Myths about Blindness
Being blind, we sometimes have to answer questions from sighted people who are genuinely curious about how we live. While it’s true that many sighted people understand that the only thing different about the blind is that they can’t see, others are so out of tune with our world that they take their curiosity outside the box.
I have a blind friend who is a father of three children, has a degree in engineering, is quite intelligent, and tries his best to support his family like anyone else would. He does his own grocery shopping, which, in all honesty, is quite common for a blind person, as long as he receives reasonable assistance.
A sighted person found out that my friend did his own grocery shopping, and asked him if there were grocery stores for the blind. I think that most of us know that there aren’t any, but someone asked the question. The irony here is that although we know that there aren’t any grocery stores for only blind shoppers, the person who asked was very sincere. Let’s use common sense. If there was such a thing as a grocery store for the blind, how long do you suppose it would be in business? There aren’t enough blind people to keep a store like that going.
Another inquisitive sighted person wanted to know if the grocery stores put Braille on their meats so that a blind shopper would know what he’s buying. Again, if we all were to simply stop and think, and realize that no one has ever seen such a practice at any grocery store, then a blind person wouldn’t have to be subjected to these questions. Are these questions being asked just to make conversation, or is the person asking these questions so oblivious to the real world that she actually believes what she’s asking?
One day a blind person was asked how he knew where to aim when going to the bathroom. A Boston cab driver once asked a blind female passenger if she needed to be fixed in order not to have any children. In that case, it wasn’t just that the question was so ridiculous, but it was none of the cab driver’s business. Then again, would he have asked a sighted female passenger that question?
Another common belief in society is that the other senses of blind people are sharper than those of the sighted. In other words, the blind are supposed to hear things better, smell things better, etc. The fact is the other senses of a blind individual are not better at all. The blind simply train themselves to use these senses more, and that’s all. My hearing is probably just as good as the average sighted person’s hearing, but I rely on it more because I have to.
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind