I’ve been totally blind now for nearly four years. Go me! While that’s hardly any time at all in the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely been long enough for me to learn that society has some big misconceptions when it comes to blind people and probably many other disabilities as well. One of these is that blind people are amazing! I’m going to show you why they aren’t, or at least why you shouldn’t tell them they are.
I’ll be running my third half marathon next Saturday and I will bet any of you that at some point before, during, or after the race someone is going to tell me how inspirational I am. Usually I just brush it off because unfortunately, I’m never as clever off the cuff as I’d like to be. I always think of what I should have said about five minutes too late. Why is that amazing though? My legs work perfectly fine, it’s just my eyes that don’t. Since when did it take sight to make a persons legs work?
You would be surprised how often I hear how amazing I am. This isn’t because I was injured in combat, most of the time it’s just because I’m blind. I’ve even had sweet old ladies at the grocery store squeeze my arm and tell me I’m an inspiration. Just for being in public and standing up on my own I guess. What is it that a blind person is supposed to do? Sit at home in a padded room with no sharp corners or outlets missing those little plastic covers?
You can probably guess where this is going and I don’t mean to be insulting because I think it’s just because people don’t understand blindness and disabilities in general. I still come across the term “suffering from blindness” all the time online and it drives me crazy! That’s like saying someone suffers from being short, or blonde,. Sure, maybe it would be nice to be tall, or brunette, maybe it would be nice to be able to see, but are short people suffering? Do blondes hate life? The answer is the same for blind people. No. Implying that everyone who can’t see is suffering is the sort of thinking that needs to change. Blindness isn’t a disease and shouldn’t be treated like one.
Most other blind people I’ve met have had someone tell them they’re inspirational. Usually at the grocery store. What is inspirational about going shopping? the only difference is that the “inspirational” person in question can’t see. All they did was get to the store though. Is that really amazing?
Now if you’ve got sight, the fact that someone who can’t see or can only see a little made it to a store might seem like a big deal. To some blind people who aren’t coping with things well, and have no independence, it is a big deal. To most blind people though, and definitely to me, it’s just going to the store. It’s completely normal and when we get praised for being normal, it’s rather insulting.
Other than driving, tell me one thing that a blind person can’t do that a person with sight can do? The list is probably going to be short. There has never been a better time to go blind! Technology has given people who can’t see so much power. I’m running this site all on my own for crying out loud. It doesn’t make me some sort of superhero and I shouldn’t be praised for it.
My point here is that people that are blind are just people…that are just blind. They’re still people and can function like anyone else. They can still do the same things sighted people can do, they just do it a little different. Why should society’s expectations be lowered for someone just because they can’t see? Should test standards be lowered for blondes because they’re stupid? No! Stupidity isn’t based on hair color! If we continue to praise people with disabilities for doing regular things then we will only see more regular things from them. The standards, expectations, and treatment should be the same!
Now you or someone you you know might truly be impressed by some things that blind people do. I’m not telling you how to think or feel by any means. I’m hoping to make you consider things in a different light and hopefully change one or two attitudes.
One thing I will tell you though is that before you tell a blind person they are amazing use caution, many take it as an insult but don’t say anything because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. We appreciate the intention behind the statement that we’re amazing but we hope that someday people will just treat us like regular people instead of inferior ones. Like I said, I know these people are sincere and aren’t trying to be insulting, but they are..
Running a half marathon is a big deal. Not because I’m blind, but because it’s 13.1 freaking miles!! Oh and because I paid them to do it! if anything it makes me crazy!
I would love to hear your thoughts about this. I’ve had other blind people tell me it’s amazing how I’ve adjusted to being blind. To me it’s not a big deal. But is the fact that I mowed the grass once really amazing? I don’t think it is, it’s just grass. It doesn’t treat me any different because I’m blind, you shouldn’t either.
Maybe my expectations are set higher than most. Maybe I’m just crazy. Could it be though that I’m on to something here? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing this post! God bless!