[nabs-l] My Blindness Philosophy is Better than Yours

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 13:00:07 UTC 2016

Hi Joe and all,
This is a great topic, and one that I have some strong feelings about.
Generally, as a blind person, I use accommodations that are related to
my blindness. I turn down accommodations that are meant for people
with other disabilities. These include cuts in lines, priority
seating, ramps and accessible restroom stalls. Although cuts in lines
and priority seating are offered to me as a blind person, my blindness
doesn't create a need for those accommodations. I recognize that there
are individuals with other disabilities who actually benefit from, and
sometimes require, such accommodations. The only reason I am offered
such accommodations is because of stereotypes linking blindness with
physical weakness. So, I turn these accommodations down. I do it
quietly, don't make a scene, but I do turn them down. I know people
with these other disabilities who say they are glad that I turn such
accommodations down so that they can use them. Of course, if I have a
temporary issue that limits my ability to stand or walk, such as when
I had a bad allergic blister on my foot a few years ago, then I will
accept such accommodations. I also recognize that for some blind
individuals other than me, such as those who use guide dogs,
accommodations like priority seating or a larger bathroom stall might
be useful.
The other piece of this, for me, involves following social rules of
fairness. I believe in taking my proper turn in line. If something is
first-come, first-served, and I get there first, I'll take it. If I
get to the gate first, of course I'll board first. But if I get to the
gate in the middle, I will board in the middle, and not cut to the
front even if permitted to do so. For me this is a simple matter of
politeness. It is also a matter of integrity. If I am going to say
that I am equal to sighted people, then I need to behave that way.
Again, I do it quietly. For me, it's not a matter of proving a point
or convincing others of anything. It's a matter of living up to my
personal values and allowing everyone around me to have fair access to
resources. I am very fortunate to have a sighted spouse who gets this,
and defends me when I turn down unneeded cutsin lines and other
special treatment.
This is just my opinion and I welcome other views on this.
Best, Arielle

On 6/13/16, Joshua Hendrickson via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> I agree.  I'd say if you were able to board a bus before others would
> be a good thing whether you were blind or not.  I certainly would have
> gotten on the bus first.  When I used to take the Van Gelder bus from
> Rockford to Chicago, the driver would help me find a seat on the bus.
> I never thought anything about it.  It was just nice to get my seat,
> turn on my NLS player and listen to a book while the bus was on its
> way to Chicago.
> On 6/13/16, Joe Orozco via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Should a blind person use their disability to take advantage of social
>> perks?
>> I briefly touched on the following story elsewhere in these pages. It
>> has bearing on the current point though, so hang in there for a
>> moment.
>> Back in college I was once traveling with a fellow blind friend on
>> Greyhound. We happened to arrive at the gate before anyone else, but
>> because my traveling companion was, probably still is, an ultra
>> independent blind person, they refused to board the bus first. The bus
>> driver was confused. Why would this person want to let other
>> passengers skip ahead when we'd beaten everyone else to the gate? The
>> bus driver couldn't understand my companion was refusing to get on the
>> bus ahead of everyone else on principle. Allowing persons with
>> disabilities to skip ahead in line is just something society expects,
>> and my companion, following their own philosophy of independence, was
>> not going to feed into that presumptive notion.
>> I have always wondered about the rationale to this way of thinking.
>> What is it about using certain social perks directly linked to
>> disabilities that inspire such delicate feelings of inferiority?
>> Perhaps we are afraid to look inept by jumping to the front of a line.
>> That speaks to perception, and just as laws do not change minds
>> overnight, your position in line is not likely to automatically make
>> someone think you are any more or less capable by standing ahead or
>> behind. Do we really believe standing in the middle of the crowd will
>> somehow make us more a part of the people? Will that translate to
>> making us more approachable? More datable? More employable? Your
>> subsequent words and actions after getting in line are more likely to
>> have an influence over someone's opinion of you as a blind individual.
>> Making a scene to be treated as an equal does not create equality. It
>> creates a spectacle.
>> Read the rest of the article at:
>> http://joeorozco.com/blog_my_blindness_philosophy_is_better_than_yours
>> Joe
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