Hi Reddit. My name is Dalesha Richardson and I have been showing how I go through life as a legally blind woman, along with my also legally blind boyfriend Manny, on my YouTube channel "Dalesha's Life" since the summer of 2016.

In 2016, when I decided to start this journey, my goal was to dispel the various misconceptions that surround legal blindness. I knew that traditional methods of teaching people were antiquated and didn't have the desired effect since those misconceptions and presumptions still existed back then.

I thought that making fun and entertaining videos that showed how Manny and I did our day-to-day tasks would be a much better way to reach an audience that would normally not be reached through those traditional, antiquated teaching methods. Over the years, we've grown and in addition to our typical, day-to-day tasks, we've shared our experiences traveling, cooking, clothes shopping, and house hunting.

In addition to the above, there was another reason why I started this channel. The US government has a special category for people with legal blindness in almost every governmental program. This categorization says that if you can prove that you are legally blind, you are automatically eligible to receive assistance. If your federal government believes that you are incapable, why wouldn't the general public feel the same way?

Regardless of the obstacles, Manny and I find alternative routes. Today, we continue to share our life together in the hopes that the preconceived assumptions of inability that most have of people like us will eventually disappear.

Opening up a dialog is always helpful in situations of discomfort and uncertainty so please feel free to ask me (or Manny) anything!

My YouTube channel can be found here - https://youtube.com/c/DaleshasLife

Proof - https://imgur.com/a/gBCUCwl

Comments: 58 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

RootMcToot13 karma

When you have a dream, can you see in it or is it just hearing?

DaleshasLife30 karma

Well, I do have some vision. Because of this, I do see in my dreams. But, I will say that my friends who are totally blind, only hear in their dreams. Those with no vision at all have no visual information for their subconscious to use when creating dreams.

PM_ME_FOR_FUDGE6 karma

What is one thing you want people to understand about being legally blind that they may not know ?

DaleshasLife12 karma

The most important thing I want people to understand is that having partial vision, or none at all, does not mean that that person "can't" do something--it just means that he or she needs to find an alternative method to reach that goal. Yes, a legally blind person may need help, but let him or her ask for it--don't assume he or she needs it.

newblognewme5 karma

Hi! I’m curious- were you born legally blind? I’m 26 and found out last year I’m rapidly loosing my vision. I’m already legally blind in one eye and it has been a very challenging journey to cope with that. I’m right at the threshold to receive any assistance so I can’t enroll in any sort of program that teaches me how to live a low vision life. As of now nothing is severely impacted except I can’t drive anymore, but I’m nervous every day that it’ll be my last day able to read or write the ways I know how.

Any advice on how to start learning tips while I still have vision?

DaleshasLife6 karma

I was born with the vision I have today. If I have lost anything since birth, it hasn't been noticeable or documented by any optometrist. With respect to your vision loss, my only advice is that you take it one day at a time. You don't know what will happen tomorrow so don't worry about something that hasn't, and may not, happen tomorrow. How you decide to approach life is crucial. Although it may seem to be easier said than done, accept that you will most likely need extra time to figure out how to do something that you didn't need before, but that this by no stretch means that you will not be able to do that something. I've met so many blind people who have convinced themselves that they "can't". Those with that life perspective are the ones who inevitably fail in life. If your vision does continue to decrease, feel free to ask me more questions. Talking about things with those who can relate is more helpful than most people realize.

newblognewme1 karma

Thank you! I totally agree. I’m working my dream job and just enjoying life. I’ve started doing everything I can do to see everything I want to see, I’m just concerned about waking up one day with little ability to function.

DaleshasLife3 karma

Well remember this, even if you wake up one day and can't see at all, you will still be able to function--you'll just function differently. As I said, Manny and I both do have usable vision but we have many friends who are totally blind and have found many ways to function. One of our best friends is graduating law school next year, and another is getting ready to begin her graduate school for a master's in social work. As cliche as it sounds--where there's a will, there's a way.

VESTINGboot5 karma

What are some of the worst misconceptions about blind people?

DaleshasLife12 karma

The biggest misconception is that all blind or partially blind people "need" assistance. The assumption that he or she can't do anything for himself has to be at the top of the list. In addition to this, many people also believe that we can't speak for ourselves or can not hear well. For example, when Manny and I are at a fast food restaurant, because he wears glasses the employee taking our order will ask him what I want--instead of asking me. Even though we both see about the same, Manny uses glasses and I use a white cane when we go out in public. When people see my cane, they assume I can't see--but when people see Manny's glasses, they assume they fix whatever visual problems he may have.

VESTINGboot5 karma

Hmmm? So is this stigma more annoying than bad? I only ask because it seems people would rather help than just assume you could manage? Interesting, indeed...

DaleshasLife12 karma

Well, I'd say that assuming a person who clearly has a disability may need assistance isn't a bad thing. But, there are two key points to emphasize there: 1) The person "may" need help. 2) The person may not want help. Those being noted, and recognizing that each person and each situation is different, asking is always best because it implies that the person asking isn't certain and allows the legally blind person to say no thank you. The worst experiences I've had are when I ask for assistance at a store and the employee grabs my arm and pulls me--as opposed to asking how he/she could best assist me.

tablefor1please4 karma

Do you have any thoughts on depression associated with blindness? I have a loved one who recently lost all sight and this is my private concern - not based on their behavior, it's just something I think about because I've struggled with depression myself.

Thank you for having his forum.

DaleshasLife5 karma

In my experience, losing one's sight as an adult as an adult can definitely cause depression in some people. As crazy as it may sound, the idea of losing the vision that I do have scares me to death. On the other hand, everybody is different and how a person chooses to look at life (pardon the pun) plays a big role in how they will feel emotionally about their blindness. I also do believe that it's normal for a person to feel sad after losing his/her vision though. The human brain takes in most of it's stimulating information from the eyes. If all of a sudden that stimulus disappears, it's normal to think that that person would feel sad to some degree.

dragonsread3 karma

Hey Dalesha, Thanks for being so open!

Is there something you can do that always surprises people who don't know you?

How was your upbringing, would you say it was very different or just a few aspects?

Is there something you like about being legally blind?

Would you get a service dog, or do you have one? If not, can you explain why?

(Sorry for possible mistakes, English is not my first language)

dragonsread2 karma

Ohh and you mentioned that you can see something, can you explain what you can see?

DaleshasLife6 karma

Ok, let me tackle one question at a time:

1) As ridiculous as it sounds, actually showing that I can see! Because I don't depend on my eyes as much as Manny to get around, I always use my white cane in public and so people assume that I'm completely blind. So when I say "oh wow, that's such a pretty blue", I'll get responses like "Oh wow, you can see that?"

2) I'd say it was definitely different for me at least. I always felt that I had to constantly prove to my family that they could relax and just let me do things on my own. They were always quick to assume I needed help and that drove me crazy. On the other hand, Manny's experience was different. He was raised by his mom who always pushed him to do whatever he wanted to do, but always jumped in before he failed. The importance of letting a child learn from his failures isn't diminished based on his lesser visual abilities.

3) Yes, that it makes me different. When you are different, you sometimes aren't included in certain situations and this gives you the opportunity to sit back and observe things that most people would never have the chance to observe.

4) No I wouldn't personally get one. In my opinion, a seeing eye dog is more of a crutch than an assistance. I have known a few totally blind people with service dogs and their ability to orient themselves and navigate spaces seemed to be less than the totally blind people I've met who depend only on their canes.

5) I've spent my entire life trying to find the best way to answer this question. Think about it like this: Pretend you and I are standing side-by-side, looking at a table 20 feet away that had a Coca-Cola can on it. You may see enough detail of that can to identify, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is Coca-Cola. I, perhaps, might see that table and that something was on it. Maybe I can identify that the object is red, or maybe I can identify that the object is a cylinder, but until I get closer I won't be able to see the finer details enough to have the certainty that you have 20 feet away that the object is a can of Coca-Cola. Except for smaller details and very low-contrast situations, getting closer to something usually allows me to see what you may see from a much further distance.

wheresmehredstapler3 karma

My mom had stargardts disease for 11 years. I remember seeing her struggle through using a computer. She used a program called JAWS but it wasn't very well run program but it was the best at the time. How better are the computer aids now then compared to early 2000s? What areas still need improvement as far as technology is concerned?

DaleshasLife4 karma

Well, I don't much use a computer anymore since I do everything on my iPhone or iPad. But, as far as I know, the JAWS program is still considered the gold standard and is preferred by most. I imagine that it has improved a significant amount over the past 15-20 years.

EDIT: There is another software program called Window-Eyes, developed by GW Micro. This one may work better for her.

toadaleh3 karma

What about your day-to-day environment - going to the store, running errands, using everyday objects - is unnecessarily difficult/challenging, and what could sighted people do to make things easier?

DaleshasLife6 karma

As crazy as it sounds, both Manny and I would probably say that having to ask for help so often is the most difficult thing actually. I don't necessarily mind asking for assistance--at a store let's say--when I'm trying to find something, but the idea that I have to ask for help so often is kind of frustrating to accept. I think Manny put it best when he said to me once, as we went to get a taxi after landing in Orlando some years ago. The area was so congested, and the signs were so small, that we had to ask an airport employee to help us find a taxi. After we got into the taxi, Manny told me that it bothered him to think that even though he had purchased our condo in cash at the age of 21, he still couldn't do something as simple as getting a taxi by himself as (at the time) a 24-year-old man. A person who is 40 years old, and has never been disciplined enough to save money and purchase his own home would find this task menial and could do it half asleep. Asking for help is sometimes difficult when you see that so many others don't need to do it.

And with respect to how sighted people could help in this situation I guess I'd say that if you see a person struggling, ask him or her if you can help. Sometimes, especially when you're young and insecure, it's hard to admit you need help.

dyuhas3 karma

How bad does your vision have to be to be declared legally blind?

DaleshasLife5 karma

20/200 or worse. A person with 20/200 sees 10% of visual detail that a 20/20 person sees from 20 feet away. This definition was created by the Social Security Administration decades ago and is used by all government agencies. Both myself and Manny have a visual acuity of 20/400, seeing 5% of visual detail at 20 feet that you'd see.

Sarahbrown332 karma

My best friend of 6 years is completely blind from birth, what is a good gift I can give her that is affordable?

Edit: a gift that wouldnt require sight to use. I was thinking a Rubix cube with Brail? She's fascinated by rubix cubes haha

DaleshasLife3 karma

Hmm well I like the rubix cube idea. Another idea could be a nice pair of headphones. Totally blind people use speech programs on their phones and on their computers to identify what is happening on the screen. A comfortable pair of headphones would probably be something she'd appreciate every single day.

Sarahbrown332 karma

She already has some Bluetooth ones

DaleshasLife3 karma

Then I would definitely go with your original idea of a braille rubix cube, especially if you already know that she enjoys them so much.

kaptions14912 karma

Have you ever thought about doing a documentary for any streaming services?

DaleshasLife4 karma

Manny and I would love to do a documentary! We have yet to be approached by a film director though. If someone reached out to us, we would definitely be interested.

museofcalliope2 karma

Hello, Dalesha - my mother was legally blind. She gradually began losing her vision around the age of 17 due to a degenerative nerve disorder (which was never able to be formally diagnosed); she passed away recently at 56, at which time she had very little vision in one eye and fairly poor vision in her other eye. Thank you for being so open and answering these questions - using your platform to amplify voices.

My question - my mother always claimed a heightening of her other senses - particularly hearing but also smell, due to her loss of vision. Have you found the same to be true?

She was incredibly independent too. Growing up around her, both my brother and I learned to ‘fill in the gaps’ when we saw her struggling. It became organic to just begin rattling off prices at a grocery store when she was struggling to discern to discern the labels, for example. I always admired her independence and strength.

DaleshasLife2 karma

First, I'm sorry to hear that your mother passed away so young, it's never easy losing a loved one. Thanks for sharing your story.

To answer your question, yes, sometimes I do feel that way. The human brain does an amazing job at compensating. Most of the brain's stimuli come from the eyes. When the eyes don't send in as much information as the brain needs to stay "occupied", I believe that it compensates by "heightening" the other senses. I also do believe that if a person with 20/20 vision closed his/her eyes for enough time, his/her other senses would also heighten as a compensation and protective mechanism.

i_live_in_sweden1 karma

Why is it called legally blind, could someone be illegally blind?

Spikex83 karma

Legally blind just means they have garbage vision not that they can’t see anything.

DaleshasLife2 karma

Bingo.

DaleshasLife2 karma

Because, under federal law, if you see 20/200 or less with the best possible corrective lenses, you are "legally" entitled to receive government assistance and "legally" assumed to be needing that assistance.

Universa231 karma

How often are you asked about your blindness?

DaleshasLife1 karma

Not too often actually. But, I do feel like people are curious and want to ask, they just probably feel uncomfortable and choose not to ask. Most people assume that I can't see at all since I always have my white cane with me. Every once in a while, when a store employee is helping me find a sweater--for example--I may comment on the color and then the employee may say: "Oh, I didn't realize you could see a little. How much can you see?"

Even though many people don't ask or comment on my blindness, I'm certain that plenty are curious.

j0nny_a55h0l31 karma

Are you frienda with donna goodeau?

DaleshasLife2 karma

Actually no, I've never heard of her.

bebespeaks1 karma

How often do you mismatch your clothes or confuse certain colored shirts and jackets? To the extent your outerwear clashes against the tshirt?

DaleshasLife3 karma

Luckily, not too often. Colors aren't something that I have trouble distinguishing in most lighting situations. A very dark blue now and then I may mistake for black. Manny, on the other hand, does mix up blue and green sometimes when he doesn't pay close enough attention to what he's looking at. And as for jackets and shirts, even if all the lights are off in a room, the thickness and textures of the fabrics are different enough to where I could easily make the distinction.

Norgeroff0 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

DaleshasLife5 karma

Hahaha, it's blue actually (my favorite color). What color is your toothbrush?