October is “Meet the Blind Month,” and in 40 states, it’s also “Blindness Awareness Month.” So, in honor of this occasion, I have decided to devote a few words on how some of us can inspire many of us–the blind people of tomorrow.
Speak up about your blindness. Whether others may like it or not, your blindness is a blessing. Some of you may find it disquieting to talk about it in the presence of others. Let me tell you: nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t stand up, if you don’t fight for what you
believe in, your voice will continually be drowned out.
Speak out about an issue that helps you or hurts you. You may not like it when a person grabs you and pulls you onto a bus. You may not like it if someone gives you inappropriate accommodations at a place of business. And finally, you may not like it if you get verbally abused when you handle your complaint with paratransit, or when you’re working your
service dog and someone jerks the harness from your hand. Some of us know to speak out and speak up at NFB, ACB, or other blind gatherings. But why can’t we do the same thing when we deal with the sighted public? The answer is: Yes, we can. We need to lead by example.
Speak up for what you need. Sometimes the shyest person in high school is not so shy when they get out. Why? Because, somewhere along the line, a TVI, a dean, or a teacher advised us to speak up. Remember, blindness organizations are a start, but you also need to remember that an unopened mouth does not get fed. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate. Our voices are loudest with state, Federal, and local leaders when we make phone calls and e-mail them. Did you miss your appointment at the doctor’s office, and was paratransit to blame? Is paratransit neglecting you when you are needing to be picked up early for work? Speak up!
In closing, we are the people that can make our own dreams materialize. But one person can’t do it alone. It’s up to us to speak up, and speak out!