Kirin Saeed is a Braille Proof Reader at the Scottish Braille Press which is run by Sight Scotland. Kirin was born partially sighted, losing her sight entirely at the age of eleven. She went to Chorleywood College for blind and partially sighted girls. Kirin says she learned to cope with losing her sight as a child, but further deterioration in what little vision she had left as an adult affected her greatly.
Kirin had retained some light perception but lost this at the same time as her husband died. “This had a massive emotional impact for me. It started with a physical impact of losing my light perception. It meant than when I walked downstairs I felt like I was going to be tipped over. This made me anxious and affected my confidence, but people still expected me to be able to cope which put further stress on me.”
Kirin has never been offered counselling to deal with the impact of her visual impairment. She sought bereavement counselling when she lost her husband, but this didn’t address the effect of her further sight loss on her emotional wellbeing.” I felt like because I had further sight loss at the time of my bereavement, the counselling helped me with one part of what I was going through, but not the other.”
Kirin believes there is not enough awareness of the impact of disability on mental health.
“Emotional wellbeing is not recognised enough in the disability community. Too often people think they just have to get on with it, and yet you have to fight battles at all levels so much of the time. You have to constantly argue for support, argue your case for equipment, argue your case for help with access to work. This is stressful in itself.”
Kirin says lack of awareness of visual impairment in society can impact on emotional wellbeing too. “People are always asking me how I lost my sight and whether there will ever be a cure for it. I know they are well meaning but always being asked this has an impact too.”
Kirin says being in employment has made a big and positive difference for her. “The biggest thing to help me get in a better place has been getting the job at the Scottish Braille Press. The opportunity to get employment, and the right kind of work. It gets me up, gets me active, I meet other people and at the end of the day I can go home and relax. The right workplace, offering you support makes a huge difference and really helps you confidence.
“Through work, I’ve been offered opportunities to be involved in other activities such as consumer rights and research. I have really enjoyed being involved and knowing that I am making a positive impact.”
“In partnership with the local authority, I have been providing support and advice regarding the type of Nursery environment at Freya might benefit from."