I’ve decided to come clean. After two years of running my copywriting service, WriteWords Editorial and delivering creative writing classes, I thought it was about time I shared with you what it is like to do business as a visually impaired person – or speccer as I like to call myself. Most of the time, my sight loss doesn’t impinge on my work. All I need to run my business is a computer with a magnifier, Internet access and change for taxis.
Still, I had an experience this week that I think neatly illustrates both the advantages and the disadvantages of doing business as a speccer. I was invited to speak to a women’s network. I needed to get a taxi to the hotel, as like many of these business meetings, it was held in a place more accessible to cars than pedestrians.
As it was my home town, I knew the taxi driver and knew his car was silver. So when I saw a silver car, I opened the door to find it wasn’t him. When I got to the hotel, the entrance had a glass door. I put my hand out to open it and groped empty air.
The talk itself went well. I always use PowerPoint, even though I can’t read the slides, since I know people like to have something to look at. And because I have to learn off my notes, I look really brainy. Since faces are a blur, I don’t feel subject to the crowd’s laser-beam stare, so that reduces the fear factor considerably.
I talked about public speaking being more feared than spiders or death and my slide had a picture of a spider. Moments later, I heard muffled laughter. And one of the women informed me that a spider was hovering in front of me. It was probably fortunate for the spider that I didn’t see him; he would have met a grisly death.
On the way home, having lurched my way down a landmine step that materialised just outside the entrance of the hotel, the taxi driver apologised for teasing me. Then he did something worse. He said he felt sorry for me.
Since I have x-ray vision in speccer terms, it’s easy for me to forget that my visual impairment does affect me at times. If I did speak up about it, the people I meet would know why I seem to blank them, or can’t immediately lay my hands on where things are. And it would help them see that people with disabilities of all kinds can make a useful contribution to the business environment.
This blog also appears on www.kanchi.org, an organisation which promoted employment opportunities for people with disabilities.