PDF Talking with Kids - Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Blindness

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Uh, which is a big problem because quite a lot of information or instructions on the internet or on a phone or whatever, sorry, red text on black or black text on red. Websites use those combinations. You will mix up, um, deep pinks and mid-blues and you mix up, um, bright green and bright yellow. Um, but he will mix up mmm. Grays and pinks, which you are all less likely to do. Well yes. So I was going to come back to that.

Which is quite handy. And so I have a standing joke in that regard in the family about kind of yellows and greens. Um, I have also noticed that, um, there was no such thing as purple. And I refuse to accept the existence of purple. We should tell folk about how many people are affected and in what sort of ways their life can be affected. Yeah, we have a Hashtag one in every classroom is at least one child in every classroom. I know.

I like. Football, it does affect us, but the red ball and a green background and cricket has always been a bit of a disaster. I mean there cricket really brought things to a head by introducing a paintball and night day tests. Which I was pretty annoyed about because, they knowingly brought that in. So that got quite confronted quite quickly. Kathryn: No.

I mean, they need the technical research to be done. Euan: Yeah, we should, we should talk more about that as well. So, um, as the light fades it gets worse. If you speak to cricketers they will tend to say they can see the ball moving. They can see against certain backgrounds.

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If they are fielding they have more problems with it than they do as a bowler or batter. I used to play a bit of cricket. I know it was quite a, I was up rubbish batsmen in a rubbish bowler, but I was quite a canny fielder. But, um, well I think one of the things I probably would be better at though is actually I was better in close because as soon as it was a distance away, there was more chance of the bowl disappearing into the brownie-greeny background.

Um, so sort the high level and then I was in trouble. Kathryn: Yeah, exactly. Euan: I do. I hate watching sport with a pink bowl and they introduced it into football a little while ago as well that there was, I think it was a champions league ball had an element of pinkness to it. Um, it might, it might be my, I might even be the World Cup.

Do you remember which, which tournament or game it was? That was interesting because that was what got us into football in many ways.

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Cause I wrote to, um, yeah, the chairman at the time, Greg Dyke, and said now listen, you should know all about colour blindness. Are you still on the BBC? And uh, as I did, they did very quickly get onto that, um, and redesigned the ball. It normally takes them two years to do a new ball redesign and they did want it in about six months.

So they got rid of quite a lot of pink off the next iteration. Um, they need, they need a different type of ball for every match. Almost, you know, if they could get away with it , maybe they would so that they could sell more versions. But there we are. Kathryn: Yes. Oh yeah, absolutely. Euan: This football and cricket, are there any other sports there that have got similar problems? I might have missed, not thought about?

Where there was something called a colour rush competition that was introduced in the very first match. The Game was all red against all green. Because there was so much controversy of assets, um, comes up in hockey. The spectators more than anything. That can be a problem. Euan: We can come onto a little bit, maybe talking about briefly about careers and things, but sailing falls into that category that particularly just the, obviously the use of red, green as the standard colours of port and starboard, starboard and port.

Um, is just a disaster. Kathryn: I agree with you. You can buy a new boat, a motor boat and you can go straight onto the sea and be colour blind and not know anything about any, any navigation. Kathryn: Most of the military, what happens quite often is that people leave school and decide they want to go into Oh, the army side and will put them through their paces and they can get right the way to the very end. There need to be proper procedures in place to ensure that colourblind chefs, are not going to do that kind of thing.

Um, but also even something as simple as chopping board. They are all colour coded. So I would love to know what the procedures are in place to ensure that that sort of incident can happen. So they knew I was colourblind. And I think it still is. Um, at what point they do that. But I just say as devastating to get all the way through to get a, you know, a long way through and only find out later. Kathryn: Exactly. So it was what can we basically get away with no longer putting into the healthy child screening program? And they relied on the study of people born in Uh, so it was the cohort who knew they were colourblind or not all the way through school.

And they looked at how many O levels and A levels I got when they came back to school and concluded that colourblindness. And nobody in seems to have said. But if you write to a minister now complaining about colourblind issues, as you can imagine, I do quite often that always gets credited back. Which is obviously completely rubbish.

And I, I already have seen this year an inset from uh, an exam paper an AS paper on geography, which is not colour blind friendly. So that least those children can apply for access arrangements for exams and know what careers they may struggle with. But they might struggle with…. Euan: Absolutely. Do you have you any sense? So do you know any research which shows what percentage of men and women, because it does affect women as well, though obviously much less frequently are actually colourblind.

No sorry! Well, they are all still likely to remain undiagnosed because the chances of the optometrist picking it up.

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As you said, at very beginning that they were just starting to appear to test people and they would seem, they might meet some of the criteria for being good screening tests to at least start picking up. So the cost implications could be extraordinarily low. Kathryn: Well, yeah, I mean health visitors, not health visitors, school nurses already go in and do eye tests.


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Kathryn: I did an article with the British Journal of School Nursing a couple of years ago and the school nurses were saying why have they taken it away. We are actually going into school and it takes a minute to do a colour vision test, two minutes tops. And then the schools would be able to support those children from day one instead of not knowing about them all the way through school. I was just looking at my results actually on the Colour Assessment and Diagnosis test. And so I was, you know, I was merrily painting pink elephants and purple skies, which is was my kind of how I got picked up, I think when I was very little even.

Um, so I got picked up. You had mentioned the maritime thing is a big thing. But you can be a paramedic. You can be a police officer. There was legal cases, both about that. Uh, so bit of a red herring, to use a pun, as far as I can see. Because it could mean that potentially, all colourblind police officers lose their jobs if that goes through. I would imagine. Um, there are quite a few issues with histology slides and that kind of thing. So I pick up bits of information to do with medicine. Um, I think I know that lots of people who are colourblind, are doctors, are in medicine in some way, but it must have its challenges.

Euan: Well I would say is, yeah, I should answer that. Obviously I should address it. I pick up the contrast in it. It still looks reddish to me. The, um, uh, the other thing is urine dipsticks. Goodness me, they are a nightmare. If you position them carefully, I can see the tonal differences. Um, I will sometimes I have to, I sometimes will ask patients or a colleague. There are bits and pieces. I realised very quickly when I was in medical school that I was never going to be a pathologist because of the histology element. Um, and I think actually I would have struggled with surgery, even differentiating, in a body cavity, when in a surgical field with the different… the colours are quite important cues to work out which organs are which.

Some of the evidence would suggest it does have an effect but. Go goes back to the not knowing as well. Colourblindness has never caused me any problems. Am I in now lets me quote him because he is doing work with me now. I said, Oh okay. Of the things he did in the past or at least, yes. Um, one of the things I would mention is that just that as well as kind of the professions, one of the things as adults you have to be asked to do sometimes about spot blood in body fluids. I, one thing I thought was really interesting about this, and I did try to, I spoke to my other job at the, with Royal College of GPs as I spoke to one of the leading primary care researchers into um, colon cancer in screening and flagged that I thought there was a real potential problem with men.

Uh Huh. That got some are summarily dismissed in terms of being regarded as a topic of interest. Always do something about that and nobody ever responds. So in fact actually the most people are going to get swept up in that anyway. That kind of of the screening program. Whenever my dad gets a new gadget of any kind, he figures out every button, lever, and widget.

He knew exactly what to do with his boat. I was extremely nervous because of my dad's high expectations.

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You need to know how the boat will react to whatever you're doing. I would like to point out that I have never put a scratch on our boat, and neither have my three brothers, who were also taught by my dad. Dad went to every lesson with us. My dad went through the program four times, to be exact. If he couldn't make it to a lesson, he would have to reschedule; he wanted to make sure he knew what we were being taught and that we were doing what we were supposed to do when we were driving alone. Even though he wasn't the one directly teaching us this time, my dad was very much at the center of our driving experience.

As I grew older, I became more and more independent. I traveled all over Canada and the US. Even when you're legally an adult, sometimes you still need help from your parents. When I came back from Guatemala, my cell phone stopped working. I had insurance, so I took my phone in to get it fixed. I spent three months contending with loaner phones that didn't work, and my original phone kept coming back to me more broken than before.

I was complaining to my mom that they kept giving me the runaround, so she came to the store with me. My mom is a very calm person. She doesn't really raise her voice, but when she's mad, you know it! My mother calmly but powerfully explained that this was unacceptable; they needed to figure things out. Just like that I got a new upgraded phone at zero cost to me!


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If I had known that this would've been the outcome, I would've brought her in the first place! This skill is something I still don't possess. I think my brother Jeffrey inherited this skill. Luckily for me, I can still call on my mom when I'm in need. A Visit from the Weird Lady Some kids are denied the chance to grow up learning from their parents, especially children of blind parents. When I was in the fifth grade, my life could've changed drastically.

Some random lady came to school and separately pulled my brother and me out of class. She started asking me questions about my parents: whether my father hit my brother or if I was safe at home. I thought they were the weirdest questions ever. I was sure that they took the wrong kid out of class. These questions didn't even remotely make sense in my life. When I went home, my mom was very upset. The random lady had been to our home, too. I told her about my experience. My mom became livid. She had not been given the courtesy of being told that they would be interviewing us at school.

The weird lady was from social services.

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Someone had made an anonymous call about my parents. Can anyone in the audience tell me that your house is never messy and that your kids or you have never dirtied a shirt? After talking to us kids and visiting our parents at home, social services realized that the complaint was unjustified. Luckily they never bothered us again. All of her children are legal adults, yet she still wonders who called social services.

We all know that social services didn't show up because my dad might've spanked my brother or because of a messy house or because of a dirty shirt. They came because the caller said that both parents were totally blind. That was the real issue. It didn't matter that my mother was a stay-at-home mom or that my dad was a university professor.

Even though we had a parent at home to take care of us and a parent making sure we had the money to live a happy and prosperous life, the thing that mattered to the social workers was that my parents were blind. I know that many other parents have experienced this visit or live in fear of this visit. I recently testified at the Arizona House of Representatives in favor of the right to parent bill, which was passed and signed into state law this spring. He seemed convinced that I probably got away with a lot of things because my parents couldn't see.

I told him that when my brother Philip was still in preschool, my mother took him to the store with her. While she was busy in the checkout line, my brother grabbed a pack of gum. On the way out Mom noticed that he was very quiet. She heard him fiddling with something. She did a quick search of his pockets and marched him right back into the store and asked for the store manager. She made my five-year-old brother confess what he had done and apologize.

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I'm not rewarding this behavior; throw it out. I have teenagers. It's really hard to keep track of them. In middle school the fad was to have your midriff showing, a fad that happens to be coming back recently. It's funny how many things have come back from the Nineties! Well, I wasn't allowed to show off my belly, but I wanted to be fashionable. Besides, it was hard for me to find shirts that fit because I've always been tall. I've been five-foot-nine since the seventh grade.

Before I left for school, my parents would ask for a hug. This is how they would sneakily check to see that my shirt was long enough. My dad would ask for a hug from my brothers to check their breath to see if they had brushed their teeth. Fair Exchange When I was in high school, I did an exchange program. Sara, a girl from Quebec, was to spend six weeks in my home, and I would spend six weeks in hers. We had to fill out a profile about our life, interests, parents, what they did for work, etc.

There was no line asking if my parents were blind, so I didn't write anything about that. It wasn't important. We got each other's paperwork in June, but Sara didn't come until the end of January. On her way to our home, she met the program coordinator, who remarked on how brave Sara was to come to a home run by two blind parents.

Sara started freaking out. She even called her mom. Her mom told her that she should just see what it was like before she panicked and came home. We picked up her luggage, which my dad carried. When we got home, Mom made her a snack, and we talked with my parents for an hour before my new friend and I went to my room. As things developed, I was happy I hadn't told her. When I asked her what she would've done if she had gotten this information in advance, she admitted that she wasn't sure she even would've come.

Sara had a great time. It became so much more than a nice trip. We call each other sisters to this day. When she had a semester off a few years later, Sara decided to come back to Kelowna and live with us for three months. Not only do their flesh and blood love my parents, but so do my friends. Sara was not the only one who lived with us.

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I had four different friends live with my parents over the years. My house was the place to be. My Federation Family I wish my grandparents could see our family now. My grandmother was very upset when my dad married a blind person. She didn't have a problem with him being blind, but she was scared that if he married another blind person, their children would grow up socially awkward because they wouldn't learn any visual social cues. My grandmother died when I was one, so she didn't get to see any of us grow up. I know my grandmother is biting her tongue up in heaven right now.

My mother, Mary Ellen Gabias, used to work at the national office in the Eighties. She was in charge of the Job Opportunities for the Blind. My father, Paul Gabias, met my mother through that program briefly and then again while attending a leadership seminar. My mom happened to be one of the ones giving a tour for the seminar group.