Debunking Blindness Myths

Blindness, like so many other things, has myths attached to it, most of which blind people find utterly ridiculous.

Some you may have heard before and some might be new. And heavens forbid, if you’ve never met a blind person, you may even believe in some of them. However, after having read this, you’ll be laughing along with the rest of us.

Blind people hear better than sighted people.

I would forgive you for believing this, but it’s not true. Our hearing is effectively the same as the hearing of a sighted person, it’s just more developed. We are also believed to have a better sense of touch, smell and taste. Again, this has more to do with the development of the senses. I would go so far as to say that sighted people miss out on many sensory experiences because the sight takes over everything

Blind people have perceptions towards the supernatural and are often psychic.

If that was true, or if the spirit world could be proven to exist, the unemployment rate among the blind would be a hell of a lot lower as they could be put on the psychic lines and chat rooms to give people readings. More psychics would arguably mean cheaper readings, so everyone would do it. I admit this chain of thoughts are rather simplified, but I’m just trying to make a point. I have heard of one or two blind psychics, but I’ve heard of more sighted ones.

Blind people can know colours by touch.

I really wonder how that one came about. I was told as a little girl by sighted grown-ups that I should be able to feel the difference between warm and cold colours and felt frustrated when I couldn’t. It may have been the case for a few extrordinary people, but it’s not common at all. Blind artists would typically put different kinds of grain in different pots of colour in order to paint better. The Turkish artist Esref Armagan, who is blind, uses this technique and they say his paintings are good.

Blind people are musical.

If you heard a couple of my friends sing in the shower, it wouldn’t take you long to get convinced that not every blindy is a musical genius. Having said that, a large proportion of blind people I know, myself included have musical talents.

Blind people read Braille.

I certainly wish this was the case, but sadly, only a minority seem to read it these days. Talking screen reading software has taken over where Braille was king, something which often results in worse spelling for some blind people as they have a tendency to spell phonetically. I use talking software as well, but in combination with Braille as I think it’s vital I stay a good Braille reader. I think that people who lose their sight should learn Braille too. Even the grown-ups. Not being able to read it would be like not being able to read print. I can understand the motivation for this group is lower, but basic Braille skills are a good thing to have as it is our version of print. And would anyone swap print for audio?

Blind people live in a dark world.

Most blind people can see some light. This is not useful vision and they still need dogs or canes to move around. Blind people who can’t see light, don’t see black, because in order to see black, you would arguably need sight as black reflects every colour.

Blind people are good lovers.

Sensitive fingers, a great sense of touch. But is it true? Rather than me telling you, why not find out for yourself? :;) I reckon that’d be a lot more fun!

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2 thoughts on “Debunking Blindness Myths

  1. I probably should not admit this, but I never really thought about what it is like to be blind or visually impaired until I became visually impaired. I rarely, if ever, met anyone who was visually impaired either at work or socially. Now I question why this was and I suspect much of it has to do with the difficulties experienced obtaining employment by visually impaired persons or sometimes going to school with non visually impaired persons. When I first became visually impaired, I knew nothing about screen readers or other adaptive technlogies. What I did was put myself in places where I met other visually impaired persons and guess what, we are all the same. In fact, most of the visually impaired friends that I have made are more tolerant, patient and helpful than most other people I knew before.

    With respect to braille, I have been told by other adults who became visually impaired as adults that it is difficult to learn more than the basics. I used to miss reading printed books more than I do now. I am used to audiobooks and the bonus for me is that I now hear all of the book instead of skimming pages in print form.

    Michelle

  2. It’s understandable you didn’t think about it when you didn’t have to. It’s the same for everyone. We don’t think about issues regarding something we’re not involved with. I didn’t think much about cancer for example until my parents and one ant got it. And yes, we’re exactly the same as sighted people, but unfortunately we’re not always portrayed like that in the media. Or sometimes the VI people with additional disabilities are more visible which isn’t helping our case either. I found with gay people what you found with VI people. That they are more tolerent. I guess it’s got
    to do with the fact that we’re minority groups and have experienced discrimination and/or difficulties where we shouldn’t have to, making us more accepting of others. This is why I sometimes like going to gay bars even though I’m straight.

    Learning Braille is exactly as hard or easy as learning to read and write print really. But in English there are two systems, grade 1 and 2. Grade 2 is like shorthand and is not used much in Europe except in the UK. I don’t know why that is. I know Norwegian has a version of grade 2 which has died out. But personally, I like grade 1 because it displays the whole letters and words. Grade 2 is more practical in the sense that it takes up less space, but being a writer and lover of words, I like the beauty of seeing the fully written word in front of me. I had to learn grade 2 when I lived in the UK,.

    Audiobooks are great though and I’m glad they’re so much more commercial.

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