[nfbwatlk] Fw: For InkSpeak Reunion Issue: "Stranger in a FamiliarLand?"

Mary Ellen gabias at telus.net
Mon May 24 21:14:59 CDT 2010

Very interesting article and a good poster concept.
Sighted people want to know what it's like to be blind, so they simulate
with blindfolds. For reasons that are very well known to all of us,
blindfolding the sighted just reinforces negative stereotyped thinking.
Still, it would be nice if we could find a way to simulate the real barriers
we often face.
It would be almost impossible to do it, but it would be great to construct a
situation in which the sighted person continued to be fully sighted ()rather
than becoming suddenly incompetent when blindfolded.) Rules would go
something like this. 
Assuming we're dealing with a literate simulated blind person, the
individual would be allowed to write notes to him/herself, read books that
were already on hand, use computers so long as there were no web sites with
captchas. However, whenever the person attended a meeting, he/she would be
given blank paper while everyone else got the handouts for the meeting. The
white board or Power Point screen would be placed out of the individuals
line of sight. The person conducting the meeting would proceed merrily along
discussing the Power Point and writing on the white board with no verbal
explanation, except when reminded. Even after being reminded, the presenter
would forget several times and need to be reminded over and over. 
We would have to replace store clerks with people in the know about the plan
in order to get them to talk loudly, explain things in a very elementary and
condescending way.
When traveling, the person doing the simulation would not be allowed to read
signs but would need to ask. Going to a restaurant would mean asking the
wait staff to read the menu and sometimes the staff would say there was just
too much to read and not enough time to read it.
At a cocktail party or reception, the simulated blind person would
immediately be ushered to a seat, brought food, and be encouraged to stay
put, whether or not there was anyone to talk with at the table.
You can see how it would go. Naturally, the circumstances would be set up in
order to include almost every situation in which we're placed at an
artificial disadvantage due to environmental structures or poor attitudes.
My guess is that most people would be furious and openly grumpy after an
hour or so.
Your poster made me think of that idle daydream. Although my life on a
routine basis is not full of such treatment, all those situations occur
often enough to be reasonable components of a simulation. The difference
between my daydream scenario and the typical blindfolding saga is that the
person doing the learning in my plan would feel perfectly competent
throughout but would be faced with assaults to his/her intelligence and
capability. That's the part of being blind that most simulations completely
ignore. They leave the person feeling that blindness really does change
one's level of competence and that, though some of the things that happen to
us are unfortunate, they're just misguided responses to genuine
Odd ramblings, but your poster came as close as anything I've ever found to
creating that consciousness.

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Jedi
Sent: May 24, 2010 5:14 PM
To: nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] Fw: For InkSpeak Reunion Issue: "Stranger in a

I participated at a reunion for Fairhaven College about a week ago. I 
contributed a poster encapsulating my studies at Fairhaven. While 
there, I met a gentleman who used to write for our school zine called 
Ink Speak (then called Tuna Gas after the stench of Georgia Pacific 
during his time as a school journalist). Rick wrote this piece for the 
reunion issue of Ink Speak. I understand that it is to be one of few 
recollections from that weekend written by him. I thought you might be 
interested to read it.


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