Friday, July 8, 2016

How Do You Describe Blindness?

One of my constant puzzles is "How do you describe blindness?" The problem is not finding words, you know the typical, "It is black" or i"It's nothing. I don't even know what black is."

Blindness is also an experience. In order to understand blindness I think that you must yourself be blind, or visually impaired. But even then the experience is personal, so your experience of blindness will not be the same as mine.

A t-shirt with the slogan "Blind People See Things Differently in Blue lettering on the front.
Blind People See Things Differently
T-Shirt
Can we describe blindness in terms of a human experience?

Can a soldier describe accurately the actual experience of battle? Can a woman describe accurately the experience of giving birth to a man?

I don't really believe we can ever come really close to passing on these experiences. Battle is just too great a concept to distill into just a few words. Giving birth likewise is something unimaginable for me.

The degrees of blindness are likewise too varied for any one concept. Some days I would tell you thart blindness is as confusing as hell. I might feel like a stranger in a foreign land, where no one speaks my language, I cannot read the words on signs because to me they arre in an unitelligable script. Another day I might see blindness as normal, a fact of my life. Yet another day blindness can actually feel great. On days such as those I might have found a solution to a problem that has frustrated me, such as finding a new route to a favorite store which avoids a bad street crossing, yes something as simple as road safety makes me very happy these days.

I am not saying that we should not try to explain blindness. After all, that would mean that this blog shouldn't even have been written. It is just that I am wondering if I or we have even the capability of understanding blindness in the language that we use.

Experience is very difficult to translate into language and even harder to translate back from language to understanding, without some common experience. So a soldier can talk to another soldier about the experience of battle, a mother can talk to another mother about the experience of childbirth. Though they may have very different experiences they have some common ground.

As such describing a blind world to a sighted world leaves us with impenetrable barrier. The barrier of blindness.

Blindside Fresno

To see Program 1 "Blindside Fresno: An Interview with Dr. Vivian Kim, RetinologistBlindside Fresno Program 1