I’m used to bad portrayals of blindness and blind people—portrayals that fail to recognize the huge extent to which the challenges associated with blindness are created by negative attitudes, misconceptions about blindness, and badly designed products, services, and institutions. What I’m not used to is such a blatantly offensive and exploitative representation of blindness. This is truly one of the worst of recent years.
As some of you will recall, Moyra Lang posted on a federal court decision that required the government to make its websites accessible to blind internet users.
The government has now announced plans to appeal that decision.
High above the downtown clamour, in one of Toronto’s shiny glass towers, modern medicine’s pioneers have put a whole new spin on an old nursery rhyme.
Using stem cells salvaged from the retinas of human cadavers, researchers with the University of Toronto have restored sight to the eyes of, well, three blind mice. The feat, aside from indicating a quirky sense of humour, has been repeated several times over the last year and marks an important step toward the goal of restoring sight in people.
A Federal Court judge has ordered the government to make its websites accessible to visually impaired users after a blind Toronto woman said she was unable to apply for a job online.
One of the most common questions random strangers at bus stops, cab drivers, airport staff, and anyone else in my presence long enough to make the absence of small talk slightly awkward will ask me as a blind person is: “so there’s nothing they can do?” There are some very interesting assumptions built into this question.
This question assumes that, if “they” could do something, then I wouldn’t be blind. It assumes that I want them to do something. It assumes that it is someone else that needs to do something, and because the “they” refers to doctors and/or scientists, the question assumes that the “thing” that needs doing relates to treatment and/or cure.
I’ve been thinking about this more lately because of a couple of emails sent to my inbox in the last two days. The first was forwarded to me by a family member. It was originally sent out by “the Foundation Fighting Blindness”, and the second was a CTV News story sent to a blind-related listserv I subscribe to.
There is a very interesting opinion piece in the NYTimes this morning by a young man named Michael Jernigan, who was blinded in the Iraq war, about his problems fitting in at home as a person with disabilities and PTSD. The online reaction suggests that most people are missing Jernigan’s (interesting coincidence of names, eh?, in light of Kenneth Jernigan’s fame as an activist for blind people) larger claims about how our society is constructed–both socially and physically–not to allow people with disabilities to feel “at home.” Most people seem to be homing in on the PTSD and “how bad war is” angle. I’ve posted a comment to the website highlighting the larger social point.
Here’s the website for the opinion piece:
that is, no doubt, not THE question, but a question, one asked by Seek Geo in the captioned video appearing below the fold that shows its author signing a message that is also captioned. I would be curious to know if anyone with a screen-reader can read this (and those with them who cannot, which I suspect is most if not all, let us know)–and what they think about either the medium or the message (or both). And to know what deaf readers think about the same. And what sighted hearers also think. Continue reading
What happens when an epidemic makes people turn blind suddenly in the middle of their everyday lives? Well, you lock them up in an abandoned mental institution, tell them to distribute rations as they see fit, and a “Lord of the Flies” situation ensues (because blindness makes you lose your sense of humanity, perhaps) until, of course, the one person who can see infiltrates the blind exiles and saves them!
The promo page has a video and written synopsis. The video is audio-visual, no captions, but the synopsis below it roughly explicates what happens in the images. The official website (called Blindness- this fall, our vision of the world will change forever) is rife with bad jokes- you can choose to “see more” to go on to other pages, or “spread blindness”(!) to email it to your friends. The images are harsh and white, fogging in and out with overexposed photographs. The Guardian offers some more written review. I get that it’s supposed to be a horror movie, and no doubt widespread, sudden blindness would be horrible. But I wonder about how people feel about the fact that they require a seeing person to save them.