First of all, the disclaimers:

  1. I am legally blind
  2. I use a Cane and Miniguide as mobility aids
  3. I consume services from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
  4. I have once required the assistance of Guide Dogs Queensland, and was most dissatisfied. (Their release)
  5. I subscribed to the paper The Chaser in the early part of the decade
  6. I don’t find The Chaser’s War on Everything particularly funny, and I don’t generally watch the program.
  7. Having seen the ABC News Online article yesterday, I have now seen the skit in question on YouTube.

So, what do I think?  I think Guide Dogs Queensland is totally overreacting.  The only basis for complaint would be if the dog were a real working Guide Dog.  Somehow I don’t think that would get through the production processes at the ABC, do you?

Honestly, I’ve done pretty much the same joke myself. Usually when intoxicated, I’ve been known to offer my cane to others when they show suitble signs of intoxication.  It’s a lame joke, and not one I tend to find funny when sober, but it’s certainly not offensive.

I’m wondering whether we’d have seen as much attention on this without the reputation that The Chaser has been earning for itself.  Certainly since the APEC stunt, they’ve been riding high on publivity and much of that is negative. That doesn’t mean people won’t watch.  But given what one can learn about the program in the popular press, don’t you think some people would learn that they might be offended by the show?

Here’s a hint: if you think you might be offended by somthing on TV or radio, don’t watch it!  Really, it’s quite simple.

It’s not the job of broadcasters to censor content beyond classification.  It’s up to viewers to choose what they watch. It’s up the parents to monitor their children’s media consumption.

As I’ve said above I don’t watch The Chaser’s War on Everything, I don’t particularly like the program, but if this kind of knee-jerk over-sensative reaction were to lead to cancellation, then I think we’d live in a very poor society.

And BTW, if you’re considering a charitable donation, I’d highly reccomend dontating to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

[Or: Dammit!]

I don’t think I’ve made much of a secret of the fact my vision has been getting worse over the past couple of months.  If this is a shock to you, then I apologise.

Having finally seen my latest field of vision test (under CCTV magnifier at Vision Australia) on Friday, I was a little surprised at how small my visual field actually is.  It’s not like there’s “black” around what I see… what I see is simply as wide as … well, what I see.  It’s hard to notice that change, though rapid changes become a little more obvious.  Beyond that, the quality of my vision across what I can see has dropped fairly significantly (and most particularly on my left eye, which used to be significantly better than my right).

So I find myself moving again through a bunch of processes that I’ve been through before.  Interestingly it seems that my new Ophthalmologist thinks my previous diagnosis is worthy of revision, though this is hardly likely to result in any restoration of vision (optic nerves aren’t fixable).  I am worried that it will become something that’s treatable to at least slow any future loss… I think finding out that there were things that could have been done, but weren’t done, will be worse than the “nothing we can do” scenario.

Overall I what I find more frustrating is realising I’m not doing stuff that I was previously because some subconcious part of my brain has decided that I can’t do it any more.  For example, I’ve switched desks at work, and subsiquently I’ve got a different phone. I’ve only realised today that I’ve been avoiding answering the main line because I don’t actually know which button to press.  I’ve been sitting here for a week and a half.

Or another example, walking from Redfern station to the office, I’ve switched a navigation point to smell. I only discovered this because the cafe concerned has taken to shutting its doors in the cooler winter mornings.

At the moment it feels a bit like pointlessly wandering in circles.

Still, slowly my brain will move to adapt.  It’s not like getting anything back, but you learn to cope with less and use it better, or else work around it.

Please don’t feel like I’m saying I want to give up.  Yes, I do have moments of wanting to crawl into a hole and wish the world would leave me alone and you have no idea how much I wish this wasn’t happening.  But there are plenty of people who’ve been through similar things and survived.  There are plenty of people worse off than I am.

But there’s support for me around the place – at work, home, friends, family and my always fabulouse and supportive wife.  Without all of these people, life would be considerably different.  Thanks to you all.

Soundtrack:
The Living End – In The End
Addiction 64 – Learn to Dance
Area 7 – Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again
Save Ferris – I’m Not Crying For You
The Living End – The Room
The Living End – Mr Business Man
Neveready – 3 Chord
The Wallflowers – I Started a Joke

I suspect not. 😉

But because someone asked (which is a rarity), I did a quick bit of searching online to see if I could find an example of what my vision is like. I suspect there’s lots of irony there, or something. Indeed, given the nature of my not-seeing-ness I could be way off the mark.

Anyhow, the best example I could find was this image What I supposedly see accoring to Agencies for the Blind. from the VisionServ Alliance. I say take it with a bit of a grain of salt and the following caveats.

I have bilateral optic atrophy (or neuropathy if you prefer) which means it affects both eyes somewhere along the optic nerve (or maybe at multiple points… who knows!). I have a restricted field of vision nasally, laterally and above and below the horizontal. The distortion (and total “black spots”) aren’t as evenly distributed as that picture would seem to imply.

My initial vision loss started in around 1997 and deteriorated rather rapidly. The prognosis is unknown.

I think those are the central points, but questions are welcome.

UPDATE

How’s this for an analogy: a person with 6/6 vision is watching HD TV, I’m watching analogue TV without an areal on the edge of the reception zone?

Also, here’s a different image from a page about Optic Neuritis – different condition with different cause (related to MS) but a similar effect.

I don’t think either image quite captures it correctly, but each case is different.  Hopefully this gives some kind of impression at least.

UPDATE #2:  This is approaches the topic from a slighly different angle: from Blind Photographers Stitching Sight.