[nobe-l] New THOUGHT PROVOKER #141- A New Era Coming

Robert Newman newmanrl at cox.net
Thu Jan 15 10:28:43 UTC 2009

Educators Members
RE:  A New Era Coming

This is the new THOUGHT PROVOKER and it comes from a Anthropology 101 class
I had back in 1972. Yup, a section of a book, a short lecture that I have
never forgotten. Mankind's response to disability over time, from first
peoples to present. If you have not read the PROVOKER, it follows.  Recall
that I collect responses and post them upon my web site for all the WWW to
read and learn from and that URL is- Http://thoughtprovoker.info
<http://thoughtprovoker.info/>   If you wish to receive THOUGHT PROVOKERS
sent directly to you, just write me and ask, at-  newmanrl at cox.net 

A New Era Coming

Is there a new era coming in how the blind are treated? Blindness has been
part of the human experience since Man was staring across the veldt for his
next meal and studies of our history show that Man's reaction to blindness
and disability in general has changed as we have. It has been determined
that to date there have been four identifiable eras for how the blind have
been treated. They are: 1. Extermination, 2. Persecution, 3.
Institutionalization, and 4. Normalization.

Each era's description below will provide a brief explanation of Mankind's
status in relation to the world in which we lived and what society's general
response was to blindness then. And yes, keep in mind that some aspects of
each of the earlier eras linger into the next era and to the present day.
After considering my explanations, we will see how you view my thought
provoking question, is a new era coming and, if so, what are the specific
indicators and what do you think this new era should be called?

1.	The Era of Extermination. During Man's earliest times when human
societies were just forming, we were still essentially hunters and
gatherers. Life was tough; we lived from hand to mouth, each day required us
to seek out food and shelter. Our resources were meager, all members of the
group had to work together to insure the survival of the clan. When times
got tough, the general rule was that the weak were exterminated to ensure
the survival of the clan. The harsh measures spared no one. A child that was
born blind was placed out on the hillside to die, exposed to the wild
animals and weather. An adult that was injured or became blind through
accident or aging would be expected to go into the wilderness and unburden
the clan from caring for him or her.

	2.	The Era of Persecution. As Mankind became more
sophisticated, we increased the group's resources to handle our basic needs.
we developed agriculture to assure our food supply. We built structures to
live in and gathered in cities for mutual assistance. We invented armies to
protect us, educational systems to train us, medicine to care for our
health. Life was easier and the blind were no longer seen as a threat to
survival of the group, so they were allowed to live. However, because the
blind were seen as weak, not capable of fully participating in the needs of
the community, whether protecting it with arms, farming, or learning a
skilled trade as a craftsman, the general rule for the blind was that you
were allowed to live, but you had no rights. Many of the blind were
outcasts, relegated to a life of begging on the streets, seen as objects of
pity, sometimes made fun of and at times preyed upon. 

	3.	The Era of Institutionalization. Later yet in time, when the
world became more settled, societies more sophisticated, and resources more
abundant, some of the blind were taken in and cared for by charitable
organizations. These earliest facilities were established in the religious
abbeys of the Middle Ages, being called alms houses or asylums for the
blind. It was in these early establishments that the blind were first
provided training in daily living skills and taught crafts, with their
produce sold to pay their keep. Later, actual schools for the blind were
established. It was in these schools that a few training opportunities for
trades were offered as careers- piano tuning, rug weaving, and chair caning
for the men, sewing, rug weaving, and homemaking for women. 

	4.	The Era of Normalization. This is our present time. This era
began and grew as consumer groups made up of the blind put forth their own
agendas for improving all aspects of life for the blind. Most blind school
children attend class right alongside their sighted peers. Most societies
now sponsor rehabilitation services to assist blind persons from birth to
their senior years, including opportunities during their working years to
enter educational training programs for trades, professional careers,
business, or homemaking. Now the blind are employed in a wide variety of job
positions in all classes of employment. Yet, even with our modern
adaptations and techniques to enable blind children and adults to be equally
competitive with sighted members of our society, the blind as a group still
receive uncomfortable acceptance by the sighted public and a high incidence
of discrimination in employment.

	5.	Is there a new era coming?

Robert Leslie Newman 
Email- newmanrl at cox.net

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