Op Ed with Bob Branco – How the Blind and Sighted are Perceived

As many of you know, there is a percentage of the population who think that the blind can’t get out of their own way. This opinion, which, fortunately, changes after we prove it not to be true, puts us under a social spotlight. We have to be clean-shaven, well-dressed, have proper table manners, be as polite as possible, etc. The sighted must also meet these requirements, but wouldn’t you say that if a blind person makes a social mistake, it is thought of differently than if a sighted person makes that same mistake?

If a blind person spills his drink while eating at a restaurant, it is excused and expected. If a sighted person does it, it’s an accident. Though we have this stereotypical excuse, it reinforces this false belief about us.

Why can’t the blind get away with having an accident like the sighted can without being regarded as stumbling, bumbling fools? By the same token, why can’t some sighted people dress the way the blind dress. Let me point out an example. I know a blind teacher who comes to class every day wearing a suit, shirt, tie, and formal pants. He does this because it is expected of teachers, and he wants to show his students how proper that is. Though he is blind, he understands the full meaning of appearance. On the other hand, his sighted colleagues come to class wearing jeans and a sweat shirt. Why don’t these sighted teachers understand the nature of appearance the same way that the blind teacher does? Do these sighted teachers simply take life for granted as long as they educate the kids?

If we have to prove ourselves every day, whether it’s table manners, proper dress, appropriate behavior, cleanliness and kindness, then this applies to everybody in this world, and we should all be judged the same way no matter who makes a mistake. Our mistakes should not be based on our disability. They should be based on being human. For every blind person who isn’t taught properly, there is a sighted bum.

I welcome your thoughts in the Reader’s Forum.


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