Sometimes Blindness Sucks


Sometimes Blindness Sucks

     “Darn, not now!” I said, I had just stepped out of my house and felt the start of a rain shower; the forecast had indicated this should not happen until
much later, after my return home. It was Saturday, I had several across-town errands to run and I was on my way to catch the bus. I didn’t want to get
messy and didn’t enjoy the extra hassles of travel in inclement weather. A cab would be too expensive.

     Back outside, raindrops tapping on my upheld umbrella, I hurried to cover the four blocks to catch the first of three buses to my first destination, a cell phone service store. My phone had quit. All the tricks I knew hadn’t gotten it going again. My second stop would be a quick visit to a drug store, and my third was to pick up a few items at the food mart.

     At the phone service store I stood in line for what felt to be the longest time. Finally reaching the clerk, I told her my story and after looking at my phone for only a few seconds, she said, “The volume is turned down all the way.”

     “Oh WOW, can you believe it!” I said aloud, hand to my forehead. This was a great phone, but yeah, not all of its functions were accessible to the blind;
technology being another one of those aspects of blindness that can sometimes suck.

     The guy behind me said, “Just one of those days, dude.”

     Back on the bus, heading for my next stop I was confronted by, “Sit here, sir. These seats are for the handicap.” And no matter how diplomatically I addressed
this lady, trying to convey that I preferred the seats further back where I could sit facing forward, where I wouldn’t be jerked sideways every time the
bus either braked or accelerated, she took offence.

     Thank God all went smoothly at the drugstore. However, at the food mart they were short staffed and the person at the courtesy desk, though encouraging
me to hang in there and wait for her to get a minute to assist me, she kept blowing me off on what appeared to me to be personal phone calls.

     Finally home! Rain gear off, jeans off and in the dirty clothes basket to be washed from where I had gotten splashed by a passing car, I put my purchases
away and my phone on its charger. Soon, with a tall cool drink in hand and a microwaved comfort bowl of buttered popcorn on the sidetable, I sat down
to watch a movie I had missed at the theaters; hoping I could follow its plot through all its undescribed scenes where there would be little for me to
go on to know what was happening.

e-mail responses to

**1. Hi Robert and everyone on the list,
Well, this newest thought provoker is a good one. Some people might see it as negative or as bringing people down when it comes to blindness, but I see
it more as reality.
We all know that blindness can be reduced to the level of a mere physical nuisance and that with proper training, blindness doesn't have to be a barrier.
However, like all nuisances, blindness does have its areas that can really get on our nerves.

OK, so I'll come clean and say that one of those incidences that Robert used was inspired by me and a correspondence he and I had. I know I can travel
by bus and go get that cell phone looked at, but I also know that there are days I wish that I didn't have to be walking out in pouring rain just to catch
a bus. And to go have a cell phone supposedly be fixed and only be told that the volume was down all the way does indeed suck. At that time, one is thinking,
"Oh gee. That was utterly a waste of time." And for someone to make a snide remark behind you makes you feel just a bit embarrassed.Does that mean that it ruined my day or that it damaged my psyche? Of course not. However, it is situations like those where I sometimes will say, "You
know, sometimes being blind sucks! It's so inconvenient at times."
It's just like short people always needing to find ways of reaching higher shelves or fat people not being able to buy the outfit he/she likes because it's
too small. That sucks.
So, after realizing that, we have two choices. We wallow in that or we say, "But, what are you going to do? It comes with the territory, and I always
have other options...maybe not the most practical options, but options, nonetheless."

So, does blindness suck sometimes? Of course it does! But, what doesn't about life at different times?

Jim Portillo Washington USA

**2. I can sympathize with this characters plights. I can not understand the
Maxim of how blindness is a mere nuisance, personally I think it is a
serious pain in my rear, smile. It might be because I am loosing my sight
slowly to Retinitis Pigmentosa, but I have those "I hate being blind" days
as much as anyone else. Particularly when you do something stupid, like
knock over a glass of pop, someone moved and didn't say anything, or you run
into a mirror that is just at that level that well, the cane didn't find it,
smile. Or the day you are desperately looking for a can of soup in the
cupboard, and someone moved the label.

It is a pain, when you need to go somewhere but have no way to get there, or
you need to have a form filled out and no one to read it. And we won't even
discuss giving a "private vote" with someone else in the booth, yes
Pennsylvania is still using the lever ballots, which means I a R and my
mother a D will be voting together, fun, smile. Luckily we are voting for
the same candidates this year, but what would happen if she didn't agree
with who I voted for, smile, how would I know she pushed the right lever?

And there are the days that my vision shifts and I have to modify how I am
doing something and hope that I can still do what I did before.

And there are the books I want to read but won't scan well, and I do own one
of those inaccessible cell phones, smile.

But there are days and advantages to not seeing everything in the
environment. I can't judge people by outward appearance, am not obsessed
with the fashions of today though finding out what colors look good with my
skin tone might be a good thing, or seeing dead animals on the side of the
road, or seeing blood and guts on Television, smile.

So... it is a mixed bag and you have to live with it. Oh, did I mention the
whole walking in the rain thing with the guide dog, smile.

Thank goodness for raincoats.

Shelley L. Rhodes and Judson, guiding golden

**3. Robert does he, she think it only rains on the blind?
That only blind persons have problems with new technology?
That the public is rude only because of blindness
Everyone has problems but not everyone has a disability to blame it on
If he, she would change attitude would learn life is good after all there
is a bus to catch. & a cell phone he can shop for groceries, do the wash
etc. Lets really understand how good a life we have & appreciate how good
life really is

Diane Victoria Canada

**4. I think this touches on the differences between those things that are
necessary for us to be independent, and those things that are simply a
matter of convenience. Nobody likes getting rained upon, or splashed by
passing cars, but everyone does at some point. Cell phones can be very
useful, and in some situations indispensable, but are all the bells and
whistles really necessary? Taxis aren’t cheap, but owning and maintaining
your own car isn't either. Some folks are born feeling offended, and being
polite doesn't always work, no matter what your situation. Watching a movie
with description is nice, but is it really impossible to enjoy a movie
without it?

Everybody complains about the weather, but I don't think there's much we can
do about it. More convenient public transportation would benefit everyone,
and it is worth working toward. accessible technology is a good thing. and
Everyone wants entertainment, but I think the real focus needs to be on the
things we really need, rather than those that are simply convenient, at
least for now. Of course Needs are wants your neighbors already have. If we
have access to the things that will allow us to work, and then we have the
disposable income to spend on the bells and whistles, it will probably get
easier to find companies and organizations that are willing to give us
access to the conveniences.

Jeff Altman MA NOMC NFB Rehab Professionals

**5. I agree entirely. We must separate necessities from fluff.

The problem we face is that, to a greater or lesser extent, one person's
necessity is another's fluff. As I say, I agree completely with your
assessment. I will say, however, that "2001, a Space Odyssey" lacks
something without description. (big grin)

Mike Freeman NFB Rehab Professionals

**6. You have some excellent points Mike about priorities and focusing on what is
necessary versus what is just a simple convenience. If you can believe it,
I agree with you 100%. However,... NFB Rehab Professionals

Regarding Jeff's comments I would disagree 100%. I find your note totally
elitist and you sound like a dictator who is oppressing the others from
speaking out.

I have met hundreds of blind people in my life time and the organized blind,
the NFB does not speak for the majority of blind people. You may want to
believe you do however, it is not the case. The NFB is representative of
most highly educated and extremely intelligent blind people. When it comes
to understanding the "common person", you are out of touch.

If the organized blind truly wanted to be representative then it would act
democratically and encourage others to speak out. It wants to be the sole
voice and that is no different then a King speaking for everyone else in the
Kingdom whether they agree or not.

>From my personal experience like many others, the NFB makes decisions from
the top down. A few highly educated people speak for everyone. I don't
think most blind people really know the entire bills the organized oppose
such as the E-text bill.
would willingly put important decisions in a few people's hands. I
encourage anyone who would like to see social change or who would like to
start a grass routes movement to please do not be discouraged. When power
and politics enter the equation, then you start to see fresh ideas getting
squashed and free thinking censored. I let a couple outsiders read this,
and they were outraged at Jeff's comment.

**7. I always love these thought provokers, but this one is so mundane it's
almost boring. While it might seem lilke a series of fiascos to a sighted
person, most of it is just too true for a blind person.
Cell phones can acquire any number of problems. I've only learned to unlock
mine because I could ask a staffer to play with it and work out all
permutations of difficulties.
Weather is often uncooperative.
And so forth.
Great job of writing this one up, though. I'm sure you could have chosen to
be much more dramatic, but as I already said, it's all pretty routine -
easily encountered, easily dismissed.
Thanks very much.

kat NFB Writers list

**8. I thought about this one as my wife pulled our S U V into the gas station and then left $35 broker. That was 2 round trip taxi rides to my office from
my home that sat off the bus line by a mile. I also remembered the times I just handed my cordless phone for our office phone system to a staffer to figure
out what the heck I'd done.
Is it the blindness that sucks, or being broke, alone, etc., that sucks?
I took a couple of minutes and tried to figure that question out. Then I broke the story into its component choices:
Walking to bus vs. taking a cab: cause 1. money. Cause 2, alone --No buddy to give a ride, by choice or lack of buddies is immaterial)
Needing clerk to fix phone vs. doing it himself: Cause 1. no alternate format manual under Section 255; cause 2. alone.
Waiting for clerk at grocery vs. getting it done independently: Cause 1. money ties with cause 2. alone.
How would sight have changed this scenario if the dollars and social context were to stay the same.
No need to go to the pone store, maybe, although a couple of my sighted friends manage to mess up their phones and have to take them in to the store with
some regularity.
Less time at the grocery store.
And, on a pleasure level, full enjoyment of the movie's non-verbal communication.
And, of course, the incidental learning and pleasure that one would have experienced walking around looking at the various visual stimuli.
After all that, I think it would have been no story at all if money hadn't been an initial and pervasive obstacle.

Davey Hulse, CEO
Braille Plus, Inc.
PO Box 3686
3276 Commercial Street SE
Salem, Oregon 97302
Phone: (503) 391-5335
Toll Free: (866) 264-2345
Fax: (503) 391-9359
Every Format. Every Day. And, Everything Right!

**9. All I have to say is that, whether a person is blind or sighted, sometimes
LIFE SUCKS! When I read your post, my initial thought was that this person
could be a sighted person with no car who had trouble operating a cell phone
or needed help finding an item or two in an unfamiliar store. I know
sighted people who go to the grocery store and look for obscure items and
cannot find them without assistance from store employees. And around the
holidays, look out because everyone, sighted and VI alike, is clambering for
help! Everyone has their own challenges. It's not like sighted people
don't have those kinds of days too. Though it might not be a rainy buss
ride, it could be a flat tire or a different technology problem. I see
young people every day who seem to think that their life would be so much
better if they could see or drive. Some are so full of self-pity I'd love
to smack them across the face to see if that might wake them up to the
reality that no matter who you are you will have challenges and difficulties
in your life. That's something our young VI people must learn or their
hearts will be full of resentment and they will not have healthy attitudes
about life.

Amy Snow ACB-L list

**10. There isn't much here that my sighted friends do not encounter. They have
cars, but they still get wet. They stand in lines and then find that there
was a simple solution to their problems. It is not a surprise for them to
be inconvenienced at the store. It's just part of life. So to me, there
isn't much thought provoking in this story.

William NFBtalk list

**11. Dear Robert,
What a whingy piece of writing. Your thought provokers usually get me
thinking but this one just made want to hit the delete key. How much of
this stuff has to do with blindness, sighted people have to wait ages in
long lines too to be told that they have done something stupid like not
turned on the AC power, now you know another thing you can try when your
phone doesn't work... so what...
And it's raining, there are heaps of other people who have to walk and rely
on public transport, buy a good raincoat and hat or umbrella, GET ON WITH
IT. As for people getting offended, as long as your actions were polite
etc. other peoples responses are not our concern, we all have the right to
choose our own feelings and actions, perhaps that this what you should call
this piece, because you could have put a neutral or positive spin on this
piece if you had chosen. As for the supermarket you could have done many
things, reported the girl to management for making inappropriate phone
calls, got another shopper to assist, or found another supermarket. There
are some things that really do suck about being blind but these aren't any
of them.

Penny Stevenson Melbourne, Australia

**12. "....I sat down to watch a movie I had missed at the theaters; hoping I could follow its plot through all its undescribed scenes where there would be little for me to...."

This is why we don't go to the movies!

Lori Stayer NFB Writers list

**13. Perhaps I am growing old, but blindness has never sucked for me nor has
life. It is definitely frustrating and Lori and I do not go to many movies.
We usually purchase them on DVD and she describes them to me. Even with DVS
which is nice it is hard to access the few DVD's that have descriptive
video. I do not believe I am unusual, but as mentioned above nothing has
ever sucked for me. There are many times I have been frustrated, but I have
learned to laugh at my mistakes and deal with the frustrations of life. If
you believe things suck you will miss the opportunities given every day to
enjoy life and grow from what may appear in some cases to be negative
events. You may use my name if you wish and I apologize for spelling
errors. I have not bothered to use my spell checker even though I can.
Perhaps I am a blind person who is lazy!!!
Each day is a precious gift.

David R. Stayer Merrick, New York

**14. I love this provoker. Wow, again another realistic story about how it sucks to be blind.
Just the other day I was being jerked around on the phone from department to department with a cell phone company to get a Braille or audio manual. I was
told that they did provide them, but when the rubber met the road, no one knew what the heck I was talking about.
I also take public transit here in Philadelphia all the time. I take it every day and travel plenty. The one difficulty I have is telling people I don't
want to sit the hell down in those dorky seats in the front.
For one, I hate being jerked from side to side, this is true. Secondly, I hate having no choice in the matter of where the hell I want to sit. I like
to face forward and not in those uncomfortable seats. I'm in my late 20's and in great shape and I find it so emasculating when an elderly woman insists
that I take her seat on a crowded bus. How can I feel like a man when I am committing some of the worst acts against gentlemanness and masculinity?
I do understand intellectually that people are trying to help and it's not overtly done to psychologically castrate me, but it does hurt none the less.
Dr. Andre Watson, Philadelphia PA,

Andre Watson

**15. My first gut reaction was to the title of this week's Provoker;
_Sometimes_ Blindness Sucks? Always blindness and visual disability

I have great sympathy for, and empathy with, the narrator's cell phone
problems. It is very embarrassing to find that some massive and
life-disrupting problem is simply the result of a switch being in the
wrong position or whatnot. It was nice to find that the guy behind the
narrator in line was sympathetic and encouraging. So often, even
well-meaning family members are unsympathetic about problems of this

Being a shut-in, I haven't had much experience with officious and
quote-unquote helpful people like the woman on the bus. I have found,
though, that the ideas of nondisabled people about what is helpful
usually are more of a nuisance than a help.

The problem with movies and TV is all too familiar as well. Though I
have some vision, most movies and TV shows are very hard to follow.

I was disappointed that the narrator didn't go into detail about how he
juggled his umbrella, white cane, tote bag or whatever he carried for his
cell phone and drugstore purchases, and grocery bag(s). How on earth did
he manage all this?

It's good to be back in the Provoker fold.

Solidarity and Peace
Kerry Elizabeth Thompson
Springfield, Massachusetts

**16. Sometimes everyone finds that life isn't fair or it seems that the world is out to get them. This is true whether one is visually impaired or not. For
a blind person, many of those things that ruin our day are related to lack of vision. Our loss of sight makes it more complicated to get tasks done.
People make assumptions about our capabilities, or the lack of access to information readily available to someone who can read print create additional problems.
I generally am an upbeat person who attempts to take things in stride and just deal with them without getting frustrated or angry, but there are times
when I avoid challenges because I am too tired, too pressed for time or just want to avoid the hassle. A friend and I were trying to make a flight and
couldn't catch a cab. A friendly passer-by tried flagging one for us and couldn't understand why none of the cabs he could see approach where we stood
would stop. Finally, as the critical minutes ticked by, my friend suggested that the two of us and our guide dogs walk away about twenty feet and turn
our backs to our good Samaritan and see if he could get a cab to stop. She instructed him to open the cab door and call us, not allowing the door to close
until we were safely inside with our two guide dogs. It worked, we rushed to the airport and I tipped the driver heavily hoping that he would be less
reluctant to pickup the next guide dog team he saw. I left my friend to pay the driver and collect her luggage and rushed inside to find more help. I
came through the doors and yelled "I need assistance!" This isn't something I would ordinarily do, but time was critical. A gentleman escorted me to
the front of the line and had the agent begin processing my ticket. He went outside to look for my friend and her dog. He cut the line again with her
and then escorted us around security and to our gate and onto the plane. When we thanked him and said our good-byes, my friend asked "Was his name marshal?"
She had noticed that everyone kept addressing him as Marshall. I laughed and explained that I thought he was an air marshal because when he first offered
me his arm to escort me to my airline counter, I brushed his holstered gun with my hand! I teased my friend that people probably thought we were under
arrest and being escorted by our law enforcement guard. I think the best way to deal with life is to be flexible, don't sweat the small stuff and be creative.
Sure, plan ahead as much as you can, but when things begin to go wrong, don't waste energy being angry, frustrated or hostile. Think creatively and realize
that you aren't being personally targeted just unlucky in that instance. No one has it all, so make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in
and forgive yourself and others for the ridiculous situations life tosses your way.

Deanna Quietwater USA

**17. I basically agree with the article, but one aside! What about other disabilities, such as quadriplegia? Christopher Reeves, for all his money, was finally
done in by his disability, or complications thereof. He had attendants with him all the time and what if his respirator turned off? Or what about the
guys coming back from the conflict in Iraq with the neurological injuries, who can't make change, can't dress themselves, can't function with day-to-day
tasks, can't remember things? I think we should be glad we can walk or take a bus places, go to the store though we have to have some help, deal with
unthinking people, who we constantly have to educate. Yes, it's a drag, but better than many other situations I can think of.

Sherri Brun,
Vice-President National Federation of the Blind, greater Orlando Chapter,

**18. Blindness Sucks? No kidding! How can someone get to be an adult and not
figure that out. And by the way, so does rain, being technologically
challenged, discourteous bus drivers, or anyone else who deals with the
public, and sales people who'd rather talk on the phone.
What really sucks is being expected to be cheerful about it all the time.

Abby Vincent Culver City CA

It is ironic that over the last 14 years technology and attitude have taken
a step backwards for blind people. In 1990 the ADA was passed and there was
so much promise. DOS based computers were equally accessible to blind
people using speech. There weren't any added graphics to complicate things.
inaccessible cell phones and debit machines were still in the future. For
the first time it seemed that blind people might find a place in the world
equal to their sighted peers. It was also before Political Correctness when
you could be an individual and not just fit in a social niche.

Then the economy changed and it became very competitive, computers, cell
phones and debit card machines complicated life rather then making it

Now we are back to the starting line, trying to figure out how we can catch


**20. (This lady is responding to #9.) Hi Amy, Maybe they have grown tired of seeing the rest of us struggle; it does get
very taxing, at times, and I think, this country, the alleged country of
inclusion, doesn't do a very good job where blind folks are concerned.
Otherwise, our employment rates would be much higher than we are, and we are
constantly behind the eight ball trying to keep up with technology
financially and with regard to accessing the latest and greatest, if we can
afford it.

Darla ACB-L list

**21. Sometimes you have to accept that your day isn't going well, but you also n
need to advocate. Writing to your TV stations to insist they carry sap,
encouraging movie companies to include audio description, and not settling
with cell phone companies who make ten out of fifty options on their
cell phone accessible, and then claim they've done enough are all things you
can do to make your life suck less.

Michael Malver ACB-L list

**22. Seriously, this story, entitled "Blindness Sucks," reminds me a whole lot of those who are blind, who spend their time, moaning and groaning about their
blindness. I realize that cell phones, and a lot of technology, is not as accessible to the blind as is ideal; but there are several things the person
for whom Robert wrote this story could do, including subscribing to AccessWorld, a very fine bimonthly produced online now by the American Foundation for
the Blind. In the months in which AccessWorld is not published, there is AccessWorld Extra; that magazine, however, is not available online, but is sent
via email.
Now, on one of his bus trips, this man had absolutely no obligation to sit in a seat for the handicapped. He did not want to do so, so why did he accept
the lady's offer? Another reason: Designers of seats for the handicapped do not have blindness in mind. Yet still another reason: By not sitting in this
seat, the man is demonstrating to all that he is a first-class member of society.
The man appears to be living reasonably independently; so what is the point in his saying, "Blindness sucks"? He is living with his blindness; so why should
he use all his energy in whining and complaining?

Jeff Frye
Overland Park, Kansas

**23. (Responding to number 6.)
“….The NFB is representative of most highly educated and extremely intelligent blind people. When it comes to understanding the "common person", you are out of touch….”

This person doesn't know the blind people in the Federation I do! (Large Smile, laughing my ears off). Sure, some are educated and intelligent. Others
can't find their way out of the living room, some are functionally retarded, some just have a high school education. Most are lucky if they have a job.
Sounds like the common people to me.

Lori Stayer Merrick, New York USA

**24. FROM ME- The following is what I call a second generation response to a THOUGHT PROVOKER. I feel the lady makes an interesting point.

Amy Snow of the ACB-L list writes- Well, until you get out there and work with the visually impaired kids that
I work with on a daily basis, I'd suggest you not tell me that they do not
have learned helplessness. The definition of leaned helplessness is
learning to sit by yourself and do nothing to help or further yourself
because you were never encouraged by an adult to try. And it's very obvious
that some of these kids were just catered to and not encouraged to be
independent by teachers and aides. Wait until you've sat and waited for a
kid for ten minutes to move an inch either direction down the hallway
without asking for help and crying because they don't know how to ask
because someone has always led them around. Until you've seen one sit and
waiting in the bathroom for at least twenty minutes for you to return to
come get them and take them fifteen feet to the classroom. Or for them to
sit at their desk and wait and expect you to practically do their work for
them because chances are, someone did that for them too and they never had
to think for themselves. And, my personal favorite, not even turning the
page to look for the rest of the paragraph they were supposed to read. My
kids are around twelve to thirteen years old! And yes, it does get better
as they get older. You may not have had these problems yourself, but as an
educator, I can assure you that many of my young ones do. Partly because no
one knows how to teach them. And some of the older ones actually expect to
have accommodations made by employers without them having to ask because
guess what? Their teachers have always done it for them and never taught
them self-advocacy. And another thing, they don't think they need to work
because good old Uncle Sam will pay them to stay at home and sit on their
fat rumps. You probably know some of this just as well as I do. Do I try
to break my students of this way of thinking? ABSOLUTLY! But please don't
presume to tell me how to teach my children. I am perfectly capable of
encouraging them. I only say these things because it frustrates me that
some idiot teacher let them get to this level. And once they get to this
point, it takes a great deal of time and effort to get them out of it. I'm
not the only one working with these kids. Their parents and other staff
sometimes enable them without knowing how it could harm their independence.
So the process is made even longer.

Does blindness suck? Only if we let it cloud our attitudes. There are
worse things than to be blind. If you go into life expecting it to suck,
you bet it will. You have to want to change things, not sit and wonder why
they don't change themselves for no apparent reason. Learned helplessness
leads to this attitude because no one helps them get over it to look for the
changes that need to be made.

**25. Yes, sometimes blindness can suck. I have, however, heard some people tell me that being sighted can sometimes suck. that is because those sighted
people who have told me the latter get quite envious of other people when they see things they cannot have. It's not that blind people cannot become envious
in the same way, but that is what some sighted people have told me about how being sighted can sometimes sucked. Anyway, I think that the person's handling
the situation as best he can.
He may have felt like a total fool upon finding out at the cell phone store that his phone being turned down all the way was the problem, but I would
rather know of that simple problem than a major one--needing to buy a new battery, circuit board on it having gone out, etc. I liked, though, how the
guy behind the blind customer graciously said, "just one of those days" to him because it was his way of telling the customer not to worry about feeling
like an absolute fool. My husband, John, usually programs the minutes into my phone, but I have had the store people program them in when he wasn't able
As for the seating issue on the bus, I, myself find it easier to sit in the very front. It's not that I cannot sit in the back, but I personally hate
stepping over people's feet or risking the chance that the driver won't see whether or not I've gotten off through the rear entrance before pulling off,
which has happened to me. Everyone, whether blind or sighted, has their personal seating preference for one reason or another, but sighted people who
offer people with disabilities the *proper* seats don't realize that blind people do have preferences. So, when the blind person turns those offers down,
it's taken as an offense even though we don't mean to offend them. Likewise, sighted people don't want to offend us either, so they feel that offering
us the front seats is the right thing to do to please and not offend us. So, in this case, it was more of both groups of people trying not to offend the
other, but the lady took offense no matter how diplomatic the blind passenger was. The best thing to do in these cases was what he did, which was to tell
the sighted passenger offering the seat why he didn't like sitting sideways. There's nothing you can do about the sighted person being offended or pleased.
As for the marketplace incident, boy have I had that happen to me more times than I can count on my hand. However, most of the times, there was plenty
of staff available. Sometimes, though, you have to become assertive by telling them, "look, I've been waiting here for the last --- minutes. How much
longer is it going to be". When that doesn't work, that's when you have to go seek out the manager. This isn't always a blindness issue, though, as I've
seen people do this to John, who's in a wheelchair. Either people will ignore him when he's asking where to find a particular item, or when he needs something
pulled down from high up on the shelf that neither he nor I can reach.
As for the movie thing at home, we don't know whether or not he was able to follow what was going on in the movie. Based on the last remark about his
concern that it may be more visual than auditory, we can almost assume that it was more visual. On the other hand, his remark may have been just an off-handed
comment before he watched the movie only to find out that it was easy to follow. Either way, not only can following a primarily visual movie be hard,
but movies in a different language with English subtitles is just as hard. I'm glad that John and I decided not to go see "Passion of the Christ" in the
theaters because we found out upon buying the movie and watching it that the entire thing was in Latin or Italian with English subtitles. To watch it
in the theaters can be very distracting to other viewers hearing John whisper the words in my ear. Yes, it's fun to watch movies in the theater, but it's
either are too expensive or we have people around us constantly griping at John to "shut up" even after having told them that I'm blind. So now, we wait until
the movies are out on video and enjoy it at home with our own buttered popcorn.
I think that what it all boils down to with this thought-provoker is that blindness can suck at times while be an asset or an ordinary thing at other
times. Some parts of computer technology, such as with cell phones are still slow-going as much as some people are ignorant; all of which we have to be
able to make do with as best as we can in the same manner that sighted people have to want and be able to make accommodations for us. Yes, it can be rather
frustrating for us, but being sighted and trying to bridge the gap between sighted and blind can be just as frustrating for them at times as well. Taking
this step a little further, though, it's not only blind people who have to use public transportation. There are a lot of sighted people who have no choice
than to take public transportation as well either because they don't have their driver's license yet, cannot afford a car or the insurance, or just don't
like driving in general. Now with increasing gas prices and increasing auto insurance premiums, I'm sure that there will be more and more sighted people
car pooling or taking public transportation.

Linda USA

**26. It took me a while to formulate exactly what to say to this one. Walking in the rain reminded me so much of the first home visit I made with my current
job. Transportation was not available, and it was pouring. I walked a little over a mile, along side a busy road with my soggy golden retriever. When
I arrived, I must of looked like the soggiest of drowning rats. My waist-length hair was in my face and in knots from the wind. When I told this story
to potential funders, they not only saw the humor in the situation, they also gave me the funding partly due to my determination to succeed. This gentleman
was very lucky to have a bus. I don't have that luxury.
Next, I found so many people who don't understand cell phones when trying to solve phone problems. Next, I believe the man was playing the victim in the
store. No need to be rude, but I find that explaining, right up front, what my time limits are gets a better response. Watching a movie without description
is disappointing in some ways, but I find that getting the dialog down first makes it easier to concentrate on the action.
So, does blindness suck? At times, yes, however, so does ADD, mental illness, deafness and paralysis. It is escaping the victim role that makes a difference
in the end.

Marcia Beare, M.S.W./R.S.W.
Martin, Michigan

**27. Honestly, I hate it when stuff like that happens to me. I feel so frustrated and embarrassed having to depend on strangers for assistance. Then I remember
that although others may not have the challenge of a cell phone volume turned down or waiting for assistance at the market or evening putting up with well-meaning
but ill-informed people, everyone faces some challenges and we must all learn to cope with them as best we can.

One aspect of blindness which thoroughly frustrates me is the high cost of everything accessible, I tell people that "blindness is a habit I can't afford".
The thing that gets one through all these stresses though is a great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at oneself.
Its amazing how much a little laughter can help!


**28. Oh, there are always days when blindness really sucks! smile.

Shelley L. Rhodes

**29. At first, I must admit that I sympathized with the main character in your thought provoker; but then, I reconsidered. In the final analysis of the
thing, it seems to me to be somewhat of a pity party. Sure, life sucks, sometimes. For me, not being BAREFOOT sucks; but for others, being that way sucks.
I hate getting out in the rain, but whatya gonna do? Stay home and do nothing? No way, not me. I reckon that this guy just had one of those days where
from the moment you get out of bed to the moment you get back in it, the whole day just plain sucks. I'm quite sure you know exactly what I mean...can't
even unscrew the cologne bottle top without dropping the glass bottle right on the floor, can't get toast out the toaster oven without burning your hands
because you got careless and touched the heating know the sort of thing. As for DVS, well, it's quite simple. I like it when I can get
it; but, I recall watching Sesame Street as a small child and the Incredible Hulk as a teenager and got on fine then. Now, all that said, does this mean
I never think of blindness as more than a nuisance? No, there are fleeting and very brief moments when I wish it could be otherwise, but hey, life is
what it with it. I think you know exactly what I mean; and I dare speculate, we are on the same page about this one. Take care.

Sincerely Yours,

**30. Off, I'd forgotten how many little annoyances just disappeared when I
started living with someone sighted.

Hope the movie was good!

Eileen NFB Parents of Blind Children

**31. This is Nebraska and weather is the most unknown part of our day sometimes!! (smile). I don't have a cell phone. I order my groceries, will be doing more
of that after the middle of Nov. when my daughter starts her training as a private in the army. My drug store delivers without charging a fee. How things
work depends on where you are. By the way we don't have a bus service but have the handy bus and cab service. The handy bus gives free ticket punches
for doctor's visits, bank trips and grocery store trips if you are in that pay bracket for having that given. The cab accepts the pay-a-way cab tickets
that I can purchase through our local ACB so there's my boring, yet livable life!!!

Sally Baird

**32. First of all, I agree with almost all the responses, that blindness does
sometimes "suck" as it is an inconvenience, but life is never perfect. Why
should this nuisance be spotlighted as something particularly bad? It only
makes blindness look harder than it really is to people who have never dealt
with it, and this includes many prospective employers and schools who have
never dealt with a blind person.
Again, it is inconvenient, but it is also a challenge and working through it
can build skills and experience that can help oneself and others.

I remember a lovely blind lady I met when in high school while I was in the
hospital for a back surgery that kept me in bed for 2 months. She taught me
Braille speed reading. (Since I had partial vision, and recorded books were
also available, I never did build up my Braille speed as much as I should
have, but worked on it now and then for backup when I was away from my
Anyway, this woman was an older woman who had been blind all her life, with
no light perception. But she had lived a full life and was an accomplished
pianist, and I heard her play when I got back out of bed and was impressed
beyond measure. She could even play Mozart pieces with her back turned to
the keyboard and her hands upside down...
Anyway, I asked her one day if she ever wished she could see. Her response
was, "Every day." But the vision loss didn't prevent her from living and
pursuing her dreams.
Also, I once saw an interview with Stevie Wonder, in which he was
volunteering for the experimental implants that act like an artificial
retina to provide some form of vision to otherwise totally blind persons.
He was denied as he had never seen and therefore didn't have his visual
cortex developed enough to support the technology, but he said in the
interview that he never felt deprived in life because of his blindness.

Well, enough of others -- about my own experience.
As to the claim that the NFB doesn't represent most the blind community,
I've heard this expressed by a lot of people outside the NFB, but at the
conventions I've attended I've met a lot of people who don't fit the
stereotype NFB member as pictured by these remarks. For example, one blind
friend of mine who is active in the ACB says the leadership of the NFB seem
to tailor their remarks to a healthy blind male in his twenties with a good
education and with no other disabilities. But at the conventions I meet
deafBlind and other persons with other disabilities. I am included in this
category. I am in a wheelchair due to OI (a condition that makes my bones
break very easily). I also have had other medical challenges that I won't
get into -- but I did fight the battles necessary to get through school and
get a masters and was fortunate enough to get a very good job doing software
development, where I worked for 12 years with a good work record. Now, I
was talking just last evening to a friend who had been a teacher about how
it was going through school with my unique challenges -- and blindness was
not the most difficult -- my tendency to get injured easily made school
administrators very reluctant to let me attend school, and even some
neighbors didn't want me on their property because they were afraid of
lawsuits... But this did help me in one sense -- the blind school, where I
would have had to attend refused to accept me as the building was full of
stairways that I couldn't climb safely, so the public schools were the only
But back to the conversation, I observed that I was graduated from college
and had worked and was successful for about 7 years before the ADA was
passed, and after that for some reason, things got more difficult. It was a
subtle change, but suddenly the management felt the pressure to provide
accessibility for all my disabilities and were afraid that if I couldn't
perform my job they couldn't fire me. Now that did provide job protections,
but it made the environment much more awkward, even though I had an
excellent work record. Also, I was expected to do everything, even tasks
that were complicated by my disabilities, such as speaking in an auditorium
that was completely inaccessible to someone in a wheelchair. My supervisor
told one of my coworkers to take my wheelchair down the stairs and he
refused because that wasn't his job... And I eventually asked my boss to
have my partner on the project to give the talk, but that labeled me as
trying to get out of doing something I should have been able to do...
I don't know why, but this type of thing hadn't happened before the ADA -- I
just chose my assignments carefully to avoid barriers and other people
didn't seem to mind. I also was in the habit of buying my own adaptive
equipment, as I was shy of asking my employer to pay for it, and if I
changed jobs I wanted to be able to take it with me. But after the ADA when
problems arose, rather than just assign me to jobs I was good at, I just ran
into problems in the organization I was in, and it was hard to find another
group that would hire me. (Now, this was also the period in which my vision
was diminishing so it was harder and harder to read visually with my
magnification technology, and windows was becoming a requirement rather than
a novelty, and using windows with low vision is much harder than using it
with a screen reader, but I couldn't find a screen reader right then that
supported the applications the organization was upgrading to...
But eventually my health got bad enough that I went on disability, and so
now I'm just writing a lot and doing a lot of stuff on the net in hopes of
helping those just starting out in computer science. I am keeping plugged
into technological advancements but don't know if I'll work for money again
as my condition is unpredictable...

Now I'm not saying the ADA was a bad idea, as it obviously helps a number of
people, but growing up I learned to fight battles that disabled persons now
often avoid by pushing the responsibility off on the government or employers
or schools. I am not saying that's all bad, and I probably sound like the
old stereotype senior citizen who tells stories of the great depression and
expects their descendents to learn the same type of discipline. But you do
need these skills if you are to be successful, with or without the ADA.

Well, my mail may produce a flame war, but I thought I'd through these
thoughts into the mix.

Laura Eaves NFB Human Service Workers list

**33. I do not agree that this is a lame or boring thought provoker. It makes me stop and think about what the real problems of blindness are. While the problems
the character in the story faced are irritating, I don't necessarily think that all of them are a direct result of blindness or only suffered by blind
people. For example, when one of my former roommate's friends thought it would be cute to switch all the Braille labels on my cans I thought it was pretty
funny to go to her house and rip the print ones off of hers. Walking in the snow and rain is irritating too but we're not the only ones to do it. And
saying "at least you're better off than who-ever" is still playing the victim and won't get anyone anywhere, besides being deprecating to multi-handicapped
people. As my mobility teacher in elementary school once said, everyone has his own sack of rocks to carry. A person's life is what he makes of it.
I think the real problems of blindness are not the occasional bonk on the forehead etc. but arise when kids are taught to be helpless by coddling parents
or when other people constantly offer up condescending, sometimes nonsensical little "remarks" that send your brain throbbing all day or when professors
that you know well and have honestly earned A's in countless of their courses won't write you letters of recommendation to graduate programs because they
still don't have faith in you "without someone good (at certain schools) to help you" or when us young guys are emasculated daily by elderly bus-goers
even though we could probably carry those people farther than the bus will be driving, and the list goes on. The real problems are these unnecessary social
problems that deeply resonate in our minds and threaten our overall self-worth. I enjoyed this thought provoker very much, especially as I have pondered
over this issue many times in my short life and I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective on the matter.

Mike Sivill

**34. I would like to strongly take issue with Responses 4 and 23. First of all, when I read through these responses I clearly saw a personal attack coming on.
Or maybe these people were just mad at the world, who knows. I thought we weren't allowed to take issue with the person, and Respondents 4 and23 did just
that. Now on with my response which will hopefully be up here very soon. If you ask me, there is definitely a point when blindness sucks. This point is
reached when others who think they are superior try to "lay down the laws" of being blind or low vision. There is not just one single way of being blind,
and there will never be. This is due to the fact that we here in America are a very diverse group of people. There are fully-sighted people from all walks
of life, and just as so there are visually impaired and blind people from all walks of life. One person may choose to watch a movie or TV program with
audio description, for example, and the next person may choose to forego the audio description for whatever reason. While I'm on the subject, I'd like
to suggest to Robert and others that we have a Thought Provoker on audio description. I for one would very much like to know why some people in the blindness
community oppose this service. This in and of itself is not a crime, in fact far from it. Some visually impaired people might not prefer audio description,
and that is all well and good. But to dictate to others how it should be done I feel is wrong. The same is true for audible pedestrian signals, truncated
domes, and a whole host of other things. As long as these personal attacks from seemingly disgruntled visually-impaired people continue, there is going
to be more and more discourse within the blindness community. I think we as a diverse group of people need to think very seriously about what kind of an
example is being set for those who are newly blinded, and for those who know nothing about blindness but who would like to learn and help out. But we're
not supposed to get help from anyone now are we? Please note this is only sarcasm and not how I really feel. I wish not to offend anyone by these comments,
I'm just having fun if that's okay. I think the perpetrators of these personal attacks need to ask themselves whether or not the attacks really are justified.
For instance, is it really necessary to criticize another blind or visually-impaired person for not being able to obtain a decent job? Despite one's best
efforts at contacting their respective state VR agencies and standing up for one's own needs, still nothing happens. Such has been the case with me, and
will continue to be I'm afraid. But VR has been and will continue to be a very hot topic with me, one which I won't pursue in this forum. And then there
are those people, those very lucky people, who happen to get just what they need from VR. My point here is that to a great degree blindness does suck.
But there are also those fleeting moments when it's cool being blind. Such moments occur, for example, when one of us goes out for a walk, and suddenly
a presumably well-meaning person comes up and grabs us by the elbow and pushes us in an attempt to show us around or whatever. We then have to politely
demonstrate to that person the proper way in which we wish to be guided.

Jake Joehl, Evanston, Illinois

**35. I also take umbrage with people who suggested that this thought provoker was lame or unremarkable. The only portion of the provoker that I thought might
be even a little lame was the part about having to get an umbrella to walk in the rain. Then I thought of it: Well, you sometimes have to do that, of course,
and frankly I find that juggling tote bags, briefcases, etc., while at the same time trying to keep my head covered and use my cane properly is a bit of
a pain. But I put this into the category of small to moderate annoyances. As for the cell phone incident, I think I had that happen to me once. So I thought
the guy’s comment of this being one of those days was not offensive to me; he was just pointing out that some days don’t quite go as planned.

Which leads me to my point: Blindness in itself is relatively neutral. There are certainly inconveniences, but you deal with them if you ever want to get
to the corner store, much less through this life in a forward kind of fashion.

But blindness accompanied by other people’s stuff does sometimes really suck. The other day I went upstate to see my parents and to go to my mother’s birthday
bash. There was a conductor who insisted I sit in the seat "reserved for you" since it was one of those small ones. Frankly, I can sit wherever the hell
I want and that shouldn’t have to be an issue.

And then there’s this one: I was going to work one day, just ready to cross Park Avenue to head over to the office. I tapped someone’s ankles with the cane, not
over hard because I was merely going to the curb. I apologized, and she said: "That’s okay, no harm done, nobody died."

I thought that was the end of it, until she turned to me and said: "I think it’s fascinating how blind people see more than anyone else.

It was just one of those days then. I have to sometimes deal with this bullshit from other people, and sometimes explaining to them that I’m just a very
average human being with too many bills to pay and wants and desires like the rest of the civilized world is just so tiring. So I couldn’t really think
of anything to say to this woman just then that wouldn’t sound inane, hostile, etc. I just turned around and headed up Park toward 26th Street where I
wouldn’t have to deal with it.

See, blindness isn’t a great tragedy to me, but getting people to realize that sometimes takes more energy than I have. So too, it’s very often the case
that because you’re blind, you’re going to get much more of a reaction out of people when you do something admittedly stupid or careless. And when that
happens, when you realize you’re one sandwich short of a picnic for that particular day, you get pretty concerned whether people saw you doing that stupid
thing, hoping they won’t say anything.

I remember once, while in Denver during the 1989 convention that I got one of those famous migraines people keep talking about when visiting that city for
the first time. It wasn’t that bad yet, and I was thinking a cup of coffee might serve me.

I went to McDonalds, ordered, sat down. I started putting cream and sugar into the cup, only to realize that it was running down the sides of the cup in
a kind of muddy consistency. As it turned out, I had forgotten to take the lid off the cup before pouring. Not one of my most brilliant moments, and since
there were obviously people around me, all going about their normal routines, my greatest fear was being noticed. Maybe other people haven’t done anything
similar, and maybe I should have up and realized what I was doing at the time and taken steps to avoid it, but I didn’t – not because of blindness but
because I was, for all intents and purposes, a mental midget at the time.

But now here’s a for-what-it’s-worth thing. Sometimes blindness can be more of a source of amusement. Again, this isn’t because of the blindness itself.
One of my most favorite stories I like to relate is when I was going to dinner with some friends, who were already at the restaurant when I was to show
up. On the way, I tapped something with the cane, whereupon this guy said" What are ya, blind?" I just turned around and said: "Yes," like anyone could
have seen that. He gave this lame "Oh," probably realizing he’d committed a major faux paux. I laughed almost all the way to the restaurant.

John D. Coveleski