Op Ed with Bob Branco – Terms and Expressions

How often have you heard people describe a blind person as sightless? Many people in the blind community believe that the term is inappropriate, and that it is used to avoid the fact of our real disability. I understand, because we are who we are, and we are not ashamed of it. Blind is a word that describes vision loss, so therefore nobody should have a problem using that word.

I think that most people who refer to us as sightless do it for two reasons. First, they might think that our feelings would be hurt if they used the right term, and second, I think they call us sightless because they believe it makes sense. Nevertheless, we are who we are. No matter how we feel about the word sightless, I want to point out that there is a group home in the state of Ohio with sightless in its name. I just wonder if advocates have noticed it as of yet.

When it comes to terms and expressions, a blind friend of mine recently compared the inappropriateness of sightless to Negro, and I am trying to figure out the similarities. The dictionary defines Negro as a member of the black race. It doesn’t define sightless as someone who is blind.

As a child, retarded was a very common word which described someone with mental challenges. Today, many agencies and organizations serving persons with mental challenges dropped retarded from their titles because more and more people find that word to be offensive.

I know that we all have varying opinions about the terms Sightless, Negro and Retarded, and I am curious to read your comments in the Reader’s Forum.

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