Snow and Wind, Sight and Sound

I love living in Cape Town. But I have to admit this isn’t my favourite time of year – yes, the summer weather is warm and everything… but it’s also the time that we are plagued with heavy winds. For many people, the heavy wind is something of an inconvenience. But for those of us without sight, it’s a significantly bigger problem!

As a blind person I rely heavily on my sense of hearing, especially when crossing roads – I need to listen to what the traffic is doing so Fiji and I can cross safely. Heavy wind distorts or masks the sound of cars and that makes it significantly harder for Fiji and me to navigate our immediate environment. Do you know what it’s like having a car appear as if by magic right behind you?

I’ve been trying to find a sighted equivalent and came up with the concept that it’s probably a little like a sighted person trying to find their way through a heavy snowfall, or perhaps a dense fog. The point is that to all intents and purposes you’re deprived of a sense that you generally use to find your way round. That’s what walking in heavy wind is like for me.

Not much fun, is it?

I admit that I was very pleasantly surprised on one occasion when we were waiting to cross Main road in heavy wind. A traffic policewoman approached and offered to stop traffic so we could cross. Of course, that happened to be the day I had someone walking with me so I didn’t really need her help. But it just goes to show that the saying that there’s never a policeman around when you need one isn’t always true!

So, the next time the wind starts howling, try to visualise yourself peering desperately through a snowfall or impenetrable fog… and spare a thought for Fiji and me standing on the side of a road straining to hear the growl of car engines between the gusts of wind.

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