Blindness Congenital Verses Adventitious

THOUGHT PROVOKER 11

Blindness Congenital Verses Adventitious

RESPONSES
e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

     "Okay, now that we are all seated, I'm going to lay down the foundation of thought for today's discussion. First, the placement of the chairs in a circle is for a purpose."

     "It means you all have to face one another and what we say belongs within our group." Butted in one of the more out spoken participants.

     "Yes, I like that. How about the rest of you?" Getting their agreement.

     "Second then, know that participants were hand picked and your specific seat assignment is by design.

     Picture this, have of you have some usable vision and half of you do not. Also, half of you were born with vision loss and half of you lost it later. Some of you use a cane, some a dog guide and some do not.

     The pattern I have you seated in is an alternating one; some one with functional vision and then some one with out.

     What I need to have happen next, is those of you who have a cane, place it in front of your feet, handle at your toes and tip extending out into the exact middle of the circle."

     Movement of compliance; with some chuckling as one of the women placed her dog guide in the requested position.

     "Now that we have that accomplished, I'll ask, "What does that look like to you; visually or in your minds-eye? And why did I ask you to do it?"

     "A pie. One that's been cut. And I'd say we'll look at our topic and like the pieces of the pie, not all parts will be equal."

     "I view it as a concentric ring of funnels that lead to a central point. Just like in any group with common characteristics, they can come to that point of commonality from down different paths."

     "The other way around! It's a central point with lines radiating out. Like you have a group of people that look to have similar characteristics and from there, their paths diverge and they are different."

     "Okay! Okay! Good! All of the above and I'm sure more. With your minds focused, as we had agreed last time, we will very openly and purposefully discuss tonight's topic, "Congenital verses adventitious blindness, its similarities and differances."

RESPONSES
e-mail responses to newmanrl@home.com

**1. "Here is my post for the latest thought-provoker. I had to sit and digest
it for a bit.

At first, I thought the message in this story was complicated, but as I
thought about it, it suddenly dawned on me like a giant light bulb coming
on. Whether we have some vision or not and whether we never had it or
lost it later in life...the one common characteristic we all have is that
we are blind or partially blind. From that, our lives and the
characteristics we all have branch out in a million different directions.
Some people are battling to accept the fact they have lost their vision.
Others are battling to fight for equal rights in the workplace. Others
are striving to educate friends, family and coworkers about the
capabilities of blind people in our society. But our goal is the
same...we are striving to better ourselves as blind people. We are all
part of the same effort, or pie if you will. Some efforts are smaller
than others, just like the various pieces in the pie. Whether it's a
consumer group fighting for legislation in Congress, or the person who is
newly blinded learning to travel independently to the bus stop, we are
trying to better ourselves."

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**2. "This was a good one and it stumped me for this whole week. Perhaps I'm
going down the wrong path here, but this is what keeps coming up again and
again in my mind.

Life is a circle, within which we all live. As the person in the short
short pointed out, there's a center point of commonality with unique lines
radiating out from the center. The commonality we all share is that we're
all human, all brothers under the skin, but we may do things differently
or look differently than our neighbor. We're all blind or visually
impaired, yes. However, we all came into this circle differently. Some
were born blind, others lost their sight later in life for several
different reasons. Nevertheless, we all share the commonality of knowing
what it is to live and grow with our blindness. So, I guess without
rambling too much, the point I'm trying to make is that although we all
came to blindness in different ways, we're all facing similar situations
now. There are things we can learn from one another. Each of us have our
own ideas of what it is to be independent, what alternatives work for us,
etc. Despite those differences, we're all part of the circle; hopefully
learning, growing and reaching out a helping hand to our fellow man."

Amy R. Rut, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**3. I went blind at age 31. I do think there are some noticeable differences and similarities between the two groups in this study. First for me is the adjustment to the loss the adventitious blind must experience, one that isn't easy. The adjustment is emotionally shocking, draining, devastating to life style (mostly, at first) and hard on loved ones too. The congenitally blind do not have the same kind of adjustment. Though as we found in the previous Provoker, they do have a life adjustment once they find out they are different than the sighted around them.

Second, I find having had sight is an advantage to understanding the world around us as it expands and changes. I mean this only in some narrow pathways, like in conceiving artifacts which are distant to us and large in size or are of a very complex nature. For example: the flight of a bird or plane. The size and shape of a red wood tree or mountain or clouds.

I also thank god my brain has had the input of colors. I miss them the most.

Interesting, my dreams at night are still visual. I wonder what the dreams are like for the congenitally blind? Can one of you describe that?"

From someone who is too nervous to post a name (USA)

**4. I suppose I am missing the point but I fail to see what if any
difference it makes if a person's blindness is caused either way. Both groups
of us cannot see very well of at all. I guess in a way I spent a lot of
my life being afraid that I would be blinded by retinitis (it runs in
the family). When I lost my vision it was not from what I expected but
suddenly from a malfunction of the blood vessels feeding the optic
nerves. In some ways I really regret all the good fear I wasted on
worrying about something that might happen. In the end all the worrying
was for nothing and I am still partially sighted. I am also grateful
that most of the things I feared were things that I have learned other
ways to accomplish or to live without."

Jerry Whitaker (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**5. "It seems to me that blindness is reflective of any other of life's
conditions. A matter of experience. I asked Robert once what "total
blindness "meant. To each individual, it seems to be defined differently.
The ramifications of the condition are perhaps more relevant. I can not see
"x", therefore I can or can not do "Y". I am not sure what is called for
here, but felt that definitions are a must and that these definitions must
be altered throughout our life."

Pam McVeigh (Herman, Nebraska, USA)

**6. "It's great that a bunch of people can get together and see there
differences and there similarity and show each other that even with a
cane or without there is a lot of things alike. I think you should also
put in people that use a dog. They also got some things alike. People
think that they're all alone and nobody understands. This would show them
that other people are suffering in the same way. Your not alone even if
you are only starting to suffer from sight problems."

Tim olmstead (Fremont, Nebraska, USA, littleoz@juno.com)

FROM ME: "First, Tim mentions 'sufferings' as a theme which can be shared and/or work through in a gathering such as described in this Provoker. I'm sure he'd also agree that a gathering of bind and visually impaired folks could also take on the tone of positiveness in their discussion.

Second, Tim suggests I should include people with dog guides in my Provoker/question too. Well, he is right and so is the next response in line (got into trouble with the next guy). In explanation, I would say that in my narrowed down writer's focus while putting this Provoker together, going for a wide representation of people and this "visual image," I only saw narrow little cane like lines. So I goofed and fixed it in this first update; read it again, there is a dog. Pardon."

**7. "First I want to know if any of the dog guide users showed up? I know I'd
stay home if asked to leave my dog home! I want to also know if the
physiology students that will be observing are know or are they hiding
behind a two way mirror, it seems like they would be in the open since all
the blind people are on exhibit."

Mike Wardin (Columbia, Missouri, USA)

**8. "Life is, at times a struggle and we all have our own unique crosses to
carry. I do understand that different hurtles occur in the lives of those
who were congenitally blind and those who lose sight later in life. I can
appreciate that fact. However, we can't let these hurtles and differences
keep us down or hold us back from working together towards common goals-a
better life for people who are blind.

To address the question of dreams . . . . Well, I'm often asked this
question by sighted people and had never really given it much thought
until then. In the dreams that I remember, I have never dreamed in color,
or seen things in my dream. I view things in my dreams the same as I do
in reality-by all senses except vision."

Amy R. Rut (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**9. "I went blind while I was twenty one years old, and had extensive
(and twenty twenty) sight before that.

I consider it an advantage _for me_ that I was sighted before, as
someone else has stated in the first update... I can remember
clouds, colors, how trees look in the wind, flames. I also
consider it an advantage that I can make visual maps in my mind to
help me in navigating.

I've observed that different blind and visually-impaired people
have different skills, whether they were born blind or became so
later in life. Some people seem to "adjust" well, others not... as
in the general public.

Something I procrastinated writing for the previous thought
provoker: while I was going blind during 1984, I experienced
something odd... I was having increasing trouble seeing, yet I was
in such a state of denial that I wasn't consciously aware of the
change... and even wondered how on earth other people could cope
with _their_ eyesight being as bad as mine! Walking into sandwich
boards, poles, even people... I was just boggled that no one else
seemed to be bothered by the same (low) level of eyesight. Projection on
quite a weird scale! Chuckling*"

David R. Sky (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
sky@paralynx.com
drsky88@hotmail.com

(+1) (604) 687-6898(

**10. "I just wanted to write a response to **3 of your current thought provoker.

I want to express a vote of sympathy to all of you out there who have
gradually lost or are gradually losing their sight. Don't get me wrong,
I'm not trying to be condescending or patronizing. I am congenitally blind
and I vividly remember the emotional state of a friend of mine who lost her
only parent at the same time as all that when we were in school!!! I think
that people who lose their sight gradually have a really tough time
especially in the early stages when sight loss may not be that obvious.
Also often there is the "How will it be today" factor. Good luck and if
you need someone to sound off at, you know my address.

I wanted to write about something that came up in **3 regarding dreams.
Like Robert, people ask me about my dreams, but then they have difficulty
understanding them because they don't have any visual images. I have never
seen so have no concept of what things visually look like. Therefore, my
dreams do not have any visual images, but they do have a lot of flying and
voices."

Jann Rutherford (Sydney, Australia)

"I guess the answer to your question about how, as a congenitally blind
person, I can fly in my dreams, is that I have never consciously dreamed
that I am either blind or sighted. As for crashing into things, I don't
really experience that because it is an unreal world. Dreaming gives me
the chance to let go of everything, particularly those things which I find
difficult or impossible to accomplish."

**11. "Well I decided to respond to this one, more in the interest of stirring up
more thoughts. Your story brings out the fact that as blind people we have
more in common and we have differences, that is in regard to how we deal
with the social pressures that are associated with being blind. Yet I see
many ways in which we pull ourselves apart as a group, not the least of
which is the manner in which we label ourselves. I personally chose the
word "blind", although I have some degree of vision. Many others prefer to
call themselves "visually impaired", and some others chose such terms as
"visually challenged" or "partially sighted". I think that we can all agree
that whatever the name, we are talking about a physical characteristic
which provides the individual with to one degree or another less visual
sensory information than is common among most people. In a society which is
strongly geared toward the use of vision for the majority of daily
activities, this difference in function does present some problems which
required some form of alternative techniques in order to resolve them.
Certainly, a characteristic such as having a different skin color can
present some problems in a society which is geared toward having white skin,
which may required the use of some alternative social behaviors in order to
resolve these issues as well. Where is this leading? Well, first of all I
think you would be in a less than desirable position if you asked some one
with a different skin color than yourself, "Do you consider yourself to be
racially impaired?" Would you consider some one from Asia to be "Culturally
challenged"? When is the last time you heard a person of the Jewish faith
refer to himself as "partially Christian"? I have heard many arguments for
these different labels, including the one about the average person thinking
that blind means totally blind, but it seems to me that the word blind is a
perfectly fine word, and it doesn't compare us to some perceived "higher"
standard in order to define who we are. We need each other, and we don't
need to try to be something we are not."

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**12. "I read the first update and was initially bothered by the high percent of writers who basically said "over look the differences between the two groups and live united." Now I'm for unity, peace and all that, but being a person who once had near perfect vision and now has severely reduce sight, I do see differences that are of note and can not be over looked. I don't intend to be too radical, but allow me to lay it out in the following diagram:

1. The blind and the visually impaired are two different groups having differences in abilities and need.

2. Those who were born blind or visually impaired verses those who were born with normal vision and may have lost it later have two different sets of worldly experiences, realities and consequently different offerings.

3. Thus you have four possible types of individuals; congenitally blind verses adventitiously blind, congenitally visually impaired verses adventitiously visually impaired.

I admit, you will find representatives of each type of individual achieving most goals, but in some cases the true history of one individual may be a hindrance for entry into a an area of employment or achievement. For example; Teaching, law, programming are professions where members of each of the above groups can and are successful. However, say in a trade or profession where knowledge of color is of significance say in clothing or in any task requiring color coordination, the congenitally blind or severely visually impaired individual in general would have an impossible task of intellectualizing appropriate combinations. Or say within a profession where it is necessary to describe complex spaceual orientation to others who are sighted and it is critical to give the student feedback couched in terms and concepts they are most familiar with. (These may not be the best examples, but at times history and orientation count.)"

(Anonymous)

**13. "How does some one who has never seen conceptualize color? Know how it will make one look, stand out over another as being either attractive or not, important or not in its message, etc.?"

(Another person too nervous to give my name)

**14. "I am congenitally blind and have known that I was blind since I was quite
small. I also learned quite young that my blindness meant that I used and
did some things my sighted siblings didn't use or do. I remember the
excitement I felt when I learned that I would be going to a school for the
blind. I think it was simply the excitement any first grader feels when
they find out about the opportunity to go to school. I also remember the
trips out the front door of the school in an attempt to run away because I
was homesick and hated it.

As a congenitally blind person, you experience the social stigma of
blindness early. When I learned what it means to be discriminated against,
I realized that discrimination had been a part of my life since I was
small. Sometimes, it hurts to realize that my ability to experience a fun,
playful childhood was hampered by blindness since I had few friends and
little time to just cut loose in play.

For me, things have been better as an adult. I am not as different from my
peers as I was as a child. I am more able to teach people about myself and
blind people than I was as a child. I play more. I feel fortunate in some
ways that I got through the hard stuff early although I know there is still
some ahead. I also can forgive the mistakes of the past, my own and those
of others. Life is good, sighted or blind. I now find people who enjoy
what I enjoy and accept me as I am. When you find people who enjoy you and
have common interests, find out what they do for fun and get involved with
them. They will help you to become part of the groups and circles they are
a part of."

Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**15. "I have read this many times, debating exactly what is the real issue. The
circle of seats with people placed in a certain order of totals, low vision,
canes, guide dogs, or neither, still remained the same to me. We are a Whole!
No matter which circumstance we are affected by, we still are one. All joined
together.

I lost almost all of my sight about 2 years ago. And of course I went through
many changes to feel whole again. I went to an independent living center,
which now I am truly grateful for. There we could join in as a circle, to
relate and understand each of our pros and cons on totals and low visions.
But to my astonishment, we all agreed on one thing. By joining together, we
could bond more freely with others, accept our losses and prepare for the
future. By doing this, the lines of the pie seemed to disappear. I do hope
that as a whole we can all achieve the desires for us all, instead of being
separated.

Ann Duncan Anderson (, Missouri) Tear2many@aol.com )

**16. "Not sure I should even respond to this, or if anyone would feel like I don't belong here or have an feelings to this Provoker...But at any rate, here I go.

I am not blind or visually impaired. My husband is visually impaired, therefore due to his vision, we have met and know quite well totally blind individuals, and visually impaired friends as well. As I look at this circle, I see very different people with very distinct personalities, attitudes just as all of us do, sighted or not. When I first met my husband's ex-boss, he was the most outgoing, happy, most spiritual and caring person I have ever met. Then as the idiot that I am, I assumed all "blind" people handled it like he did, and boy did he ever have allot to offer human-kind. Then I found out that some of students at the school my husband attended, were not happy in any sense of the word, probably some were suicidal, and not handling life at all. This circle just shows me that blindness may bring everyone together, but the lives that are dramatically different. Boy was I wrong to try and put the "blind" in one category. I see some that are active, have wonderful careers, family, etc. Then I know others who stay at home, afraid to venture out of the house, depressed, and so on. In regards to being born blind or becoming blind, each person handles this is his or her own way. No two people think alike or behave the same where blindness is concerned. Am I way off base here? Do I even have a right to respond to such a provoker? I just hope everyone in life can adjust to the changes that we all face thought out our lives and are able to overcome and triumph. And by everybody being here in the circle can offer advice, hope, experience and laughter to all those who attend."

Renee Tucker (Huntsville, Alabama, USA, retucker@hiwaay.net )

**17. "As far as being born blind or going blind later is concerned, I don't
know if there are any givens. I know that some people who are born
totally blind never learn spatial concepts, but think it's mostly a
social conditioning. I think that could happen to sighted kids in
deprived circumstances.

I think some of us who were born blind have a harder time really knowing
what it is to be accepted in the sighted world. But it must be pretty
scary for a sighted person to be accustomed to being accepted and then
suddenly go blind and e-e-e-e-u-u-u. Then all of a sudden you're a
non-person.

Some people struggle either way and some people seem to come out okay. I
don't know which is really the better way."

Laurie Merryfield (Bellevue Washington, USA)

**18. "Once I could see, now I am blind.

Being born into a minority group is one thing, but "falling" into one after being "on-top" of the heap is yet another. Let me explain. I am a white, Protestant, Male of a higher eco-social class in a country where that usually carries weight. Frankly, when I was there, on top and non-disabled, I didn't think about it, it just was. Some would say I was born-to-it. My parents were both medical doctors and we lived well. Privileged is another term I've heard used for those born on that side of the tracks or in this case exclusive hills. I went to the best schools, wore the latest fashions, spoke the accepted form of language, basically looked and acted the part.

Yes, I also knew there were "others" that looked, acted and were "placed" differently in life. I think I at times thought about this fact, knowing some didn't have the resources I had and some I judged merely by their behavior. I will also admit, I was aware that at times I chose my friends by "my standards." I specifically recall not choosing to date girls and women of a lower class, pretty or not. I'll also go so far here to describe my feeling I had about the disabled as a real "turn-off." I didn't not openly "put them down," but avoided them. I would not chose to seek them out as a friend or to date or to employ them (later I was in a position to hire many people).

All of the above was out of ignorance. I didn't know. I hadn't had the exposure required to know, I don't think we come to it Naturally, not many of us anyway. So when I became disabled, blind and now in a wheel chair I reflect back and know all that has happened and how it could and must be different.

My question to the list is how can we assure more homogeneity across group lines?

("My name and location upon this globe is not important, I am sure this is a problem in every culture)

**19. "I am adventitiously blind and my wife is congenitally blind and we get along great! Where I may falter, she will sustain us, where she may lack an essential ingredient, I step forward. Shoulder to shoulder, on the vertical as it were, we stride on in step and we're great in the horizontal too."

**20. I have not known very many people who were born blind. They seem like
they handle it the same as those who have time to get used to it. Some are
still angry after 30 years and some say, "Hey, that is just the way I am."
People are all different and yet all the same. We all have the same needs
and same desires. We need to feel important in the scheme of things. We
need to be loved and excepted for who are. We all have limitations,
whether we are sighted, partially sighted or totally blind. There are no
perfect people. Sometimes our faults are not seeing past someone else's
supposed imperfection. What we do with our lives, to justify our
existence, makes us happy or unhappy. No one can give us self-esteem, we
must earn it by doing what ever we can for ourselves and then reaching out
to others to help them. That is what builds self esteem and character.
Being kind and considerate to others is what brings a happy feeling to us
and an inward smile that all can see, whether blind or not. The best
remedy for depression is reaching out your hand to someone else and lifting
them up. By doing so, we raise ourselves in our own image too."

I am sighted and I have never looked down on blind people or people with
any other handicap. I have always thought of them as a complete whole
person. I feel disappointed and wonder why there are some blind people who
are prejudiced against the sighted. There have been some comments stating
that sighted people have made the blind people feel like they are less of a
person. I know that there are people who do that to everyone in an attempt
to feel better about themselves. But not all sighted people feel that way.
I see the way people treat my husband, who is totally blind. They are
surprised at what he does, only because they think that they could not do
the same things of they were blind. They are not judging him, but
themselves. Most ask him if he wants help and if he says no, they let him
do it. But they ask me if I need help too and I see it as just being
friendly. We must not become over sensitive and drive people away with our
need to feel too independent. Most people are just being kind and
considerate to you when they ask if they can help. They are not infering
that you can not do things for yourself.
Whether you go blind slowly, or are born that way, or loose sight all at
once, the results are the same and the adjustments are the same. Some just
get longer times to adjust than others. What one does after that, is what
is important."

Rory Conrad (Dunlap, Iowa, USA, rccrash@pionet.net)

**21. "I must admit, when I first read this provoker, the story at the beginning
confused me, so I delayed responding. However, the various responders have
helped make the introduction clearer, so I'll share what I'm thinking.

As far as dreaming goes, I agree with a lot of other responders. I've been
blind since the age of 4 months, and don't remember visual images,
therefore, I dream in everything but vision. No color, or otherwise. I do
think being born blind has advantages, as well as disadvantages. I can
never miss what I've never known. I can sometimes wish I had it, but not
miss it. I've seen the struggles of friends in the process of loosing
there vision, and am thankful that for me, I've always done things the
"nonsighted" way, and never had to switch over.

I also agree with some of the responders who are a little restless about
people who say there's no differences between people who are born blind, or
go that way in later life, or people who are totally blind, or who still
have some vision. We all share a common problem and can help each other
learn and grow, but I do believe there's differences. Over my life, many
people have helped me learn new things, and become more independent, and
sometimes they've had to do it with a little tough love. However, I will
except that more easily from someone who is totally blind. Not that I
discount the advice of visually impaired people; please don't mistake me.
But I take pushing a little better if I feel the person doing it sincerely
knows what I'm going through. Sometimes, when I feel someone doesn't have
a clue what I'm dealing with, this pressure makes me more rebellious. I'm
sure we can all identify with that in other areas; it's annoying to have
someone say, "I know just how you feel," when you know they don't. The
statement is well meant, as is the advice of other blind or visually
impaired people. Basically, where I'm going with this is that there is a
difference, but we can all still help each other. Let's use both the
advantages or disadvantages of our conditions to do so."

Alicia Richards, (Lincoln Illinois, USA, arichard@lccs.edu )

22. "Well, we've strayed somewhat from our original thought-provoker, however,
I have several comments regarding previous comments in this set.

I wrote earlier about the actual topic, however, several other
interesting branching-off has caused me to write again.

As for dreams, I am congenitally blind but saw light, dark and
colors for 28 years. No shape, texture and all of that; just blobs of
color. I do dream in color most of the time although I have had some
dreams in shades of gray. I quite often "fly" in my dreams though I do
not actually sprout wings or find it necessary to plot or in any way
control my moving. As for bumping into things, I "float" to where I need
to be with no problem. Often I am just "there" where I am meant to be.
Most of the time I am not conscious of being blind or even a
gravity-ridden body; I just am. However, I do sometimes notice a light
or bright color on someone else though I never saw enough to distinguish
a human body shape, face or anything like that. Usually tiled floors are
light-colored and carpeted floors are darker in my dreams, just as they
would be in waking time. I have, on occasion, used a cane if I was aware
of being blind in my dreams and sometimes I have read something in
Braille. Quite often I am involved in quite detailed conversation.
Sometimes there are songs in my dreams I have never heard before. Wish I
could remember them. I thought that after I had lost the small amount of
vision I had that my dreams would change visually but they really have
not. This might help my brain remember colors which I hope I always
will.
As for congenitally blind persons not being able to hold jobs
because they cannot distinguish colors and don't know them or cannot
comprehend spatial concepts, as I stated before, I think this can happen
to some individuals if they are not treated as normal as possible in
early childhood; however, I think these concepts can be learned with
practice and motivation. One learns an awful lot from other people,
literature, television and other environmental clues regarding colors and
spatial concepts. Language tells a lot.
As far as colors go, one can memorize a color wheel, label
different colored items, use a light probe to distinguish light from dark
colors and I believe there is a device out there that may be even more
accurate with color recognition. When I was working in an office
situation, I put Braille labels on the boxes of different colored paper
so I could type on the right color depending on which form or letter was
needed. I used a light probe to tell when the phone was on hold and
could have checked lines also except that in this particular work
setting, each line rang differently which was great. I knew that my
clothes were coordinated by learning and remembering the colors when I
bought them and usually noticing some characteristic about each item that
was a little different. In the case of exactly same items, I use safety
pins in different positions and remember. If I might not remember, I can
always write down in Braille my color indicators. I always put Braille
labels on different colored yarn for my crochet projects. I began to
learn to do these things before I lost the small amount of vision I had
so that the transition would be better.
I did not do as well with the other disabilities I now have though some
have come on gradually. If I had taken them more seriously might have
adapted a little better. I am working on it and still doing things I
want to do, just differently sometimes.
I am aware that the ways I have adapted may not be the same as
someone else would do in my circumstances. There are people out there
who are doing better than I and some worse than I, whatever that means.
I think that judging someone else's level of functioning is usually not
helpful unless that person happens to be our rehab counselor. I also
think it is not helpful to have a certain narrow picture of what a
"rehabilitated blind person" looks like, after all, "rehabilitated"
sighted people come in all kinds of "packages" and varying levels of
functioning in varying areas in life. To reject a fellow/sister blind
person because they do not function 200 percent in all the areas we've
pigeon-holed them into can result in "expelling" many from the "circle"
who absolutely belong right there in the center. Otherwise, it seems to
work better for us to be allowed to be accepted as we are and have it
understood that we are as we are for good reasons.
I know some blind people who really feel sorry for themselves
and are angry when we suggest what we think of as helpful hints. Encouragement is good but I've heard it said that one of the worst vices
is ad-vice. (unless we ask for it.) I have mentioned the above not as
advice but as stimulators for us to keep our options open. I consider
this to be a form of encouragement."

Lauren Merryfield (Seattle, Washington, USA)

**23. "I work with students who have
had traumatic brain injuries, students who have psychiatric
disabilities, and students who are blind. I also do some consulting and
training on campus and in the community. As far as which group does
better, I don't think one or the other does better. People just have
different issues with which to grapple. Overall, the congenitally blind
students tend to have an easier time academically because they have
developed skills such as Braille and using tapes and asking the right
questions to get the information they need. People who are
adventiciously blind tend to understand some things more visually such
as rock formations and graphs and diagrams more easily, although I
wouldn't make any hard and fast generalizations about it."

Kathy McGillivray
(Minneapolis, Minnasota, USA,

**24. "As blind people, we are constantly asked the advantages and
disadvantages of congenital vs. adventitious blindness. In my view,
there are some slight differences especially when it comes to
learning blindness-related skills. For instance, many blind people
who lose their sight as adults, especially when they are elderly,
find it hard to learn Braille. On the other hand, those same people
might still be able to write in print although they can't read it. That
could be an advantage in some situations.
Historically in training programs for the blind, those who have more
vision are seen as having more potential as are those who were
born blind. In my view, this is wrong headed thinking because the
person's blindness skills and abilities depend less on the
circumstance of their blindness than on the training they receive
whether as kids or adults.

Thanks for posting this thought provoker as it really touched an
issue that interests me."

Michael Alvarez (Monmouth, Oragon USA)

**25. “I am adventitiously blind, having lost my eyesight as a result of a speedy
retina disease.
The transition from being a sighted person to a totally blind person was
Hellish and bewildering. As a teenage male, it is critical that one look
"good." By this, I mean, have it together, appear physically competitive,
etceteras. It is no wonder, then, that I was an excellent actor and worked
diligently to conceal the extent of my vision loss. I now, understand,
that "denial" is real normal and was probably necessary for me, at that
time. I was in a public school and knew no other visually impaired persons.

Now, 23 years have passed and I can say, with no hesitation, that my life
is easier, due to having had vision for those first twenty years. In my
situation; however, I was able to get past the trauma, with lots of good
rehab professionals to help me through the process.
I concede that there are some adventitiously blind persons who simply can't
get past what they "had." For the most part, though I have found that
adventitiously blind people seem to fare better in our society. This may be
all about social skills and mastering the necessity to blend in with our
sighted peers. Sighted people, I believe, really value a certain visual
presentation from whom they interact with. Eye contact, an erect posture,
having lights turned on (even if it doesn't help us) and refraining from
certain blindisms such as poking fingers in the eyes or rocking.
Now, this may be due to learned behavior from being sequestered in
residential schools for the blind, but Many congenitally blind people I
know do not place the same value on how they present. I'm not talking about
grooming and hygiene, here. It's that attention to how one is perceived
visually. Just recognizing that this is important and matters. Frankly, I
don't see this as being as important to many of my congenitally blind
friends. Consequently, I believe it promotes discrimination and social
rejection by many sighted people."

Danney Yates (Warm Springs, Georgia USA)

**26. "This is an issue which has come up in my preparations for moving into an apartment. I am going to room with someone who is losing his vision due to lupus.
He used to be a neighbor of mine, and now we are just good friends. Both of us have the advantage of showing each other skills. For one, my friend is going
to show me how to cook a few things. My parents and I went over to his and his mother's house last night for dinner, and he grilled a steak. I had never
before eaten something grilled by a visually-impaired person before, but the steak came out perfectly. His mother made the rest of the dinner, and my mom
baked brownies for dessert. I am very excited to learn more skills. On the other hand, there are a few things which I am going to show him, such as JAWS.
He has JAWS, but he hasn't had much experience with it so I am going to work with him on that. Another area in which I need practice is check-writing.
I think this living arrangement will work out perfectly, because we both can show each other new things.

Jake Joehl, Illinois USA