I recently watched a video on young caregivers in the UK. It struck me as odd that a blind couple opted to have the older two girls look after the younger siblings. The big problem with this video is that the UK producers tried to be objective, but many American listeners and viewers of this video thought this video was disgusting because the couple was not practicing independence skills as they should be trained in said skills.
The big problem with these American viewers is that they’re basing their disgust on their own experiences, call it Americacentric thinking if you wish.
One particular viewer tried to convince me that kids washing dishes at eight was not age appropriate. However, this person being that she’s Americacentric in her thinking and all too modern as well did not read carefully that my dad, a sighted man, washed dishes and helped clean the kitchen, and was the youngest of four children. Unfortunately, the Americacentric viewers of this UK documentary are not helping the cause of blind people being independent over there by telling themselves that Paul and Amanda, the blind couple, should lose their children just because of the fact that the older kids look after the younger ones. Unfortunately, there are problems with the country’s deep roots that must be addressed before Americans can voice their objections with this video.
First, as my buddy Aaron Danvers-Jukes points out to me in previous conversations with me on TeamTalk and other forms of communication, the UK sees the NFB and United States based blind organizations as “radical.” This hurts Paul and Amanda’s chances of getting access to proper independence training like at Colorado Center for the Blind. Paul and Amanda have a large family, and their way of dealing with it may not be the best way, however with no access to independence skills or training, this couple likely will fail in their effort to raise all their children. The UK sees centers for the blind and independence as radical because of a crown centered mentality. They see independence as more a luxury good as well, I mean, if Kate Middleton was blind, she could have handmaids do her hair etc., as befits a royal. Sadly, the United Kingdom has a long way to go with regards to the way this young carer video was viewed by other world viewers.
First, I would recommend Paul and Amanda try a trip to the United States. They should visit Brent and Ina Batron, a couple with five kids and a close knit family that doesn’t rely too heavily on their kids to raise themselves. Brent and Ina are a couple that rely on their nonvisual training skills, and Paul and Amanda could benefit from seeing the Batrons in action. CCB teaches thousands of blind people to become independent, but so does other places like the Hatlin cCenter in California, where others have gone and learned how to be independent. Hatlin tailors its independence skills training to meet the needs of the individual, not a philosophic organization’s need to promote an image or two. Brent and Ina both met and married at CCB, and five children later, they are devoted parents who care for their kids, but if they lived in England, there might be a problem with the UK social services recommending carers, or caregivers, for the couple and seeing their skills as radical. While the American way of life is based on independence and every man for himself, the Batrons would have to adjust to a different measuring system, mainly SI measurements in the UK, but they’d also have to adjust and educate others about the radical views of the UK thinking squad. The UK does not have a federation, only the RNIB. ANd they don’t do much, says Danvers-Jukes. I’ve heard good and bad about things in the UK, and since independence is a luxury, people like Samantha, another friend of mine and Trenton’s, may find it hard to get a job in her desired field. Samantha is a college student, but she’s on top of her game, which seen as radical by others, this being on top could lead her to some trouble. The United Kingdom has a lot to change with regards to blind citizens over there.
First, why not set up independence training and parenting centers over there? Learn to parent and be independent, we might say, but how is the question. Paul and Amanda would be able to be parents if they only knew how to change diapers, hold the baby properly, and do the things that the Batrons are able to do seemlessly. Parenting is hard, but to burden older siblings with the care of younger ones is not beneficial worth to the parents. Paul and Amanda might need a tech evaluation, so why not the UK set up independence classes in the local area? Ben Breen benefits from having a specialist teach him ways to navigate the vast cities in the Kingdom,, but what about cooking? What Breen might need is something akin to, sadly, the CCB or Hatlin centers. Both places can work with people who have other disabilities as well, but people who are only blind have it bad over in the UK because not only of the Braille illiteracy rate there, but not enough education is being done to give citizens who are blind and physically handicapped independence and dignity. Radical or not, these centers can provide folks like Ben Breen, Aaron Danvers-Jukes, and Samantha Ashe a sense of dignity and understanding about nonvisual techniques for cooking, cleaning, and caring for homes, kids, and pets. Aaron might not, if such a practice came into effect, find it that hard to tell his wife if she is blind to prepare a teakettle. Aaron could do it too, even make coffee for his hypothetically tired wife. No carer included. Samantha could find employment through a local agency if such a thing existed and she could become a neuropsychologist that she wants to be, and when she gets home from a long day’s work, she could feed her pets, feed her kids, whatever she feels like doing, and knowing she can do such things would make her even more confident in daily living skills. While discrimination in the UK is existing still, it can be reversed in decades if what they see as radical can be transformed into what we see as essential to the British family’s dignity.