Guest Blog: Riz Khan

A Blind Reader’s Perspective

I was really honoured when Misty asked me if I could do a blog for The Top Shelf. She has worked so hard on this site and it’s come on so well. So Thank you Misty, I hope I can help to do it justice.

When Misty did ask me, a whole host of ideas of what to write came to mind. My mind went here and there in search of something that would be interesting, both to write and of course more importantly to read. As books offer a whole plethora of experiences, views and opinions, it’s pretty hard to find some rarer ones. I believe I can share something in this blog which will be pretty hard to find. As this is a blog though I thought I would go into a bit of detail about it. I intend to do this by asking a question and attempting to answer that very same question, but it may end up being answered in a round about sort of way. If that makes sense then Yay, email me and tell me what it meant. If it does not, hopefully the rest of this will be clearer. The question I am going to attempt to answer is: Given a rather large change in my life, has my perceptions of books changed?

To answer this I have to start at the beginning.

I was born with a condition called Microphthalmus, which is congenital. It’s normally defined as a condition where one or both eyes don’t develop properly, or that’s the rough definition of it. Anyways long and short of it is that I don’t see all that good. So my first experiences with books is through reading them. I had mega powered glasses that literally looked like the bottom of a jam jar. So yes my glasses were literally that thick. However they would enable me to read, both for work and for pleasure. The work part more than the pleasure in all truth but there is a reason for that. This all happened when I was at school. I spent most of my time reading for work that by the time I was done the eyes decided they needed a rest. However I did read some and I remember getting engrossed in a book, reading well into the night.

However my previous sentences do reveal something rather important.

Reading was difficult at times. I wouldn’t take in much of what I had read. A consequence of this was that I would sometimes have to read paragraphs more than once. I have a very powerful imagination and love to picture what I am reading. I was unable to do this, so hard did I have to work to read the text, that picturing anything was a pipe dream. And yet I loved it, being able to read the printed page was just fantastic. I used large print on a computer screen and a close circuit television, which was neat but not very helpful though I could read faster. My eyesight deteriorated during my early college years. This changed everything for me. The adjustment was tricky and one of the biggest ways was in books. No longer was I able to read the printed page. So it was a change of medium for me. I had not learned braille and in fact my braille reading still sucks to this day. I entered into the world of audio books.

Rewind back to my school days again for a moment. We had a teacher who on certain lunch breaks would read books to anyone who wanted to hear them. Mrs. Clay she was called, will never forget her because of it. I never missed a reading session, it was just one of those things that became a routine. So when I went into the world of audio books you would think my world would be made right? Actually the answer to that is very complex. In a way, yes absolutely. It’s fantastic all books are read to me now, however in another way, I miss seeing the letters on the printed page. You can’t live in the past though and as tough as it was to adjust, I managed it. A twinge will occasionally appear but that is just the way it goes, I get over it. Now however my imagination is aloud to roam. I have no more restrictions anymore, I can picture everything that happens. I can now happily picture the scenes the author intends to put into my head, both good and bad. No more do I have to concentrate on those letters, keeping a track of where I am and dealing with fatigue. There are some damned good books out there. Books that will take you to a million different places. You can go to so many parts of the world, or even other worlds, if that is where the author intends to take you. It gives me full scope for my imagination and I take full advantage.

So let’s go back to that question I asked near the beginning of this blog. I asked weather my perception of books had changed, and I have to say yes to that. I read more books now and have been lucky to read some absolutely fantastic ones. I am just getting used to ebooks which are a different kettle of fish as with my level of sight I use a synthesised voice to read them. No where near as good as a person but it’s still a case of reading and picturing what is read. I think I have probably rambled on long enough and I think it’s time to tie up a few loose ends. I hope this has been an interesting read and shows you at least one person’s experience of changing reading formats and the impact that can have. Just one final thing I would like to say, and that is thank you so much for taking the time to read my meanderings, I really appreciate it.

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

5 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Riz Khan

  • June 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I’m so glad that you are still able to “read” books… It’s good to hear that audio-books can keep that imagination going. I’ve always said there is nothing better than those mind movies in our head that come from reading a good book!

  • June 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Yes exactly and nothing beats a good imagination. That and a good sense of humour can carry you quite far.

  • June 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I am so happy that you can still find enjoyment in doing something that you love. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • June 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

    You are welcome Valerie, I am glad you enjoyed it.

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