The following are five major myths about blindness and why they are dangerous, and yes, busted. I have plenty of examples of why these myths should not be perpetuated.
- Blind people are stupid. Um, this is an easy one. We are treated as subhuman, talked to like a child, denied our rights, and all systematically because the world believes blind people are stupid. My buddy Art is not stupid, and he held down a job in Miami, Florida for 28 years doing inside sales work. Does that require brains? Yes, it does. It is all reverse psychology. Secondly, Trenton is not stupid. He is smart, plays the drums, and above all, is weird. He is able to do things as normal adults do, all comorbidity aside, what with the mild CP and inability to use certain appliances like my can opener. All I have is a hand crank one, but still, he’s a smart guy who knows what’s what. Blind women are smart as well. My brother had the honor of a blind professor of English at University of Central Florida. So how is this myth dangerous? If a society believes this myth, they can limit education and opportunities for the blind, including marriage, having children, taking care of their own homes, doing their own things with jobs and such. They can if they believe it. Society who believes this myth can also systematically deny blind people wages, hard earned dollars that can get us off the system, which is something I desperately want. A job is so hard to get because this myth is in action here in the United States and abroad. 80% of blind people are underserved, underemployed, unemployed or denied their rights because people believe a sworn statement that we’re not capable, somehow incapacitated, or stupid.
- 2. Blind people are arrogant. This is a dangerous myth sprung out by the organized blind movements like the National Federation of the Blind and American Council of the Blind, both organizations centered around their kickbacks, both seemingly arrogant. Again, the same profile would apply to this myth as with other myths. I have met some ACB folks who are genuine and NFB folks who are and aren’t. There are NFB folks who don’t live up to a standard of morality, and this myth doesn’t help matters. I won’t name names, but it should be duly noted that the NFB is not necessarily arrogant, but President Mark Riccobono is the heir to an assortment of woes that a majority of people commit to. Mr. Riccobono is a real inspiration, whereas some people in the organization who are laypersons, if I may use a church term to describe the common man, act lost and alone and debilitated. The idea that blind people can be 100% independent is a dangerous myth in and of itself, perpetuating this myth about arrogance. Riccobono I’m sure is not 100% as a lot of blind people have to at least know when to ask and obtain assistance at a shopping mall or store, and what about putting on a dress or tux to try on and see if the dress or tux looks good for a change? Mark’s daughters will one day have to wear wedding dresses, if they so choose to marry, and one of the biggest things about weddings is trying on the dresses to see if the sizes are correct, will it need alteration, coloring, etc.? I want the colors to accent my skin, and my mother says pale ones do quite well. Mark Riccobono’s wife is also blind, and she probably will one day get a close look at what her daughters are wearing, fashion trends, and when it comes time, the wedding dress. Mrs. Riccobono will have to critique constructively as all moms do, and she probably does it well. Her husband has a sighted son, but still, the family is mostly blind, so they use what they need to in order to get by. Arrogance is not what the Riccobonos stand for, and they recently had family fun together after a state convention. FAmilies with blind people can still play together, and they should because they’ll stay together. How is the arrogance myth dangerous? Think about it, it promotes the idea of superblind and superman like people, which is to say that superior hearing and touch are only the beginning. Blind people need to be interdependent, just as all the families in the NFB eventually have to. Think about the time when your son or daughter goes out with a friend, you give them a curfew, and they follow or don’t follow it. It all depends, but technology allows us to know more than we should or shouldn’t about our kids. Wait till the girls and boys of today who are blind become teenagers. WHen they turn eighteen, parents must acknowledge their adulthood, and of course, they should teach healthy ways to use assistance if necessary. They cannot front a persona of arrogance.
- 3. BLind people must be 100% independent, no assistance from sighted people. Busted! Why? Because whether you like it or not, if you’re blind, you still have to rely on someone to technically get you from point A to point B. LEt me pick on someone else who I know, someone who I can tell you is not 100% independent and can still be considered for jobs, does lots of coding, and is a brilliant guy. Ty, one of my readers, yes, I’m picking in Ty from Canada. He’s blind and in a wheelchair, and does lots of things from his chair. Comorbidity being a huge problem for blind people, Ty doesn’t let that stop him from doing what he wants to do, whether it’s ham radio study or fixing up sound effects for radio. Ty is pretty cool, I’ve spoken to him, and he’s no CFB president or Canadian politician. But if you look into the eyes or the soul of someone as simply awesome as Ty, you will see no such thing as 100% independence.
- I myself cannot be 100% independent not because of blindness or any comorbidity issues, but because I technically rely on people to pick out the right brand of food, sometimes having to make sure we don’t lose things, and then you have to worry about lots of the canned goods that you have to identify. Canned foods are not my thing, not at all.
- 4. Blind people have superior senses. Busted again! Why? Because we just use them more. The only dangerous thing about this myth is the constant peppering of questions about blind people’s abilities that we all get, and it’s sometimes hampering on personal.
5. Blind people cannot raise families. Good as busted. The myth suggests that strangers would have to raise a child of a blind couple, but Trenton and I are more than capable of raising a child. The thing with comorbidity exists in blind parents as well. Trenton is not exactly in a wheelchair, but there are many blind and physically disabled people, including the Riccobonos, the Batrons, the LaBarre couple, and lots of other examples I can think of. The Spears family is also another example, and with their sighted son, they could still face a host of challenges due to the myth that blind people cannot raise families. YEs, they can. The myth is so dangerous that little Michaela was stolen from her parents, and the NFB ensured her safe return. Because Erica Johnson, her mom, now raises her, she understands what’s up. However, let’s not delve into personal details, but we know that all parents who are new have a bit of trouble with nursing, and so did Michaela and her mom. However, because the nurses believed a dangerous myth about blindness, there was a long period of time where she was in foster care. Ugh. She could have been adopted out. A friend recently lost his children due to his blindness, and the dangerous mythological beliefs prevailed, not justice, in seeing that his parental rights were terminated. This could hurt me and Trenton. We need all you readers to believe that we can and will raise a family if we so choose. We can’t legally marry under the auspices of the courts, but we want to do a spiritual wedding, however that won’t mess up the kids’ chance of being who they are.
Hope you enjoyed reading these myths and the reasons why they are dangerous and the fact that they are all busted. I will also try busting myths about the deaf and other disabilities because trust me, personal experience has taught me lots about the blind and disabled. When it comes time to go dress shopping, I may have to depend on a second female or two to get my dress size right, but I’m not kidding, I’m still a person and I will continue to be so.