[nabs-l] Grabbing and streetcrossing help

Jedi loneblindjedi at samobile.net
Fri Nov 11 01:04:50 UTC 2011


Mark,

What you've described here is what Dr. Jernigan called "independence." 
So he would probably say that all of your various techniques are forms 
of independent travel regardless of whatever assistance you use. What 
makes all of your forms of travel independent is that you choose how 
you will travel based on the situation; you also have all the tools at 
your disposal to travel using any of these means and you are confident 
in your ability to use all of these means. Most blind people who take a 
human guide everywhere, particularly a sighted human guide, don't have 
this kind of flexibility for a variety of reasons including lack of 
training, an unhelpful attitude about blindness, or because they're 
effectively being forced to. These people genuinely are dependent 
because they have no other options.

Respectfully,
Jedi

Original message:
> Jedi wrote,
>> we can't claim that we want to be independent travellers and ask for a 
>> sighted guide everywhere we go.

> I take this to mean that, if you are unable to travel anywhere without 
> sighted guide, you cannot call yourself an independent traveller.  This 
> seems right and uncontroversial.  But I think others, and I'm not 
> referring to the statement above, have made statements, which I'm too 
> lazy right now to find and cite directly, that suggest it is better, in 
> general, not to go sighted guide even when it is available.  There are 
> times when it's appropriate no doubt, but as a rule, independence 
> requires foregoing sighted guide even when you are walking with a 
> sighted person.  Perhaps there are more nuanced positions, and I'd be 
> interested in hearing those, but this is a sentiment I believe I've 
> picked up on.

> The thing that puzzles me is that it seems to be acceptable to "depend" 
> on the person with whom you are walking in certain ways (for example, 
> it's okay to listen to footsteps, or the persons voice, or follow 
> directions like left or right), but it's not acceptable to "depend" on 
> the person if it involves putting two fingers on the back of someone's 
> elbow.  Why is one form of dependence acceptable while the other is not?

> Now, this could be a difference in the definition of sighted guide.  
> When I go sighted guide, I continue to rely on my cane to find curbs, 
> stairs, poles, etc.  I've always thought it strange to put the cane 
> away during sighted guide, not because I care about dependence or 
> independence, but because I would feel unsafe.  I suppose if you put 
> away the cane and relied exclusively on the sighted person, this would 
> constitute a difference between sighted guide and listening to 
> footsteps, but as I said, this isn't my version of sighted guide.  For 
> me, a light touch on the elbow is just a more convenient way of 
> tracking the person with whom I'm talking than is listening to 
> footsteps or voice.  I do the same thing with my girlfriend who is also blind.

> I go sighted guide nearly all of the time when I'm walking and talking 
> with another person even if that person is not sighted.  Obviously, if 
> I'm travelling alone, there is no sighted guide, and I'm perfectly 
> comfortable with that.  I don't think this is a matter of dependence or 
> independence since, whether I depend on footsteps/voice/directions or a 
> light touch on the elbow, I'm equally dependent.  To me, this is a 
> matter of convenience.  I could go from my apartment to my office, 
> which involves a bus ride, an LRT ride, and a walk across campus, 
> without my cane.  I've walked it enough times that I'm sure I could do 
> it, but it would be far less convenient to do it this way.  Yet no one 
> would suggest that I'm dependent on my cane, or at least no one would 
> suggest that I ought to try to be less dependent on my cane.  
> Similarly, when I'm having a conversation or receiving assistance from 
> another person, I could listen to footsteps/voice/directions, but I 
> find this far less conve
>  nient than lightly touching an elbow.

> I recognize that some people may see this and believe that I could not 
> do it on my own, but they would be mistaken.  I also know that those 
> same people might assume that all blind people are like me and would 
> not be able to do it on their own either and that these beliefs might 
> affect, probably negatively, their interactions with other blind 
> people.  Again, however, this would be their mistake, their prejudice, 
> and their discrimination.  And while I regret that situation, I won't 
> let people's ignorance and stupidity dictate my behaviour.

> Cheers,

> Marc
> On 2011-11-10, at 12:44 PM, Jedi wrote:

>> Bridgit,

>> I'm with you entirely on the idea that a person, of any sort, walking 
>> alone should indicate that help is not needed. But I think those 
>> blindness attitudes tend to erode good sense. And I'm with you that our 
>> actions mean a lot; we can't claim that we want to be independent 
>> travelers and ask for a sighted guide everywhere we go. I'm sorry to 
>> say that this is one of the few situations in which we can't have our 
>> cake and eat it, too.

>> Respectfully,
>> Jedi

>> Original message:
>>> I can kind of understand how those with little to no exposure to
>>> blindness may be concerned and curious as to how we do something like
>>> cross a street, but, and this may be my naivety talking, when a person
>>> sees a grown person walking about on their own, does common sense not
>>> dictate that perhaps, while not fully understanding it, that person is
>>> probably okay? Maybe they can ask if we need anything, but it's a little
>>> difficult for me to understand how we can obviously be doing things with
>>> no help, but when a sighted person is around we suddenly need their
>>> help? I guess I'm still acclimating to stuff like this.

>>> In crowded situations, I'll take sighted guide sometimes, more so, so I
>>> don't lose whoever I'm with, but I think it helps when we do as much as
>>> possible independently. I also suffer episodes of extremely low blood
>>> pressure which makes me dizzy, weak and can affect my balance. On days
>>> like these, depending on what I need to do, I may take more assistance
>>> than on good days, but I try to be as independent as possible even on
>>> these days, but this also is just because of my personality as much as
>>> it is related to blindness! Smile. While going to school, classmates
>>> became accustomed to me doing things and getting around without help,
>>> and I led the way when it came to when and if I needed assistance. When
>>> classmates would see me around campus, they eventually stopped asking if
>>> I needed help and would just approach me like they would anyone else.
>>> They let me do the asking, and instead, we were able to cultivate
>>> relationships.

>>> The positive energy and confidence we put off helps as much as our
>>> actions. If we present ourselves in as confident of a manner as possible
>>> in any given situation, people will pick up on this and respect us as
>>> people. The more we work on our confidence, the more people will take
>>> note, and more importantly, the better off we feel about our
>>> independence and capabilities.

>>> Sincerely,
>>> Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
>>> Read my blog at:
>>> http://blogs.livewellnebraska.com/author/bpollpeter/

>>> "History is not what happened; history is what was written down."
>>> The Expected One- Kathleen McGowan

>>> Message: 21
>>> Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2011 23:10:14 -0500
>>> From: Patrick Molloy <ptrck.molloy at gmail.com>
>>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
>>>        <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
>>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Grabbing etc.
>>> Message-ID:

>>> <CAN+-G_CeC3zdSdX+TEE1od6936YObAZRvSXG9KXQg2eKU2Ba+g at mail.gmail.com>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

>>> I find it quite ironic that, in trying to help us, sighted people
>>> often cause more of a problem with regard to street crossing. Again,
>>> they really do mean well, but their method of help still leaves a lot
>>> to be desired (if desired at all.)
>>> Patrick


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