One area that needs a little help is equality for blind people. Yes, there are many laws and rules in place to curb that inequality and they definitely have; however, like most things, it isn't that simple. Everyone makes judgements and acts on them in either big or small ways. Especially when we judge topics that we have limited information on.
Most blind people CAN see
There is so much gray area when it comes to being 'blind', but here's the deal; if your vision is worse than 20/200 (corrected), you are considered legally blind. Now this does not mean all a person will see is black, it means that things are blurry or there are spots in their vision. It means that what the average person can see from 200 feet away, a legally blind person may see from 20 feet or closer.
it is very rare that a person will have no vision at all. This includes shadow and light perception. At times, you might not even know you are talking or working with a blind person, it isn't written on our foreheads.
Being able to see does not however, mean that it is always easy. For example, I might be able to read braille and print, but sometimes my eyes get tired and braille is more convenient.
Note that the picture above was drawn by a blind friend of mine
Blind people CAN work
A problem I have with our society is that there is an assumption that people that don't seem perfectly normal are therefore unable to function in society. This means they can't get or keep jobs and don't even think about trying to get a promotion! That is the thoughts of a lot of people. They aren’t necessarily trying to be mean, they just don’t understand that even though blind people can’t see as well as them, they can be very good at what they set their minds to.
Because I have become involved in events within the blind community, I have gotten to really experienced this. I have met blind lawyers and business owners. Once I got to hear a man who hunts with a high powered scope for his gun. Before I really met any other blind people, a part of me was scared because I believed that blind people maybe weren’t as capable. Luckily, I was proven wrong.
Let that be a lesson; before you assume, get to know what you’re making assumptions about.
We can travel on our own
So many people get very startled when they see a blind person with a cane or guide dog walking down the street on their own. They think that they are going to hurt themselves or get lost. And the braver people will go to them and grab them as though the the person doesn’t know what is going on. Honestly, it’s much scarier to have someone touch you out of nowhere than to walk down a street.
A word of advice is that if they are walking and not asking for help, they either don’t want it or know where they’re going. There is also the possibility that they don’t feel comfortable asking. Like with anyone else, respect that and see what happens.
Also, like with anything, blind people might make mistakes while traveling, don’t let that make you weary of them or think less of them.
Blind people CAN bake/cook
Like with most things, everyone has their own methods for baking and cooking. For blind people this is no different, their methods just might include braille on the measuring cups or a talking thermometer. So why is everyone so afraid when a blind person so much as boils water on the stove?
The answer is easy. People are afraid of two things:
A) The blind person will severely injure themselves because they can’t see the oven they turned on is now hot. Or that they just chopped off their finger with the knife that they surely don’t know how to use.
B) They will burn the kitchen down.
Let me tell you this; if that blind person has had proper instruction in the kitchen, they will most likely to be okay. And if they make a mistake, explain it and help them fix it.
Here’s another plus, more people in the kitchen, more possibility for good food!
Blind people CAN speak for themselves
As children, we need our parents to advocate for us. As teenagers and adults, we learn to do it for ourselves. No matter who you are; sighted, blind, autistic, deaf, wheelchair bound, a lot of people can learn basic advocacy skills. This means that when you are speaking to a blind person, speak to THEM. Don't look for someone to speak on their behalf. Don't think they can't understand you either, because chances are, they can.
Being treated like a piece of property or someone’s pet is not a great thing. When we treat someone like they are capable, they are more likely to want to be and we might be surprised to find that they already ate.
Blind people can play sports
Playing a sport is hard mentally and physically. It requires patience, time, effort, and so much more. As a blind athlete myself, I can tell you that being blind makes none of that any different. Whether we're playing on a team of other blind athletes or we are the single blind person on a team, these things are true. In my experience, it is even more so for us.
Think about being constantly second guessed when you already second guess yourself. Or all those times it took longer for you to grasp a move or action because you had a hard time seeing it. Imagine knowing that your presence on the team could make or break the chances of future blind athletes that might want to be on that team. All of these things are constant so having people be surprised or even question how a blind person can do Isn't what we want or need to hear.
Asking questions and being curious is a great thing. If you want to know something don't be afraid to say. And when you get your answers, think about them and try to look at it from a different perspective.
Blind people will do some things differently, but is being different a bad thing?
Blind people CAN have a sense of fashion
Molly Burke: blind YouTuber and fashion Ivón
Let me just say that there are some blind fashion icons! People who dress with a purpose and every outfit makes a statement. They may not be able to see clearly, but they know the look they’re going for.
Some people wonder why they care if they can’t see. Why does it matter? The answer is simple: fashion is not only about the color of your shirt or how edgy your shoes are. It’s about how one feels in the outfit—the style—that they have created. Clothing is an outward expression of who we are and blind people are no exception.
Blind people CAN do more than music
Because music is so auditory, everyone thinks that blind people are good at it. For some, that is true. For others, not so much. What I am saying is that blind people are not always musicians.
Like you, blind people can be whatever they want to be. (Unless they want to be a bus driver because in that case, it's a little dangerous and maybe illegal) .
There are blind artists who paint and sculpt. Art is subjective so there are no rules about what is and is not art. There are blind people in theatre. The theatre where you see what they want you to see.
No matter who you are, it’s okay to explore. Try new things and find what you like and what you are passionate about.
Blind people CAN have families
something that many struggle with—blind or not—is the idea of family. It’s kind of scary. How are you getting to places? Do you have a stable job? Can you support another person?
people asked me this a lot when I was younger; was I scared of having my own family because I am blind? I thought about it for a long time and came to the idea that yes I am scared, but not because I am blind. Obviously, blind people can have their own families, that’s not really the issue. The issues is that we are afraid that we won’t be good enough. But isn’t that what what most people are afraid of?
I think the real trick is finding someone who helps ease that fear. Someone you trust to help and support you along the way.
Blind people CAN be happy being blind
I cannot speak for every blind person, but I know I speak for most when I say that you guys have to stop saying you're sorry that we are blind. We understand that you feel bad that this happened but think about it this way; at least we aren't dead. Being blind is not easy and never convenient. However, it is a part of who we are. Like our height or the color of our skin, it makes us different from one another. As with those other things, being blind is not something to be looked on with sadness of shame.
Blindness is something to adapt to. Because of it, I have met people and helped people, and impacted people in ways that I would never have been able to if I had been born sighted. And like I've said many times before, blind people can do a lot, we just might do it a little differently.
Blind people won’t stop
This world was not made for the blind. However, that does not mean we won’t make it ours. There are so many organizations that are dedicated to fighting for the rights of blind people. So many people who want to see the community thrive.
When you see someone on the street that is different than you, it’s okay to wonder about them. It’s okay to ask appropriate questions to someone wiling to answer. Just remember that different does not mean bad or incompetent.