Category Archives: epilepsy
Quick PSA post: Flashing lights trigger seizures. This means the strobes people put on bikes, the flashing hazard lights used for almost anything, well, hazardous, the flashing lights on emergency vehicles (which is pretty counterproductive), and the flashing lights that go along with some smoke alarms (also counterproductive). People having seizures matters. Seizures suck. The period after a seizure (the post-ictal period) is described to me as “a really bad hangover.” K has a great stream-of-consciousness post-ictal blog post so you can get an idea of what it’s like. Besides the obvious danger during the actual seizure (hitting your head if it’s a tonic-clonic, crashing if you’re operating a car or bike, falling, etc.) there’s the danger that comes from not knowing what’s going on, where you are, and where your home is, and how to get there for hours after your seizure. K once sat down on the light rail tracks and refused to move after a seizure. Luckily she had a friend there that’s really good at speaking K-ish when she’s had a seizure, and she eventually moved. But people with epilepsy don’t have friends around all the time that can look after them (because they shouldn’t need keepers to have a life). Having a seizure in public is a very dangerous thing, and flashing lights are pretty successful in making that happen.
So what can you do? At the very least, set your bike light to a steady beam. The brain tracks that better than a strobe anyway. If someone asks you to stop doing something because it might cause them to have a seizure, listen to them. If you want, write Letters to police and fire departments asking them why they use seizure-triggering lights while they are trying to alert people to danger. (There are other options available, even if it’s just a different frequency of flashing.) And tell other people. The world should be safe for everyone, not just neurotypical people.