Living with an invisible disability: Zac Shaw

Post date: 
Friday, 17 February 2017

Zac is a visually impaired sprinter (T13) for Great Britain. He was born in Grimsby, England on 24th of September 1995. Zac first noticed his vision deteriorating when he was around 10 but due to a very rare condition called Stargardt’s Disease he didn’t get diagnosed till he was 13 years old.

While Zacs peripheral vision isn’t affected, he has less than 10% central vision. He's written a blog for the blind and partially sighted community about his experiences with an invisible disability. 

"Living with a disability can be difficult at the best of times, but imagine living with a disability that nobody else can see. This is what me and thousands of other visually impaired people in the UK experience every day.

Simple tasks like counting your money before you pay for something, or using a card machine that isn’t contactless can turn into a daunting task. I have had experiences waiting for a taxi and getting into someone else’s car, or starting a conversation with someone you think is your friend but turns out to be a complete stranger! I manage to see the funny side of situations like this and make light of it rather than let it knock my confidence. 

Confidence is key to how you approach your sight loss

I think confidence is huge when we are talking about visual impairment, as when you are diagnosed and it starts deteriorating it can completely zap all of your confidence and self-esteem. I have found the education system very difficult, it feels like teachers can neglect your needs through a lack of understanding. For example, with the reliance of teachers on their interactive whiteboard it can become extremely difficult to follow the lesson, with the teachers being reluctant to spare 5 minutes after class to go over what you struggled with, they turn a 'blind eye' to it.

How I got into Paralympic sport 

This is what drove me to Para sport, where you are competing against people with the same disabilities as you and everyone is on a level playing field because in day to day life it isn’t always as equal. I would encourage everyone to get involved in disability sport, to show people that a disability isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Instead it is something to be proud of."
 
For more advice and stories about living your life with an invisible disability, check out invisibledisabilities.org
 
You can follow me on social media platforms:
Instagram: shawzac
Facebook: shawzac
Twitter: @shawzac
 
Zac Shaw