Everyday when we wake up, first thing we see in the morning is daylight, but we don’t appreciated it. There are thousands of people in the world who can’t see it, people “visually impaired” due to several possible factors. Such “disability” may be partial, in the case of ” visually impaired” people, or total, in the case of those people whom we call blind.
In this post I will talk about some of my knowledge and personal experience with blind people in order to share it with those who ignore what lies beneath the surface of this community, things many unknown because they have not had the opportunity to coexist with them.
They may be blind, but they are still people.
Although the obviousness of the previous statement, it seemed important to me to make this clear, given that even in this globalized, supposedly advanced and evolved present we live in, there’s still many people who set them aside. Perhaps this is because they don’t know how to treat them, because they don’t know how to be with them, or maybe they just feel uncomfortable having them close.
There are who even avoid them because they believe that every blind person who approaches them will do this only to ask for some alms-giving. And it’s true that there are those who opted for a life supported on receiving other’s charity, but we shouldn’t generalize, that doesn’t mean every blind person getting close to you on the street is going to ask you for alms-giving. Maybe they just want to know what time it is, or ask you whether they are on X or Y street, because they can’t read neither the watch nor the street’s names because …they can’t see!
There’s no reason for discriminating them.
Any of the previous scenarios occurs very frequently not only with blind people, but with any person that turns out to be different than us. I heard once that this is because we’re afraid to be reminded we could someday go through something similar, so that we choose to step ourselves away from these people who make us feel that uncomfortable. And I believe that makes sense.
We all have the right to decide who we want to spend our time with, which people we should get surrounded with. But no one has the right to mistreat anyone, disrespect them, not even when we may not like the idea of living together with a certain group of people. That’s called discrimination!
Precisely because anyone at any moment could go through a situation like the one blind people is on -living in a world built mainly based on eyesight, a sense they don’t count with -we should be at least a little empathic to their situation. Careful! I’m talking about being empathetic, not of feeling sorry for them. Something many people tend to confuse.
There’s no reason for pity. They’re people. Blind people are capable. Except for their blindness being altogether a clinical picture of one or many sicknesses that may incapacitate them, they can do everything -although they do it in a different way -we, people who can see, do. Sure they can, they got all the other four senses and any other person’s intelligence.
Feeling empathy for their situation means that we should “put on their shoes” long enough to know it is little practical enough in a visual world as it is already, for us to make this even harder for them. There exists something called helping. It’s useful. Especially in ocassions like this one, in which someone who doesn’t count with something we do, in this case sight, can relay on a sample of kindness and civilization as the evolved beings we claim to be. Just by helping them crossing the street, asking them whether they need help if they seem lost,…
We should “put ourselves on their shoes”.
Think about how you would feel if you wanted to cross a street but you couldn’t see. Imagine a moment like that one, in which you are listening to the cars coming, but you don’t see them. You don’t know how close they are or the speed they are moving on. Think of such fear and frustration you would feel on a moment like that. The simple fact of crossing a street. Something a regular person does some times a every day turned into something really dangerous for them.
Pedestrian semaphores, continuing with the example about crossing a street, were invented as response to humans to cross very trafficked streets. Of course at that moment. they were created semaphores which could attend the needs of the most. They were not made for blind people.
Nowadays, there are more technological inventions everytime as a result for so many general needs. Incluidas las necesidades de las personas ciegas. Now, there are pedestrian semaphores with a sound, for example. These help people crossing streets without the need to count with eyesight sense, this is because they emit a sound when it’s pedestrian’s turn to cross the street. This is a great invention. One of many others fortunately and hopefully will come in pro of their needs. But that doesn’t solve efficiently the problems they have to face daily.
It’s not only needed that this kind of technology exists, but also this should be implemented in their daily life so this can come to be really helpful for them. I mean that, I don’t know about the streets in the huge cities in the most developed countries, but at least in the city where I live, there are not more than 10 sonorous semaphores, and I believe I’m exaggerating saying there are those many (empirical data, non proved). It’s needed more than that. And I’m not only talking about semaphores. I’m referring to more people willing to help, to do something, to contribute their bit to improve the quality of “disabled” people’s lives.
Blind people are able to be as much or even more functional than any of us, but it happens that we don’t make that any easier for them. If it is complicated to us living in the world we live, for them it is 10 times more complicated due to the very visual environment we have built to ourselves. So it’s our must to respect and help them.
That was a little of the knowledge and personal experience that I have cone to acquire living together with blind people. I hope I contributed on something to help it’d be looked forward mature deep thinking and real reflection about this current issue we’re living and that way more people can value the great gift we got as being able to help others is, understand a little bit more blind people, and help them.