For most people, vision is the most significant way of receiving and interpreting information from the world. Scientists still lack knowledge of the deepest inner workings of the brain, so there's no exact statistic to back this up, but most experts agree that vision is our dominant sense. But people with vision impairment experience the world through entirely different mechanisms. It's not better or worse - it's simply different.
Blindness does come with its share of challenges, though, considering most of the world is designed with sighted people in mind. As a result, living with limited vision means blind people have to find other ways to handle some things most people take for granted.
A Piece Of Paper On The Toilet Stall Door Is Totally Unhelpful
Picture this: You're in the midst of a small bathroom emergency and you run into the nearest restroom. Once inside, you notice two of the three stalls are occupied and the third is open. As you push on the stall door, you also barely notice a small flyer advertising the place's drink specials. You casually disregard it and proceed to your business. It's a common-enough situation.
For a person with visual impairment, though, that piece of paper on the stall door is a veritable minefield. Is it an ad for the specials? A concert flyer? Or is it an out-of-order notice that will turn your bathroom emergency into a very bad time as soon as you flush the toilet?
There's A Misconception That Being Blind Means You Only 'See' Darkness
Many sighted people have the impression that the experience of someone who's blind is similar to walking around with their eyes closed, but that's not the case. In legal terms, someone can be blind and still retain some level of sight. For a person to be considered legally blind, their eyes must operate at 20/200 vision or worse (meaning their eyes are 10% as strong as those of a person without any visual impairment).
The National Federation of the Blind says they "encourage persons to consider themselves to be blind if their sight is bad enough - even with corrective lenses - that they must use alternative methods to engage in any activity that persons with normal vision would do using their eyes."
Withdrawing Money From An ATM Can Be Really Time-Consuming
Although it's increasingly common for ATMs to offer the option of using headphones to listen to prompts, it's still rare. If an ATM doesn't talk, the machine is inaccessible to a blind person - having braille on the buttons doesn't help if you can't see the corresponding messages and numbers on the screen.
Even when an ATM offers audio messages, the process of fitting your card into the slot and following the various aural prompts can take several minutes.
Handling Cash Is An Entirely Different Concern
Though debit and credit cards have diminished the need to carry hard cash around, it's inevitable that most adults will need to handle money at some point. When you're blind, handling money presents a whole set of potential issues.
People with vision impairment can make use of note checkers to help them tell the difference between bills, or they might opt to fold their money in different ways to signify different denominations. But potentially dealing with a dishonest cashier - someone who might accept bills that are too large or shortchange a customer - means receiving change is a gamble.
The UK government attempted to address this problem in 2017. The country's new £10 note features raised dots in the upper-left corner to help blind people more easily identify the bill.