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Perceiving the Elephant
Living Creatively with Loss of Vision
Edited by Frances Lief Neer

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Perceiving the Elephant

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Perceiving the Elephant: Living Creatively With Loss of Vision
Large Print Edition
Edited by Frances Lief Neer
Creative Arts Book Company, (1998)
ISBN: 0-88739-122-2
Genre: Self-Help, Vision Loss

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 29, 2001

Loss of Vision, does it mean an end to seeing? Of course not, it merely means that you have to learn how to see differently. Perceiving the Elephant: Living Creatively with Loss of Vision helps to show you just how many ways there are to 'see', and the many ways in which one can learn to accept and adjust to vision loss. Perceiving the Elephant is a collection of essays, lectures, vignettes, and even a few poems. They cover a little bit of everything from how guide dog puppies are raised to learning strategies that can help you adjust to vision loss. These strategies include using assistive aids, learning to read braille, and learning how to 'perceive' things using other senses than your vision. The articles are written by a variety of people, ranging from Nebbs, a golden retriever a guide dog who wrote about kayaking with his master, to people suffering from vision loss, to essays by eye doctors. But perhaps the most important essays in this book are those written by individuals who are themselves learning to deal with vision loss.

These essays are 1/3 heart warming, 1/3 inspirational, and 1/3 informational. They cover topics such as the historical treatment of the blind, traveling with vision loss, talking to children about vision loss, how to retrain your memory to gather information - without visual clues, and general eye information, such as the importance of having periodic eye exams, even when you don't think anything is wrong. Other topics covered include how to cope with the anger caused by loss of vision and how vision loss can affect other members of a family. Most important, this book encourages people with vision loss to use every resource that they can lay their hands on, including doctors, counselors, assistive aids, and perhaps of utmost importance, friends and family members. Living independently does not mean that you have 'go it alone' - even 'sighted' people ask for help once in awhile.

The main theme behind these essays is learning how to cope with vision loss while at the same time also learning how to see the 'big' picture. This is a very positive and self-affirming book. It will benefit anyone dealing with vision loss, whether you are actually experiencing the loss of vision or whether you are someone who interacts with such a person - either on a personal or professional level.

Perceiving the Elephant was edited by Frances Leif Neer, who also contributed a variety of essays to the book. Neer, who is herself blind, understands that vision loss can be a life altering experience. Her compassion and understanding of the chances that vision loss can wrought come through clearly in this selection of essays. The only drawback to this book is that it is printed with a font that appears to be about a 12 point. For a book for which a large portion of its readership is likely to have some degree of vision loss, this is a very small print size. Font size aside, this is an excellent book.


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