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Blind Couple Living in a Sighted World

Editor's Note: Wasif Bhatti and Sue Neveu-Bhatti live in Windsor, Ontario.

We are a couple with low vision, who have two daughters--Mikayla who is nine and Jessica who is 13 months old--both of whom have sight. Sometimes the family life can be a challenge.

Wasif works as a lunchtime supervisor for grades six to eight at a local school, where the monitors work in pairs so if one misses something, then the other might see what the youth are doing. He has also been volunteering as a Cub leader with Scouts Canada for six years.

Sue is an office volunteer for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, but right now she coordinates the other volunteers from home while she is on extended leave with Jessica. Sue had a guide dog for seven years until Mikayla was born and she found it difficult to push a stroller and work the dog at the same time. Now, she uses a cane when going out.

Sue does a large part of taking care of Jessica, as Wasif sometimes has difficulty. She feeds, bathes, dresses and changes her, while Wasif feeds the baby, gives her bottles, and plays with her. Mikayla is also a big help with her sister, sometimes helping Wasif to change Jessica.

Mikayla is in grade four. When she gets homework, we help her as most parents help their children. Sue has a closed circuit television (CCTV), which she uses to read Mikayla\'s homework.

But she also uses it for other things like reading books to the girls, reading mail, medicine bottles and recipes. When using the stove, we have raised dots on the control panel at certain temperatures so we know where to put the dial. We also have raised dots on certain buttons for the microwave and the washer and dryer.

We usually shop for our own groceries, with Wasif picking up the odd item during the week on his way home from work. Sometimes Sue\'s mom will help.

We do miss some things when cleaning. Recently, we bought a vacuum that works both on the floor and carpet, and we use it to sweep the floor and also to clean up when Jessica throws her food.

As vision-impaired parents, some of our fears are the kids choking, falling on the stairs, and getting away from us in stores.

When our first child was little and at walking age, Sue got a waist harness and used it in stores, out on the street, and in large open areas where traffic was a constant worry. She got some major reactions from the sighted world, saying that she was cruel to her child to keep her on a leash like a dog.

But the harness was for Mikayla\'s own safety.

We keep a close eye on Jess now that she is walking. She has learned that her world is getting bigger, and she wants to explore it. She is getting into everything, and we are always picking up after her.

But that is what parents do for their kids at this age.

We have not heard many bad remarks from the public, but some other vision-impaired people we know who are likewise raising children have also had sighted people make negative comments.

They say that blind couples should not be raising any children. Our question to these sighted people is: "If a blind person said the same thing to you, how would you react?"

We are the same as any married couple. We just do some things a little differently.

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