Throwback Post! Don’t Try to Look Through My Eyes, Respect Me Instead!

Three years ago, the Foundation Fighting Blindness held a social media campaign called #HowEyeSee It. Participants posted videos of themselves attempting to do basic things in the dark or with their eyes closed. The campaign also featured videos meant to simulate progressive vision loss for viewers. The purpose was to raise “awareness” of preventable blindness.

As someone who has studied the harmful effects of blindness simulations (especially unstructured ones), I was active in the backlash against this campaign. In addition too sharing my publications on this topic, I posted several personal commentaries on my social media feed. Below is a short piece I wrote, focusing on how I wanted people to “understand” me without blindfolding themselves. I think it is applicable to the concept of disability wisdom more generally.

“I keep hearing people say that putting on a blindfold is a great thing, because it helped them to not take their sight for granted. Or to understand what I see. Here’s my response:

Sighted friends, I don’t mind if you take your sight for granted. Go ahead. I know you enjoy using your sight, and that doesn’t bother me. Of course if you ever lose your sight, I’ll be there to help you adjust.

I don’t need you to stop taking your sight for granted, and I don’t need you to see things through my eyes.
Here’s how you can support me:

-Hire me, or recommend me to others as an employee, without fear that I can’t perform the job.

-Invite me over for a potluck dinner and let me bring a dish. Don’t worry that I’ll fall down the stairs at your house or that I’ll burn myself in the kitchen.

-Work with me to improve accessibility and fight discrimination.

-Let my blind friends go places with their children without thinking their children take care of them.

-Let me go about my business on the street without grabbing me, steering me or constantly fearing I will get hit by a car.

-Above all, recognize I am more similar to you than different.

You don’t have to put on a blindfold or close your eyes to understand the most important thing about #Blindness: the best kindness you can give me is respect.”

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