I know there have been many articles looking at the word blind. it still makes me scratch my head why it is considered such a bad word. Ten years ago I was fully sighted and due to illness I lost most of my sight within three months. I still find myself saying that I am legally blind, I think hoping that people might understand that I still have some sight. When people hear the word “blind” it doesn’t matter what else you say most people assume you cannot see anything. The other thing that I have come across is the phenomenon that people think that because I can’t see very well I can’t hear, can’t think or speak for myself, or many times all of the above. So I ask why is it that being blind either legal or total is such a bad thing and why is so feared?
It has been said that blindness is more feared than public speaking and in some cases even death. Oh and why do people say they are sorry to me when I’m talking to them on the phone and I tell them that I’m blind? Did they have a hand in making me blind; can they do something about it? I don’t want their sympathy, the only reason I have told them is for a valid reason having to do with the conversation at hand. I know they are just trying to be nice, but I don’t want them to feel sorry for me. I think I would rather them just not say anything when I tell them that I’m blind or just say okay, like it is just a fact not something that makes them feel bad for me.
There have been many well known successful blind or visually impaired people such as Helen Keller and Louis Braille who really started letting people know that the blind are still people. Then there are the famous musicians Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Ronnie Millsap. Then I did a Google search and landed up on Wikipedia with a list of people that are famous for different things. Here are a few that I found interesting. To see the complete list please go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_blindpeople. James Holman: British man known as the “Blind Traveler. Tofiri Kibuuka: Ugandan-Norwegian athlete One of the first three blind people to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (along with John Opio and Lawrence Sserwambala). Erik Weihenmayer : First blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. And we can’t forget the politicians of course. We think of David Patterson the former governor of New York, but there have been many others. According to Wikipedia.com, Bob C. Riley: An acting governor of Arkansas, Thomas D. Schall: US Senator from Minnesota, blinded by an electrical shock before his time in office. There are many more successful blind and visually impaired people, including my heroine Christine Ha season three winner of Master Chef, also known as the blind cook on her blog. Week after week she surprised everyone by cooking and presenting both tasty and beautiful dishes. I had the pleasure of meeting Kristine and I know that she has about the same level of sight that I do and she is okay with being called blind. David Patterson, from what I remember, also had some sight, but is still considered blind even though he did not want to be seen as blind. So what makes the difference?
So again I ask why is “blind” still a bad word and isn’t it time we change the stereotype? In my opinion we need to work on changing how people see the blind and visually impaired. After all stereotypes are born from ignorance and the solution is education.
Here is what I have defined blind as:
B blessings – After losing most of my sight I have had many blessings such as being able to received a bachelor’s degree in social work and most of all starting my life coaching business (www.freshoutlookcoach.com) so I can pay it forward and give back.
L laugh – being blind comes with embarrassing moments so you just have to learn to laugh and just roll with it.
I independent – just because you lose your sight doesn’t mean you have to lose your independence
N new – opportunities, challenges and experiences it’s a whole new world
D do – just do it, jump in with both feet!
We need to be the ones to take the fear out of the word blind. Let’s start with being positive and good examples and educate, educate, educate. It is easier for a person to remember a negative than a positive so that is why is so difficult to change a negative stereotype, so staying positive and patient with the sighted world. Remember that blind is not a bad word it is just a description of a part of me and maybe part of you.