I am often an amazed at various occurrences that happen when I am with David as he is a person like you and me but, due to his lack of access, there are so many things that are alien to him. These things that he does not know about can be often be from one extreme to another for example when I started working with him in 2002, for whatever reason, he had never heard of marmite or peanut butter. As silly and insignificant as that may be it is all of the little things that make up a large part of our lives, and daily routines and enable us to have a wider variety of choice
Think about how much we can learn just by watching and listening, David has not got that. He will also be unaware of how he is coming across as he cannot hear other people speak and therefore can appear very blunt and maybe even rude.
He was able to see until he was 18 but sadly he remembers very little from back then. Some of the discoveries that he makes can be fun and beautiful to watch where others can be shocking as most of the time I automatically assume that it would be something that he would know. I have listed 2 discoveries below that were very memorable, and what effect they had on David. Each discovery to me is a very special moment. Although to most of us they are not important and we just accept it but to David they are almost like magic and become an event.
1. Automatic Taps
We found some automatic taps in a service station when we were away. There were no on or off, you just put your hands under and on they came. David was very confused and spent some time looking for handles – he then called me to ask how they worked. David then spent the next few minutes putting his hands under the taps and pulling them away again quickly as the water came on and off.
David was only aware of manual taps until then, and from this he learnt the word automatic.
2. Key Cards
Once again whilst we were away we were given a key card to our hotel room. This was all new to David and he thought at first that I was joking when I showed it to him; he thought it was a bank card. Getting the card in the slot proved to be a bit of a mission for him, but it didn’t take David long. Obviously David could not see the green light flash when the card went in and the door unlocked, so he would have to put his face up against the door and he would feel it click.
David lost his sight completely in 1987 so from then on his accessibility to everything stopped, so that is 25 years that David has missed. This does effect things severely as he will still dress the way he did back then as he knows no different, he is unaware of new fashions, colours and styles and also what is publicly acceptable. I remember going out with him to look for a new washing machine and he wanted to go to Rumbelows, he got very angry when I told him that they had all closed down 11 years ago.
Reflecting on this subject has made me realise that there is a far more important level of discoveries that occur that are beyond materialistic things, things such as religion, race and even disability. Once again these are things that we could know as we can see – but without vision a handshake is just a handshake. Also somebody who is called Chris may be a man or a woman, but David wouldn’t necessarily know unless he was told.
According to an article in U.S.A today
“It takes only three to five seconds to make a first impression, but it can take a whole career to undo it,” – Dana May Casperson, author of Power Etiquette: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Career.
But David cannot form first impressions in the same way as we do they would be based on factors that do not involve sight and hearing. David refused to work with certain support staff due to various reasons, one was to thin, one had long hair like a horse, another signed to hard and another one was reported to have bad body odour.
These discoveries will continue to arise, some will come through questioning and some will just appear. This is very important as they need to happen spontaneously and not in a constructed way, this will leave natural breaks between the learning which will allow David to think and digest the information he has received.