Editor’s note: Lance Johnson’s SEE-THROUGH podcast tackles topics relevant to the blind, low vision, and disability communities. If you are blind or low vision and interested in learning how to host a podcast, read Max Ivey’s blog, Creating a Podcast When Blind or Low Vision, and article, How To Create a Podcast, on APH VisionAware.
SEE-THROUGH Podcast: Seeing Through the Disability
“The community of people with visual impairments is closer than you think,” says Lance Johnson, of the SEE-THROUGH Podcast. “Find that community either online or in real life.”
The community you leverage is what Johnson says makes life easier. As a podcast host and professional video editor, Johnson gets to speak with and continually learn nuggets of advice from guests living with different eye conditions and disabilities across the world.
Johnson started his podcast because he wanted to bring awareness to the masses, along with a sense of community to those living with blindness or low vision. Johnson was diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at 12 years old. According to Lance, RP is a genetic disease that gradually causes legal-blindness.
“I inherited RP from my mom. I didn’t have any symptoms until my early 20s. Then, I noticed a diminished field of vision and that my eyes didn’t adjust well at night time. I pretended it didn’t exist,” says Johnson. The symptoms were a slow onset in the beginning but eventually became undeniable which led me to move from North Carolina to New York City so I could use the subway and not have to drive anymore.”
In many cases, those with RP have legal blindness by 40 years old. Currently, Johnson in 32. He has had many bad days like everyone else, in fact, he says he spent the first several years after the onset of symptoms “burying his diagnoses deep within his psyche.”
“Sometimes you are having a great day, and then your brain remembers that you have RP, and you will lose most of your sight someday. Do you ignore it or face it head on? I had a lot of anxiety early on due to a lack of education on vision loss,” says Johnson.
Lance Johnson’s Community
After many years, Johnson said he learned to both become educated and to lean on his communities.
“Learn to adapt and how to shift your perspective. The more I learn, the more I know, and the more I talk to guests [on my podcast], the more comfortable I become. You have to be smart and become educated on yourself and your situation. Yes, it can be a disadvantage, but you have to learn how to use it to the best of your ability and be smart about it. Make the decision to always factor in your disability so that you can and will be successful. You can’t deny it or ignore it.”
Education first, and then community. “You may not ever meet someone [in person] with the same disease you have, but social media allows this. It allows for a close-knit community. Use it.”
Johnson says to utilize social media to allow you to navigate groups and create a community of friends who can help each other. He has used his podcast as an outlet to bring his community closer together, and he is continually learning from each episode. There is one episode that Johnson says hit close to home.
“Episode 77. This was the first episode my wife joined me, and together, we learned from another couple where one is legally blind and how they handle it. My wife has had to adapt and grow and learn much in regards to what is to come,” says Johnson. “I was so glad my wife joined in on this episode because I want her to learn from others what’s coming up for me.”
As Johnson continues his podcast, he also enjoys live music, walking his dog, playing guitar, and standup comedy.
Ready to lean into the community? Feel free to subscribe to his podcasts and/or connect with him on social media, as Johnson has a plethora of advice for those living with blindness or low vision:
“When you learn to accept the elephant in the room, and not dance around it, life is easier. At the same time, [one’s] life isn’t their disability, so [one] shouldn’t only have friends with disabilities. Befriend and hang out with sighted people.”