Welcome to February!
While I cannot speak for everyone who is blind, I’m sure many will have valuable additions to this post. Recently a person approached me and gently placed their hand on my shoulder; in a soothing tone, one reserved for little cute babies or an irate tantrum-throwing toddler, they said “I’m sorry you are like that.” Here is what I have to indignantly say to all those who apologize for a small part of who I am.
When you say “I’m sorry you are blind”
You inadvertently are perpetuating the long-held misconceptions and disbeliefs about my true abilities
You are saying sorry for the person I am, a 32-year-old woman who happens to be blind
You are neglecting to see the other important qualities which form my personality
You are apologizing for how God created me
You are apologizing for all the blessings I have gained through my unique life experiences
You are apologizing for a characteristic, one that does not define me or my future
You are saying sorry for the life I live
You are apologizing for all the wonderful friendships I have cultivated with others who are also sighted or blind
If you need something to be sorry for:
I’d rather you apologize for the many forms of inequality, discrimination and ableism the blindness community still faces in our society which has policies such as the ADA
I’d rather you say I’m sorry for the way some people stare when they see me with my cane in hand, as if I’m some freak of nature
I’d rather you apologize to all the children who need Braille and are made functionally illiterate by adults out of ignorance
I’d rather you apologize for the extremely high unemployment rate and the countless times the blind are rejected from jobs we are well qualified for out of fear
I’d rather you apologize for the lack of quality transportation in many areas
I’d rather you say I’m sorry for the demoralizing way some people insist on inappropriately invading my space by putting their hands on me when crossing a street or simply walking about
I’d rather you apologize for the next time a well-meaning person looks at me with pity in their eyes and a cajoling tone in their voice all because I happen to be totally blind.
Unapologetically, until next time,