Welcome to Hollywood! I mean, hang on a sec, let me rewind the tape a bit. Welcome to, Reality! Yes, we will be looking at a bit of common stereotype questions we blind and visually impaired people get! You’re probably asking yourself, “Jose, why are you even mentioning Hollywood?” Well, if you have seen movies or TV shows with a blind character in them, (which are actually quite a few of them out there) you know that they make them all cool, with interesting features. The only TV anything that really portrayed a blind person correctly, in my opinion, is “The Miracle Worker.” In this film, Helen Keller was not a superhero, and I commend the writers for portraying her correctly, even though she was also deaf. It was a two in one great comparison, based on her story.
This article may be too sensitive for some readers. Please note that this is written by a blind person, and it discusses facts. So, before we get emails saying, “You don’t know heck about what we’re going through!” Reader discression is STRONGLY ADVISED!
A Quick Note Before We Begin
This post is going to be a little different in format. This is going to be a “Frequently Asked Questions” edition article of Screenless Allies, where I will put the most common question that matches a stereotype, followed by the answer. So, without any further delays, let’s dive in!
So, You’re Blind, Which Means You Ain’t Got No Eyeballs?
Uh, that question should NOT even come out of anyone’s mouth. You see, dear Reader, a lot of blind people are not comfortable with that question. Yes, you will find those, like the Screenless Allies team, that will answer the question with a bit of humor. But, the majority of blind people do not like talking about their blindness in general. Some will probably give you the very basics, if you’re lucky. Even if you become their close friend, you may not even get questions like that answered. So, let me enlighten you. Just because a person is blind, does not mean they do not have eyeballs. Some blind people have prosthetic eyeballs, which are fake eyes. Some reasons as to why they use those follow:
- They like having those just to look cool.
- They may have lost an eye.
- They do not like showing their real eyes.
You may also see some blind people wearing sunglasses. No, this is not a weird habbit. Some blind people do get bothered by the sun, or may have a bit of light perception. So yes, we DO, have eyeballs. They just do not work.
Do Blind People Keep Their Eyes Closed All the Time?
No. While a lot of us have our eyes closed and cannot blink, there are some blind people that can open their eyes. They don’t work, but hey, at least they can be opened, which makes doctors and the blind person happier because there isn’t a need to pry the eye open with your hand to look inside it for check-ups.
So, You Have No Vision, Which Means You Have Powerful Senses Or A Sixth Sense, Right?
Absolutely not! Just because we don’t have vision doesn’t mean we easily become a superhero, who then turns into a lawyer, and then just wipes people out of the world because the hero can tell they’re lying! I’m looking at you, daredevil movie franchise! When a blind person is quite young, special teachers and therapists will come over to the blind baby’s house to train their other senses by playing with the baby. This typically consists of in depth training by either making the toys make noise, having the child touch different textures, or heck, even food can be used to train the senses of taste and smell! But training begins in the crib, encouraging the baby to explore their surroundings of toys and textures. The more training they get, the more they use and develop those senses. Since vision is not there, those senses are trained on heavily so we can rely on them even more as we get older. Heightened, not quite. Powerful, yes, through training, not naturally from out of the womb!
So All Yall Use That There Echo Location Thang Bats Use In Caves To Find Food?
Nope. While some blind people do use echo location, which is a routine consisting of making a sound that can bounce off of a wall to tell where we are, it’s not always the case. This is used a lot by bats. I don’t wish to go into scientific explanation to how it works, but here is an experiment you can try. Find a wall in your house. Step away from it a little, and click your tongue, talk, or do something that makes noise. Listen to the sound as it bounces back to you. Now, find an opening in your house, and do the same thing. Notice how the sound doesn’t bounce back? That indicates an opening. You may also hear more of a reverberation when doing this. Now, walk with the wall and opening beside you and do the same thing. You’ll notice the change if you listen hard enough. That, is Echo location. However, while some blind people rely on this tool exclusively, a lot of others will use a cane or guide dog to navigate. Echo location can be used a little when navigating with those navigation aids, but at the same time, we don’t have to make the sound to know where walls are. Remember I mentioned the training of the senses? Well, again, this is where your hearing should be trained enough to pick walls and openings up without making noise.
Ooooo! So Since You’re Blind, Does This Mean You’re Getting A Cute Little Dog To Help You So Then I can Actually Be Your Friend?
NO Way! Just because someone is totally blind, doesn’t mean we all have service dogs. Some of us, like yours truly, prefer the cane. Let’s face it, white canes are much, much cheaper. Plus, no vet visits, bathing, etcetera! Each blind person has their own preference on what they will use as their traveling companion, but it is not good to assume everyone has a guide dog. “Jose, why did you include the being your friend part?” Unfortunately, due to the weakness of humans with dogs, a lot of blind people that are guide dog users get a little bit more of a, “Special Treatment.” They are included in a lot of social gatherings, get special privileges, and just overall use that dog to their advantage. I’m not saying every dog user does this, but I know a few that have been through that. While as a cane user, we are practically ignored. Pair a guide dog user with a cane user, and you will see who gets more attention. I would like to ask that if that happens, please don’t do that! You are making yourself, and the service dog user look bad. You, for having a weak heart when looking at, “that cute puppy that I wanna take home with me!” and giving that blind person what they want because of that. It looks bad for the blind person, because some of them may realize, “Hey! If I use my dog as an excuse, I could rule the world! Wahahahaha!” Now, there are some blind people who will NOT, allow you to even get near the animal, which I heavily encourage, because they have their independence, and their dog is safe. We may cover service dogs in a future article, but for now, let’s move on!
This is going to be a little strong to some people, but this is necessary. WE DO NOT, WANT YOUR PITY! All blind people get this all the time! “I’m crossing a street!” “No! Stop! Let me help you! I was crying so hard when I saw you lining up!” This unfortunately makes us look even more helpless. A lot of us have been fully trained to do a lot of things you can do like cooking, cleaning, crossing streets, etc. While I understand you are only trying to help, a lot of us, like yours truly, would rather us ask YOU for help if we need it. Unfortunately, some blind people use this to their advantage, going as far as to finding a way to get a product they found online or may have heard about that they would love to have! They will spin you a tale on how it is a great product, and ‘We can’t afford it.” That instance when you think, “Oh, poor thing! Let me see what I can do!” Then you call schools and other places to see if you can get donations or get a school or other organization to buy said piece of equipment. Then you get the equipment, knowing perfectly well they are capable of finding a job, and buying it themselves! The point to that scenario is, you just proved how pitiful they are, no matter if you are their friend. If they are capable of doing things like that themselves, let them do it! That, would be a TRUE friend in my book. I would unfriend that person who went out there and used me for pity like that. “Jose, you just don’t know about friendship!” It’s a question of pride and dignity for a very independent blind person, who wants to be as independent as possible. It just makes the people who are trying to “fit in” with the sighted world look bad because everyone will assume, “Oh, so, no blind person can afford a computer. Well, guess we’ll all have to call the CEO’s of big companies to see if they can donate money so we can get it for them,” even though we get a paycheck. Now, there are a few blind people that would just rather stay home, to either have pity for themselves, or be on a computer talking to other blind people who are the same way, and rely on either family or governmental assistance.
Religion and Disability
This topic will also sting a little more to some people. It has been a personal experience of mine, that people who are blind or are disabled in general, get the people that think they can “Pray for their healing.” I’m going to stop you right there and say, you will NOT get brownie points for praying for a disabled person. You may get critiqued pretty bad, or in some cases, you may get punched in the face. That is utterly disrespectful to that person. It may make you feel good, but not the other person. Sure, you may get that rare person that accepts prayers for healing, but I promise you, others are pretty sensitive. So when you ask for permission to pray like that, be prepared to either get yelled at, or have them walk away. No, being disabled is not a “curse from God because you did something bad.” Please keep that kind of prayer to yourself.
This is just a few of MANY, stereotypes on blindness. There are quite a few more, but these are the essentials to know. Maybe in a future installment, we can cover more of these. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to email us if you have any questions about blindness in general! We are happy to answer any of them you may have, and who knows? Your question could be included in another installment of this style of frequently asked questions!