Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Thoughts on Low Vision Aids

I am scheduled to begin training students during the summer program at the Colorado Center for the Blind in a month and a half. From previous experience I always find at least two or three (if not more) students who absolutely insist on not useing their sleep shades. I even recall one student indignantly insisting to me that he was not blind. When I asked him exactly what he was doing at a blind summer camp he had no rejoinder.

This attitude reflecting the hierarchy of sight (the idea that a blind person's success and happiness are directly related to how much or little vision they have) seems to me to be most unfortunate as it poorly serves those who proclaim it. I myself used to do so, and I recall nothing but worry that I might loss what "blessed sight" I had left. This made, in my opinion, what was already a stressful and unpleasant situation into a emotionally damaging one. I can see the use of remaining vision, but only after one has come to accept emotionally and mentally the concept of blindness and the fact that it is respectable to be blind. (For excellent reading on this front I recommend Freedom for the Blind by James Omvig.)

I subsequently came across an article on what a low vision person could do in order to ensure his safety. I thought to myself that one could do this or one could simply be cautious and recognize that their vision is going, and act accordingly.

The more I see individuals going to amazing lengths to avoid the dreaded "b word" and having it applied to them, the more I am convinced that a defined positive philosophy on blindness is needed in every school, organization, and service provider who claims to serve the blind. As I visit my old high school as a part of the alum group the philosophy put forward by the school is obvious, and it is neither defined or positive. I hope to have some impact on that.

The National Federation of the Blind

Braille For Everyone

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