Part of the Solution

Back again. I just did a report for work. I have decided to work on mastering the speech recognition feature on my laptop for work stuff. Training speech recognition apps has become much easier in recent years – in spite of some of the gobblygoop I have sent Lin in recent months! – and if you have not tried it recently, you might want to.

I walk away rehearsing my repertoire of four-letter words much less than I used to. Maybe it is because it is harder to see what the cursed thing is actually writing?

But that is not what I am going to talk about. I am tired of working on real work so I decided to peruse a website Lin sent me. Or maybe just skim it. Who knows?

Be that as it may, the site is a study Perkins did on why the blind are not included in society. Perkins is a school for the blind. Perkins is in Massachusetts. Founded in 1829, it is the oldest school for the Blind in the United States. Learn something new everyday…or we should.

Moving right along, did you know there are twice as many blind people in the US as people who use wheelchairs? Nope? Neither did 1.7 million in round numbers. Perkins asked where the devil these people ARE. Then they asked what is keeping them there instead of out running around with the rest of the folks.

The report says discomfort, pity, fear and stigma in the greater community keep the blind from integrating into the larger world. I believe those are real factors but I am going to play devil’s advocate here.

53% of people say they are not fully comfortable with the blind. OK, but how many are truly comfortable with an amputee or someone with paraplegia? Why do you see so many wheelchairs if comfort level is such a big factor?

80% of those surveyed feel sorry for the blind. I would say they also pity the physically disabled.

Less capable of accomplishing everyday things ? Same comment.

Fear going blind? Hell, yes. I addressed this before. No one likes to lose a skill. In the end, it is about loss.

Stigma? Ditto and ditto.

So now that I shot down their expensive study findings, what do I think? I think technology is just getting around to the blind. When the inventions they are coming up with become mainstream, the blind will fear going out less and all these barriers to inclusion will come down. (Perkins thinks so too, but I came up with that before I read their statement….really I did!)

In the meantime, take responsibility. Be part of the solution. Don’t palm off the blame. How are people going to get used to the blind if we all hide in the house? Older people are more open to the blind than younger? No brainer there. Life experience can lead to many positive lessons. Someone just needs to be the teacher.

Bottom line? Be that teacher. Change has to start somewhere. It might as well start with you.

Next: wake-up call

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