christmas elves

VI Challenges at Christmas

Christmas is around the corner and for many it is a time of great celebration with family and friends.

However, this festive season also brings inconveniences that may be detrimental to the enjoyment of those with a visual impairment.

Here are some things that the blind may need to be wary of during the holidays.

 

Snow

Let’s be honest, it would be a miracle if we were to witness a white Christmas.

But on the off-chance that this happens, the snow also brings with it an overlooked visual issue – glare.

snow glare

“It burns. It burns!”

Firstly, snow is (mostly) white. When a sheet of white covers an area during a sunny day, it can reflect sunlight directly into the eyes of those nearby.

While people with normal vision may experience mild discomfort, the visually impaired may find this experience significantly more painful. Furthermore, because snow can reflect more than 80 percent of ultraviolet rays that fall on it, the eyes are more at risk of being sunburnt.

Who said that sunglasses are only for summer?

 

Christmas Lights

On the topic of light, Christmas lights can also cause nuisance to the blind.

Christmas light show

Also true for people without sight loss.

Bright, flashing lights can often be jarring to those with sight loss or light sensitivity.

Occasionally the orientation of the sense can bring on bouts of nausea and seizures.

Molly Watt, an advocate for the visually impaired, has a video in which she talks about how Christmas lights have negatively affected her enjoyment of Christmas.

 

House Hazards

Routine can be a powerful tools. It can help with self-improvement and  efficiency, as well as aid the blind in navigation around the house.

But with Christmas, comes an assortment of accessories.

Trees need to be erected and adorned with ornaments. Decorations are strategically placed around the house to maximise interior aesthetics. Presents are shoved under the tree and stockings are irreparably nailed to the wall.

These elements provide the house with a sense of festive joy, but can act as additional obstacles blind people need to traverse through as they go about their day.

An errant bauble on the floor can mean that someone is spending Christmas in the emergency room.

christmas house decorations

“Who would put a small tree next to the main tree?”

 

Christmas Dinner

It’s Christmas Day. Presents have been unwrapped. Family has gathered. Drinks have been free-flowing.

And now it’s time for dinner.

On the table is a myriad of vibrant colours. The turkey is nice and golden. The cranberry sauce sparkles bright red. The fresh green of brussel sprouts provide the perfect contrast to the earthy brown of roast potatoes and pigs in cosy blankets. To top it all off, there is a boat filled to the brim with a sea of gravy to glaze the meal with.

christmas dinner

Am I drooling?

Most people would be able to partake in such as visual feast before the actual meal begins.

This may not be the case for those with sight problems. Instead they have to make do with an aromatic banquet which, admittedly, is just as good if not better.

 

Social Awkwardness

This holiday period is a time when close family and friends get together to celebrate, socialise, and exchange gifts.

Unfortunately for some, this also means that random relatives or strangers may suddenly appear which can lead to awkward social moments.

family and friends at christmas

“Who’s touching me?”

Those unused to interacting with the visually impaired may find themselves not knowing how to act or saying the wrong thing, which can create awkwardness.

It is commonly believed that the remedy for this sort of situation is the oral ingestion of adult beverages. However, while this can produce short term benefits, long term detriment is just as possible.

 

Crowds

Holidays often brings with it a multitude of festive public events. While they are objectively fun, they are also often packed full of other human bodies.

Thick crowds are not conducive to easy white cane or guide dog usage, due to the lack of space and the potential of bumping into others. Debris on the floor can also make cane use much harder with the increase of unseen obstacles.

Christmas crowds

Challenge accepted.

In addition, those who utilise audio to facilitate orientation and navigation may also suffer due to the increase in unwanted sound.

These aspects can result in disorientation and stress for the visually impaired.


What do you find that you struggle with during the Christmas holiday period?