What Does “Looking Blind” Even Mean?

I am going to preface this post with a few things before I go on my mini tirade/rant/whatever you want to call what is about to occur.

 

This isn’t a fact that I really hide or anything, it’s just not something that I feel the urge to mention every day, or every post, or anywhere I frequent on the internet.  Simply because it’s something I deal with every day, and it’s not even remotely a big deal to me.  When the need arises, or when I feel like I know someone well enough to want them to know this fact about me, I tell them and have gotten mixed reactions.  Reactions from “Wow, that’s amazing/so cool!” to “You’re lying” to “Wow, you don’t look blind at all!”.  I’ve posted about accessibility problems I’ve had and the like, but have never just come out and said I’m blind on this blog (I don’t think?  Maybe I’m mistaken) but I am going to mention it at the beginning of this post, because it’s important to what this post is going to be about.

 

So yeah, I’m blind.  Which to most people, they honestly don’t really care because you know, I’m a person who just happens to be blind.  I still have the same interests, likes, and dislikes as someone with sight could or couldn’t have, and just have to approach certain activities that may need vision primarily to do differently.  I’ve been blind for about 20 years now, having lost the majority of my vision when I was 10, due to an eye condition known as RP.  So, I still have a teeny teeny bit of vision, but it isn’t’ high functioning at all:  I can tell if a light is on or off, or how bright/dark it is in a room, and can sometimes see colors, and shapes only if something is very, very close to my face – and even then, colors blur together (I can’t tell different shades of reds and blue from each other, but I can tell if a color is lighter or darker and I use the memory of seeing color when I was a kid to try and connect the dots).  For these reasons, this is why I just tell people I’m blind:  Not visually impaired, not legally blind, but blind.  And, to be honest, I shouldn’t’ have to justify my vision, or lack thereof,  to anyone.

 

But that’s exactly what I’ve recently found myself having to do in some YouTube comments sections.  I mention I’m blind, because my comment wouldn’t make sense to the video creator if I didn’t, and in come the people who say I have to be lying about it, because I can type, and use a computer, and post covers from video games I enjoy.  Because, to their narrow minded viewpoint, a blind person can’t play video games, because you have to see to do that!  Forget the fact that sound is a major factor in gaming as well, and with the audio engineering the way it is in modern games, you can tell where you are with panning, and how 3-dimensional the sound scape is in game.  I understand that people possibly can’t comprehend that someone without sight would want to play a more visual medium of entertainment, but don’t act like they are liars, or aggressively, rudely attack them so they have to defend themselves on the subject, if you simply do not know how a blind person would play games.  Easier to catch flies with honey, as the old saying goes.  This is a major tangent I went on, so sorry about that.  But let me get to what I intentionally wrote this post for.

 

What is “Looking blind” exactly?  I legitimately want to know.  I’m just a person, another human being who looks like people do.  Do people who say this specific comment, think that it’s a compliment?  Think that I should not be out and about, and look like a functioning adult?  What does looking blind in their heads look like, because when I hear someone say that to me, this is what my perceived connotation is:

 

“You don’t look blind!  Because a blind person would be stumbling all over the place barely able to cross the street.  Oh, and they’d have miss matched socks, two different shoes on and really ugly clothing that doesn’t match at all.  They’d also never, ever come outside, because they can’t see!”
Seriously, it’s 2016.  People are so aware of so many issues.  There are technological strides that are helping everyone, in every disability spectrum do more things independently.  It shocks me that blindness isn’t’ something people know, or care to know more about:  And, if you run across someone who is blind, you don’t ask them questions in an offensive accusatory way.  “You don’t look blind” is an instant way to put someone on the defensive, because “Looking blind” isn’t a thing.  Asking “How can you type?” is equally offensive, because who the heck even looks at the keyboard to type anymore?  Do people look at the keyboard to type?  Am I missing something?

 

I’m blind.  I’m also a singer, who likes anime, and video games, and nerd culture, and being blind isn’t’ going to stop me from liking anything visual that I like to do.  What being blind does, is makes me find alternatives to playing and experiencing video games, and anime, and cooking, and making jewelry.  Before you ask a blind person a question just please, please, please make sure it doesn’t come off as offensive.  Be genuine, be curious, and be inviting.  There’s nothing worse than an aggressive encounter, when you really just wanted to get to know someone better by asking a question.
I like to keep this blog more on the positive side, but this has just been nagging at me for the past few days so I wanted to write a post about it.  It does make me sort of want to write more about different blind issues in more detail, because honestly this was a very cathartic post lol.  If you got to the end of this post, then you get a virtual cookie for sitting through my venting!  XD

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