Reader’s Forum

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

From a Ziegler Reader in New York City 

It should be noted that there have been several issues raised in the Readers’ Forum on which I wish to comment.  Note that I am taking exception to the content and not the persons who raised said issues.

People have complained about word usage.  Many individuals say that we should not say “visually impaired” but the word “blind” should always be utilized.  Guess what? I’m here to tell you that many of us are visually impaired.  Not all blind people or visually impaired people are the same. 

The next problem is that many people object strongly to the “people first” language.  I object to the opposite.  It is said that we should not say “people with diabetes” but “a diabetic.”  What makes me so mad is that people will tell me what to think.  Many blind people will say that if I choose to be person with hypertension, and not a hypertensic, that this signifies “shame”!  I thought I was a person.

And now, wouldn’t you know, quite a coincidence!  In the May 9 Readers’ Forum, a gentleman comments on the changing of the name of RFB&D to “Learning Ally”. What a long-winded spiel! However, now it’s my turn!

I used the excellent services of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, they got me through college and through graduate school: this is undoubtedly a top-shelf organization.

It is said that the name-change signifies that, “the message is that they want help but want to deny they need it.”  Maybe, but maybe not. 

Also, how about some of those other names of organizations I love?  The Seeing Eye, for instance–here the term “for the blind” is never utilized.  How about BOLD (blindness, learning in New Dimensions)?  There is never a “for the blind” in these names.  How about (I love this one) Beyond Sight”?  And how about Freedom Scientific? These names are all, according to many blind people, okay.   I love all these names!  Hence, is it really a relinquishing of identity, or simply a way of stating something in a more positive light, hence, eliminating the evoking of a sense of pity?  Why is this new nomenclature a “land of make-believe where nobody notices they are different from everyone else?”

Can it be viewed instead, as the chariot of respectability? 

Instead of embarking on a long and windy spiel, what would anyone else like to call it?  Is this about censorship? Blind people seem to dictate to each other. Why is this?

Is this really about people feeling “typecast”? Or do many blind people wish to typecast others?  Are they typecasting themselves?

Is this really about “politically correct euphemistic speech,” as the gentleman put it, or is it about not evoking a sense of pity?  Maybe people are simply trying to get away from the sense of pity, evoked in the term “for the blind.”

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In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Unemployment Among the Blind, Bill says:

I want to comment on the issue of 70 percent unemployment among the blind.  I believe that the real issue is lack of awareness on the part of employers on what we can do and that we can perform the job adequately.  Yes, employers might be nervous about hiring, but enough already.  I also believe that part of the problem is the consumer groups for the blind like ACB and NFB.  These groups are really missing the boat in making society aware of our abilities.  With all the social network sites like Facebook and twitter, there is no excuse that the talents of the blind cannot be presented and employers could be made more comfortable.  One of those groups should go on Youtube and post videos of us performing on the job that a blind applicant could show to a hesitant interviewer.  If someone wanted to hire me to do it I would be glad to. I believe that it would really make employers feel more comfortable about giving us a chance.  Once people are made aware of what we can do and that we are not a problem for them they are impressed with us.

Bill Meinecke

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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In response to News – Non-Tactile Braille, Allison says:

My first instinct upon reading this was to be outraged that a university of all places could make such a silly mistake. But the more I think about it, I don’t want to judge them too harshly because it really could have been an innocent misunderstanding. In a way, it is no different than when I ask a sighted person for directions and they point and say, “it’s that way.” My first instinct in this situation to is to say “hello! I am blind! Pointing does not help at all!” Instead, I always try to do my best to politely explain that I need verbal directions because the simple fact is that blind people are a minority in society, and thus occasional misunderstandings are inevitable.

I commend that student for bringing attention to this mistake, but instead of expressing outrage about this, we should use this mistake to politely bring it to the attention of institutions that the Braille needs to be raised, even if that seems so laughably obvious to us.

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In response to last week’s Letter from the Editor, CayBella wrote,

I am wondering if others had the same reaction I did to our Editor counting steps.

I have never counted steps and have been blind all my life.  Okay, when it was suggested I do so in mobility training, I tried, so to say I never did it isn’t exactly true.  I discovered I don’t take the same sized step every day.  Other friends had similar experiences.  We never did it, but sighted people think we do or should.

It’s right up there with feeling faces, which is something I don’t do and my friends don’t do.  I’m talking about feeling the face of a person you just met or even a close childhood friend.

Are there others who had a similar reaction?

CayBella

One Comments

  1. Allison Nastoff

    I loved reading your letter CayBella. I thought about posting about that but didn’t know if I was the only one with that opinion, so I am glad to know I am not.
    Like you, I don’t count steps because I never take the same size step. And even if I took the same size steps all the time, there are still other factors that could cause you to lose track of how many steps you took, such as if a person comes up to talk to you and you get distracted, or if one day there is an unanticipated obstacle in the path that you have to navigate around, thereby altering the count. Thus while I have also tried counting steps, I find that paying attention to landmarks like a dip in the sidewalk or sound clues like the echo of an approaching staircase is so much more reliable. And yet when I give presentations about blindness to sighted people, someone always asks “do you count steps?”
    Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.