Blindness and Sharks


Blindness and Sharks

     The torpedo shaped fish circled and circled in the desktop
Aquarium. My friend was showing me his new pet shark. "He is not a true miniature. He is small because of the size of the tank I keep him in. If we let him go out to sea, he will grow to his species normal size."

     "Interesting." I said, thinking I'd tell him all that I thought;
Weird or not. "This puts me in mind of some blind people I know."

     "What do you mean?" My friend asked.


e-mail responses to

**1. "It could be that some of the blind people we know, and maybe even
Ourselves to some extent, stay at home too much doing the same routine
things over and over again every day, and face less challenged. If we or our
Society would encourage us out more, we could do and be more and grow to
function more to our potential."

**2. "I wonder about your thoughts. What happens
when the fish gets out, would it be like a guy getting out of prison. I had
to put that in there."

Henry Vetter (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**3. "Thank you for the thought provoking tidbit. I like little shorts like that."

Nancey Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**4. "I'll bet your shark story made reference to the fact that blind
people can be bigger than they are if they choose to get out into the big wide world. Just be careful not to get sucked into any whirlpools."

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Negraska USA)

**5. A. " Well Robert, now we know. You have actually noticed that many blind
people just circle a small area, never growing or expanding their horizons.
I am glad some sighted people can be accused of that as well."

B. I probably shouldn't jump in on this one again but I found some goodies in
the responses you sent out.

The story of the bird that out-grew its cage reminded me of myself and
other blind people I have encountered. We have been in a small, relatively
confined area for so long that we don't recognize the barriers that hold us
captive. When our horizons expand, we do eventually "fly into the cage"
and find new limits. I guess my biggest hope is that I will just have to
keep finding a bigger cage. The bigger cage will put less limits on me and
make those limits less obtrusive. I think everyone has limits, both
self-imposed and placed upon us by society. Our greatest hope is that our
big cage will have a door on it and propped open so that we can find a way
around the barriers.

When it comes to reaching into the bowl and getting bitten by the shark, I
caution each of to offer a gentle nudge and a "tail lashing" before we
become aggressive. Sometimes people who invade our space, telling us how to
do what we do or what we should be, need an assertive communication about
the barriers we encounter and the ways we are working to take them down.
We need to remember that everyone faces some barriers in life. Teaching
patiently and consistently is the best way to begin pushing these barriers

Pat Conrad (Dunlap, Iowa USA)

**6. "The object lesson of the shark applies to all human beings, sighted and
blind alike."

Mike Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**7. "I think you should tell your friend that most blind people are not going
to stick their hand into a tank with a live shark in it if they know
that is what is in the tank."

Amy Clark (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**8. "I would answer this question but I don't know what this story means. What
does it mean?"

Mary Cole, Omaha, NE

**9. "I once had a bird that was small when I got it. It grew and the cage
became limiting. I put the bird in a bigger cage and it was so frightened
that it wouldn't eat and it flew around and crashed into the bars. It had
gotten so used to the limits, it did not know what to do when the limit
wasn't there. I see that in both sighted and blind, but more in the blind
because they limit themselves and don't want to go farther out of fear.
Fears of all different kinds. Some how we must all get the pioneering
spirit so that we do not limit ourselves and our lives are bigger and more

Rory conrad (Dunlap, Iowa USA)

**10. "Yes, I can relate to that shark, as you know, living in
this small rural town. The world is not as hostile as our fears lead us to
believe. Negativism abounds in the world and especially to those of us who
others perceive as "handicapped." We are handicapped by our attitudes,
mostly. What is freedom defined by? Our parameters physically or socially or

**11. "The question you posed about the new age of sightlessness piqued my interest. It seems to me,
being a rather newly blinded person, that the World turns it's head away from us and gawks at us as we have passed. But It is starting to become> interested as we attain goals that perhaps they are even afraid to broach. This shall continue as we stop hiding in our condition and forge our way. Thanks for the forum."

Pamula McVeigh (Herman, Nebraska USA)

**12. A. "I loved your parable about blind people being like sharks in an
aquarium. Or maybe sharks in an aquarium are like blind people. Here is
The scenario that I see.

When a shark is a baby and in a small aquarium and a blind person is
just starting out, he too is like he is in a small aquarium. But there is
a way out. They are both happy where they are, if they venture out, they
love the new freedom. They grow and grow many times their younger size.
Then they are caught and put back in a small aquarium by others. Then they
can not find their way out. (It can also make them both angry and bite
anyone who comes near them!) It can happen to a shark and it does happen
to a blind person. We have to learn sometimes to except where we are at,
so we can make things better wherever we are."

**13. "The pioneering spirit is a good one; for those who are adventurous; also to be self-reliant. But alas not all persons have these qualities to the same degree. Either way, there are crossover elements found in what it takes to be a pioneer or a "stay-at-home" or a blind person; like guts or bravery or the ability to take reasonable risks and handle stress. How much we individually have or have the opportunity for developing and/or can be encouraged to take on is truly individualistic. Nevertheless what I usually find is that all can do better than they first think they can."

**14. "Accept where we are at." Well yes and no. Yes strive to change that which can be changed and don't waste time on those things you can't change; more importantly know the difference between the two. And yes, once you find that you are where you are and aren't going to move for a while or not for ever, do strive to make that place work for you. many of us are angry with where we are?"

**15. "I was trying to make a special point yesterday and I didn't have time.
When sharks or the blind are turned loose in the world, they grow. But if
they are put back in the aquarium for some reason, in my case, it was the
accident in 1976 and not the blindness. As the full grown shark now, I too
do not fit into my aquarium. I try to make things better all the time, and
maybe someday I will be back out of my aquarium. But, right now I do have
to be content where I am and keep swimming so that I do not drown."

Pat conrad (Dunlap, Iowa USA)


**16. "No, I am not going to stay in the little aquarium. I am still working on getting out, but not crying and cussing that I am here. That is
important. I am not resigned to it either. I am going to work to broaden
my horizons and grow so big that I flop out of the aquarium and hopefully
fall into some nice deep water. The accident, took away the success I had
gained and the respect. It will take a while to get it back but I am
working on it all the time."

**16. "Your shark story could be taken either negative or positive. I do see that most of the responses are on the positive side, "we will over come." But even then you wonder if these people "Walk the Walk," after "Talking the Talk?"

**17. "As for "Blindness and Sharks" being taken either negative or positive, sure; like they say "A picture is worth a thousand words" and so is a story a vehicle for provoking thought. And as for are we/these people walking the walk they talk; I know that for me, at times I find it hard to keep up the pace, put one positive foot in front of the other. We NFB'er are not in the organization because we are perfectly adjusted and always strong; I get depressed, I get negative and I need help that I can get by only being here in the NFB."

**18. "Those are great responses. sorry i didn't get one off to

Cheryl Livingston (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**19. "Imagine placing the fish tank into the ocean where the
shark can have access to the vastness of it's surroundings.
The shark may swim out and find it likes his newfound
Universe. Or perhaps, it may swim back and be happy in the
confines of the tank. It has chosen the place of it's

**20. "Thanks for the story about the shark. It was certainly "food" for thought.
I would also like to respond to the story. Many times society puts us
into a fishbowl of sorts. People look at us with a very narrow view.
Either we are something weird and different or something to be stared at in
wide wonder. If society would let go of the "fishbowl" mentality and look
at us as whole people, with all the eccentricities and normality's that
others possess, we would be better able to go out into the sea, so to
speak, and reach our full potential."

**21. "As for that silly little shark in the aquarium, the explanation of
its metaphorical connection with blind folks is plain. When the little
shark gets out into a more natural habitat for sharks, it grows into a
significantly larger shark, though not a very big one. Among other
features, it grows much larger and sharper teeth. With these teeth, it
can inflict considerable harm on victims, and even devour them. Now, it
often happens that when constricted blind folks break out, or et released
into the larger world, they also acquire sharper instruments in their
mouth; the difference is that this is often the tongue rather than the teeth.

Now, we have both met blind folks with pretty sharp tongues when they get
out into this world. This instrument can also inflict considerable psychic
harm on their victims. Perhaps one difference is that the victims often
deserve it, but it is not clear how much they benefit from this sharp
tongue assault. Moral of the story: a softer, rounder tongue will often
win more real nutrition than a sharp tongue and sharp teeth."

James Nyman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**22. "thank you for sending this. I really enjoyed reading different messages.

I think we can apply this story to any aspect of our lives from our
Blindness to relationships to raising kids."

**23. "Nice story. It reminds me of a novel by Richard Bach" called "Johnathan
Livingston Seagull". The main character found his possibilities expanding once he began challenging personal and societal expectations regarding what he could or could not do. It is
Something we all could probably do more of that. Thanks for the story."

Bob Deaton (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**24. "Lots of time people don't deliberately put blind people in a fishbowl to
stifle or restrict them. From their perspective, it's for a blind
persons safety so they don't have to worry about it. Sometimes this can
negatively affect a blind person's self-esteem. But sometimes that spurs
a blind person on to do something."

Gary Crane (Omaha, Nebraska Usa)

**25. A. "One more specific example. One time when I was in the hospital for a
lengthily stay, a friend brought be a bright colorful fish in a small
fishbowl whom was named 'Jim-Fish.' After I got home I placed him on my
table and enjoyed him tremendously. One day too much water was placed
in the bowl, like to the brim. When I got home he was no longer in the
bowl nor on the table beside, but was clear out in the middle of the
living room floor. Also he was no longer that bright color but very
dull looking. I don't know if their are more possible discussions as to
what this means, but thought I would throw it out too."

Jim Merryfield (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**26. I enjoyed your messages and responses on "Blindness and Sharks"! Appears
you have generated a lot of interest with your original thesis. Actually I
agree with several who responded to you---this is an issue that effects the
sighted as well. Life is all about taking risks and certainly in my career
and trying to access why certain individuals succeeded in the business world
as opposed to those who didn't--risk taking ranks near the top.

Successful people based on my observations had high intelligence were very
positive about life in general and were rational risk takers. I call
them Achievers and as an add on to the qualities stated above they have:
high self-confidence--self-directed---spontaneous and natural---goal
oriented---problem centered rather than self centered--creative--and psychologically healthy. Their is a lot
of good stuff that has been written by Maslow and Hertzberg and others
about successful people. At any rate I have always had a strong interest in
this area and have a good size library on this subject.

While I have no first hand knowledge
of the restrictions of being blind might possibly present, it would be
another high hurdle to overcome. Life is about overcoming. Well at any
rate you have provided a forum for people to express their own thoughts.

The responses were absent of blame and bitterness about being
blind---that was so damn impressive to me."

Dan Mullus (Burmingham, Alabama USA)

**27. "Robert, that shark story is heavy stuff. I read the whole thing
and thought most answers were interesting. I guess I would vote for
number 5 as closest to my reaction. He said some blind people just
circle around in a small area and never expand their horizons. And then
he added that that applied to some sighted people as well.
I would add that that is particularly true of some retirees.
They don't really plan ahead. They just think "ah, how great it is gonna
be to get out of the rat race." Maybe they have some fuzzy idea about
traveling but nothing definite, and so they don't pretty soon they are
"swimming around in a very small bowl". I mean their interests are so
narrow that they sooner or later realize retirement ain't all that much
fun. Then they either die early, or they get off their duffs and start
doing things. And my! There are so many things an idle person can do!
Hobbies, volunteer work, church work, Elderhostels, Senior Center
Activities, and so on".

: "Truly restrictions can hit any of us from any quarter, at any stage in life. As you aptly point out, not only can it lessen the quality of one's life, but it can shorten it. Purpose is life. Retirement is another one of those major changes in life, as disability and it too must be thought out and worked with."

Lenord Mullis (Denver, colorado USA)

Hi, thank you very much for your response to A BEAUTIFUL VIEW.

**28. "The idea of being limited by the boundaries we place ourselves in is indeed very evident in this 'thought Provoker' however, sometimes those boundaries are good for us. For example, a child is allowed to stay in a crib, then a room, then the house, then the yard, neighborhood, etc. As the child grows and is responsible, the boundaries expand. I, myself, am in training. The waters that I am about to associate with are not familiar to me. After the training is over, I should travel those waters and not stay in the small tank."

Gary Crane (Omaha, Nebraska USA)

**29. "Well now, about these sharks. I found myself thinking several things:

about the shark, the tank, and lets not forget about the keeper of the
shark. A pet shark, what inspires someone to keep a pet shark? Is there
something about this way of thinking that parallels where many blind
people find themselves? And what about that big ocean out there, does it
represent nothing but freedom for our friend the shark? What about all
those other bigger fish that might be looking for a quick snack? Are we
sure that the shark really wants to escape? And one more question that
perhaps the shark is asking, is the water in that other tank seawater?

Most people keep pets because they are either interested in the loving
relationship that will develop between them and their pets. Some others
may keep a pet because they think the animal is interesting, or owning
one is really cool. Some people choose a dangerous animal because it
frightens other people, and makes them feel more powerful, because, they have
mastered something others are afraid of. So, how does all of this connect
with blind people? Well, when one person tries to take care of another
person, isn't it out of love? How many pet owners think of their pets as
equals? Being interested in someone because they appear to be different
may lead to a good relationship, but what if the interested person
doesn't go that extra step and communicate with the person they find so
interesting? Do the people that keep interesting pets think of them as
equals? And if you keep an animal because controlling it somehow makes
you feel better about yourself, how can you ever begin to think of it as an

So what about that ocean? There are a lot of bad things out there right? Bigger fish, fishermen, diseases, and then there is the matter of finding
your next meal right? Even that bigger fish tank, maybe the next keeper
won't be as kindly right? Maybe the water won't be the right kind or
warm enough right? Our friend the shark has a lot to consider before deciding
to escape, after all the sides of the tank not only keep the shark in,
but a lot of bad stuff out as well, right?

It seems to me that if that shark is going to get out of that tank he or she is going to have to be in a state of desperation, and very determined. Therefore, the shark has to believe that the tank is a very bad place to be, and that the bigger tank or the ocean is a much better place to be.

You know if I were that shark I would really want to find a few other sharks that have already escaped from their confinement, or are in the process of doing so. It would really be good to know what is out there both the good and the bad, and I have a feeling that getting away from one's keeper might mean getting into a fight. The more friends that are willing to help you out, the better your chances, right?

Well, now that I think about it Maybe JAWS was a good choice of names for a screen reader for blind folks!

Jeff Aultman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**30. "the last response got me to thinking: You hit on several important points in this response. The point I wish to highlight from your contribution is the one that I think fits best the concept of a "Thought Provoker" being used with in our group to help all of us to take bigger risks and grow. Here is your statement, "You know if I were that shark I would really want to find a few other sharks that have already escaped from their confinement, or are in the process of doing so. It would really be good to know what is out there both the good and the bad." Yes, reading through this document gives us that very opportunity; check out the diversity of experience presented. Sure some of us are more advanced and they are who I want to most learn from; having all responses laid out before me demands I compare my thoughts/understanding with each of them and from that process I am challenged. And as you said "the good and the bad" are equally necessary to examine; never allowing the bad to over ride the positive, the good.

The second sentence I choose to quote here is, "The more friends that are willing to help you out, the better your chances, right?" Right!

Bob Duley, Omaha, NE

**31. "I know the author is trying to say that it is sad that some blind or visually impaired people are stunted in their growth. I know that sometimes its the blind person's doing and sometimes it is not. Either way, those of us who can see it from the outside need to point it out to all of us and in that way help us all; hepl the restricted person to realize it and make a move to break down the walls or to alarm us to help them or give notice to us out here that it could happen to us. FIGHT BEING STUNTED!"

Arnold Olsen (Bakersfield, California, USA)

**26. "The shark story applies to those classed as visually
impaired more than those classed as blind as a little
sight is a dangerous thing. If you say to someone you
can see they are less willing to help. This means that
visually impaired people are denied the help needed to
allow them to grow into independent people.
However, I also appreciate how it can be for blind
people as I have no irises and I have bad photophobia,
which means that when I am outside I am virtually
blind. I can cope in my own town but as I grow older i
and was to travel but am reluctant to as I am afraid I
will not find my way around easily and the help won't
be there."

Hannah James

**32. "I, honestly, think, in some ways blindness does restrict our lives. I do,
for the most part, have a positive attitude about blindness, and try to
think, that "We can do anything we put our minds to". Yet, I have put forth so much effort to do as much as sighted person, and
so many blind people I know. Of course, their exceptional people whom are blind whom can, and do
extraordinary things, but I, myself, am just an average blind person. Like many people, I have had many obstacles in my life. Some have been
Education, and Employment related while others have been personal.

I once use to be Partially sighted, and did not have too many obstacles. I
felt like, Blindness was just a inconvenience, and not a "real big deal".
The only thing, I really could not do back then, was drive. Although, II did not enjoy reading, I was able to read the Newspaper and
read mail.

Now, that I am totally Blind, I find it very difficult to get mail read.
Though, we have a scanner, they are not completely effective. I have found it very difficult/frustrating to find " Readers" in the community
to read for me and my Significant other. I have called several Organizations in the Phoenix area, and they keep
passing me from one organization to another, or say "we only have this
service for Seniors". I think, those of us whom are young working Adults whom just so happen to
be blind, have the right to have this service as well.

Even though, I find the topic of Reading, a sore subject at times, I am
grateful to have learned Braille. I, may be slow, and it's not "second
nature for me", I can still read. And, it certainly, does not tire me out
like reading print did. It is also nice to have services like Newsline, which I am sure you are
aware of. It's wonderful to be able to listen to the Newspaper via a
phone line, and a synthetic computer voice. In addition, transportation, is another restriction, I think, we as blind
people have. It's much easier, for a sighted person to drive to work or
run errands. It takes much more time and energy for us. Yes, some of us have the skills to travel by Bus, but sometimes, for
myself, and others I know, it is not always possible. Busses are not
always running, or it would take too many busses, or sometimes we have
anxiety in doing such a thing. Some people would say, well at least we have Public transportation. I
personally, think, folks whom are sighted do not take public transportation
as often as they should. I also, think, all of us, judge too quickly. "we should not judge, until
we have walked a mile in the other person's shoes".

In my opinion, I think, we as blind people, have come a long way, since the
days when Blind People were Institutionalized, but more needs to be done to
improve the lives of us Blind. I feel we as blind People are restricted the most in the area of Employment.
I, myself, Have had a number of jobs that I was hired for, but did not
work out because, The technology was not fully adapted. I know, a number
of people, whom I have met on some of these mailing list as well as
friends, whom have had similar experiences. We should not be restricted, from working, because of our disability. More
needs to be done! We need to get more technicians whom need what their
doing in the field of Access technology, and truly care about their clients.

Besides, These issues Robert, I think, life as a Totally blind person is
pretty good, and in some ways better than it was as a partially sighted

Take care.

Karen Hughes (USA)

**33. "I found your message about sharks really interesting. After reading all of
the messages others have said about this brought one thing to mind. Many people
do not want to get out of the tank because it is comfortable. As a Totally
blind person, it has been a struggle for me to come to the realization that
I want to get out of the tank, but I am a afraid of getting out of the tank.
I know how to do it, but I am still afraid to do it. I do not want to go to
the convention because there are to many people, and I do not care to much
to hear about business meetings and all that mess."

Reinhard Stebner (Spring Texas USA)

**34. "My name is William Spencer. I am 39 and blind. It is hard to grow when society treats you like an idiot or an invalid. I was born blind. I now have a computer
that I received in January. actually in a cage, at home living with your parents or family is where society want blind people to bee. society want blind
people to walk with a dog, not a cane. and they want blind people to work in a sheltered setting making 50 cents an hour. or to let the family support
them or live on social security they never want blind people to bee out alone. god forbid, they might fall. and sex, well they think blind people should
bee celibate do I have the picture? so if blind people are in the cage or aquarium well society put them there."

**35. "Well, my thoughts on "Does Blindness restrict our Live?" Not really. It all depends on a person's attitude. The only real restriction is Driving
an Auto, and some employment that requires full vision such as Police, Firefighters, and other hazardous occupation. Otherwise, we can do what ever we
want to do if we learn the alternative techniques, and use the tools available to us. I have been Deaf/Blind since I was 20 years old, that goes back to
1964. I was diagnose as Legally Blind with RP/Ushers Syndrome. At that time, I had 10 to 15 degrees of field vision. Today, my left eye has very little
sight, and to right eye have 2 8 degrees of field vision. But it does not get in the way of doing things. I am a Rehab Teacher for the Blind, and
have been since Dec. 1, 1997. I love what I do, and enjoy teaching blind consumers to be independent. I know Braille, and can even cook a complete meal
blindfolded. I have climbed to the top of the mound across Mt. Helen Volcano in the National Park with a sighted guide. My dual impairments did not spop
me. I have been a Scouting Volunteer for 15 plus years. Scoutmaster of four different troops. and Assistant Scoutmaster of five to six others. I have
traveled 46 of our 50 states. No, blindness does not restrict me other than driving a car. I have a driver who takes me to see my clients. One just have
to accept and focus on what we can do, not on what we can not do. We have to look at our abilities, and capabilities. WE do not have a disability, we
have an impairment."

Andrew A. Ormsby, Jr.

**36. "Very interesting, especially others' thoughts about the cages or aquaria (is that the right plural?) that we sometimes put ourselves into, and unwittingly allow others to put us into. I don't consider myself being put into too many cages, but sometimes it's frustrating when others try to put me there for their own convenience, or because they're pissed off whenever I'm a little self-assertive. Then I'm told sometimes that I have a "piss-poor attitude", and that kinda hurts. Because you know that a sighted person who does use a sharp tongue when they think they need to is looked upon mostly as strong and self-confident. Things that make ya go hmm.

John D. Coveleski (New York, New York

**37. "I liken your analogy to my own experience. I believed myself to be a planner of some kind. I went to college with the intent of widening my environment
for employment while all the time losing sight. I did not believe that my loss of sight would become more of a barrier than the growth I would experience
from a college degree. I at this time believe I was wrong. My mind grew though my environment became less for me to explore. Not because of my own ideas
but because of external perceptions and obstacles toward the blind. So, as my mind grew my environment seemly became more limited. Again, I would like
to state not because I did not have the energy or the confidence but because those out side my experience did not have the energy or the confidence in
a blind person. Can anyone relate?
Sincerely, Vince LLanas

**39. “Here are my thoughts on this provoker and its relation to blindness: If one lets a blind person sit around and not do anything, than he/she will never grow in the attitudinal sense of getting a grip on the reality of what being blind really means, thus not being a part of regular society in that he/she will learn neither the skills of blindness or how to interact with both, blind and sighted people. This compares to the shark in the sense that if the creature isn't let out to see, then it won't learn the shark behaviors
used to survive in the wild, right?
Summarizing what I'm trying to say: If the blind person isn't brought out into the world (the sea for the shark) than he/she won't be able to learn the social and attitudinal behaviors needed to interact with
society (the shark's wildness-related behaviors)required to survive in the world.”

Gerardo (NABS)

**39. “Its not just the walls of society its the limitations put on us because of our blindness. I just got back from a party down the street. Its our fire departments 75th anniversary today. When I could see to identify people and able to read a little body language I used to have a lot more fun at these kinds of parties. Today I just found the beer tent and drank. This isn't normal behavior for me just felt like it today. "blindness is a nuisance" yea sure more like a pain in the **$#$#@."”

Charlie Web (Blindfam)

**40. “Very perceptive, this. In other words, the walls of society, like
the walls of the fish tank enclose the blind so that they are squeezed and can not reach their full growth or potential. this is quite a
powerful image, and is most apt.”

Ann Parsons (Blindfam)

**41. “Ann's reaction to this thought provoker, interested me very much. I ask ..are we the sighted preventing blind persons to reach what they want from life, their potentials ??? How ??? I'm as relative of a blind person would like very much to hear your opinion.”

LUZ (Columbia South America)

**42. “Yes, in the end it is up to us to teach the public what we can do. It's hard though sometimes, because we have to go over the same ground many times a day. We have to count to ten for patience and tell each person that we can do the things we know we can do even if it is something like "Yes I can put my own sugar in my coffee or I can find the way to the restroom.
Sometimes we just want to go ahead with life and not have to explain things, but each person who ends up understanding us is a victory for us and then isn't it worth going through the effort to break the ice?”

Leslie Miller (Blindfam)

**43. “Seems to me the easiest way to correct this is for each one of us to enlighten the public...We have be the torch bearers for the ones that will follow us down this path! Also, since the car wreck that took my sight, the folks that don't know how
to relate with the blindness I have are folks that I really don't have the ability to begin to understand anything but their own little world...the
people that do approach are enlightened and see more than the stuff in front of them...but it is up to us.”

Dale Campbell (Blindfam)

**44. “I don't think we can ever teach the sighted about this. For one thing, they will never understand anyway. And I fear that many don't want to know.

As far as parties and such, I now don't go to them. Its too stressful. And when you add hearing problems to the mix, its even harder. I actually have a situation coming up in a few weeks that I simply must attend. Its a musicians breakfast, and there will be heaps of people there. It is a networking event for musicians.
I must admit it is going to be difficult to get to know others their, and
to just mix etc.”

Steph (Blindfam)

**44. “I've been away from my mail for a few days, but this discussion sounds very interesting so thought I'd add in my two cents. yes, I completely agree that the general public definitely needs to change their attitudes! In
college last year, I had the hardest time making friends simply because of that very problem. Many of you know those stories and they're too sad to talk about. However, last semester, in band, I met my best friend thus far. She's sighted, but allowed me to vent to her whenever I needed. As she puts it, "People just need to get out of their comfort zone." I certainly commended
her for saying that. It made me feel lots better on that particular day, let me tell you. Hope every one is having a great day! (smile)”

Stacy (Blindfam)

**45. “Al had shared this with our group.

After reading about the shark living in a limited space…

Wow that does bring back some thoughts. The days after my surgery that left me in darkness when they finally got me out of the surgical ICU and into a room. My world was the bed I laid in with my watch dog which was a stuffed dog with a talking watch on his nose as I had too many tubes in my arms to wear it. The night table had to be right over my lap with the phone to the far right of the table and my cassette player and box of audio tapes with the book someone brought me to listen in the middle with the box of tissues to
the far left. Things had to be in those places so I would know where they were. After about a week when they would drag my ass out of bed and sit me in a chair my world got expanded to the night table, what I could hang off my chair I sat in and what I could put on another chair beside me.

Well I have come a ways in the last 5 years. I have expanded my world a bit beyond those 6 feet of space. I even left my sighted family and friends behind when my Seeing Eye dog, Corey took me to Louisville , Kentucky and we
explored NFB 2002 Convention! Corey where do you want to go next?”

Joyce, Corey and the doxie kids!!!

**45. “I have read the thought provokers over the past several years and I think they would lend themselves to good discussions for those working with newly blinded individuals.”

Kathy McGillivray, Director of Disability Services Bethel College and Seminary
(St. Paul, Minnesota USA)

**46. “I've been away from my mail for a few days, but this discussion sounds very interesting so thought I'd add in my two cents. yes, I completely agree that the general public definitely needs to change their attitudes! In college last year, I had the hardest time making friends simply because of that very problem. Many of you know those stories and they're too sad to talk about. However, last semester, in band, I met my best friend thus far. She's
sighted, but allowed me to vent to her whenever I needed. As she puts it, "People just need to get out of their comfort zone." I certainly commended her for saying that. It made me feel lots better on that particular day, let me tell you.”

Stacy (Blindfam)

**47. “Fascinating!

The shark is a metaphor for a person who cannot grow beyond the bounds that are externally placed upon it. External bounds and limitations beyond its control.

It would seem that you are saying that society places a blind person in a small aquarium and that blind person only develops to a certain point, that point being the extent of the external boundaries allowed him or her.

However, I feel the metaphor is not accurate. With people, the boundaries are both external, those placed on us by society, and internal, those self-imposed by our own beliefs. That shark cannot get out of that aquarium (I hope!). Thus, it can never grow or develop into its potential. At least not without an external agent assisting it. But a person can break through the bounds set by society if they can extend their own internal boundaries beyond societal limitations. The triumph of the will of the individual over the stereotypes of the many.”

Daryl Swinson, Solutions Developer
Communications & Media Implementation BU
Product Development Team


**48. "If blind people are trained in alternative techniques; if blind people are
taught a good, solid, positive philosophy of blindness; if blind people are educated so that they can educate the public and try to dispel the negative attitudes which prevail in society today, then we can grow and thrive just as any other person in society. If not, we will stagnate and remain small and play an insignificant part in society and have limited lives.”

Sherri (USA)

**49. "I’m going to relate to you a story about an acquaintance of mine. I met this young lady several years back when I was attending the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind for vocational training. She is blind, and she is now in her mid 30's. I recently met this young lady's mother at a picnic, and she and my mother were talking about mine and my sister's education. My sister is also blind. When my mother got to talking about how she had sent us both to the Illinois School for the Visually-Impaired, my friend's mother was very surprised. She said she sent her daughter there, and her daughter cried because they made her be more independent, and helped her learn the various skills. I later learned from one of my friends that this girl's mother will not let her use her cane anywhere, or do anything else which demonstrates to other people that she is blind. She doesn't even know how to feed herself, because her mother is constantly telling her that she doesn't want her daughter using silverware, or
trying other foods, or anything like that.”

Jacob (USA)

**49. The
To answer the question of whether or not blindness restricts our lives, I would say it does to a certain extent. I think the attitude taken by society that
says that we who are differently-abled don't want jobs and that we can't do jobs, is definitely a contributing factor. However, this in and of itself does
not have to limit one from taking full advantage of things in life. I for one do not have a job, but I have been taking correspondence courses from The
Hadley School for the Blind to fill the void. While this may not and does not guarantee that I will be out of the house, it is something productive. A
few nights ago I attended a Hadley graduation and one could really sense the pride and accomplishment in each of the graduates, as well as those of us
in the audience and the faculty and staff of Hadley. My brother was also invited but I didn't see him there, which meant that either our paths just didn't
cross, or he wasn't there at all. A sister of ours was also invited, who had done some volunteer work for them. But she could not attend due to a previous
engagement. This was only the third time in its history that Hadley has had a graduation ceremony, and it was my first time attending. One of these days
I am going to be up on a stage somewhere receiving my Hadley diploma. Besides Hadley, there are a number of things I do outside of the house that are not
work-related. My parents and I recently found out about an agency which is geared towards helping differently-abled people find community living options,
and making our presence and capabilities known in the surrounding community. We have thus far secured funds for two very nice apartment buildings. One
of these houses eight units containing people with varying abilities, and the other building is currently in the renovation stage but I am going to room
there with a friend and former neighbor who is visually-impaired. This is all well and good, but neither of us have jobs. When I told my VR people that
I would be moving and I needed to know what to do with respect to notifying them, they just simply ignored me. This in my view is a sure sign of restrictions
being placed on our lives. I think that by not allowing people to make our own decisions as to where we wish to live and with whom, what kinds of jobs
we wish to do and can do, etc., limits are being placed upon us and therefore making our lives very dull and boring. I for one certainly do not want that
kind of a life, and I know others in my situation feel the same way. As I have said in other Thought Provokers, I most certainly can and do make my own
decisions, and my parents and/or other family members and friends help when necessary. The last thing I want is somebody pre-judging me!

Jake Joehl Chicago, Illinois