[nabs-l] Ignorance vs. Prejudice

Sarah Alawami marrie12 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 16 20:00:12 UTC 2009

I'm going ot be in a parade  float this year actually aned then I'll
hopefully be dancing if I get my ruteen down. I love to vollenteer like that
as it helps all realise that I can do more then computer related stuff.

-----Original Message-----
From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of Monika Reinholz
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:27 PM
To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Ignorance vs. Prejudice

Arielle and all,

As for me, I was raised not to be prejudiced in my family. It (being
prejudiced) only ends up making things worse in my opinion. As Melissa and
Marty could tell you, I had a ton of questions about blindness and what its
like to be blind. I must admit, many of the answers did amaze me...like how
a blind person can play certain sports, for one...but I took it in stride.
Who best to ask about that type of stuff than the person who does it. I
remember my first time they took me to play goalball. Having no clue what
that was, I asked the basic questions and it sounded fun. I went and watched
them play so I could get a better understanding of how its played, and after
the first period, I wanted to get in there and play myself. 

It may well possibly be a personality and experience thing. I've always been
and always will be a very accepting type of person. I believe in the "what
comes around, goes around" theory. I've also had many exerpiences with the
disabled community before I started working with Melissa and Marty, from
working at Goodwill and volunteering with Martin Luther Homes as a summer
day camp counselor.


I just wish there more of us (non-prejudiced people) in the world. You do
make some great points as well. Even though education is a good way to go
about it with many, it doesn't always work. Most of the time, and this is
unfortunate, you have to actually do something to show others that "hey, I
may be blind or disabled, but I can do this myself".


Now, this is just an idea, but maybe it can start something wonderful... why
not do more active community stuff. Look into getting a booth space at
community events, or just be out there in force when large community
happenings are going on. The summer is full of community things, and with
Independance day coming up many areas will have some sort of fireworks
display the community goes to see. Yes, even though many will be at the
National Convention during that weekend, there are probably many who will
not be for some reason or another. There is also Labor Day to look into as


Well, I'll stop there for now. I do hope we can start something awesome with
the ideas we can generate amongst us.


> Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 15:01:03 +1000
> From: arielle71 at gmail.com
> To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
> Subject: [nabs-l] Ignorance vs. Prejudice
> Hi all,
> Recently we've been talking about airline discrimination, which has 
> historically served as a good representation of the kind of 
> second-class treatment that we often get in everyday interactions with 
> members of the public. I think Jedi made some good points in 
> describing the tendency of some sighted people to judge us as 
> incompetent based on the role of sight in their own lives and their 
> assumption that losing their sight would leave them incapacitated. It 
> is true that we are a tiny minority (even within the disabled
> community) and that a lot of sighted people simply don't know how we 
> perform everyday tasks. In some cases this ignorance leads to 
> discriminatory treatment ("The blind person can't sit in the exit
> row") or stereotypes ("Blind people are slow").
> What I've always found fascinating, though, is that lack of 
> knowledge-ignorance-doesn't always translate into discrimination. In 
> fact many sighted people are simply curious, and if we tell or show 
> them how we use the computer, read or travel, they quickly accept our 
> alternative techniques and treat us just the same as everyone else.
> But this doesn't happen all the time. And then, on the flip side, 
> there are those who know all the facts about blindness and still 
> "don't get it". This includes, for instance, the mobility instructor 
> who's taught O&M for thirty years but who still insists that you 
> should walk three blocks out of your way rather than cross a busy 
> intersection. Many of us find that our own parents make more of a big 
> deal out of our blindness than do people we've just met, even if our 
> parents have met competent blind people or been to blindness 
> workshops, know Braille, etc. So there definitely is a difference 
> between ignorance and prejudice. The combination of both is bad, but 
> you can easily have one without the other. And it's prejudice, not 
> ignorance, that actually causes us trouble.
> Unfortunately, while we can easily remedy ignorance with simple 
> education, alleviating prejudice isn't that simple. It seems like much 
> of the persistence of people's prejudices comes from their emotional 
> or "gut" reactions to blindness. The experienced teacher of blind 
> students may know all the facts about Braille, including the fact that 
> children who learn Braille while young can read just as fast as 
> sighted children. And yet, on some gut level the teacher feels an 
> aversion to Braille, seeing it as a stigma or a symbol of weakness. So 
> no matter how well this teacher is trained, if she gets a kid in her 
> caseload who has partial sight, it's going to be a struggle for the 
> teacher to actively teach the child Braille. The parent who finds his 
> child's blindness frightening, likewise, is going to have a hard time 
> letting the child play outside or do chores, no matter how much he 
> reads about what is best for blind children, unless he figures out how 
> to let go of his fear. I think so much of the success of our training 
> centers comes from their ability to not only teach us practical 
> skills, but also help us overcome our own fears and negative feelings 
> about blindness.
> And yet, as Monica has demonstrated, there are those sighted people 
> who display a lack of prejudice and who automatically include us and 
> treat us normally without any prior knowledge about blindness or 
> education on our parts. We all know sighted people like this, even 
> though we often tend to spend most of our mental energy grumbling 
> about the sighted people who treat us strangely. My boyfriend never 
> met a single blind person before me, and yet in some ways seems to 
> instinctively "get it" more than my mother, for example, who besides 
> raising me for twenty-four years, also read many of the leading books 
> about raising a blind child. (Never mind that many of the messages 
> espoused in those books are rooted in prejudices of their own).
> So what do you guys think makes the difference between those members 
> of the sighted public who show prejudice and those who don't? Is it 
> something about their personalities or experiences? And if simple 
> educating isn't enough to address people's deep-seated emotional 
> reactions, what can we do about it? Do we have any control over 
> whether the sighted guy on the street grabs us or treats us with 
> respect? It's easy enough for us to tell who will be responsive to 
> education about blindness and who won't. But for those who aren't 
> responsive, how do we deal with them civilly while still protecting 
> our rights and our freedom? And how do we deal with educators like O&M 
> instructors, who have power over what we learn or what accommodations 
> we get but whose judgments are affected by their misconceptions about 
> blindness?
> I look forward to a lively discussion on this topic, as it's central 
> to how we act as an organization and how we can really change what it 
> means to be blind for ourselves and for others.
> Arielle
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