Hi there.
I've done an AMA in the past after my daughter had eye surgery at the age of 3 months. She's totally fine now and has 20/20 vision with glasses.
Some of you know me from the Finnish baby box post from a few years ago. Some of you know me from my Youtube videos about how I live my life with 2% vision. Some of you don't know me at all.
I was born with congenital cataracts. These have been in my family for 500 years and were inoperable until the last few decades. The technology didn't exist when I was born, and since the surgery is only effective if done within the first three months of life, I was left to live this way.
I never let it stop me, though. I went to normal school and had mostly A's in school. I was bullied quite hard for my disability, since the cataracts have caused me to have astigmatism(rapid, uncontrollable eye movement) and the people where I went to school, rural Pennsylvania, were ignorant.
At 20, I moved to Finland for a man who I thought was the love of my life. He ended up having sever psychological issues and abused me for a year before I was able to get away.
I was homeless for two weeks. I didn't speak any Finnish at the time and decided that I could either go back to the US, to a place I never ever felt was my home and where I had no friends or family other than my mom, or I could stay here, learn Finnish, build a life and try to show the people who bullied me and the man that spent a year telling me I was worthless what I was capable of.
So I did.
Since then, I learned Finnish(and a little Swedish!), volunteered for a few different NGOs that eventually lead me to find work, made hundreds of friends, found new hobbies and interests I never would have imagined, and found work with an animation and game studio, where an animated series I wrote and produced has just finished production.

My story is so unique that I've been featured in the Finnish media, both local and national, several times, because of how openly i speak about my love for this country and the opportunities and love its people have given me. Finland is my home, and even though a lot of foreigners have extremely difficult times finding work and friends here, I've defeated the odds and found where I belong, even with the disability. My city has accepted me and made it very clear that this is where I belong.

AMA about my disability, blind life, my series, Finland, or literally anything.
Proof: http://imgur.com/hMUTwdV

Comments: 52 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

Doom_Lich9 karma

Weird one, but the confirmation picture prompted some thoughts:

1) Is taking pictures as a blind individual a strange experience? I feel like not being able to see the results and not having personal experience with the asthetics of picture taking have got to make the whole thing feel weird. (Though I guess it's such a part of our culture that maybe it's just something you get used to.)

2) How do you decide your personal fashion/asthetics? I assume you have an appreciation for the color, but there's so much to clothes ans haircuts beyond just that that it nags at my curiosity. Also: Why pink hair?

If I'm misinterpretting your blindness in some fundemental way, please correct me. I don't wanna sound like the people who think that colorblind people literally can't percieve color, but I freely admit that I don't really know how you percieve the world.

GrumpyFinn6 karma

Picture taking is quite difficult. I'm never really sure how good a picture came out until i can properly zoom it. I usually end up taking fivw or six of the same shot just to be safe.
In regards to fashion, it's a really important part of who i am. I've thought about making a video if how I shop but it just hasn't happened yet. I have a style and i know what i like. The pink hair happened because i decided that I wanted to do something drastic and out of my comfort zone and I feel like it was a wonderful choice. I feel absolutely adorable.

Foos_Yer_Doos8 karma

An amazing and inspiring story! When you found yourself homeless, where did you find help?

GrumpyFinn14 karma

My ex had abused me in front of two of his friends, and one of them had let me stay on his floor until i found a place. There wasn't really space for me there and I had none of my stuff, but i had a roof at least and i could do laundry. Without him i probably would have gone to a shelter for womrn in crisis.

Foos_Yer_Doos3 karma

How long did it take you to become competent in Finnish? I imagine it must've been difficult in any circumstance, but much more so with a severe vision impairment.

GrumpyFinn6 karma

After 9 months pf studying 8 hours a day i was able to hold basic conversations about my interests, and was able to express my feelings in a basic way. That class ended 2 and a half years ago and i like to think I've improved a lot since then.

Foos_Yer_Doos2 karma

What do you enjoy most about Finland? What do you think is the greatest difficulty you have in every day life?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

The biggest difficulty is the fact that people don't realize I'm blind, strangers I mean. I try to say i can't see well but they don't understand just how little I see and it can get awkward

awesomesaucesaywhat3 karma

Do you use a cane or a guide dog? Also, are you learning Finnish braille and how different is it from ueb?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I do have a cane, but not a dog. I haven't tried to learn Finnish braille yet but I've understood some of the things I've read while out and about.

must_warn_others2 karma

I'm so impressed that you've been able to accomplish so much!

I have a question about how you managed with reading material for school and seeing the blackboard? I'm sure now it's easy to get a tablet or something but before it must have been extremely difficult.

GrumpyFinn2 karma

In high school my teachers were usually give me a print out of the notes. Sometimes they would assign one of the better students to take notes for me. Reading assignments usually involved audiobooks or my mother reading to me. Sometimes a teacher's aid or an intern would also help with basic stuff like that. Nobody ever did my work for me, though, which a lot of my ignorant classmates had a hard time accepting

must_warn_others1 karma

I'm wondering did you go to university, college or adult-education? Were you able to get similar resources?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I had fully intended to attend university, but mental health issues made it difficult. It's something I'd eventually like to do, and from what I've understood from tbe Blind People's Association I would have the right to wjatever visual accommodations I would need - which is basically audiobooks and taking tests audibly

dino_erotica2 karma

Did that jerk ever get what was coming to him?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

He's apparently been trying to better himself and get healthy.

TheFlyingFoodTestee1 karma

Any thoughts on how the year has turned out?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

2016 has actually been very good to me. I made a new group of friends and everything has been going up and uo since.

Keetamien1 karma

I'm trying to start living in Sweden, here now for two months but I can't find a job even though everywhere I can easily communicate with everyone using English. I'm actually curious how you managed to survive financially until you got a job? Speaking the language seems to have a major impact of actually succeeding. Did you have a lot of savings when you went to Finland?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I did, but my ex made me blow through them after he lost his job and refused to get another. I received unemployment benefits for roughly a year, then maternity pay. I went to work as soon as my maternity leave ended and have been financially independent since. It's very important to me that i support myself

mberre1 karma

this may be a stupid question, but, do you work in Finnish?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

The primary language of my office is English, but my work is 50/50. A non-Finnish speaker could not do my job.

Chtorrr1 karma

Is a hotdog a sandwich?

GrumpyFinn6 karma

No. Sandwiches are flat.

Chtorrr1 karma

Is a quesadilla a sandwich?

GrumpyFinn4 karma

No. I understand the logic but i disagree with the classification

Ishim4ru1 karma

Do you plan on going back to the US some time?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Never. There's nothing there for me, other than shopping and food.

Outlawpuppy1 karma

What do you see? Can you describe it?

GrumpyFinn11 karma

I have no idea how to describe it, mostly since i don't know what you see.

JaBroKnee1 karma

What is the best part of living in Finland?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Finns. They're helpful ans very loving once you get past the initial shyness.

JaBroKnee1 karma

Let's say I wanted to move there. How expensive would it be? Would it be easy to find work?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Non-EU nationals moving to Finland, provided they meet the criteria to get a resident permit, need to prove they have at least €6,700/year for living expenses unless they're moving here for work or have a Finnish spouse wkth a salary large enough to support you. 6.7k is nothing, though. Rents are high in urban areas and living in a rural area means you need a car, which is expensive to own. Finding a well-paying, permanent job without knowing Finnish is impossible. For some reason a lot of foreign people in /r/finland like to bring up cleaning jobs ir restaurant work, but those pay like shit and won't be 40 hours a week., and cleaning agencies more and more are demanding Finnish language skills for employees.

Devil_Dick_Willy1 karma

Hey Finn, sounds like you've lead a hard but awesome life so far and glad you're enjoying Finland!

My mother is blind and has been from birth, can I ask what programs you use for using your computer and reading/browsing on the Internet?

She had taken a course at college where she used a program called Jaws but this was during the dial up era and the program is extremely expensive to buy, I've read into things a little bit and there is a Backtrack distribution of Linux that looks promising but would love to know what you use/anything you find that makes browsing easier.

Have you ever considered getting a Guide Dog/do you have the option of receiving one? We got our first one when I was 5 years old and are onto our 3rd one (I'm 27) and they have made such a difference to my mums life.

(Well all our lives, they retire at around 10 years old and you have the option of keeping them or having them re-homed, we kept each one after retirement and I may be a bit biased but greatest dogs ever).

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I've tried various screen readers and text-to-speech software. The blind association in my city has computers for use for its members. Since I learned how to use a computer without any of that, though, I find them more trouble than they're worth. I've been squinting and zooming since I was six, and I'm 26 now.
There have been times, especially recently, where I've thought a dog could be helpful. They closed the doctor's office by my house, so now if I want to go to public health care(it's so much cheaper) I have to walk through a few intersections that don't have traffic lights or anything, and it can be pretty impossible to safely walk there alone. I've had the thought that a dog would be helpful in these situations, but I know nothing about looking after a dog.

ofek2561 karma

Were you born blind?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Yes

JETAlone011 karma

How did you wind up working in animation? I don't want to be rude, but seems a little unusual for a blind person to be working in a primarily visual field.

GrumpyFinn1 karma

One of my best friends worked there first, as an animator. My boss really needed a produced and project manager who could also handle e-mails and little things he didn't have time for, so it all kind of fell into place.