Images Through the Eyes of the Visually Impaired
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This past fall I spent four months working at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. During this time I tried to understand what it was like to be without sight. One thing I found out quickly was that blind individuals are seldom completely blind, but it is their visual acuity that is impaired. This piece of information was very interesting to me, and made me wonder what it was like to be "blind". While working with the children I was assigned to, I wondered what they were able to see. My questions led me to one of the Orientation/Mobility instructors for some answers. She let me use artificial glass lenses to simulate the various visual problems experienced by blind persons. I decided that I wanted to try to show other sighted people what this was like; to let them know what translation of form is necessary for a visually impaired person to survive in a sight oriented world. I wanted to show this experience from a specific point of view so I set up my tripod at the height of a little boy who I will call Johnny. His visual acuity is supposed to be just light perception (explained later). Each of these pictures are taken from his point of view and oriented around his daily life. I chose to create photographs that would simulate two different levels of visual acuity. One of these is "legal blindness", the level where the visual acuity in the better eye, with correction, is 20/400. I accomplished this by using a glass lens that simulated this acuity in front of my lens after taking the focused image. The second level I chose was "light perception", where the only things that are seen are the differences between light and dark within the field of vision. I accomplished this by putting a piece of waxed paper in front of my lens and taking the picture through that. In setting up this gallery, I tried to make it as much like being visually impaired as possible. In order to best experience the difference, I suggest that you look at and try to comprehend each of the distorted pictures before uncovering the pictures taken in focus. I have found that this project has given me a greater appreciation of the efforts and accomplishments of visually impaired individuals, while respecting their need for independence and growth on their own. Above all I want to show you, the viewer, my idea and feeling of being blind. Please enjoy it at your leisure.