My name is Cody Phelps and I am a visually-impaired person. Yes, you read that correctly. I am a VIP, isn’t that awesome?! Here’s the deal, our campus isn’t big, so if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me walking around with my cane. I’m sure there have been times that you have seen me and wondered what my life is like. Is it terrible? Do I cry myself to sleep at night because I won’t ever get to be the same as everybody else. In short, no I don’t. My life is pretty fantastic
Another thing I imagine people must think is, “what’s it like to live the college experience without the proper use of sight?” In all honesty, this question is a hard one for me to answer. People wonder what a lack of sight would be like, but I wonder the opposite. What is it like to see? I’ve never known anything other than what I have. The way I view the world is the only way I have ever seen it.
Of course, there are struggles with the fundamental aspects of being a college student without proper use of my eyes. Things as simple as finding the right key to get into my dorm room at night or reading a chapter of a textbook can be trying. I often feel stressed by student gatherings and events because I fear losing my group of friends in the crowd. If they travel more than 10 feet away from me, I’m going to spend most of the time just trying to find them.
If I didn’t tell you I had this problem, nobody would know a thing. How do I know this as a concrete fact? I hid my issues for a long time. There is a stigma surrounding the blind and the visually impaired community that I had trouble associating myself with. For a long time, I didn’t realize that the only way to end the stigma and the false ideas about myself and those who deal with a lack of sight is to inform people, show them that being a blind person doesn’t make me incapable of handling my own business.
There’s somewhat of a misconception about getting the easy pass in classes and tests because of my disability. There is some truth to it. If I take a test and get every question wrong, it is incredibly easy to get an F. However, if I want to get good grades and high scores, I have to do just as much, if not more, work as everybody else. It’s worth it though. We are here to get an education and that isn’t possible if students are given an easy path, just because of some personal setbacks.
At the end of the day, we are all pretty much the same. We all do homework, we all clean, we all stay up late and goof off with our friends. I just might need a little more help. Everyone has something going on. No matter what it is, we can always support each other. Blindness is a hard concept to grasp and I understand that. Just remember, blindness is a lack of sight, not a lack of vision.