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Art and blindness are not often associated with each other, but both have always been a natural part of my life. I wasn’t born blind. In fact, I’m not completely, totally blind right now: I’m ‘legally blind’, which means I have just enough vision to be dangerous.
I was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a blinding disease that robs you of your sight over time. I can make out general, blurry shapes and colours during the day, but at night I see total blackness, except for a few blurry lights here and there. And the moon.
It took years to become legally blind. A friend of mine once remarked that he would just as soon go blind all at once and get the adjustment period over with. But it wasn’t that way with me. I was given my first pair of glasses at the age of two, and my vision only went downhill from there. In elementary school, I had to sit at the front desk in order to see the chalkboard. With RP comes night blindness, so I always had to hold onto someone’s arm or jacket sleeve when I was out at night. In some ways I felt limited, but now I realise that was just insecurity seeping in. At times it was hard for me to ask for help, or have anyone know I had a visual impairment, especially when it came to dating. Sometimes I’d be on a date at night in a car, and could only judge how it was going by what he said or how he said it, instead of seeing the expression on his face or seeing his gestures.