I once went to an interview where the first words out of my interviewer’s mouth were, “I’m so impressed you found the doorbell and even climbed the stairs!”
That’s setting the bar pretty low, don’t you think?
Many people are confused about what blind individuals can and cannot do. Allow me to shed some light on the subject. (Oh these puns are painful).
Five things blind people can do, and five things we cannot
Blind people can: walk up and down stairs without help, open doors, and even ring the most difficult of doorbells.
Blind people can’t: drive taxi cabs…There’s just something about not being able to see where you’re going that makes customers nervous.
Blind people can: read. Braille was invented in 1824, nearly 200 years ago. Several low vision people can even read print with the help of magnifying glasses, ZoomText, and/or large print.
Blind people can’t: find you in a crowd… unless you’re screaming our names.
Blind people can: travel. No bragging intended, but my blind brother has been to something like twenty-five countries by himself. He’s hiked the Andes Mountains in Peru, wound his way through the congested streets of China, and made multiple trips to Kenya and Tanzania to assist African blind children. Not all blindies are this courageous, myself included, but it can be done. He is living proof. He hasn’t died yet, anyway.
Blind people can’t: work in ~75% of available jobs. It’s a depressing statistic, but a true one. The fact is, we live in a sighted world and many employment opportunities, especially entry level positions, have a visual component to them. We have to work 75% harder to find work, and be 75% more resourceful once we find it. But find it we do. And my fellow blindies, if you haven’t yet found something, feel no shame. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is between 50-80% depending on where you live. Just keep your chin up and try your best. That’s all anyone can do. I hear you, and I understand.
Blind people can: get an education. I’m only finishing up an under grad in nutrition, but I know plenty of blindies who have achieved masters or PHDs. I even know one or two blind professors. We major in everything from economics and science to arts and drama, just like the rest of you.
Blind people can’t: see pictures. A lot of low vis. people can, but that opens the door to a whole new realm of confusing. “What? There are different degrees of blindness and low vision? Gasp It cannot be true! All blind people live in the dark, don’t they?” (Please see my VIP Tag post if you’re surprised by this). Anyway, I digressed. My apologies, my writing has the attention span of a nine-year-old with undiagnosed ADHD. Where was I? Oh yes, blind people can’t see pictures. We just can’t. You might as well be showing us a glass frame with nothing inside or a shiny blank piece of paper (see my post on the wonderful invention of photo descriptions).
Blind people can: have and raise beautiful children. There is a lot of negativity surrounding this idea. “That blind woman is pregnant. What if she has a blind child?” So what if she does? Would that really be so terrible? This world needs to open its proverbial eyes and see the value of uniqueness. Helen Keller went to Harvard. Luis Braille invented Braille. Albert Einstein was one of the smartest people ever to live. Where would we be without these differently-abled individuals? Where will the world be in a hundred years without that blind woman’s baby? Many people also doubt blind parents’ abilities to take care of their children. I could write about this for days, but as I am not a parent yet, I will refrain. However, I will say this. Bad parents exist everywhere; in every country, in every culture, and within every majority and minority group, regardless of perceived ability. By the same token, wonderful, incredible, superhero parents exist everywhere, regardless of perceived ability. To say that one group is less capable than another is misguided at the very least. If you would like to read more about this, check out The Top Ten Questions I Always Receive as a Blind Parent By my friend and fellow blogger, the beautiful Sirena
And finally, blind people can’t: draw to save our lives. Again, many low vis. individuals may not have this limitation, but us blindies are left happily to our scribbling. This is not to say that most blindies can’t pick up a pen and sign their name. Some can even write damn legibly, a feat that boggles my mind. I’m one of the inept blindies who struggles to write my name. Hey now, give me a break. My legal name is insanely long (thanks a lot Mom). looks away from the looks of disapproval and consternation I am sure to receive from the print-writing rockstar blindies of the world. Cool side note to distract the masses from my shameful writing abilities, I have a low vis. friend who actually creates tactile art for the blind. It’s super unique, so props to him.
Woot, that’s the end. Do you feel a little smarter? I hope so. If not, give yourself a pat on the back for being plenty smart already.
I actually learned something through writing this. I know right? A genius like me learning from my own post? #GirlOnFire But seriously, it was much easier for me to think of things I am able to do than things I am not. Let nothing stand in your way. Reach for the stars. Climb those Andes Mountains. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Susan Jeffers
Be kind, and be aware.
Have questions? Got a topic in mind you’d like me to write about? Don’t hesitate to reach out through the sites contact form
Mood music from one inspirational little girl: