My dear friend has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and is losing her vision. Today she received word that, due to blindness, she is losing her driver’s license on January 5, 2015. She is very concerned about her future, particularly her future at work. Maybe hers is a story you know well and identify with. If so, my heart is saddened for your loss of sight. I can’t fully comprehend it or understand it; I’d be lying if I said I did. However, I care. I care deeply. I have assembled information and resources to assist you in the process of transitioning and coping with vision loss.
My suggestions for you who recently identify as a person who is blind or visually impaired:
- Let yourself feel. It’s okay to feel anger, shock, depression, guilt, fear, and anxiety. Don’t suppress your emotions. Identify your emotions and own them, for they are a part of grieving and emotional healing.
- Know that you are not alone. Many others identify with vision loss. You can connect with others who are blind or visually impaired using AFB Message Boards and by joining a local support group.
- As you know, accomplishing daily and work-related tasks will look different now that you have a visual impairment. To learn techniques that allow you to continue living and working independently, locate a local agency that provides vision rehabilitation services. Some agencies provide services in your home, others provide agency-based services, and others offer residential services requiring a lengthy stay. Vision rehabilitation includes training in computer use, reading and writing, home modifications, self-care, financial management, telephone use, leisure activities, traveling, using remaining vision, job training, job modification, job placement, and coping with vision loss.
- Know that many people who are blind or visually impaired are gainfully employed. You can read their success stories in APH CareerConnect’s Our Stories Section.
- You may find it tremendously helpful to talk with and seek counsel from a successful professional in your career field who has also experienced vision loss. Contact a mentor who is blind or visually impaired working in your career field or your desired career field using APH CareerConnect’s Mentor Search.
- Utilize the information and tools within AFB Career Connect. You can explore careers, read tips for succeeding at work with vision loss, and learn about disability disclosure.
- AFB VisionAware is a great resource for finding support and information on vision loss.
Yes, you are undergoing a substantial loss. However, please know that you have not reached the end. You are transitioning to a new way of navigating home-life and work-life. It can be done, it has been done before. You are not alone and there are many resources available to you as you traverse new territory. Accept responsibility for the direction you are traveling, utilize the resources and support, and take the journey one step at a time.