With society moving so fast nowadays, and entertainment is one-tap-away via our phones, the human attention span has gone down drastically. TikTok is one of the apps that have contributed to this, as, traditionally, it capped users’ videos to one minute long, but now has expanded the limit to three minutes long. Despite this change, most videos are still within a one minute time frame, and Instagram stories are very short in length as well. A lot of people do not have the patience to watch something for longer than a minute before getting bored.
You are probably wondering how this applies to a visually impaired person like myself, and it relates a lot. For instance, a sighted person can see a car coming from a mile away, whereas for me, I will hear that car, but I will not be able to see the car until it is about 10-feet within distance of me. This makes mobility a challenge, and not paying attention could cost me my life.
As I look around college, I see a lot of students looking down at their phones aimlessly walking from point A to point B. It has always confused me because if I did that, I probably end up walking into someone, something, or worse yet, into traffic. Granted, since they have a lot more sight than I do, that is probably something they can do. But, even occasionally I will have a fully sighted person bump into me while they are looking at their phone.
Since I am low vision, I see the world a bit differently and have to notice a lot more than a sighted person. For instance, if I walk to an address, let’s say a friend’s house, I am taking notes of the surroundings so I can remember it if I must go back. For a sighted person it is as easy as looking at street signs, or address numbers for their directions. When it comes down to remembering things and setting details, my memory is near perfect when it comes down to locations, because my sense of sight is very low, other senses have improved such as hearing. I can hear cars or people from a far distance. This has helped me in so many ways.
One example is not being able to see someone right away. When meeting someone for the first time, I rely heavily on what someone’s voice sounds like to identify who they are. I am really focusing on what they sound like, certain phrases they say, or even certain information they bring to a conversation. In general, having better hearing has made it so I can recognize familiar voices of people such as teachers, friends and even cafeteria workers at my college.
Another way better hearing has helped, is I can listen to everything– and I mean everything. You are probably confused how this is a good thing. Well, I can overhear conversations quite well. This allows me to get a variety of information that I may not have caught with my eyes. This helps me because, if I hear where people are going, then, on the off-chance it’s a place I am looking to go to as well, then I will just follow them. When I overhear other conversations, I am also able to sometimes catch news of things that are happening.
Overall, as society’s attention span continues to dwindle, I make the most out of my visual impairment. I take life for what it truly is and pay attention to the little things.
Cameron Scott can be contacted at: