Common Myths about People Who Are Visually Impaired

Myth: All people with visual impairments cannot see anything.
Fact: There are varying degrees of sight loss. People with limited vision may be able to recognize
faces, shapes, colors, or light.

Myth: All persons with a visual impairment read Braille.
Fact: Based on an individual’s age, needs, and abilities, Braille may not be the best mode of written
communication. For example, an older person who has experienced a vision loss may not want to
learn Braille so late in life. He or she may decide to rely on audio forms of communication.
Many people with diabetes cannot read Braille because of a loss of sensation in their fingers. Individuals with stable vision may be able to use large type or magnifiers for print communication.

Myth: All people with visual impairments either have heightened senses or cannot hear.
Fact: The senses of persons with a visual impairment are no more or less capable than the senses of
individuals with sight. People who are visually impaired learn to pay closer attention to the
information available through their other senses.

Myth: People who are visually impaired need help.
Fact: People who are visually impaired use alternative methods to accomplish many daily tasks. What
looks abnormal or difficult to a person with sight may be a common practice for a person with a
visual impairment.

Myth: All people with a visual impairment count their steps.
Fact: Counting steps is an inefficient way to travel. Many people with visual impairments use
landmarks such as mailboxes, trash receptacles, cracks in the side walk, signs, and traffic
patterns to identify their location and/or destination. Many people with visual impairments use a
white cane to locate such landmarks and protect themselves from obstacles or dangers.

Myth: People who are visually impaired are not aware of their environment.
Fact: People who are visually impaired visualize the environment based on other sensory input and
experience. Additionally, some individuals are adept at using smartphone apps and other devices to augment their knowledge about the surrounding environment.

Myth: A person with a visual impairment cannot live independently.
Fact: Many people who are visually impaired are caregivers for their dependent family
members or are living independently on their own. Modern technology, alternative methods, and
adaptive devices allow people with visual impairments to complete daily living tasks.

Myth: People with a visual impairment do not watch television or go to the movies.
Fact: As in many other situations, individuals who are visually impaired can use audio cues,
visualization, and experience to gain meaning and enjoyment from television and movies. And today, many content creators include an audio description track which explains visual elements of a program such as body language and setting.

Myth: If written information is in standard print, a person with a visual impairment has no use for it.
Fact: Information in standard print is better than no information at all. The person with the visual
impairment may be able to use a smartphone app, a text-scanning device, or a live reader to access the information.

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