Hello and welcome to the fifth annual meeting for our blind association, Id like to thank you all for coming this evening. The aim tonight is for the seeing audience to take an insight at somebody’s life tonight, somebody who is blind. We are all one society but the blind are often neglected and misunderstood, tonight we will aim to get one step closer to our all-inclusive society.
I would like to invite on our speaker Abigail Coultas who will begin the evening’s seminar thank you.
(A.Coultas takes the stand):
Scared is when you are a child, you have no light, there is no shimmer of light through the cracks around your door, and the curtains are painting the moon black. Yet in the morning you can leap out of bed and see the light reflecting all around you.
Now imagine never seeing again, or never even having seen the light, which reflects around you, you wouldn’t even know what the colour red looked like, but that is the least of your problems when you are blind. The main fear is not being accepted in our society as a normal human being and being simply viewed and characterised as a weak and helpless.
Did you know that one in five hundred people in our country are blind or have some sight impediment, and that nine out of Britain’s 115000 blind can only just point out a window in a room, others can only see misty haze or a white flag. The blinds perspective of this world is bleak; their only perspective of our world is to feel their way around.
As a seeing society we don’t understand, I cannot understand but the one thing I can recognise is how awful it must be for the blind. And how unintentionally we set them apart from our society. How many times have you seen a blind person in the street, we regard the blind as pitiable, remarkable and courageous, but the fact is their blindness seems to isolate them further from the community and the human beings they cannot see.
We see the blind through a haze of prejudice and misconception. As darkness colours their world, darkness colours our view, darkness squalor and pity, which is all the legacy of Victorian attitudes to the blind. Imagine the world of the blind, you imagine total blackness, a strange frightening void with no light around you, walking along the street and hearing sympathetic whispers, which make you, want to stay at home and not enter the prejudice world of the sighted. Pity is frustrating and undermines you when you have confidence, but we cannot help how we feel, but what is worse is how many people in our society go from one extreme to another. Many people ignore the blind; they do not acknowledge their existence and believe they need to be in care homes. So we banish the idea of blindness. As a society we shrink from the blind.
A hundred years ago we might have succeeded. Society did its best to banish the blind, so we shut them in asylums or institutions where they stifled for the rest of their life. Society needs to realise that no human being is perfect, some cannot hear, some cannot see, some have phobia’s of even stepping outside their house. It is the support of the society they need, not our ignorance.
Our period shows the improving attitudes of our society; the blind are slowly and unevenly beginning to take place as friends, neighbours and colleagues. Only now are they seen as humans and receiving the acceptance that every individual has a right to.
Blindness can be widely noticed by the use of a guide dog or a white guidance stick. Yet we can not see the agony of a broken family, or the grieving of a death, these people need just as much pity as the blind, things happen every day that could change your life forever the problem is they are not noticeable and not helped. Although they are not disabilities, they can stop people living a normal life.
You have to think now how do you react when you see a blind person in the street? I feel pity, you cannot be discriminated against for feeling pity, but don’t whisper, they aren’t an unusual creature, you are whispering about a human who can hear you.
The blind do not want this attention; they can cope with life they no how to live with this disability, and are capable of living a normal life. Sight is important but they also have other senses such as their touch and scent. Our society has adapted to this and has an idea that their lack of sight is compensated for by other highly developed senses or a ‘sixth sense’. This is not true. For example if you hurt your ankle you rely on the other one more as a source of strength and balance, it is not automatically going to become a great power source which will compensate fully for your body weight and balance.
This is an example of how the society has to change and stop devising mystified stories; within the blind there are variations of temperament, character and talent present as is found within the rest of society. What is true is the acute sense of touch and hearing that those born blind or who go blind early in life learn to develop.
I hope this short speech has shown you a few examples of our society’s misunderstanding of the blind, we must learn to treat them as the humans that they are. Explain to your children why they have a white cane or hold on to objects, to feel their way around. But mostly appreciate them, we can’t help it if we feel pity, but do something with this, raise money for charity’s, the best help you can give them is a safe future with promises of new technology so they may one day see again. And don’t forget that these people are our neighbours, maybe someone’s cousin, sister mother, grandparent they may even be your relative. No one is perfect or has the right to be known as normal, there is no form or definition of normality as every one is different.
Thank you, for your time I will now hand you back to Micheal Smith to recite a poem.