Blind Culture: It Doesn’t Exist

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Barbara Pierce, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Ohio, explains that there really is no blind culture that can be compared to the culture of the deaf. She attributes this to the fact that blind people are still able to communicate quite well verbally with other non-disabled people. This is a good point because I think that people gravitate towards those who speak similarly to themselves. When an accent is apparent, as in deaf people who are trained orally, it makes some people uncomfortable and not as willing to work together. This is not to say, however, that blind people do not face any kind of discrimination. Pierce points out that blind people have a 74% unemployment rate, though the sources of the statistics she uses are questionable.

Something that I found surprising was that she claimed that only 10% of blind children learn how to read Braille. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of teachers who are tasked with teaching blind students do not even know Braille, or don’t know it well enough to teach it. I wonder if it would be possible to create a more standardized method of schooling blind children in order for them to be properly educated in Braille.

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5 thoughts on “Blind Culture: It Doesn’t Exist

  1. This article interests me because it compares and contrasts the deaf and blind community. My topic for my paper is about deaf culture, and my research for that project served as an impetus for me to read the article named “Blind Culture: It Doesn’t Exist” when I saw it. I find it stimulating that deaf people want to be heard and known as an entire culture not unlike the already existing cultures, while blind people acknowledge that they do not possess anything like the deaf culture, nor do they seem motivated to create one. Barbara Pierce states that she and other blind people do enjoy each other and work together to prevent discrimination of blind people (as stated above, there is a 74 percent unemployment rate) like the deaf culture, but they do not have a common unique language like ASL which could facilitate a construction of a new culture.

    • I get that blind people most often unite to fight discrimination and demand resources, but I think individual blind people might feel an affiliation with blind artists and achievers of the past and present — maybe that’s kind of “cultural”?

  2. This article shows that in spite of lot of differences between deaf and blind disability group, such as the existence of unique culture, the similarity that I noticed in the article is the difficulty that the both group have in the job market and the problem in their education systems. Both groups have a high percentage of unemployment rate. In order to decrease the number, I believe there should be more effective education system. Just like deaf people who do not obtain sign language have hard time learning words or extending their knowledge, blind people who are not taught to read Braille have more difficulty of getting employed. As Pierce says, if 85 percent of employed adults are fluent Braille readers, I believe that is a good reason to strengthen on Braille education of blind people. I hope the combination of improvement in both education system and federal law will reduce the disability discrimination in job market.

  3. Even though I have already read in No Pity that less and less blind people are learning Braille, it’s astonishing to discover that only 10 percent of all blind children learn to read it. What’s even more astonishing is that 85 percent of the employed blind population knows how to read Braille. Since blind people face employment discrimination, I would think that this statistic would influence more people to learn to read it fluently. The fact that most people want to avoid using Braille parallels what happened in the deaf community with ASL. People wanted to stop teaching ASL and enforce oralism in order to “normalize” the deaf population. Deaf culture has come a long way since those times. Maybe the blind community just hasn’t found its way as the deaf community has. Maybe in the years to come, the blind community will be a full-blown culture, similar to Deaf culture.

  4. Perhaps there isn’t as much Blind Culture as there is Deaf Culture, but to say there “really isn’t any” is just wrong (also, why do the two necessitate comparison for validation?). My ex-girlfriend is legally blind and she has been active in the Blind Community for pretty much her entire life. She plays a sport called Goalball (I hate the name too) which is designed for blind for people who are mostly or completely blind. Anyone, like her, who has some ability to see is given an eye mask during the game. They travel around the country competing and, I must say, the sport is incredibly fun to watch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Blind_Sports_Federation will give you a brief summary of the range of Blind Sports.

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