Independence is vitally important if anyone is to live a fulfilling life and achieve their potential. Young blind people today have the opportunity to achieve independence through training and self-development.
Achieving independence as a blind person is not as hard as it seems. If done deliberately and systematically, the process itself can be truly rewarding and lead to greater self-discovery and awareness.
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In seeking independence, a visually impaired person should review their self-image and begin to demand more from themselves. Only by raising our expectations can we grow out of our comfort zones and begin to develop the kind of independence we need to lead a successful and fruitful life.
Change of any kind often starts by assuming full responsibility. We all need to take full control of our lives, whatever our limitations and a visually impaired person needs to realize that ultimately no one is more concerned about their life and destiny than they are. As a blind or visually impaired person you are in the driver’s seat and can steer your life in whichever direction you choose. This can be a truly liberating experience.
When this truth is fully understood, both intellectually and emotionally, then a blind person can start taking constructive action towards attaining independence. An increase in independence is then assured since progress is always guaranteed when we consistently take deliberate action. It is a cause and effect relationship that always holds true.
Independence training should begin in the early years. Blind children should be allowed to learn and develop in an environment that encourages exploration and self-discovery. Play environments should be friendly to their condition and help them to maximize their other sensory faculties.
Early training should encourage social inclusion. This allows the blind child to grow up with a positive self-image as someone who is worthy of and is capable of forming strong interpersonal relationships.
As the years pass, basic training in independent living is required for the expectation of increased independence to be fulfilled. There are several training centers that help blind people to take charge of their lives and develop a good attitude and positive philosophy towards blindness.
These training centers teach the required skills to attain independence and self-sufficiency. They will also make blind people aware of the resources available in their community that they can take advantage of to improve their lives.
Most important is the development of character. To gain greater independence, the blind person should strive to have high levels of self-discipline, be reliable, groom well and have a sound work ethic that will enable him or her to be a productive member of society.
Such skills are important in achieving personal success which plays a part in defining our self-worth. Achieving such success requires a person to develop both good work and interpersonal skills.
Further, a blind individual should have adequate independent living skills. Such skills will enable the person manage their home, personal and professional lives well. Mastering such skills require careful instruction specifically designed for the blind.
People who have good sight can learn skills like managing and keeping time, cooking, eating, doing household chores and management of finances over time by observing what other people around do. This is not the case for the blind person as their ability to observe through sight is impaired.
Training in time management skills will allow the blind individual to be able to create a structured schedule for himself and be able to anticipate events and meet deadlines.
Being able to groom well and maintain personal hygiene with minimal or no assistance from others is critical to building confidence in oneself and relating well to others as it makes other people comfortable being around the blind person. Good grooming and clothing management extends to the ability to organize one’s closet and be able to identify and match clothes and colors.
Independence in eating will be critical during mealtimes and other social situations where eating and drinking is involved such as eating at restaurants.
Other important skills include budgeting, shopping, money management and food preparation.
As concerns money, independence can be achieved by learning how to identify money and being able to budget one’s finances well. Budgeting is important to personal finance and will help the blind individual keep an accounting of their income and expenses.
Much research into corneal blindness is being done by charities and philanthropists like Tej Kohli in India. It is possible that blindness from some causes will be eliminated in the next twenty years, but meanwhile blind people have more opportunities to decide on the shape of their own lives, including becoming entrepreneurs than they have ever had before. It is up to each person to seize the opportunities that appear and to make the most of them.