPages. ?

      Best wishes, Mike

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      hey-how are you doing with these changes on HP where the comments are now much smaller than they used to be? Lpots of people with normally eyesight are complaining (including me)

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Mike-Thanks so much for sharing your story here. People are going to be educated by this personal experience. It blows me away and saddens me that people can be so cruel to come up with you faking it. Who on earth would want to fake blindness. I went through similar experiences with people after my cancer diagnosis. It's weird how some people react to illnesses, diagnosis, etc... I learned right away who my true friends were and why waste time with people that think like that. Great article Mike :-)

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      RTalloni so true understanding comes to those that look for it. Thanks for sharing your insights.

      Sandyspider, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read and comment on this hub.

      living with the day to day challenges of low vision is a fact of life for many people.

      Thanks for your comments, best wishes and protect your vision.


    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Informative hub on being legally blind and what it means.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Very informative hub. I did have a good idea the basics of what being legally blind means, but am glad to know more. You do everyone a service by writing about it. Bravo! Ignore those who don't try to understand. There time to need understanding will come around, and then they'll understand!

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Pamela99, thanks for stoping by and reading my hub, Diagnosed As legally Blind Does Not Mean the End of the World.

      Pam you are not alone, many people that know me do not realize, or sometimes believe, I am legally blind.

      I do get around reasoniblly well inspite of my vision loss.

      Here is a funny tale, while playing catch with my eight year old daughter, who was warming up before one of her softball games this summer. One of her teammates wanted to play catch with us, She did not understand why my daughter always threw the ball to me on the ground.

      As you might guess, the young lady rocketed her first throw straight at my chest.

      Oh yes this little girl is an all-star and can really bring the heat, if you know what i mean. I could see the little lady throw the ball but never saw it coming, that is until it bounced off the center of my chest.

      To which the little lady responded, hey that was one of my best pitches, why didn't you catch the ball, are you blind?

      She didn't know, and when I told her I was indeed legally blind. She and her team mates gathered around me and asked a lot of questions about what I can and cannot see.

      everyone learned something that afternoon, Thanks for your comment Pam, best wishes and make it a great day. Mike

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thanks for a very informative article as I didn't know about many of the things that can help when you are legally blind. It is sad and I didn't know you were losing your vision. I am so sorry to hear that but glad you have done those things that make it a bit more tolerable.

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Cardisa I am sorry to here you have a stigmatism problem, is it in one or both eyes?

      Protect your vision, you can lose it in the blink of an eye, anyway that is what happened to me.

      All the adaptive technologies make life better for everyone with vision problems.

      Best wishes, and thanks for your insightful comment. Mike

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      This is very interesting. I don't know anyone who is legally blind but I do understand that it is not fake or totally blind but an impaired vision like my astigmatism, just a little more severe.

      The information you provided is very useful.

    • Teddletonmr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      FloraBreenRobison, thanks for your comment. I understand all to well about not getting behind the wheel. Riding the riding lawnmower after gitting a bit to close to the flower garden, according to my wife is a no no as well.

      Thanks for sharing, best wishes. Mike

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      I grew up across the street from a man who is legally blind-we met at 5 yers old-three decades ago. He had more peripheral vision then than he does now. He spends a lot of time on his computer and has never had a problem finding helpful gadgets. The only thing he doessn't do is drive.


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