how do I do everything?

Introduction:

When I reveal to people over the internet that I’m blind, it often results in them asking me same questions over and over again. “How do you do this? How do you do that?”

So, I decided to compile the list of those questions, and their answers into one single article, which I can refer them to. Not only getting away with not explaining the same stuff over and over again, but also increasing some traffic to my blog. Man, I’m a freaking genius. Tell you what, put me in charge of this planet, and I promise I’ll turn this into a Venus 2.0 in the next 10 years!

…wait, I think I was supposed to stop that. ahem. Let’s begin with the article already!

How do you use a computer?

This question is certainly asked, once a person learns of my blindness. “How do you use a computer?” “How did you type this?” Are just few questions which result from this.

Then, there are those who think that “Oh, you’re not blind. A blind guy can’t use a computer.” Forgetting that we live in the 21st century, where you can automate your home. Why is it so hard for you to believe that I can use a computer?

Anyway, let’s answer this question. I use a computer through a software called screen reader. it reads the text which appears on the screen out loud to me. it allows me to use most of the functionality of a computer, including, but not limited to, internet usage, word processing, listening to music, etc.

But it also has limitations. It cannot read text from an image, nor from a video. It does not work with most of the video games, and it requires extensive tinkering to make it work if a game does work with it.

I control the computer entirely with keyboard. If you learn a computer from a class, (preferably taught by a blind user, who can teach you ins and outs of keyboard and screen reader functionality,) typing is the first thing they’ll teach you. if you can’t type reliably, then you won’t be taught any further.

I distinctly remember how we were taught the keyboard, and our instructor would put our finger on a particular key, and depending upon the area and the shape of the key, we needed to recognize the key, and tell the name of it.

After a while, I got good enough to not only use the computer, but programming it as well, and of course, write blog posts on it.

So, that is how I use a computer.

But what about touchscreens?

Admittedly, touchscreen presents some problems. But I can use a touchscreen phone as well, at the cost of making it unusable to a sighted person, because then simply tapping and hoping that phone would work would be impossible.

these changes are necessary. I use double taps, gestures, and number of fingers to use the phone, while the same screen reader functionality is present in the phone.

Now read my rant about touchscreens here.

How do you watch movies / tv shows / anime / wrestling / sports / whatever?

Well, I suppose it would be more like hearing things, instead of watching it. the thing is, you might think that I miss a lot of the details that way. (And you would be correct.) but you can surprisingly get a lot of things while hearing a tv show / movie / anime… you get the point, I think.

Now, despite that, please don’t change your language around me. when we watch a movie, don’t say for my sake that we’re hearing a movie. It just sounds odd, and disconcerting, like an alien way of connecting with me.

As for the sports, commentary is mandatory. Without it, I wouldn’t know what the hell is going on at the cricket pitch, or at the football ground, or in the wrestling ring, or in the MMA ring / cage… I think that you get my point, again.

Think about it. commentators tell you the action going on at the ground, which lets me paint a picture of the action in my head. Without that, I only have the sound of the crack of a cricket bat, whistle sound during a football match, and nothing more than some grunts and thuds during a wrestling / MMA match.

So yes, this is how I watch stuff, whether it is entertainment, or sports.

How do I study?

Well, over the years, there have been a lot of ways I’ve studied. I studied by taking notes in braille in my primary and middle school days, used audio recording to memorize stuff in my middle school days, and taking notes on my laptop on a word document from my high school days.

Taking notes on laptop is my preferred method, since touchscreen is hell on accuracy (you don’t want to write down and remember wrong things during an exam, do you?)

As for the reading of books, I just go to online services like kindle, get the pdf of the books if they are publicly available by the blessing of the author, convert those pdfs to docx, (because screen readers don’t play nice with pdf,) and then read those books.

Now, there is a reason why I’ve not mentioned math in this section. Mainly because it has its own article, which you can read here.

TLDR: it is not easy to study math as a blind.

So, I heard you bragging about how you shot targets by toy bow and arrow in your childhood. Care to explain that?

Again, sound comes into play. What I used to do was putting steel glasses at some distance, and then telling someone to tap those so they would produce a ringing noise. After which I would try to hit them.

Now, why did I actually put this question here? The reason is simple. Despite repeatedly mentioning sound in my comment, one idiot YouTube commenter just refused to understand. Hopefully, you get my point, unlike that idiot.

Nowadays though, I’m not that good, given how I haven’t held a bow and arrow since I was twelve. But I suspect if I were to train myself for six or so weeks with one, I should start regaining this ability.

If you only hear things, then how do you review anime and all that other stuff?

The simple answer is, I ignore everything else.

If you’ve read my anime reviews, you’ll notice how I don’t talk about animation or art. I usually just talk about the emotional value of the show, the voices, the plot, stuff like that.

And there is a big reason for me to ignore these things. How can a blind man tell if a show has great animation quality? If you’re def, then how will you judge a soundtrack. This is the sort of problem why I ignore animation quality entirely.

This is the reason why I don’t talk about acting of a particular actor / actress, when I review a film. Because again, aside from the dialog delivery, I don’t have a clue how their expressions are during a particular scene.

Honestly though, if you sound boring during your dialog delivery, then chances are you look boring as well.

But this gives me a freedom which I haven’t observed in the sighted people. When they decide to watch a movie, they watch it based on who is acting on it. I, on the other hand, watch the movie because of the story. I don’t care about the popular actor / actress. I care about the character which they’re playing on the screen.

Now, I might judge the art style of a manga, or the animation quality of an anime, if someone were to create an artificial eye. But that’s far in the future. For all I know, I might be dead and my ashes scattered across the world by that point.

How do you play video games?

Again, sound comes into play. Those video game designers and developers? They are truly a bunch of smart people. They design the games to have unique and different sound effect for every event in the game. But they never thought that a blind guy would use those same events to understand what is going on in the game.

Now, having said that, I’m unable to play most of the games. I usually just play fighting games, (which are not beat ‘em up, get your genres straight!) not only I don’t have to worry about multiple enemies, (unless I’m playing handicap or tag,) but nothing can run from you. they might dodge or block. But they won’t run from you.

As for how do I know who is getting beaten? Again, sound comes into play. When a character is doing a special move, or is getting the shit kicked out of them, they make noise, and every character has their own unique noise. Thus, I can easily discern between whether I am beating the other guy, or that another guy is completely destroying me.

Beyond that, I play old school shooters, with invincible cheats. (If you don’t like me to do that, give yourself a challenge, and beat a shooter with your eyes closed.) I do have to play those games this way, because I don’t have any indication of from which direction the enemies are coming from, or what obstacles are coming my way.

While it is true that there are ways to make these things convey through audio, pragmatically speaking, it is useless to spend so much time for a publisher to spend time and money to design such games for the players like me who are very rare in the world.

This is again, the reason why I don’t review video games.

How do I play chess?

Through a board which is uniquely designed for blind. It is tactile, letting me know the color of the square by a touch, since black and white have different feeling to it, (I know I am failing to explain it properly.)

Whereas the pieces can be differentiated by the presence of a dot which is just like a braille dot. White pieces have this dot, and black do not.
These pieces have pecks at the bottom of them, so they can be stuck on the holes present on the squares of the board. That way, when you touch the pieces, they won’t fall down, and roll around and make other pieces fall down, destroying a nice game going on at that moment.

The rules of the game are all same, except you must point out the piece which you have recently moved. Otherwise, the blind player won’t have an idea of what piece you have moved, especially in the chaotic middle game, which I would hardly consider fare. It’s not like you have to tell your entire strategy. Just what piece you’ve moved recently.

I haven’t participated in a chess tournament for blind (yes, those do exist,) but the touch rule, in which you have to move the piece which you’ve just touched sounds illogical for the players like me. and yet, several sighted players insist that I play with that rule.

For all the advantages the board offers me, connecting with my brain, and letting me observe the moves that way is not one of those. I have to touch the board, and as a consequence, the pieces. Both mine and my opponent’s. otherwise, how else am I supposed to know where my pieces are located in relation to my opponent?

Anyway, leaving the strange demands of people aside, I do play chess this way, and quite enjoy the game. However, there are always some challenges, about which you can read here.

It is my dream to befriend a Chinese and Japanese person, and learn to play Go or Wei Chi, and Shogi from them. I do know that tactile boards exist for these games. I just couldn’t obtain them here in India.

Yeah, I’m a big sucker for the strategy games. If I could see, I probably would have been playing turn-based strategy, or tactical games all day long.

How do you dream?

Believe it or not, dreaming does not require sight. If we consider my brain to be a computer, when it comes to sight, we run into “Hardware not found.” Errors. Since my eyes were removed when I was two.

Having said that, I know my visualization is still quite strong. I’m able to visualize a chess board when I think of my past games. Of course, it is not as strong as a sighted player, or one of the chess champions. This is exactly how I paint a picture through words as well in my head, when I do find a particular exercise on the internet.

The point is, in my dream, it is not some half assed visualization going on. I feel as if my brain is somehow compensating for the missing eyes, and simulating vision for me in my dreams. While the real thing runs into “Hardware not found” errors, (or just 404 images not found,) my brain somehow simulates vision for me in my dreams.

Of course, other senses also participate in the dreaming, including sound, smell, taste and touch. And that is how I dream.

Since you’re blind, you must see black all the time.

I am unable to understand where this line of thinking comes from. The human eye works with reflected light. Having no eyes at all, (they were removed by the time I was 4,) I have nothing to receive the light, and see any color, including black.

But, as a bonus, when people talk about closing their eyes, and imagining absolute darkness, I tell them that I don’t need to close my eyes and imagine it. the absolute darkness is of course, no perception of light. I know the word, I know the concept, but I have not experienced it personally.

So hopefully, this article gave you a good idea of how I do stuff that I do. Please follow me on twitter:
My twitter.

And I’ll see you in the next article.

Published by Tanish Shrivastava

I'm a guy who likes programming, chess, and writing.

6 thoughts on “how do I do everything?

  1. And here I was just commenting on your comment about how you are being very educational, then you come up with this brilliant post. This explains so much, as I’m super ignorant to many things, and today you’ve made me that much more knowledgeable. They are definitely common questions, as I’ve found myself wondering these as well. As a fighting game fan (used to play Tekken competitively), I totally respect the fact that you can play by sound! Thanks for sharing all this, Tanish!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you do a lot of good work sharing this info. It’s human nature to want to learn how other people work through challenges we’ve never experienced. The ability of the human to adapt is amazing. At the same time, I realize we (meaning people without that challenge) do well to remember people don’t exist to fascinate us. That being said, the dream thing always blows the mind. Now here’s an invasive question: in terms of attraction, what characteristics of another person catch your attention?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t mind telling how do I live my life. But it can get maddening to repeat the same thing again and again. People also don’t seem to understand that sometimes, I’m just not in a sharing mood.

      But I’m sure this article will solve that problem for me.

      In terms of attraction, physical characteristics play don’t much of a role. The hairstyle, the makeup, none of that matters. Instead, voice surprisingly plays a role (Yes, voices can be attractive) and personality.

      Like

  3. It’s fascinating to hear about your keyboarding lessons, and how your instructor would place your finger on a certain key, and depending on the region and form of the key, you had to recognize it and explain the name of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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