With this entry, I will attempt to remain objective, however, with how riled I felt when first reading the article which sparked this post, I cannot confidently promise my knee-jerk reactions will not rise to the surface.
I am going to take a stab at statistics, which was not my strong suit in college, and assume most who visit this blog are most likely either sighted readers with some type of disability whether it is visible or not, or fully able-bodied folks who have their own perceptions of the conglomeration called disability.
Please seriously reflect on and consider how you would answer the following questions: if you have interacted with a blind or visually impaired person, what was your initial reaction? Did you see their noticeable disability first because they used a white cane or dog guide, or read Braille or used screen enlargement software to make print bigger? Did you worry about how you should approach or help them if needed?
If you have not had personal contact with a blind or visually impaired person, and your only exposure to visual impairments is either from media sources or stories from the Bible, what do you truthfully believe are the capabilities of a blind person? Do you feel pity, a sense of superiority or sorrow for their lot in life, because you could not imagine living life without sight or limited vision?
I have never been fully sighted, so I do not know what it is to drive, to see further than 10 feet in front of me, to see details or to get lost in a library or bookstore because I am simply enjoying the ability to peruse shelves upon shelves of page-turning engaging stories.
I will admit there are many aspects of sight which baffle my mind such as how can someone see for a mile away on a clear day, or how a person’s memory can maintain so much visual information such as facial expressions and the list goes on and on, however, what I will never understand, and no one has been able to yet provide a sufficient explanation is why the lack of sight is so feared in our society.
Which states a staggering finding that “researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that most Americans regard loss of eyesight as the worst ailment that could happen to them.”
I wholeheartedly concur losing one’s sight is an adjustment, it’s a grieving process and even when you’ve reached the point blindness is no big deal or something you do not even give a second thought to in your day-to-day life routine, there will come those days when being sighted would be preferable to blindness, which is primarily connected to the inconveniences of our society’s structure which unfortunately perpetuates the deeply entrenched misconception that living a happy, productive meaningful life without sight is a phenomenal feat only reserved for those select few amazing, inspirational blind people.
I do not mention the fact I went totally blind in high school for pity sake or a sensational sentence starter, rather it is to find common ground and recognize I partially can appreciate the fear and grieving process many have or may encounter surrounding vision loss, but what I cannot, and will never accept or embrace are these harmful backwards attitudes and actions, no matter whether intentional or not, we continue to see in our supposed progressive land of ADA, inclusion and tolerance. This article being read in such a highly-publicized forum,
furthers the condescending concept that disability equates to pity or fodder for some feel good head line or story.
- I am more than a viral feel good story or culmination of social media “Likes”
- I am not to be pitied for my existence just because I may either use non-visual techniques or require occasional assistance with tasks sighted people believe are only able to be completed with sight.
- I am a person who has many interests, failures, and successes, which have nothing to do with the fact I happen to be blind
- I am not a caged animal at the zoo for your gawking pleasure, your photo opp or object of amusement
- Sight is not superior to thinking outside of the box and learning alternative techniques which in some cases are faster than relying on sight
- Receiving assistance in a public place is not a pull at heartstrings, rather it is an adaptation to complete a task
Now that I am all rambled out, what are your reactions or honest opinions?
Until next time,