Monday, August 6, 2012

Let’s Talk About Disability—My Disability

If you asked me what social statuses I belong to, disabled would certainly be one of them.  However, I sometimes feel as though identifying as a disabled person is not that simple.  At first glance, you probably wouldn’t even notice that I have a disability.  From experience, I learned that hidden disabilities can be hard to prove, and identifying as disabled can be frustrating, especially if persons both inside and outside the disability community question whether you are “disabled enough.”  What is “disabled enough?’

My disability is rare in females and it’s unheard of by many.  After I was born, my parents suspected that my vision was abnormal because they noticed that I was not focusing on objects, and an appointment at the pediatric ophthalmologist’s office confirmed their suspicions.  When I was three months old, I was diagnosed with ocular albinism, an inherited condition which the eyes lack melanin pigment because the fovea never completely develops during gestation.  A tiny pit located in the macula of the retina, the fovea specializes in sharp vision.  Therefore, those with ocular albinism have a reduced visual acuity, which usually ranges from 20/60 to 20/400.  Today, my best corrected vision is 20/80.  Extreme eye fatigue, light sensitivity, a nystagmus, inability to see at a distance, and difficulty reading small print are the vision problems that I experience.  
Is that "disabled enough?"

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