Archive for July, 2010

How dO You See Me?

July 23, 2010

I’ve always perceived my blindness as a part of me but it seems as though society may have a very different view about what being blind is truly about.

A recent documentary shown on the BBC has made me think long and hard about how the “sighted” world views us as blind people. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with every aspect, I’m a performer, i’m a student, I’m a fundraiser, I’m a writer, I’m a woman, and I’m blind. It’s a fact of my life but when I walk down a street with my trusted guide dog by my side, what am I to others? The blind woman with the guide dog. And this does bother me.

As a blind individual, we are then categorised with so many stereotypes and the majority of us hardly come close to any of those bad habits that some blind people are guilty of. We are not all recluses, we do not all rock, and we do not all need someone to take us everywhere and do everything for us on a daily basis. There are a percentage of us who work, study, own our own homes, have families and live active and social lives without adhering to even one of the stereotypes the general public like to believe we are a part of.

I see some tweets from ignorant sighted people who believe we cannot watch movies, or should not be walking down the street, are shocked to see an attractive blind person or indeed that we are incapable of having sex. Those of us who are out in the world and are interacting with abled bodied people are forever questioned about our abilities and when those individuals are enlightened, utter shock seeps from their every pore.

Blindness does not stop us living our lives and yet still, documentaries are giving a very slanted view of what being blind is really all about.

The one positive point, I, as a blind person took from this BBC documentary, called “the blind me” is that it also represented the flaws of the sighted world and their treatment of blind individuals. Some sighted people patronise the blind, or think us to be stupid along with deaf as they walk away giggling about the blind girl who will not know they just left and I’m happy to say this is not true for all sighted individuals. But to those who have ever used a person’s blindness against themselves, shame on you. It’s not big and it’s not clever. Just remember this, most of us have sighted friends who can tell us about the rude gestures or even our own hearing can betray your rudeness and ignorance.

Just take a moment to think of how, if you are sighted, you perceive a blind individual, and if you are blind, do you really think the sighted world has an accurate assumption of what you as a person are all about? If you could dispel only one stereotype, what would it be? And is it fair for the sighted world to continue to make assumptions?

Personally, I believe there should be more representation of people with disabilities within different media outlets wherever possible and should definitely be more represented within soap operas that are meant to be close to representative of British culture as possible. And if those creators decide to develop a part, research should be done honestly and realistically instead of making blind people either into rocking wrecks or super heroes that can drive ten ton trucks.

I know how I see myself, but I also know the majority of the sighted world see me as a lesser individual with limited independence and desires and goals for my own future. Ah well, I’ll keep proving them wrong, shall I?