Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Things Americans Should Know About Blindness

by Donna W. Hill

2009 is the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, the blind Frenchman who invented the raised-dot reading system bearing his name. Blindness has changed since Braille’s day.   Thanks to his work, the American dream and modern technology, blindness doesn’t have to be a disabling condition.  

But America doesn’t believe that, and that lack of belief is more problematic to both blind and sighted people than the lack of vision.   Yes, there’s Stevy Wonder, New York’s Governor David Paterson, and Scott MacIntyre (last year’s blind American Idol contestant), but that’s about it.   Here are three things that Americans should know about blindness that will make us a stronger society.

  1. Blindness is relatively uncommon: This scarcity means that most of us don’t know blind people personally. When we don’t know anyone from a certain group, we are likely to stereotype all members of that group.   Blind people are as different from each other as sighted people are.   Each of us, blind or sighted, is an individual with unique skills and talents, shortcomings and flaws.   We each wish to be accepted as who we really are, not who someone else thinks we probably are.
  2. Blind people aren’t from a separate planet:  We come from the general society, from all races, religions and socioeconomic groups.   In fact, most of us grew up sighted.   Most of us come from families who never had a blind member before.   That means that creating a society which has a positive attitude and a can-do approach to blindness is the best way to prepare the not-yet-blind to have successful, independent and happy lives.
  3. Blindness and visual impairments are increasing: America’s struggle with overeating and inactivity are causing a diabetes epidemic.   The CDC says that diabetic-related blindness among working-age Americans will triple by 2015. If we don’t change our attitudes about the ability of newly blind people to return to productive and independent lives, we will be adding to the taxpayer’s burden through greater disability insurance payments to support otherwise able-bodied people.

American society continues to be structured in ways that do not value blind people.   The average person cannot even name one blind woman other than Helen Keller, who died over fifty years ago. The press does not cover issues affecting blind people like the Braille literacy crisis, massive unemployment and the struggle for accessible information.   The culture does not promote the co mingling of blind and sighted people.   Without pervasive change, when the not-yet-blind, perhaps someone you love, ultimately faces blindness, they will collapse under the weight of their own prejudice.  

Fear of blindness now that technology and the promise of the American dream are catapulting blind people into professions like law, engineering, and chemistry, is unfounded and hurts the entire society.   Be brave; try thinking of us as equals.

Donna W. Hill is an author, singer/songwriter, speaker and avid knitter. A volunteer publicist for the Performing Arts Division, National Federation of the Blind, she works for improved opportunities for blind Americans. http://www. padnfb. org.

A breast cancer survivor, she promotes self-exam. Hear clips from The Last Straw at: http://cdbaby. com/cd/donnahill.

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.