Post no. 7 comes from Holly. I know Holly both through blogging, and offline too, and she really is an amazing individual. Her blog is also brilliant, and does a brilliant job of raising awareness of visual impairment, as well as being generally entertaining.
Hello, my name is Holly, I am 22 years old. I love all the girly stuff – beauty, fashion, shopping and all that jazz. I absolutely love going to concerts and seeing my favourite bands or artists live (I probably go to way too many). Oh and guess what? I’m blind. I have a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) as I was born at 24 weeks, so I was tiny, I weighed less than a bag of sugar. I don’t have any useful vision, I only have light perception which means that I can only see light and dark.
There is a common misconception that blind people live very boring lives, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I live a normal life, just like sighted people. Having a visual impairment has given me some unique skills including learning braille, learning how to touch-type and also how to use a long cane.
So now that you know a bit about me, let’s get into the post.
I hope this post gives you a bit of an insight as to what it’s like to live with a visual impairment and gives you the chance to get to know me a bit. Please remember that every person is different, no one’s life is the same and this goes for blind and visually impaired people as well.
Although I love beauty and fashion, I’m not your average beauty and fashion blogger, I am a disability and lifestyle blogger. On my blog I share my experiences of living with a visual impairment, tackle the stigmas surrounding visual impairment/disability and try to help others living with sight loss. My blog isn’t just for people with disabilities, I discuss my own personal experiences of various aspects of life and also add a few beauty and lifestyle posts in the mix as well…it’s a bit of everything really!
I feel that disabled bloggers are overlooked in the blogging community, I have often found it hard to reach people with my posts and often feel like we are overlooked for blogging opportunities. I’m so glad that Kelsey is highlighting the diversity of the blogging community on his own blog as it’s something that I am passionate about and it’s an important topic that needs to be discussed.
I attended mainstream school right the way through my education, it was a challenge, but it’s definitely made me who I am today. Going through mainstream education made me have a backbone, fight for my rights and what I deserve and taught me a lot about the outside world.
They weren’t the best years of my life for various reasons, but I feel proud of myself for getting through it. I left with a good set of GCSE’s and three A-levels which helped set me up for the future.
Once I had completed my A-levels, I started university.
I studied Children, Young People and Families. I absolutely loved my time at university, it most definitely made me so much more confident, and I learned a lot about myself as a person. I was surrounded by incredibly supportive people which made a huge difference. At university, people looked beyond my visual impairment which really made a difference to the way I thought about and valued my sight loss.
Although university was very hard at times, and there were some rough patches, I wouldn’t change my time there at all. You do start to go crazy when you have a mountain of 5000-word essays and a 10,000-word dissertation to write!
Nevertheless, I graduated university with a 2:1 which was the grade that I so badly wanted. If I had to say one thing that I learnt from my three years at university, it’s that hard work really does pay off.
After I finished university, people kept telling me to take some time off and relax for a while, but that’s not me so I started looking for a job. During my third year of university, I did some work for a visual impairment charity, all of my friends had jobs and for years I had thought to myself ‘just because I’m blind, it does not mean that I can’t have a part-time job and earn some money just like sighted people my age’. Granted, I couldn’t do your average shop and bar work, but what I could do was something that I was passionate about. The charity job was home based which was great whilst I was at university as I was able to balance that and my university work, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do when I finished university. I wanted to be out in an office, I’ve always been quite an active and sociable person so knew that it wouldn’t suit me working from home.
I spent the summer searching on job websites, however there were more jobs that I couldn’t do rather than ones that I could actually do. It’s very disheartening and frustrating looking at jobs that you are unable to do because of your visual impairment. I’m a firm believer in not letting my visual impairment stop me from getting to where I want to be in life, and I certainly don’t let it stop me from doing the things that I want to do, but some things are difficult and not exactly ideal.
Nevertheless, I applied for a few jobs and got some interviews which I was extremely happy about. I didn’t get the jobs, but having interviews meant that I gained some skills that I knew would be useful in the future, so I was glad that I was given that opportunity.
However, everything changed in October 2017. I applied for a job as an Assistive Technology Officer at the university that I had just graduated from. I didn’t think I would get the job, let alone an interview. Oh how wrong was I !
I was given an interview and guess what? I got the job! I was absolutely over the moon, after some setbacks I didn’t expect it at all.
I spent the next few weeks preparing to start my new role. As I have a disability, I am able to apply for a Government scheme called Access to Work which means that I can get support at work that I need to enable me to do my job to the best of my ability. This may include things such as a support worker, specialist equipment/software or help with travel costs. The support depends on each person as all disabilities are different, so you have an assessment to determine what you need. I received equipment/specialist software, help with travel costs and also orientation training for me to be shown the rooms that I would be using on a regular basis.
I am absolutely loving my job so far, it presents me with new opportunities which I absolutely love. I’m all about trying new things as I feel like it helps you grow as a person.
I don’t really know what the future holds in terms of my job but I’m very happy doing this job at the moment and I hope that continues for a few more years.
Thinking about my aspirations and goals for the future is both scary and exciting at the same time, I’ve no idea what the future will have in hold and what’s in store for me in terms of my work life, personally, blogging and whatever else. Saying this, there are a few things that I would like to achieve.
I think it’s important to set yourself both short-term goals and also long-term goals as they both have significant values.
With that in mind, I thought that I would share some of my aspirations with you.
In terms of short-term goals and aspirations I’d really like to keep up a positive attitude. I like to think that I’m a positive person, and have a good attitude when it comes to work so I’d most definitely like to keep this up.
I’m going to admit, long-term goals and aspirations for work are what I really focus on. With that said, I’d like to learn new skills. I’m lucky that my workplace give us opportunities to attend training and courses, attend conferences and meetings which all help to develop new skills so I’m hoping that there will be more opportunities like that in the future.
Leading on from that, I’d like to step out of my comfort zone more, that can be daunting at times but it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and learn new skills.
There’s so much that I want to do with my blog. In terms of short-term aspirations, I’d really like to start a YouTube channel as an extension of my blog, I’d love to upload videos such as tutorials, advice videos and maybe even the occasional vlog. I’d also really like to do more life hack posts and share tips and tricks for other blind and visually impaired people, so if you have any ideas of posts that you would like me to write then let me know, even if you’re just interested in how I do a daily task or activity.
Looking at long-term blogging aspirations, I would really like to do more new and exciting opportunities. I’d love to be featured on a podcast, I’d start my own, but I simply don’t have the time. I’d also love to do more guest blog posts/articles, and maybe even attend a blogging event.
Truth be told, I just want to help other people using my platform.
I have quite a few personal goals and aspirations so it’s quite hard to just choose a couple. It’s always weird sharing my personal aspirations, but the blogging community is a lovely bunch so here goes…
I don’t have many short-term aspirations, most are long-term but if I had to choose some then it would be to read more. I really enjoy reading but I want to read a lot more and learn more about the world we live in.
My second short-term goal is to see my friends more. I meet up with my friends as much as I can but it can often be difficult with work and other commitments. I have an amazing group of friends up and down the country who I’m extremely grateful for.
In terms of more long-term personal aspirations, I would like to apply for a guide dog. It took me many years to feel confident when using a long cane, and it’s something that I’ve grown to love and accept over the last few years, so I would like to apply for a guide dog. I don’t know exactly when I’ll do this, but it’s something that is often on my mind and I know that it’s something that I am now ready to do.
My second long-term aspiration is to be happy. I am happy with how things are at the moment, but I want to genuinely be happy for years to come.
My third and final personal aspiration that I’m going to share with you is to visit new places. I thoroughly enjoy going on holiday and visiting new places, I just wish that I could do this more often.
So, there you have it, I hope that this post has given you a bit of a snapshot into the diversity of the blogging community and an idea of how I’m just a regular 22-year-old with a visual impairment, living a normal life.
If you have any questions, then please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you so much to Kelsey for giving me the opportunity to write this post, I loved writing it and you are fabulous!
[Hear that, guys — she called me fabulous!!]