A few months ago, I was talking to a blind friend and mentor. She’s a practicing naturopath who teaches seminars for other naturopaths about thyroid conditions, depression and biochemistry. I asked her if she ever got sick of people making a big deal about how amazing she is to have gotten where she is while being totally blind. She said no. She said it was a big challenge, a career that’s challenging even for people who are fully sighted, and she had to work hard for it. “What does get to me,” she said, “is when people make a huge deal about me doing things like climbing a flight of stairs without falling. I’ve been doing stairs my whole life.”
I know what she means. A few winters ago, I was with the National Federation of the Blind in Washington DC. We were there to talk to our congresspeople about current issues and bills that affect blind people. The small group from Oregon stopped for a bathroom break between congressional appointments and one of our members, entered the bathroom, navigating with his cane. A concerned sighted person approached the few of us who were outside waiting. “Does he need help in there?” the man asked, as if our blind friend could find his way around the halls of congress but hadn’t mastered the art of wiping his own ass.
I realized that I hadn’t posted anything from this essay on my site yet. I worry that it’s too bitchy, but you know what? When you have to deal with ignorant shit on a daily basis, sometimes you get bitchy.
I think, in the spirit of being bitchy, I’m going to post a few excerpts from this essay in a row. So there.
P.S. Other installments from Blind Alien Nation: