and don't worry too much about the FB friendship thing. let me narrate something that happened to me. well, the other day, I sent a request to a friend(classmate). she not only rejected me, but also blocked me. to say the least, I was pissed off. cos we knew each other quite well. the next day, I whend to school, and asked her, "X", why did you reject my request in FB? "your request? you have an FB acound? how do you use the computer? (I don't usually use assistive tech in school or at least, we don't have the fecility) what's a screen reader?" a number of questians followed, at the end of which she remarked, "I didn't know you had an FB profile, and I think you have a celebraty photo as your Pro pic". so, in short, such occurances may just be really misunderstandings.

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For those of you in middle school/high school: one thing that helped me, a *lot*, was participating in events where the roll was called, or attendance was taken.  My middleschool homeroom did this every morning, and after listening carefully for about a week, I had a pretty firm list of everyone in homeroom with me, and a voice to associate with the name.  When you can't make eye contact with someone you want to strike up a conversation with, calling out her name softly can really help.  High schools tend not to do this as much though, at least in Canada, so you'll need to find events that do; church groups, chess clubs, debate teams, student organizations (counsel, Model UN, etc) still do so sometimes, and anyway have a strong focus on everyone knowing everyone else.  Even if you're not terribly fascinated by the actual point of the organization, you always have an expensive note taker with you, and are probably good with computers.  So you can take notes, e-mail people reminders about upcoming events, remind everyone who's responsible for doing what, put together spreadsheets for tournament brackets, etc. This will make you into a semi-important person who other people will probably approach, you will learn names, and you won't be tasked with all the stress of actually leading or deciding anything.

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28

Hi all.
There are so many things I wanna comment on in the topic, but I can't find the right words to comment on it all, so I'll just make it pretty short for now and come back later on. I wish I speak fluently english... smile
I agree on what have been said so far. Thomas: Very nice post in post 16. So nice examples regarding to communication.

Wanderer:
Like many others, I've been there myself. I have lived most of my childhood outside the cities, more than 3 miles from the nearest small city, which not even had a buss station! I didn't had many friends in school, but I had a few which made my school time worth going through.
I won't just repeat what others has said, so here are my suggestions and story, most of them taken from my own experiences.
Regarding your hearingloss, which is not from my own experiences but from experiences from my job which I have got the passed 4 years:

It sounds like out from your descriptions that your hearingloss is pretty bad. Depending on how bad it is and depending on how difficult it is for you to communicate with others, I'll highly recommend you to check if there are any organisations for people who are both vission impaired and hearing impaired in your area. I'm sure there are organisations like that in your country. Why should you check that? It would be a good idea to get in touch with other people with simular difficulties to both share experiences and to get more experiences from them regarding to communication etc. there are a number of things people can do to improve the communication with people who are both blind and hearing impaired. there are also a lot of things you can tell people to make the communication more fluently. Feel free to send me a private mail to discuss that to get more information. Don't send me a private message, but a private mail.

You, and others are mentioning that it's very difficult to strike up a conversation with people. Yes, I agree, and I've been there myself until I was around 20 years old. It is not fun, not at all. I noticed the same, that people at my own age from I was around 13 and until now where I'm 25, starts to communicate more and more visually. Some people even communicate so visually, so you think they just sits there, doing nothing. Then, suddenly, people starts to laugh around you, and you start to wander what the heck is going on. People in the school did that, even some of my closest friends started to do that, and even my cossins and my own family started to do that, and some of them are still doing that. I was totally excluded from the conversation because there wasn't really a conversation at all, but just people doing randomness, and people sitting there with their phones watching funny pictures and movies, or other totally visually things which us blind people don't have a chance to follow.
So, I did something which at the beginning felt really weird, but helped me in many ways. I started to talk to older people. I walked away from people at my own age, and started to talk with their parents and even older people instead. Why? Because, they were willing to talk. they were willing to listen to what I was saying, and they didn't suddenly got distracted by others who were doing random gestures across the table to them. Those people understood me then I said the others just ran around doing random things which I found so difficult to keep up with, they always had a lot of interesting things to tell, most of them were very patient and was willing to for example describe the room we were in and describe other things which I found worth it to know descriptions of because I'm blind, and those people  gennerally seemed to understand me better than all the people at my own age. So, people at my own age found me quite boring and weird, because I just was there, talking to the older people. But, I got so much out of it, which is quite difficult to find the right words to describe, but I'll do my best. I learned about life very quickly in other ways than the sighted people at my age did, I got so many stories, I learned to communicate very well and learned so much about communication, spoke to so many patient people who really took the time to explain visually things in words, which gave me a totally new understanding about things which mostly only older patient people are able to do.
Many years ago, I was at an awesome party, and there were people at all ages. I knew most of the people there. While eating, I sat with the table full of the other people at my own age. They were very helpful to help me to get the food I wanded etc. No problem there. But I just sat there for almost two hours, eating and listened to them doing randomness and laughing of a lot of things which I didn't had any idea about. Then, suddenly, most of the people were gone, without saying so. They were suddenly outside, running around, playing. I had joined those people a lot of times before since I've known them the whole of my life, so I didn't feel like joining them this time.
So, I walked over to an other table, and randomly joined the other older people. They were not running around like kids in the 18s. They sat there talking about lots of things. I joined the table with people I didn't know very well, because I would like to meet some new people. On my way around the table, I bumped into a random older guy by accident who were setting by the table. He turned around, grabbed my hand and asked me if I needed any help. I told him I was just wandering around, checking out what was going on. He polled out a chair for me and bet me to sit down. A few minutes later, we talked about almost everything. A few minutes later, the interesting thing happened regarding to the visually descriptions I mentioned above. because of the conversation with the guy, I didn't realized an other mann to the left raised up and was trying to get around my chair. There wasn't much space between the tables. He lay his hand on my shoulder, signaling who he was talking to, and kindly asked me to raise up so he could get out from the tables. Well, of course I did so, and he walked away. I heard he had some serious difficulty by walking, which puzzled me a lot because I was interested to know what was wrong. I didn't feel like asking the man about his difficulties, so I asked the other guy instead. The guy answered the man was using a special walking stick, and he couldn't walk without it, otherwise he would fall. I got quite afraid to walk around the area, because what would happen if I bumped into him while he was walking? So, for that reason I had to ask for more information, because I couldn't see how bad he was at walking, and if he would fall if someone suddenly bumped into him by accident. Then, the older man started to describe how the man with the walking difficulties was walking, how he hold the stick and how he needed to place the stick on the ground for each step. Those awesome descriptions gave me a really good visual image, and I could then imagine which I got confirmed by the man, that someone had to bump into him very hard to make him fall. When the man with the walking difficulties returned, I asked if I could feel his stick, which gave me an even better image.
People at my age this time would never have been that patient to describe all this to me. They can easily see there was a mann there with walking difficulties, how he walked, how he used the stick and they could easily walk around him. If I asked them for the same information, they would just have told me that he was using a stick, properly nothing more. Sometimes us blind folk need some good descriptions to fully imagine things which others can see and don't even give one single thought. Why should the sighted care about it? They could just walk around him without giving him one single thought. I was forced to care about the mann because I was worried that he would fall if I bumped into him. Why was I worried? Because I couldn't imagine how he was walking because I couldn't see it. Therefore, I needed those descriptions which I'm really glad I got. Later on, I learned to ask people instead ask others like I did there. smile
Well, my point is the following: Try to talk to older people. they are more patient, and they can learn you a lot of things which younger people don't even think about. I have learned many things, also a number of more useful things by talking to older people. I have learned to communicate pretty well, and most importantly: I have found interesting people who just accepted me, and find me interesting to talk too as well.

[wow], I said just a short reply, and now all this... smile There are other things I wanna say as well, but I can't find the right words to describe it all at the moment. I hope you at leased find some of it useful.

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29 (edited by Chandu 2014-04-10 07:12:30)

SLJ: so true!
however, one can't blame the teens for that kind of behavior it is within there nature. it is, like you said, that they don't know or understand the depth of a Blinds dificaltys. they dom't have enough experience to think that way. if they have previous experience, say, a disabled friend/relative, things may considerably be different.

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30

Chandu: I'm not really blaming anyone. That's just how teans mostly works, and that's okay. Those teans I mentioned in my post are teans who have known me their whole life. smile
As a blind guy, I have felt the need to learn about life like this pretty early, because I can't just see what's going on around me. a lot of my blind friends here in my country around my age does lag regarding to a lot of information regarding to know just the simplest things which sighted people have seen many times before. For example how cars drive around in a roundabout in a crouded city, how a dog places its legs to run that fast, ´how older people with walking difficulties walk and what it looks like and just a number of simular things which sighted people never think about because they have seen that the whole life.
Okay, i think I'm way too much off topic now, or maybe not. Because, if we as blind folk wanna know all those things, we have to learn to communicate well and ask for the information we need to get the right picture so we can imagine all those things. It's a matter of finding someone sighted who's natually very good at explaining things, either with words or phicically.
I'll go more on-topic later on. Now, back to work. smile

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Hello,
There is much to say, and those who know me will know that if I begin a post like this, then it is going to be a long post, so buckle up...
Everyone, not just blind people go through a phase like this. For some, it's a repeating issue, for others it passes quickly.
Rather than focussing on the issues, focus on the solutions. So, with this in mind:
You mentioned that you live outside a town nearby, so the area should be quite secluded and peaceful. A lot of people, including myself, would love to live in a place like that, but that's beside the point. smile
What could you do that takes advantage of your area? Well, the first thing is be outside as much as you can. Sunlight and air does wonders, both to your mood and to your health in general. For a couple weeks, you can meditate if you like, and also pay attention to yourself. Every detail, such as thoughts, emotions, reasons of your actions. Just enjoy the silence and the company of your thoughts.
I think it is very important to know yourself, this is partly the reason why you do not have a passion for something. Imagine situations where you have things to do that normally would not happen to you in real life. It does not matter what they are, let your imagination soar. Then step back, and analyse why you would do things the way you imagined. Is there a reason? If it was a negative scene, could you do something to improve it? If yes, imagine an improved situation. Do this daily, and don't worry, they will take some time.
You will find that it will be easier to deal with, and accept yourself, and interests will start popping up here and there.
You mentioned that you read S.K. novels. Great! Find a forum, either here, or on GoodReads, or in any other community, where you can discuss what you like about him, which books, etc. For a start smile
Concerning real life communication, that is going to be a hard one. But not impossible, as nothing is impossible! smile
First, you have to become ignorant to what others think about you. They might think that you are mentally challenged, but over time, there will be people who will talk to you and they will know that this is not true. How to strike up a conversation though?
This is always hard, and depends on the current situation. The most important thing is that they are not perfect. You won't do anything that as a human they would not do, one way or another. You must have motivation to step up and call out to someone, even if it is just the cleaning lady smile
Listen on in the conversations going on around you, see if you have something interesting going on. If yes, you can try chiming in, if it is close, or find someone later, at lunch for example, who you can talk to. Tell them that you have the same interests, you could do something together, or that they could tell you other people like them. Don't worry if it sounds ridiculous.
Find something that you can do in a group. Pen and paper rpgs are great for this, so are other longer games, such as dice poker, pc games, story reading, etc. The keyword here is to find something that you like. Do not think of huge things, always start with something small and maybe insignificant-looking. You will catch on in no time!
Reading random articles when you're home is great, such as cracked.com, or even Wikipedia, just make sure you are interested in what you are doing.
Then, later on, you can start learning martial arts. Tai chi, for example does great things to your health, to your mood, your coordination and to a lot of other body functions and it is the best to do when you are alone or with just one person hanging around.
It is good that you let life pass by, some people live a spontaneous life, but make sure you enjoy every moment of it. As said earlier, pay attention to small details around you, things that you like hearing, smelling, feeling. Enjoy these moments.
And of course, the question is how to do all these when you're in school? Certainly not all at once. Find the time for everything. Being outside during evenings is quite useful, and you can decide what you'd like to do. Just make sure you have your own opinion, even if noone likes it. It is you, and only you can decide smile
Good luck!

Rob

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Hi,
This is a really good topic, and a lot of great advice has come out of it.
I, too, can relate to being excluded by sighted people. My experience has been sort of different though in regards to older people being more accepting. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but, here in the US, older people are usually even more ignorant about disabilities than younger people. It's usually older people who have the audacity to ask a blind person questions like, "how do you eat when you can't see? How can you go to the bathroom?" I honestly don't mind answering genuine or thought-provoking questions, such as how screen readers or notetakers work and that kind of thing, but a sighted person wouldn't dream of asking another sighted person such idiotic questions. Why should the blind have to tolerate it?
Anyway, I really liked the post that was giving all those suggestions about things you can do to get through the worst of times. I have depression myself, so I can really relate to feeling crappy a lot of the time. I, too, have found that writing on forums can give me a sense of purpose. The trick is finding forums that won't add to your stress, and to not reveal too much personal information about yourself until you get a sense of what the community atmosphere is like. I had to get burned a lot of times on a certain forum before I realized this. There were some very vicious people who belittled me and many others who asked for advice about their problems. I hated myself for a long time because of what they said to me. Writing is immortal; once something is said about you in writing, it's like it's been set in stone. I find that the written word is much more believable than any insult that a person might throw at you during a verbal argument.
Email lists are great, but unfortunately, they seem to be a dying art. I can't tell you the number of times I've subscribed to a group, only to find that it's been abandoned, or worse, overrun with spam. That can be depressing, like hitting a dead end, and, if it happens 10 times in a row, it can be discouraging. But I'm glad that I still do have some groups that I write to which are still fairly active.
As for socializing in general, I admit that I'm not very good at it. I've had way too many experiences with betrayal, bullying, and a lack of emotional support from anyone to not be suspicious of someone's intentions whenever I start talking to them. This has lead me to run from several budding friendships in the past couple of years. I start talking to someone, usually after corresponding through email for a bit, then either I or the other person will exchange Skype or IM credentials. We start to talk, and have a few conversations, and it's like I have a rush in those beginning stages, even when it's a completely platonic situation. I love that feeling that comes along with unraveling the mystery of a new person. I know that probably makes me sound psychotic, certainly not normal. Then, a paralyzing fear overtakes me and I start to become filled with doubts. Since most of my interactions are online (it's a product of living in a rural area, with little or no opportunity to get out and about), I start to think stuff like, "What if this person isn't who they say they are? What if they are, and we start to get close?" In no time at all my anxiety level is so high that I just cut the person off with no explanation.
This is something I truly would like to change, I just don't know how to go about it. I don't go as far as blocking people, I just will avoid Skype for months on end if this happens. Then I'll wonder how that person is doing, whether they hate me, if they even cared, etc. Then, I start talking to someone else, and the cycle starts all over again, except with each new person that I add on Skype, I have to see all the others I ran from.
Like I said, this only started a couple of years ago. Before, I was always cautious, guarded, and reserved, but I think what really triggered my anxiety to this extreme was my last relationship. When we met, it was the most intense, passionate feeling I've ever had for anyone. Coupled with that feeling I get when getting to know someone in general, our relationship developed very fast physically and emotionally. But, just like a sprinter can only go so far before he collapses, we crashed and burned after just a few months together. It ended bitterly, and my sense of self was completely shattered for a long time.
I've mostly picked up the pieces now, but that fear of socializing is stronger than ever. I only feel comfortable around people I've known for years, people I've built a rapport with, and those are very few in number. I won't lie, I get lonely a lot of the time, too, and I don't really know how to change it. It doesn't help that I've always been a sensitive person, and this was never encouraged in my family. In fact, my parents always taught me to bury my emotions, and they were never there for me in that way, and my sister has been known to call me things like emo, psycho, and an attention whore when I dared to express my feelings about things.
I know this situation is a bit different than trying to socialize in high school, so sorry for my tangent. Anyway, I know this won't help now, but it really is true that high school is just one phase in your life. As a blind person, if you do manage to make friends in that tumultuous time in your life, they're most likely going to stick with you for life. That was the case for me, anyway. Those few friends I mentioned above? I've known them all since high school.
Two more things before I end this rambling, lol. First, the journaling idea is really a good suggestion. I kept a journal in high school too. I would write in it every day, sometimes for hours on end, discussing anything and everything that came into my head. It was often the only way I could talk about things. If you're going to do it, you have to just go with it. Relax your mind, and let it flow. Whatever you're thinking, write about it. Soon it will feel natural, and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. However, something happened to me that halted my ability to write in that way forever. I used to keep my journal on a flash drive, since I wrote in it so frequently. I had to carry it with me wherever I went, so that I could pull it out and write in it on my Braille Note. Well, one day, I lost the drive. I still don't know whether it was stolen, or fell out of my pocket or what, but the next thing I knew, someone had picked it up. Since I went to a school for the blind, most people had note takers. And, before I knew it, my journal was being passed around the school like a hot potato. Everyone read it, and everyone thought I was fucked up in the head. I never did get it back, because the teachers wouldn't have cared even if I had reported what happened. This one girl actually went so far as to report to the principal that I was going to beat her up all because I said some things about her in the journal, but certainly nothing violent. They were going to call the cops and everything, but luckily they decided that it was more of a he said, she said thing and that wouldn't hold any weight.
My point? Ever since then, I absolutely can't even imagine what possessed me to write in the first place. My advice would be to keep it as secure as possible, then, if you're going to do it.

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Sorry it's been a while since I've posted on this topic, got a bit of writing to do. @slj, ditto with the visual gestures in conversations thing. The other day I was sitting and eating across the table from my brother and a friend of his. They're giggling like tweenage girls, and then suddenly my brother yells "chicken!" followed by this ridiculously huge explosion of laughter. My response, in quite a lot more words: "yo, you sure you didn't take something?" He comes back with: "I saw a picture of a chicken on facebook." Really! That must be incredibly, unbelievably hilarius! I mean, it's a picture of, a fucking chicken! Of course I probably missed something visual, and I was not paying much attention to the conversation, such as it was, but you get the point. I do get along quite well with older people, I actually get along better at school with my teachers than I do any other student. Most of the people in my school will talk to me if they need to, such as for a project, and are plenty nice and act pretty comfortable. As soon as the conversation tries to go deeper though, or there is nothing to talk about, it gets awkward, and when they're done talking to me it's again as if I'm not there. @Robjoy, I do live in a pretty quiet place, but there's not really a practical place to be outside, at least that I know of. Also, my family are very loud and come in and out frequently, and I prefer to be alone and not have people constantly looking at me. I've set a goal for myself to say hi to at least three different people in one day...it's a start, I suppose. @Turtlepower, I can relate to a lot of what you've said here. Getting a rush from meeting new people is not abnormal...well at least in my case, which isn't a very good example. Every time I'm really engaged with people I feel incredible. As an example, a little after I set up my facebook account (this was at my blind school, but I'd actually made 3 friends), it was about eleven or so, we were up and most everyone else was asleep, and we were just...talking. I was actually, for one of the first times in my life, communicating equally, being responded to, having fun and joking around, with people who shared some of my interests and genuinely liked me. At times like this, when I'm actively engaged in a conversation with people, whether physical or online, I feel alive, Like I could quite literally do anything. Unfortunately this happens when people my own age talk to me in school as well. Someone will talk to me, and for a while I'll be energized thinking that perhaps I'm finally getting somewhere. Of course, the next day or day after they stop talking to me, and I'm left disappointed. I've been riding this cycle off and on for the past two years now, and I'm worn out. That's the main reason I don't actively look for things like a debate team or book clubs in my area, and because I'm afraid the same thing will happen, might even get magnified. I'm also a pretty sensitive person; I've been told I act like a girl, as if that were a bad thing, because when I was younger I often had a hard time expressing my emotions, so when I did it could be extreme. Now that I'm older, I usually do not say anything at all. I cannot really confide emotionally in the friends I do have, because I might get the same reaction; I'm not a very strong person emotionally. I tend to be way too trusting, and if a person is acting friendly, even if I know they are not, I still instinctively want to trust and be their friend. If I'm not careful I tend to open my mouth a bit too much if I get talking with someone, sometimes it could be someone I barely know. As a result I probably overcompensate a bit now, but it's better than the alternative. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be close to someone, physically and emotionally, being able to trust each other implicitly and share whatever we needed to with each other, without fear of being scorned. This is what happened with the first (and last) girl I had a serious crush on: basically I reached out to her all at once, telling her how much she meant to me, and that I trusted her and wanted to be close to someone. Looking back I can now see that it must've been incredibly awkward for her, and unfair, because she's an amazing person in her own right regardless of my feelings; something I'd never told her until then. My point which I'm not making very well is that sensitivity is not a bad thing, regardless of what people say and what our society believes. I've had people make broad and insulting assumptions about me based on little things, and have for the most part learned to dismiss them. It does sting, and it's easier said than done, but it's possible. I suppose that's one advantage of not being involved with too many people, at least. I've had my fair share of bullying, but I think I've had it pretty good compared to some people on here, and it has mostly stopped in the last 2-3 years. As some people have suggested, I've started a journal. I resolved at the beginning to write in it every day for at least a year, and so far have forgotten 3 or 4 days, but I suppose it's better than not writing at all. I honestly haven't gotten a whole lot of satisfaction out of writing yet though.

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The usefulness of journalling is often looking back at a series of entries and spotting patterns that you miss while going through but become apparent when you can see many days together.

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35 (edited by Chandu 2014-04-21 07:00:57)

wanderer: I'd say what you've described as an improvement. you try to talk to at least 3 strangers(in a loosid sence) daily; you started a journal; that's good for a start! smile one of the things you could try out is meditation. it really works for me, especially if I'm angry/depressed.

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Yep, all of you and I have had very similar experiences. The thing is, sighted people go through the same things, just in slightly different ways. There were a few people talking about finding sighted people to give you descriptions of environments you're in, etc. I suggest turning to books of all different genres. The advantage is that where the written word is concerned, the sighted and blind are equal. Therefore, authors actually take the time to describe absolutely everything that is going on in words we as blind people can understand. Read enough different authors and you'll get multiple takes on things like body language, urban environments, interpersonal dynamics, etc. Sure we have difficulty communicating on a visual level, but in the grand scheme of things, a blind person is still just as human as a sighted one. If you actually take the time to really listen to someone when they talk, you'll discover far more about them than they could by just looking at you. By extention, if you ask lots of open ended questions that cause people to think about things in a different way, they will appreciate it and make the adaptations so that you're always included in visual conversations. My friends and family describe visual things pretty much as they're happening without my having to ask. (most of the time anyway lol) Wonderer: another thing you have to realise is that even sighted people don't have many true friends. They may have a lot more aquaintances than you, but those are just shallow relationships that really mean nothing in the long term. I think the biggest issue that we as blind people struggle with is the need to contribute. The best time in my life was five years ago when I worked as a camp councellor for a retreat center run by the Canadian national institute for the blind. Everything was accessible, and though there were jobs I couldn't do, like driving and life guarding, there were other jobs I was uniquely suited for, like DJIng the weekly dances or helping people out with their various access technology. In between there was a lot of scutt work like cleaning out the camp's vans, setting tables, and a whole passle of other things, but that was alright. I had a place in the community, I could contribute and do useful things and the sadness I usually struggle with from having to fight against society's stigmas regarding blind people was gone. I have now graduated postsecondary and though my chosen field of journalism isn't very accessible from a software standpoint, I'm not giving up. We fight an up hill war every day, but we let stigmas and misconceptions about us win if we don't fight at all.

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37 (edited by jjgeek 2014-04-22 21:32:35)

I definitely agree about the journaling thing. I have had online journals--or blogs--on a few different sites. To date all of them have been abandoned, but not because I don't know what to write. I abandoned most of them due to accessibility concerns, and my most recent one was abandoned because my website got deleted. That's because my account got shut down due to me acquiring this Mac. It is a Windows-based service and I am arguing back and forth with my parents about running Windows on here and signing up for another account. Well not arguing, but my parents seem to have a different opinion than me in this regard. The service to which I'm referring here is SAMNet, the System Access Mobile Network. The reason I set up a website on there in the first place was  because of the accessibility. But I guess this is a discussion which I'm going to have to continue with my parents.

Regarding being social, I have never really had an issue with that. What I do have a problem with though, is independent outdoor travel. But I've discussed that on here already, so I won't revisit it. I just hope that a better solution is found soon though, otherwise I'll turn into a hermit. I don't want that and I've also been told this by other people around me, including my family. As far as bullying is concerned, I never really experienced that. There were 2 minor instances of it though. The first took place when I was little. My family and I were at our local swimming pool, and some guy came up to me and asked what the paper was inside my undergarment. He was referring to the tag that tells me which way they go on. But now that I've given it some thought, that wasn't bullying in the true sense. However, I did experience something several years later which was akin to bullying. Although it really upset me and has caused me to really think twice about things, I am still able to talk about it. A sister and I were at home having lunch when the phone rang. I was still living with my parents at the time. I went over and picked up the phone. On the other end was the voc/rehab counselor I had at the time. He was joined by his supervisor, who had previously been my counselor. I could tell they were on speaker-phone because of the echo. They chewed me out just for writing a letter requesting more services. I should point out here that this new counselor had previously phoned me to introduce himself, and to assure me that no past events would be repeated and that he would see to it that things were straightened out. He was very friendly on that call. Then, he has the nerve to call me up and chew me out. But anyway, that was not pleasant. I also had a mudball thrown at me in nursery school, but that's about all I remember other than one of the teachers intervening in the situation. I recently tried commenting on another person's blog about my lack of "real world" experiences particularly related to the movie "Blindness", and she then posted an entire entry about my lack of experience with discrimination. Those of you who are members of either blindness organization can probably guess which organization she's in. This was right after I saw that movie with a group of friends. So I guess in part you could say I'm not motivated enough to do much of anything in the realm of advocacy.

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38 (edited by Chandu 2014-04-23 08:19:38)

shuteye: a number of valuable points there. while I don't totaly agree with the "books" view(books're not always real life) I absolutely agree with the other things. yes, the so called selfpitty (no offence to anybody) arices because we feel that we are not, or, can't, contribute positively to anything, and also, many times, especially,  if we're not forceful and demanding in nature, our contributions're overlooked by the sighted community. sad one of the solutions is, of course, to forcefully take the credit where it belongs. smile

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I think Shuteye raises a very good point here about friendships. A lot of sighted people seem to have lots of friends, but in reality they probably only have two or three really good friends at most. The rest are just acquaintances they happen to talk to in passing. So while it seems like they have 25 friends the majority of those so-called friends are just casual acquaintances they happen to strike up a conversation with because they both happen to be at the same place and same time.

For example, you can go to just about any grade school in America and find a dozen or more kids playing together on the playground. Maybe they are playing kickball, football, tag, whatever but just because they are playing together as a large group does not mean they are all friends. The reality of the situation is they all happen to be at the same place, same time, and someone got a game going that requires lots of people. Since those other kids didn't have anything else better to do they joined in the game regardless if the other kids that were playing were friends or not.

We can observe the same sort of thing at the high school level. Someone will talk to others in his/her home room, at lunch, or between classes because the other people happen to be at the same place same time. They probably have a casual friendship with that person, meaning they know what to say to strike up a conversation with the person when there isn't anything else to do, but the two people aren't close friends calling each other on the phone, exchanging e-mails, or hanging out after school. They simply talk when there is a free moment and there isn't anything else better to do.

My point here is that if you have a couple of good friends that is all you need. Nobody blind or sighted really has dozens of friends. All most people have is casual acquaintances they know from school, work, chat with on the internet, etc but have no deep bond with. So having a very small close inner circle of friends is very normal.

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40 (edited by jjgeek 2014-04-23 16:44:52)

I think I'd have to agree about the friendship thing. Ever since moving out of my parents' house and into the apartment building where I currently live, I have created a circle of friends around me. This building is part of a nonprofit organization called Center for Independent Futures, see previous posts of mine. I frequently hang out with one or more of the neighbors in my apartment building for a casual conversation, and it's always so much fun. We also have a mandatory weekly meeting where we all just check in with one another, and where any important announcements are made. We also plan building activities at these meetings. But in addition, there are often activities here involving other friends of mine in the organization. I am always included in these activities. Whether or not I always attend is a different story though, which goes back to the orientation&mobility issue. Sometimes I have other conflicts too, so I'm not in attendance. But the locations for some of these activities have recently been changed, and I therefore can't go to them unless one of my friends is with me or I'm able to book a trip on paratransit. But I have thoroughly enjoyed being included in these activities over the years.

I'd also like to go back to the point about sighted people asking questions of us. I'm one who generally doesn't mind answering these questions. After all, people are curious about the ways in which I accomplish things. However, there is one acquaintance of mine who has this annoying habit of repeatedly asking me questions about other friends of mine which are of a rather personal nature. I am calling this person an acquaintance because he is, for lack of a better term, a nuisance. For instance, he has previously called me on the phone just to ask these questions about 2 friends of mine who have cerebral palsy. I am rather uncomfortable answering, and I have in fact told him that on numerous occasions.  I've also reported him to staff members here, and they've talked with him. Yet he continues to do this. One of the questions he asks is how these 2 other guys go to the bathroom. This is honestly getting to the point of harassment, if it isn't there already. Reversing gears a bit here, my life-skills tutor and I recently saw another sighted friend from this organization while waiting at a bus stop and we immediately struck up a conversation. This friend has some disabilities. He happened to get on the same bus, so we continued the conversation. One of his questions to me was how I became blind. I could tell by the pause that followed that my tutor was a bit uncomfortable with this, and then our friend immediately apologized to us. He got off at the stop just before ours.

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@jgeek: if you're still looking, I can't say enough good things about dreamwidth.org.  It's based on the old LJ code, before it got annoying and stupid. The default layout could use some access work, but it's fully configurable, so you can switch to a minimal layout and disable all of the sidebars and other crap, without losing any functionality.  They don't run any advertising, so no worries there.  Most of the people I've interacted with in that community have even gone to the trouble of giving their user icons alt-text that actually describes the image.  From the front page of the website, it really looks like they're targeting artists and painters, but I haven't been made to feel unwelcome even though I'm not an artist.  Also, unlike places like wordpress, those of us who want to make almost all private entries aren't made to feel like second class citizens.

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Chandu: you're absolutely right about books not being real life. What I was getting at is that descriptions of scenes, body language, etc are taken from what the author sees on a daily basis in real life. You'll have better luck getting such information from genres like adult fiction or straight up nonfiction because they tend to be based more on the real life world of today or the not too distant past. Why bother to reinvent the body language / interpersonal relationship description wheel when you don't have to? I also wanted to add that I've done extensive social experimentation in the area of eye contact and I've discovered that I'm treated a lot more normally when I slap on a good pair of sunglasses. This has the effect of unconsciously tricking the sighted into thinking you're making eye contact with them when you are not in fact doing so. However, when finding a good pair of shades, I recommend bringing a trusted sightie your own age with you to the store as you want to find glasses that will properly fit your face. My face for example is narrower so a pair of aviators would look stupid on me. The same goes for clothing. You may have clothes that you love wearing and are comfortable in, but if you want people to treat you like you're one of them, you're going to have to make some consession to fashion and style. That's not to say you need to wear all expensive brand names all the time, but you will need to find clothes that fit properly, etc. For example, these days the trend in jeans is that they are tight (not super tight, but more form fitting, avoid super skinny jeans of course smile . If you go to Costco and grab their bulk Kirkland jeans that fit more loosely, you're going to come off not looking like most others who wear jeans. Sighted people will immediately notice when you start taking pride in your appearance and wardrobe and respect you for it. I pride myself on looking presentable every time I go out in public and sometimes I get asked who dresses me, to which I respond that I do. smile

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Thanks for the suggestion. I just registered on the site and it seems great in terms of accessibility in both Safari and Google Chrome with VoiceOver. One thing I especially like is the text-based CAPTCHA's they use! However, I  still have yet to receive an email confirmation of my registration. I even went to the place on the site with a button which will supposedly email a validation code or something, but still haven't received anything. But perhaps they will send it tomorrow. I also submitted a support request about this, so maybe someone will get back to me.

fastfinge wrote:

@jgeek: if you're still looking, I can't say enough good things about dreamwidth.org.  It's based on the old LJ code, before it got annoying and stupid. The default layout could use some access work, but it's fully configurable, so you can switch to a minimal layout and disable all of the sidebars and other crap, without losing any functionality.  They don't run any advertising, so no worries there.  Most of the people I've interacted with in that community have even gone to the trouble of giving their user icons alt-text that actually describes the image.  From the front page of the website, it really looks like they're targeting artists and painters, but I haven't been made to feel unwelcome even though I'm not an artist.  Also, unlike places like wordpress, those of us who want to make almost all private entries aren't made to feel like second class citizens.

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@jjgeek: For whatever reason, the email went into my spam folder in gmail. So check there, maybe?

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I read all the time, and I agree most books don't truly reflect life, but thanks to books I have a pretty good visual understanding of the world, body language etc, the problem though is that knowing something in theory and on paper, and experiencing it in reality are often not at all the same, or you won't notice in the moment when it's happening; flirting for example. Sometimes, at least in my age group, it seems those shallow relationships between people is all there is, and you're considered a "close friend" if you smile at someone enough or whatever. Of course I'm not seeing much of people's actual lives, so I know it's not true, just seems that way more often than not, when I'm observing social interaction. I'm not overly concerned with dress; as long as it fits, doesn't have holes and is comfortable, it's fine by me, and I'm not really interested in fitting in with a big group of people, so not that much of an issue. I do sometimes get compliments for wearing nice things, but I've long ago given up obsessing over my appearance too much, for lack of any really noticeable results.

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46

Some people find body language very challenging to learn or even master, and others find it quite easy.
I know it might sound weird, but I was lucky to find some older people who just naturally without me requesting it, began to show and tell me about body language. My parents and sister who are all normally sighted have always talked about body language in natual ways, why shouldn't they? I have been in a mainstream school or whatever it's called as a kid, where i was the only blind kid on the whole school. So I have always felt body language very natually. I at mit I could have been much better at it though. I think some of those who are grown up in schools for blind find body language very challenging, because they might not be used to all people around them are doing it and are talking about it in natual ways.

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shuteye: thanks for the sunglass trick. I never knew that and am gonna try it out the next best opportunity. big_smile and totaly agreed on the "clothes" thing

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48 (edited by jjgeek 2015-09-13 17:22:38)

I, too, totally agree about the clothes thing. I have often gotten compliments about what I wear. I feel that, since I don't have a full-time job, I therefore will be okay if I don't wear the nicest of clothing. However, I do try to look dressy for special occasions. For instance, I'm going to a fundraiser this evening for CIF and actually carved out a chunk of time this morning to shave well. But on the whole, I really don't care that much about looking spiffy. Some people, including my family, have told me otherwise but I just don't think about it that way. As long as I have good hygiene, am nice to others, and am trustworthy and honest I guess that's all that really matters at this point.  @fastfinge, everything's all sorted out at least for now with regards to Dreamwidth. I discovered--through reading a maintenance post and its subsequent comments--that a few ISP's have been blocking mail from the site. These include AT&T, which I use. So I just switched to my other account which is a subdomain of gmail. At some point I may try and contact AT&T regarding this issue, but I don't currently have much time.

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Hello everyone! My name is Jo. I am a student about to graduate and I aspire to be an indie game developer. I came to this website to try and get to know the community. Reading Wanderer's post and the others whom have had similar experiences was very enlightening and saddening. I am a sighted person. Although I can say that many of the things you describe are kids being ignorant and cruel, I must admit that I too have passed another blind student without thinking to strike up a conversation. The first time I have seen a blind person with a cane was in college. And like many others in college, I passed him by. Being that he was the first blind student I have encountered, I was very curious to talk to him and ask him about himself, as well as being blind. However, I was very afraid of being offensive or so ignorant of blind people to the point where I did/said everything wrong to him and looked ridiculous. At this point, my decision was to avoid making social faux pas and avoiding him altogether. But I had no idea that many people who are blind face this bout of alienation for most of their young/K-12 lives. I could not have made a worse decision at that point. Now when I really think about it, it makes sense to me. After all, many kids are immature, and are generally afraid to reach out to others or step out of their comfort zones. Many young people are shy because they are figuring out many things for the first time too. Not to mention their short attention spans! And in college, especially the school I go to where most students are commuters, people are mostly too busy to stick around and talk to others. The next time I see another student who is blind, I will approach them and get to know them. I have just met a student who is blind for the first time the other day. I am not sure what his username here is or if he uses his real name on this website - but he did refer me to this website, as well as members of applevis.com. He codes in python and makes audio games. You see, I am trying to make a game for people with no sight. Before, I wanted to reach out and conduct research on what are some things that the V.I. community would like to see in games. Now I would just like to familiarize myself with your community and get to know people. And for you kids out there still in high school or are new to college, here are some tips:

1. When you are talking to a sighted person, especially if they are not experienced with speaking to V.I. people, perhaps (if you've the humor) poke fun of yourself a bit. I'm sorry if this seems offensive to anyone but I am telling the truth. My new friend whom I've met the other day helped alleviate my social anxiety of offending him by poking a bit of fun of himself and the fact that he's blind. It allowed me to be very comfortable with him and somewhat feel like I could freely joke with him about things. Generally, I love making jokes with people all the time! But I am also very respectful and tend to avoid confrontation. Most people avoid confrontation except for bullies. So that's why they're more likely to bother you! If you show others kids that you're just a regular person like them (well of course you are! but they don't know much as a kid!) they are likely to become and stay your friends.

2. Like someone pointed out before, a small circle of friends is much more important than laughing or joking around with a large group of people. Even one really good friend is better! What tends to happen in large groups such as those, you will find that they often break up into little cliques of 3 or so and tend to have drama among each other. Most of those relationships never last passed high school and such - I can vouch for that! And even more important that, make sure to prioritize your relationships with family. Unless they're absolutely horrible people, you usually can't find any better friends than your family.

3. Many of the tips and advice mentioned in posts before such as talking to older people, wearing sunglasses, or taking care of your appearance - I'm sure that will help a lot too. After all, most teenagers tend to get caught up with fads and certain looks/styles or whatever. Personally, I don't really agree with that sort of stuff but I do take care of maintaining my appearance. And as mentioned before - it doesn't hurt to "fit in" with the other kids a bit. If it pleases you, totally and try to dress "trendy" or whatever seems fitting with kids your age.

4. If you need accommodations or help fitting in with your class, please talk to your teacher. You deserve a safe place and a comfortable environment where you can receive a good education! I'm sure they would oblige to calling roll if they realized it was a good way for you to know who was part of your class. Hopefully, the teacher can speak up to students about things you would otherwise find difficult to tell everyone. On another note, Someone had a story where the teacher was scolding the student after being bullied - screw that teacher! At that point, talk to someone higher up with more authority. That will set your teacher straight. Especially if you're in college or any other school that costs money? Oh man! You'd better have things to your liking! Come on, you're paying for it!

5. You all might already do this but I am only bringing this up because it seems that people who are blind prefer comfortable clothes instead of clothes that are trendy (which totally makes sense. I do this, haha). If you have certain interests like a band, genre of music, or video game or something - why not ask a family member to help you find clothes of those interests. That is a good conversation starter! People who like the same band as you will probably just come up to you because they love the band on your clothes so much!

6. Exercise is super important! If you ever find that you have trouble sleeping - having good exercise any time in a day will surely have you knocked out at night when you want to. Pushups, pullups, squats, and situps are pretty much all you need! Less so on the situps part. Make sure to have someone correct your form - everyone needs this. Also, exercise will help alleviate stress and anxiety overall. I found that after really sweaty exercise in high school I was able to do class presentations way more comfortably! Also, with the amount of water you lose when you sweat, your body will naturally have you drinking more water and craving energy-replenishing foods so you end up naturally having a healthier diet.

That's pretty much all I have for tips/advice. Oh and I'd just like to note, all of the things I mentioned above benefit EVERYBODY. It doesn't really have anything to do with being visually impaired. There are tons of people who are lost, don't know themselves, afraid of being a grown up, etc. you name it! Everyone just hides it. But really, people are just people - everyone has their own flaws or problems.

I can definitely relate to how you grew up. Being a loner most of my young life (even with family - because my siblings were so much older than me) I turned to video games and cartoons and such. My parents were always busy too. So video games pretty much raised me! Haha.

I'm sorry that you have been down enough to say you don't have passion in life. But I'm really really glad that you were open and honest about it. I hope you see that you're not alone. I know that you'll find yourself someday. It will happen before you know it! Just keep growing and learning... pursue what makes you happy. You'll get there man.

I hope I didn't offend anyone. Again, this is just me being self-conscious. I am very new to this community and I hope to get to know everyone! Sorry for the really long post... But if you've gotten this far, thanks for reading!

-Jo

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Chandu: I hope it works out for you. smile Like I said before, bring a trusted style sensetive woman with you to help pick out your shades, you want them to look good on your face. Wanderer: to each his own, keep in mind though that on a superficial level, pride in one's wardrobe bespeaks pride in one's self. I too don't enjoy large groups as much, but if you're looking to maximize your networking potential and encourage people to come and talk to you, being a snappy dresser always helps. smile Regarding your comments about body language, you're absolutely correct. It is difficult for us to figure out what's going on as it happens. The best advice I can offer there is to keep track of what you missed when you find out about it. Try not to dwell on what you missed, but keep it in the back of your mind so that you can learn a little more if a similar situation happens again. Keep at this and I think you'll notice that you're picking up on things at a subconscious level. Talk to enough people and I think you'll also start to experience those who like you making concessions to your blindness by adapting the ways they communicate to bring you more fully into the conversation. Jo: thanks for your post smile having the sighted perspective in a convo like this is always a good thing and I agree with everything you said.

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