Antrhopology and the Advantages of Blindness

Thu, 5 Oct 1995 10:52:27 -0400

My sister who is blind requests I forward the following information.
Blindness does not confer on anyone any special abilities. The sense of
touch, hearing etc. does not "sharpen", although one may utilize those senses
more heavily than a sighted person may. A person with lousy olefactory sense
will still have poor olefactory sense even if they lose their vision.
Blindness is not a blessing, but neither is it a cause for pity. It has
limitations, most of which can be mitigated through new technologies, a
little thoughtfulness and understanding from sighted people, understanding,
reasonable accomodation in the workplace,etc.
Do not grab a blind person and "help them" ! 1. Think how you would
respond if someone without a word grabbed you from behind 2. How do you know
they need help or what kind of help they need if you don't ask? 3. When
assisting someone it is usually easier for them to hold on to you in the
fashion that a father escorts the bride down the aisle. The same reasoning
applies-it reduces the chances the person being aided will trip.
Blindness does not eliminate the right to privacy. My sister is often
asked very personal questions simply because she is blind. Also if they
have a guide dog-do not pet the dog if it is under harness-or call it-you
could disrupt its training. When the dog is "off duty" it can be played with
like a regular dog. If you are uncertain whether it is ok to pet the dog-ask
the owner?
I thought that since a thread touched on this subject, and since
anthropologists have an important role in educating the public on nature of
society and social roles that this would be appropriate to post here.