[blindkid] can I get the other side?

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Fri Feb 27 04:57:26 UTC 2009


In the intrest of accuracy, I know of no one tried or burned at the 
stake for asserting that the world was round. Learned folks who had 
access to Greek manuscripts during the Middle Ages and beyond knew from 
study of geometry that the world was round; it was only the credulous 
masses that didn't "get it".

However, several people were tried for heresy for asserting that the 
Copernican model of the solar system more easily explained the motions 
of the planets than did the Ptolemaic system. And at least one person --  
Giordano Bruno -- was burned at the stake for asserting among other 
things that the sun was just another star. He had theological 
differences with the RCC also, of course.

Actually, even in the case of Galileo, things are more complex than is 
usually portrayed. Galileo was actually told by some church and academic 
officials that he and Copernicus were correct; that the Earth and other 
planets moved around the sun. But he was enjoined for Heavens sake not 
to publicize this extensively in that it would disturb the quiet masses. 
Of course, he didn't listen and was censured for it. So even the 
asertion that the Copernican universe was denied by the RCC is a bit 
oversimplified. RCC didn't care *what* anyone said as long as it didn't 
percolate down to the common man.

Actually, from a physicists point of view, both the Earth *and* the sun 
revolve around their common center of mass. But that goes well beyond 
the scope of this list.

Just wanted to nit-pick and make sure everyone stated things acurately. 

Your broader comments about blindness and the psychological effects of 
being viewed as "defective" are bang on-target!

Mike Freeman

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carrie Gilmer" <carrie.gilmer at gmail.com>
To: "'NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)'" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 7:56 AM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] can I get the other side?

Very eloquent Leah. Pretty much all of us who have been in this a few 
have had the same struggle, and sometimes it continues. Especially with 
rumors, myths and innuendo that abound about the NFB, NOPBC, and its

It helped me to learn the history of blind people and organizations in 
world. It helped me to learn about and come to understand: the nature of
prejudice, the tenacity of tradition (whether it is based on fact or
fiction-has no bearing on the tenacity or practice of it), and the
resistance in humans to change, the resistance in humans who are 
(the trying to fit in and the denial), what happens to the psyche of 
who are oppressed or marginalized, and the idea of people who have a
difference (especially physical) being "damaged goods" who need fixing.

It helped me to realize that once people believed the world was flat. 
belief was in science and religion, and it was fundamental to people's
understanding of the world and the place of humans and the place of God.
People who dared to wonder about roundness, or question the accuracy of 
flatness, and who went so far as to find out for themselves, and then
discovered the INACCURACIES and then dared to talk about it that 
THEIR LIVES. People were tried, judged and sentenced to death for saying 
earth was ROUND. Today we know it is! People who at that time thought 
world was flat are seen by us today as naïve, and just plain wrong. We 
those who dared to question as BRILLIANT, not heretics.

I believe someday people who are doubters about Braille and 
with blindness as people who just don't believe yet that the earth is 

Carrie Gilmer, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
A Division of the National Federation of the Blind
NFB National Center: 410-659-9314
Home Phone: 763-784-8590
carrie.gilmer at gmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] 
Behalf Of Leah
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 9:01 AM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Cc: leah at somazen.com
Subject: Re: [blindkid] can I get the other side?

Carrie and Bonnie, thank you for replying. That press release is kind
of what I was looking for.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I hear the NFB criticized so
by people in my area. I am always trying to understand what it is like
out there, where the resources are, what is the position of the
different institutions and resources, etc.  There is no local chapter
of NOPBC in our city.

People tell me that folks from the NFB never let their cane out of
their hand and force their kids to be like that. People complain that
the local rehab center will only teach things one way - the "NFB way"
and that they aren't exposing clients to alternatives. I don't know
about the rehab program, but I know that I didn't see any cane
extremists at the state convention we attended. I saw plenty of blind
people walking across the room without their canes if they chose to,
and holding print up by their face to see if if they chose to. I also
saw them organizing an enormous, inspiring and useful event using
whatever means worked, because doing it was important. I have read
Carrie's story about trying to get an older child to try, just try the
cane. I have a lot of objections to force, and I didn't see that story
as "forcing."

On the other hand, we have a TVI who has to look on a chart while she
is teaching my son his Braille letters. She personally doesn't believe
that he needs Braille because he has a lot of vision, but she wants to
support our wishes. She comes out every week and works those Braille
letters with him and maintains an open dialogue as much as possible.
When she taught blind kids for the past several years she never had to
use Braille, and still doesn't have any Braille kids in a new teaching

I just wonder, if my son lives long, or stays in good enough health to
go to school, and if he becomes a skilled enough reader to need the
convenience of Braille, who is going to be there making materials for
him, who is going to be double-checking the Braille quality or helping
him with a formatting issue in a text book? The NFB philosophy seems
pretty straightforward to me, but when I sit in my local environment,
I feel as though I have joined some fringe ultra-conservative religion
just because I think Braille sounds practical. (The good news is, I
can identify about half of my Braille alphabet by feel now!)

Can the challenges of life really polarize people so much? I guess so.
I tend to be naive, and want diplomacy and for sides to work together
for communication and sharing of what does work. I see the anger at
the challenge of blindness, wrongly directed at "the other side."
Isn't the anger really about the frustration of the inconvenience of
blindness, the difficulty interacting with a world that doesn't
understand, and the extra medical problems?

I think I have a lot to learn. I just hope that I will develop a tiny
bit of patience and ability to clearly communicate with others along
the way as I raise my son.

I'm not trying to complain, just put out my thoughts that resulted
from reading about the case. I think, as a parent of a still-young
child, that I still have so much hope when talking to professionals of
all sorts, and that I haven't quite shifted the authority to myself as
parent yet. Sometimes I wish someone else would fix it all, and
sometimes I try to fix it all. I'll bet that maybe the extra energy
for communication and teambuilding might come from letting go of
trying to fix...but that is not really the topic of this list. I'm so
impressed by the maturity and communication ability of people on this

Anyway, thanks again for the comments.

mom to John, 4, who has visual impairment and severe eye movement
limitations, with multiple other issues, and who is super-smart and
learned to talk this winter!

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