Some discussion on the ACB-L list recently has prompted me to put together a list of rather thought-provoking questions worth exploring. It is not uncommon to hear discussions about some of these things in the blindness community, but it's rare to encounter them all together. This was really what attracted me to the Mariposa online group (MOL). MOL is a cross-disability group, and that made it an extremely valuable experience for me personally because I could expand some of these questions and explore my additional disabilities. I also benefitted from reading about the experiences of people with other disabilities and learning that blindness alone was not necessarily responsible for the experiences I had sometimes.
I wish I had permission to share some of the postings. They are absolutely fascinating! I'll try to discuss them as meaningfully as I can without being able to reference the text--the ACB-L list is not available for public viewing, so I don't feel right about posting the messages elsewhere. I'll try to write up a summary with a few snippets if I can get some permission from some individual authors... In the meantime, I want to put out the questions... I've been trying to put together my own thoughts about the impact of blindness, and maybe this will help me structure my thoughts.
The questions that have arisen in the discussion on the list are as follows:
- What is blindness/visual impairment and how does it impact daily life? At what point is a person properly considered blind/visually impaired, and what is the purpose of defining disability? Is blindness a characteristic or a disability? (Yes, this is a debate in the blindness community.)
- What is a "truly positive self-image?"
- Can a blind person have a positive self-image? If so, how is this achieved?
- How does a person with a positive self-image think about and relate to other people?
- How does one balance out blindness with other aspects of life so that blindness does not completely define one's identity?
- How does one overcome the stigma of being lumped in with drug addicts and other "undesirables" due to inability to drive, unemployment, receipt of public assistance benefits, etc?
- How does the blind person's typical job search period compare with that of the sighted person? What is the impact of the job search experience and of comments people make during this process?
- Can blindness be reduced to the level of an inconvenience with proper training for the blind person without addressing barriers in the community?
- How do public attitudes about blindness affect the blind person's life and relationships?
- How much of a person's negative life experience is about blindness, and how much is just negative life experience?
- What is self-pity, and how does one measure it? What is the difference between self-pity and simply being honest about one's emotions?
- What is the impact of "forced adjustment programs?" (This is one that I have thrown in which we have not discussed on MOL, and it may be unique to the blindness community. I'll discuss it in more detail in the summary because it needs some definition.)
- Why would God allow a person to be blind? (More discussion in the summary.)
- How does one reach the point of being content with oneself without a paying job in this society?
- Do "well-adjusted" people ever doubt themselves?
I left these questions blindness-specific because it was how I wrote them... If you feel like borrowing any of them for use in your journals and modifying them for your own circumstances, feel free. I'm just having a good breathing day and felt like writing. More later... This is very preliminary.