Seeing with the Voice of Joy. 6th, August 2013

Ranveig on a tour of a building. Image copyright © MaMoMi initiative 2012.

Choosing to mentor anyone takes a fair amount of belief in oneself and it

is remarkable that Ranveig Bredesen feels the need to inspire or guide

other people. In her words, she says “it is important to share role-model

experiences.”

 

Ranveig has never had any sight as she was born totally blind. I met her in

July 2012 when she visited London from Norway, and requested a tour to a

Museum.  In Oslo, where Ranveig is from, there are quite a few blind people

gathered in small communities around town, while others live more solitary.

Her perception is that blind people often are viewed as pretty regular folk but

there is sometimes quite a bit of fuss the first time a sighted person meets a

blind person. Well, at least that is what she has observed.

 
People’s fears.
 
Many people are often afraid of asking questions, worried that they would
 
overstep some boundaries. On the other, many people believe that blind
 
people are super-human but strangely behave differently when she started
 
walking with a guide dog. While walking with a cane, many people
 
would previously react by asking “do you need any help?” but now
 
with a guide dog, people just keep their distance.
 
 
As Ranveig says, “I think it is for two reasons.
 
1. people perceive blind people with guide dogs as very independent and very
 
good at managing on their own.
 
2. they are afraid of disturbing the work of the user and the dog, and don’t
 
know how to approach.
 

Interestingly, there is also the question of how visually impaired or blind

people view sighted people. Ranveig asks, “Is there an expectation for

to be our helpers and servants, or are we expecting them to simply be our

friends? (or hopefully, something in between).”


If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” – William Blake


Identifying things and Moving around.

When asked how she perceives things, Ranveig says she uses her hearing quite

a bit, listening to how cars, people and other objects are moving, as this tells

a lot about the room and space. With tactile process of feeling walls and

doorways with her hands, and the ground using a cane, she can feel the

difference between stone, grass, carpet and other surfaces. The angular

terrain of fields helps her identify hills and steps, although that becomes a

little difficult after a snowfall or severe weather.

 

She has also found ways to label her household items,e.g. by fastening a small

transparent piece of tape, cut in a specific shape, on the back of her mobile

phone or on her mobile phone charger. She also uses tape or hairbands to show

a difference between her hair shampoo and hair conditioner. “I could make

three tiny cuts at the shaft of my rubber-boot (not visible to others), or use

a small file to make small marks at the bottom of reusable plastic cups.”

 
Her Inspirations.
 
Ranveig is inspired when she meets older blind people living an independent life
 
as she gets to learn from their experiences, and even learn from their failures.
 
This encourages her of the possibility of her own independence. “It also
 
encourages me when my actions can help other blind people ‘move forward'”,
 
she says with a smile.
 
 
She recounts a time when the school she studied at did not
 
remember much about how to manage incoming blind students. She had
 
to write them to tell them what to do. Since then, another blind friend who
 
started at school and went into the school system without any problems.
 
They now know how to order her books and with her learning needs.
 

Tips for success.

When asked what her best tips for her success so far, she says “Just ask for

help when you need it. Also, try helping others with the experience you have.

Remember, No question is stupid. Also, find a place where you feel secure

enough to let your guard down, a place where you can cry if you need to.

When the sorrow of a situation is gone, learn from any mistakes, even laugh

at them, and think how you can do things differently next time. If a failure

comes (and it will at some point), think of how well you solved it, once you

resolve it!”

 

Ranveig says it is a good thing to “be honest about your challenges, but also

see the opportunities that may lie within those challenges.” She knows that

getting lost can be a very discouraging experience for any blind person,

when you make the effort to know a new area. Interestingly, she has found

that asking people for help can also lead to new lasting friendships.

 

On the question of her goals and objectives for the future, foremost on her

mind is finishing her masters degree, and equally important is that she

remains in a position where she can continue to inspire others and live her

life as well as she can.

 

Seeing with the voice of joy is a positive outlook to life, one more of us

may need.

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