Advantages of disability

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Peter Leith is 89 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he has never been one to dwell on his challenges. Advantages of a disability continues his series of true short stories and observations titled Aspects of Ageing.


Once you start to get over your natural ‘Why is this awful thing happening to me?’ reaction, you will find that failing vision and hearing can have their advantages.  

You are forced to look, listen and think more carefully.   

As far as seeing is concerned, most of us, most of the time, just glance at things long enough to get an impression of them. A vision-impaired person has to look carefully and concentrate to see things at all.

In any case, seeing, unlike talking, is not a competition sport.

When you have to listen hard – and carefully – to hear at all, you soon realise that most people, most of the time, listen to each other just long enough to get their own breath back and have their say.

You will also find that people enjoy conversations with you more than they did before because they are doing most of the talking!


This is one of a series of short stories in a growing collection called Aspects of Ageing.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Total Comments: 7
  1. 0

    I have a temporary disability (2 years so far) while awaiting knee and foot surgery. I have a disability permit for parking, so I don’t have to walk too far. If I use my stick or wheelie walker people are really kind in helping out. The stick is also useful if people get too close, just put it on their foot and lean a bit – “oh, sorry!” and they will move out of the way. The worst is my own feeling about my limitations. Hopefully when I’ve had surgery I can remember how to be “normal”!

  2. 0

    I am what I consider partially disabled. It does affect my quality of life but I try to count what I have and let go of what I have no longer. I have bad osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative spine, bulging discs and scoliosis. I can walk with the aid of a walker but not far. I cannot stand much at all. I can’t sit on most chairs.
    What I do have is my brain, my eyesight, my family, my imagination, my memories and the benefit of having completed tertiary degrees. The last allows me to research and participate in many online conversations and share information on issues and topics connected to my disability.
    Although sometimes sad I try to be positive.

    • 0

      Good for you Paddy.

      I am also disabled by osteoarthritis and have other complaints as well, but I live happily with my books, my games, my hobbies, my imagination, my writing, my scientific knowledge from my scientific past, my discussions with others (although not a very sociable life) and until recently my bridge game in a nice club (not accesible now) and I try daily to disregard my physical pain and obvious systems deterioration by thinking that I am still fortunate to have a loving family, a carer (my grandson) living with me and my intact mind.

      And yes, sometimes it is sad to be old and infirm, but it is also rewarding to have experience and knowledge in many things, to be able to help others at times and to smile at the joke that is life.

  3. 0

    It is a natural consequence of a long life, for some of us, to feel the wear and tear on our body systems.
    If possible at all, I would recommend to medically correct the “age mistakes” that happen to our bodies, such as cataracts, loose teeth or joint repairs and then to look at everything with a positive mind thinking that we are fortunate in many ways to still be ourselves.

  4. 0

    I have limited sight – waiting for cataract surgery; very limited mobility – can only walk very short distances with two crutches; profound deafness in one ear and limited hearing in the other – hearing aids have very limited benefits due to other issues with processing sounds into meaningful words; My eyesight will be restored before too long. I can still drive so long as it is an automatic vehicle. There are very real benefits to not hearing much 🙂 although it gets frustrating to myself and others to have to keep asking them to look at me when they speak and/or to repeat themselves. The biggest benefit in my life is still being able to help my kids and grandchildren in many and sometimes surprising ways. I still live in my own home with hubby – with some support from nursing services. I can meet other seniors regularly for coffee, chat etc etc. I don’t really miss what I don’t have any more although I guess I probably would if I dwelt on my fading abilities.

  5. 0

    I am getting older but some things aren’t too bad. I now need a walking stick. It means when a bus arrives, they are more likely to lower the bus and give me a bit extra time. Similarly when I travel on longer journeys, most (I repeat, MOST) are helpful. Occasionally someone isn’t helpful, but that can happen to anyone, can’t it? The thing that is problematic now if hearing. Mostly I just say, “I’m a bit hard of hearing,” and they repeat or help. Same on the phone. Last week, though, I was at a sandwich shop in a busy mall and every step was difficult! What did I want? What kind of bread, etc. finally she was saying something and,despite my saying, “I can’t hear you,” we got no further. Finally a nice woman said, “Do you want fresh or toasted?” I am seeing the ENT this week and hope he can help.



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