Welcome to CVI Scotland's first newsletter. We have had a busy time since launching the website on 3 February 2017, which after only a few weeks is already being viewed in Scotland and across the UK, and Europe, USA, Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Russia and many other countries.
The website is an ongoing work in progress and we are working on many exciting projects. One such project involves our trustees Janet Harwood, Louise Buggy and Suzanne Little, all highly experienced senior teachers of children with visual impairments, who have been working together to look at ways to make our information more relevant to the most profoundly disabled people with CVI. One challenge they identified was around teaching within the confines of a system that thinks all should be more 'normal'. This lead to a discussion...
What is normal?
For those of us unaffected by CVI, what we consider to be our 'normal' visual worlds can be seen as being within a range. Try our wiggling finger and raised leg visual field tests (website section: Assessing CVI - Visual Fields, Where Are They?) with friends and family. Some may have a slightly wider visual field than others. Some may see contrast to a higher level, while others can see smaller detail. When moving through their visual world, some people show remarkable dexterity while others may be confident in sports, like football, moving fast, calculating multiple distances and speeds of players on both their and the other team, so as to give their best performance. If you were to write down these multiple calculations it would probably look like some seriously scary maths, but our 'normal' brains perform these phenomenal calculations at lightening speed, simultaneously and non consciously.
Us 'normal' folk could be thought of as all visually processing within a range where the visual world our brains create is a good enough replication of the real world, for us to get by, without...
These are just a few examples, this list of the challenges that CVI creates is endless. A person who is just slightly outside of this normal range may get by, but face challenges like being clumsy and inexplicably offending people. Fitting in can become more challenging, and as a result isolating behaviours can develop, as we explain in our Behaviours section. Further, outside this 'normal' range the challenges become harder, so that for the most severe cases of CVI where the visual world the brain produces, bears so little resemblance, if any, to the real world, those affected are considered to have no functional (useful) vision. It is different to being 'eye blind', with blindness due to CVI there may still be an overwhelming amount of visual information to cope with, but because it is not helpful in understanding the environment in order to move through it or learn from it, it can become confusing, challenging or frightening.
So what is normal? We are either all normal or none of us is normal - you choose
For those affected by CVI we regularly use the terms alternative normal or alternative normality. It is important not to see the person affected by CVI as someone we can pull into our normal range.
Gordon Dutton's second blog clearly explains that whilst CVI is a medical condition, there is no medical treatment. The person with CVI has great potential to learn and develop, but only within the parameters of their alternative normality - that's where we start the journey.
The CVI Scotland Team
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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.