My eyes do their own thing. They race around my head like Formula One cars frantically trying to lap each other. I imagine they may one day take off and fly around for a little while before they return to their sockets. I see the world in broad brush strokes. Outlines are blurred and the fine details which add texture to the world for sighted people are missing. People don’t tend to realise that there is a whole twilight world between sight and blindness. I fall into the category of the subsighted. In other words, I am nearly sighted, but not quite.
This may seem inconvenient or frustrating, even distressing, but it has given me a rich vein of humour to milk. Journalists are told to develop a field of expertise. At the start of my career, a wise old journalist encouraged me to carve a niche by writing about my twilight world. Since then, I have striven to describe the world of the visually impaired in a realistic way, debunking the tragic victim/flawless hero stereotypes perpetuated by the media.
I have done this in two ways. First of all, I have delved into a form of gonzo journalism, writing humorous articles about my bumbling adventures. The articles initially appeared on human-interest websites and publications for the visually-impaired, where I received a positive reaction. The one that moved me most was from a woman with the same level of sight as me, who said one of my articles had given her the words to tell her convey to her blind husband exactly what she could se. This spurred me to bring my writings to a wider arena and soon enough, they started trickling onto the pages of The Irish Examiner newspaper and classical-music station Lyric FM.
The second avenue I exploited was that of general features giving the visually-impaired angle on everyday subjects, such as sport and the arts. Editors appreciated the fact that I could give a fresh perspective on a tired theme. I could get my teeth into meaty features about the ways visually-impaired people engage with computer technology and how to create more accessible cities.
Working the VIP angle hasn’t always been ideal. Ultimately, it’s a narrow niche and there’s only so much you can say about it. And once you’ve painted yourself as an expert in one area, it can be hard for editors to recognise that you do have the versatility to cover other subject areas.
But in general, writing articles about life as a visually-impaired person has proven to be the most rewarding aspect of my work. I feel privileged to be able to shine a light into corners of the visually-impaired world which others can’t reach. I want people to think about visually impaired people in more realistic ways. If one person thinks as a result of my articles, ‘Hang on, I never thought of it like that,’ I’ll feel I’ve done my job.
Final thought: Your business has its own unique angle. If you take a little time to figure out what that is, people will be interested in hearing about it. Editors will always prick up their ears at a new idea, so it’s worth spending a little time brainstorming to see what helps your business to stand out. Write down all your thoughts and keep eliminating the less relevant ones until you are left with one line which describes your business in a nutshell. If you are more visual, think of your business as a building. Is it a sleek, high tech apartment, or a mellow manor house. Thinking of your business in that way will help you decide which words best fit your business.