By Ian Beverley
As a matter of curtesy and politeness, I must first introduce myself. My name is Ian Beverley; I’m 42 years old and have been visually impaired all my life. I was born partially sighted and subsequently lost all remaining vision by the age of 14. I currently work as an assistive Technology Co-ordinator in Leeds West Yorkshire (UK) and have a fairly extensive background in teaching within the VI sector. In this blog, I’m going to reflect on some of the things that I’ve done in life and the way determination and motivation can help to meet many of life’s challenges. I hope you enjoy what I am about to write.
Living with a visual impairment certainly has a lot of challenges attached to it. I say challenges because the term itself has better kudos and a sense of reality. Obstacles are okay too because they can be overcome but phrases like impossibility, dead end and ‘a big no no’ really shouldn’t apply.
Life is a great motivator because it can bring and generate great opportunities.
This is not of course ignoring my lack of sight, by considering it and knowing how to work with it, there are a million things that can be done. One of my earlier motivations in life was to go to University. Quite a big one from an early age, but I knew that to work and compete within the sighted world, I had to give myself the best start and equip myself with the coping and working strategies that would serve me well for the future. Let me say at this point that university was my choice because I saw this as a means of developing and growing, but other options are just as appropriate; depending on needs, wishes and opportunities.
From about the age of 15 or 16, I somehow took on a greater sense of determination to get to where I wanted to be. There were doubts around me and also varying levels of advice and information. As a teenager, it is hard to take advice and sight loss or not, you still have the same issues facing anyone growing up. I would always advocate listening to and taking advice where it is needed, but I think at that point my determination and single minded attitude to succeed did work in this case.
Possibly in reverse to what is available now; I had been attending schools for the visually impaired since I was 5 years old. I knew that to stand any level of success, I had to change this and go into mainstream provision for my further education; prior to university. Knowing how difficult this would be, I was initially persuaded to go to a specialist college, but it didn’t sit too well with me. After a year, it was clear it wasn’t working and I eventually went to the college of my choice. I remember at the time being warned that I wouldn’t achieve my goals by doing this, but this just gave me greater determination to do so.
Eventually, I went onto and then graduated from University. I’ve qualified as a teacher in further and adult education and am in a job that I really enjoy. I still have ambitions but thankfully I don’t have so much of my old teenage stubbornness – I do however have a great deal of determination and drive.
As visually impaired people, we are faced with a variety of challenges. True, it can seem quite a lonely place at times when facing these. However, there are a number of important factors to plan for and work towards when tackling and breaking through these.