[Nfbc-info] This American Life and positive images of blindness in the media

Brian Buhrow buhrow at nfbcal.org
Sun May 13 23:11:46 UTC 2012

	Hello.  Last Thursday, my partner and I went to see the 2012 edition
of This American Life in theaters, to be rebroadcast on Tuesday May 15,
2012 in a theater near you.  The show begins with a story from Ryan
Knighton, a blind Canadian	 author, relating how he got lost in his hotel
room and was unable to find the telephone and so was unable to call his
wife.  After this 10 minute introduction, the show begins and Knighton
appears live in the New York theater, where he relates another story about
how he became afraid that he and his daughter were going to be eaten by a
bear only to discover that his daughter was upset because she dropped her teddy
	I am concerned that this portrayal of blind folks in the media grossly
misrepresents our capabilities and reinforces stereotypical images about
how well we are able to travel in the world, and, more importantly, care
for and raise our children safely and responsibly.
	I am thinking of writing a letter to the folks at This American Life,
but before I do, I'd like other NFB members  to see this show and provide
feedback as to whether you think I'm off the mark by feeling concerned by
this piece of popular media.  As an organization of the Blind, I feel it is
important for us to be fair, balanced and reasonable in our descriptions of
issues we have with images of blind people in the Media.  In other words, I
do not want to come off as a person who has no tolerance for views of other
blind folks that doesn't match my own, and I want to try and explain, in a
reasonable manner, why it is that these descriptions of blindness in daily
life are harmful and detramental to the success of blind folks around the
nation.  I encourage you to go see the show on Tuesday the 15th of May and
let me know if you agree that these portrayals of blindness are of concern.
The experiences Ryan relates about his life may be entirely reasonable for
him, but I think it is important for the folks at This American Life to
understand that these experiences are not representative  of blind people
everywhere.  I do not have children of my own, but I know many blind people
who do, and they have raised them safely with dignity and success.
Yes, humorous things happen to blind people and humorous things happen to
people with children, but in my view, the stories he relates, and the
manner in which he relates them do not express the idea that blind people
can, and do, successfully raise children on their own every day.
	If you see this show, and disagree with my concerns, please let me
know so I may understand how it is that I have totally misunderstood the
messages these segments convey.  Feel free to write me and let me know your


Brian Buhrow

P.s.  Below is a link to the web site where you can find out where the
nearest theater is and see the show.
Also I've put a link to the event site.


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