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

Karl Martin Adam kmaent1 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 22:41:41 UTC 2016

Hi Joe,

Looking at your full article, you seem to be conflating two 
separate issues.  One is whether we should judge or look down on 
people who are les independent than we are or who do not know how 
to (or find it very difficult to) do certain things 
independently.  I agree with what you have to say about this.  
Different people have different levels of training, different 
sets of additional disabilities, different life experiences, and 
different preferences, and it's up to each person to figure out 
what they are comfortable doing on their own and what they need 
help with.  The second issue is whether we should take advantage 
of our blindness to get "perks" that sighted people offer us and 
that we don't really need.  I think this kind of case is 
completely different from one in which a blind person needs help 
or an accommodation to do something.  Cutting in line, taking 
someone else's seat because they feel sorry for us and offer it, 
getting schools to exempt us from general education requirements 
because there's a class we don't want to take and we can spin it 
as being too hard for a blind person, avoiding academic 
requirements like following the appropriate style guide for the 
field one is writing a paper in, getting on the plane before 
everyone else so we have room for our bag in the overhead bin, 
etc. are not accommodations to help us claim our right to be in 
the world.  They are a way of taking advantage of sighted people 
who feel sorry for us and, in many cases, trust us to be honest 
when we say that something is a necessary accommodation.  
Refusing to do this sort of thing has nothing to do with how we 
appear.  It's about integrity.  This being said, of course not 
going first in line when you actually got to the front of the 
line first is silly.  I have no idea why your friend wanted to go 
back in line unless they didn't realize they got there first.


 ----- Original Message -----
From: Joe Orozco via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
Date sent: Mon, 13 Jun 2016 06:13:01 -0400
Subject: [nabs-l] My Blindness Philosophy is Better than Yours

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
Back in college I was once traveling with a fellow blind friend 
Greyhound. We happened to arrive at the gate before anyone else, 
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? 
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 
and my companion, following their own philosophy of independence, 
not going to feed into that presumptive notion.
I have always wondered about the rationale to this way of 
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 
That speaks to perception, and just as laws do not change minds
overnight, your position in line is not likely to automatically 
someone think you are any more or less capable by standing ahead 
behind. Do we really believe standing in the middle of the crowd 
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 
Making a scene to be treated as an equal does not create 
equality. It
creates a spectacle.

Read the rest of the article at:



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