Op Ed with Bob Branco – Does Everything Happen Because We’re Blind?

In my experience, I often encounter blind people who believe that most of the bad things that happen, or things that frustrate us, occur because we are blind. Being blind myself, I encounter a lot of rejection in my adult life, particularly while looking for work, so I think I can understand where this attitude might be coming from. However, I want to put this in its proper perspective.

Two years ago, I was planning a reunion of 50 blind people from my former high school. When I booked the restaurant, I was told by the manager that the group could not order food off the entire menu because there would be too much traffic in the kitchen while the cooks were trying to fill the numerous orders. Instead, I was asked to pick a handful of items from the menu, and give the group those choices. Someone in my group felt that we were treated this way by the manager because we are blind. I would like to know what our blindness has to do with what goes on in that kitchen. Was the man trying to tell me that if we were all sighted, the cooks in the kitchen would have an easier time fulfilling all of our food orders? I don’t see the logic in that, yet, this kind of attitude is out there whenever a blind person or group is faced with a special obstacle, which I believe was meant for anyone, blind or sighted. Did I enjoy choosing several items from that menu for the entire group of fifty blind people? No, but I certainly wouldn’t blame the whole problem on our blindness. That makes no sense.

Several months ago, a blind woman from Arkansas had a bad experience on the telephone with her pharmacist. Without going into detail, the pharmacist gave the woman a run around. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the cause of this problem, yet the woman is convinced that she was treated badly because she is blind. Isn’t it possible that there was a problem at the pharmacy to begin with? Maybe someone called in sick, or maybe the delivery truck broke down, or maybe someone just had a bad hair day. It is quite possible that if the woman had sight, she would have been treated the same way.

I run a bowling league for persons with disabilities. Sometimes we have to take several Sundays off during the bowling season because outside organizations decide to hold big tournaments which use up all the lanes. This happens a lot in the bowling world, and I think nothing of it. Yet someone felt that our league was being tossed aside, probably because some of us have disabilities. If all of us in the bowling league were able bodied, the tournament would still happen, the entire bowling alley would still be filled up, and we’d still have to take several Sundays off, so who was this person trying to kid?

Being blind for my entire life, I know all about being frustrated and being denied certain opportunities based on blindness. I won’t deny that this happens to all of us. But when we start using blindness as an excuse for every bad thing that happens, then this attitude only hurts us even more. A visually impaired woman in my own city actually told someone that every bad thing that happens to her is the result of her being blind, so there you go, that sums it all up.

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