Post date: 
Thursday, 11 August 2016

#HowISee with light perception

My name is Kevin Satizabal, I am 25 years old and registered blind. The #HowIsee campaign by the RNIB, is busting the myth that being blind means you don't see anything at all. In fact, 93% of people registered with a visual impairment can see something.

This blog is all about how I can see, and the advantages this gives me as a blind person.

Light perception

I have a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity, caused by being born three months too early. The result? I was put in an incubator, given too much oxygen and light, and this destroyed my retina. I was left blind but with the ability to see light. I can see brightness or darkness, but the light I see is void of any colours. Also, I can only see light out of my right eye. This means if I cover my right eye with my hand, I see complete darkness. So let's leave the right eye uncovered please, because light perception is useful in all sorts of ways.

Getting around with light as a guide

When I'm walking down the street for instance, I can see the shadows of walls or bushes. Essentially I know they are there because their presence is blocking the sunlight. This means when the light suddenly brightens, the wall has come to an end and I'm at a corner – very handy when navigating routes.

When using GPS apps they like to tell me to walk north or south, or east or west depending on where I'm going. My light perception means I can see where light is coming from. So, if the sun is brighter in one direction then I know where to go, because in the morning the sun rises in the east and in the evening it sets in the west. Old school, but it works for me.

Diagnosing tech problems

I work full-time as a digital marketer for the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). I do their social media and write blogs. I'm also really into audio editing, which I do using a digital work station. This means I'm around computers all the time. When my screen reader crashes, it means it stops reading what's on the screen and leaves me with no idea of what's going on. Having the ability to see the light on the screen can tell me whether my computer has turned itself off (there would be no light to see) or whether it's on the desktop or in an application. The light is usually much brighter. How does this help? Well, I could easily waste precious minutes using keystrokes trying to shut down crashed applications which would be totally ineffective if the computer was off.

Light brightens my mood

When I lived in student halls, flat-mates and other friends would often come into a room and find me at my computer working with the light on. “Man why do you have the light on?” they'd ask. “You can't see anything anyway right?” 

My answer? I feel happier with the light there. Common sayings in our society include 'A brighter outlook on life' 'Things are looking brighter' and 'There's a light at the end of the tunnel'. When the sun shines I think I am so lucky to be able to see it. It puts a smile on my face. Also, you can't beat the awe struck look on people's faces when they first meet me, they turn on a light and they realise I can see it too.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and it encourages you to remember that visually impaired people see in all sorts of ways. Keep an open mind. Don't chastise people for working with the lights on, or reading a book in the bright of day, and needing a guide at night. We are all different, and we all see the world in our own, unique way.