Last night as I watched the make up of council unfold I said to someone “I’m scared” and then immediately regretted my choice of word. This isn’t Trump – the new yardstick for measuring how bad election results can be. The truth is there is no one word to describe how I feel but anxious…
— Read on mssinenomineblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/morning-after-election-thoughts-about-poverty-and-disability-in-a-city-with-npa-green-💰🧐-and-greens/
A referendum on which voting system British Columbia should use for provincial elections is being held between October 22 and November 30, 2018.
Registered voters will receive a voting package in the mail between October 22 and November 2. If you do not receive a voting package or are not currently
a registered voter, you can ask for one from Elections BC, a Referendum Service Office or a Service BC location by November 23.
For this referendum, voters who read braille can request a braille template package and ballot question to be used when completing the mail-in voting package.
Please call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683 to request a braille template and ballot question, or if you
have any questions regarding voting in the referendum. Information on the voting systems featured in
the referendum can also be found at
Why Use the Word “Blind”?
Why Use the Word “Blind”?
Braille Monitor January 2009
by James H. Omvig
From the Editor: Most Federationists know Jim Omvig. He worked first as a lawyer and later with Dr. Kenneth Jernigan at the Iowa Commission for the Blind.
He also headed the blindness rehabilitation program in the state of Alaska. He has written many articles for the Braille Monitor and published three books
in the last five years. In this era of pointless political correctness he is particularly well equipped to remind us of some important truths. The following
article first appeared in the January 2008 newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of California. This is what Jim Omvig says:
People who cannot see are blind, and the word “blind” is perfectly acceptable–in fact, it is absolutely essential–when one is referring to the lack of
eyesight. In my opinion (I got this opinion from Dr. Kenneth Jernigan), a person is blind–and should learn to refer to himself or herself as blind–when
vision has deteriorated to the point that, to function capably and efficiently, the individual uses alternative (nonvisual) techniques to accomplish the
majority of life’s daily activities. This is true even though there is some residual vision which may well be quite useful for certain limited and specific
There are some misuses of the term, of course, which are not desirable at all and which perpetuate negative impressions about blindness. These include
such commonly accepted dictionary definitions as: “unable or unwilling to perceive or understand”; “not based on reason or evidence”; or “lacking reason
or purpose” as in, “he ran blindly off the cliff.”
Until around the middle of the twentieth century, it was common among educators, rehabilitators, sheltered shop workers, and others in work with the blind
to use the word “blind” routinely when referring to people with very limited or no vision, since that is what we are. Then, in the late 1950s and early
1960s, a new phenomenon gradually evolved: a group of master’s-degreed workers—eventually referred to as “blindness professionals”—entered the picture.
It was not long until they, the “experts,” began to take extraordinary measures to get blind people to deny their blindness and to use the slightest amount
of residual vision so they could appear to be, as they put it, “normal”–to be sighted and avoid blindness altogether. Avoid the word “blindness” at any
cost became the mantra. And the cost for many blind people was heavy because that avoidance encouraged them to deny an important part of who they were.
First came the large-print movement–just produce very large and dark print so that blind people with a little vision could read a few words a minute in
the so-called normal way and not “have to learn Braille.” Then, before long, “vision stimulation” was introduced–it was argued that, if blind people would
just try harder to use their very limited vision, they could actually improve sight and again be able to function normally. Of course this was a disaster
and psychologically damaging for many blind people. Then, when tape recorders and computers came along, it was argued all over again that blind people
could avoid Braille and the stigma of blindness and thus appear in yet another way to be normal if they would just jump on the technology bandwagon and
give up literacy.
Along with these new professionals (and their new practices), a new vocabulary was also introduced. The word “blind” went out of vogue. Blind students
who could read a little using very large print became “sight-saving” students. Others (with either limited or no vision at all) soon became “visually impaired,”
“visually limited,” “visually challenged,” “unsighted,” “sightless,” “sight-impaired,” “low vision,” or “hard-of-seeing,” etc. Before long, teachers of
blind children became “vision teachers,” and most recently some among the professionals have become so disconnected with the real world and with blind
people that they have come to call work with the blind “vision rehabilitation therapy.”
“How in the world,” you may ask, “could such a distortion of reality have taken place among the very people who purport to help the blind?” Clearly, the
reason behind it all has been an effort to try to avoid use of the ugly and dirty word, “blind.”
Through all of these machinations the National Federation of the Blind has argued that the word “blind” is best since that’s what we are, but many of our
own members have not been able to articulate the reasons for our position, and some have been lured down the path of visual-impairment circumlocutions.
Here is the short answer for why Dr. Jernigan taught us to do what we do.
In the first place Federationists have long since recognized that, to understand blindness correctly and also to know how properly to educate or rehabilitate
blind people, one must be aware of the fact that blind people as a class are a minority in every negative sense of that term. It is the erroneous and negative
public attitude about blindness that is the real problem with which we must deal. From infancy we have been taught that to be blind is to be helpless,
to be incompetent, and to be inferior. Members of the general public have believed it, and most of us have come to believe it too. In time the blindness
professionals also bought into the erroneous stereotyping and the low expectations that accompany feelings of inferiority.
We must change those erroneous public attitudes–the myths, misconceptions, and superstitions–first, of course, in ourselves and then in the broader society.
We also understand fully that these very negative and mistaken attitudes about the inferiority of the blind have found their way into the educational and
vocational rehabilitation systems. These very mistaken beliefs about blindness drive the professionals’ effort to get their customers to deny their blindness
at any price. And these mistaken beliefs must be eliminated as a key component of any high-quality education or rehabilitation program for the blind.
Finally, we of the Federation have come to know the fundamental truth that blind people are nothing more than normal people who cannot see and that, if
we receive proper (that is effective) training, including appropriate attitudinal adjustment, we can participate fully in society and compete on terms
of absolute equality with our sighted colleagues. We have learned that, for any blind person truly to become empowered and free, a process of what is commonly
called adjustment to blindness is essential. Learning to use the word “blind” with ease and comfort and accepting blindness as a normal fact of life is
a significant ingredient in the process. For it is commonly understood that you cannot change what you are not willing to acknowledge.
To summarize briefly, five major ingredients comprise this healing adjustment to blindness process. One, the blind individual must come to know and feel
emotionally, not just intellectually, that he or she is a normal person who can be just as independent and self-sufficient as sighted people are. Two,
he or she must become competent in the skills (the alternative techniques) of blindness. Three, he or she must learn to cope calmly and rationally with
the strange or unusual things other people do or say because of their complete misunderstanding and lack of accurate information about blindness. Four,
the blind person must learn to blend in to the broader society and to be acceptable to those around him or her. Behavior such as being punctual, neat and
appropriate in appearance, reliable, courteous, and free from blindisms, etc., is important to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes. And, five, the successful
and truly whole blind person will recognize the importance of giving back. This means contributing to society in general and assisting in the organized
Using the word “blind” with ease and comfort is part of the first of these empowering ingredients–coming emotionally, not just intellectually, to know
that he or she can be equal with others in our society. It is also part of this first adjustment ingredient that the blind person comes to know that he
or she is normal and that it is perfectly respectable to be blind.
For an exact analogy on the issues of denial and terminology, consider the struggle by African Americans to achieve equality and freedom. In the 1940s
and ’50s, and even on into the ’60s, some black Americans actually tried to solve their problems by pretending that they weren’t black at all but that
they were white–this practice, denial at its worst, was referred to as “trying to pass.” Some people tried to straighten their naturally curly hair or
lighten the color of their skin. Needless to say, this approach to conquering symptoms of inferiority didn’t work.
Then enlightened and gifted leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came upon the scene. He and others realized that pretending you are something other
than who you really are is fruitless and that the only meaningful way black Americans could ever achieve real freedom, equality, and self-respect was to
accept their blackness and then to work together to make it respectable to be black. Dr. King knew that ultimately you must learn to love yourself as you
are and for who you are to attain true freedom, dignity, and self-respect.
So it is with the blind. If you are blind but pretend that you are sighted–that is, if you engage in what some call the great masquerade, agony and frustration
will be the result. In my own case I pretended (I tried to pass and deny my blindness) for fourteen years–from age twelve to twenty-six–before I encountered
the National Federation of the Blind and became empowered. I have often marveled at the fact that I didn’t develop an extreme case of ulcers during this
painful time of my life. Since I believed that blindness meant inferiority, the fear that someone would learn just how blind I really was was very nearly
This brings us back to the ultimate truth. If you are blind, you are blind. Accept it. Admit it. The very first step in this process is to learn to be
able to say, with neither shame nor embarrassment, “I am blind.” Like other minorities we have a job to do–we must learn to accept our blindness and then
work with concerted action to make it respectable to be blind.
The same is true for professionals in the field of work with the blind. We have no business helping our blind customers (whether they be totally or partially
blind) deny what and who they are and to try to pass or engage in the great masquerade by pandering to their fear of the word “blindness” and what it stands
for in their minds. Rather, we too must learn that it is respectable to be blind. Only then can we truly help to empower and bring freedom to our customers
by helping them accept their blindness.
One final point needs to be made although, if it is not properly understood, it may muddy up everything I have said to this point in this article. When
I am talking about using the word “blind,” I am talking generally about what should be happening regularly in the Federation, university programs, schools
with blind students, or orientation and adjustment centers–in other words, in situations where people are actually involved in some type of positive experience.
When a newly blinded individual is first met, however, and where that initial effort is to get the person interested at all in the Federation or in some
kind of beneficial program, there are times when either we (or school or agency specialists) need to be willing to tread lightly and even use euphemisms
when employing them allows the customer to recognize that the program or activity in question is appropriate and might be helpful.
I learned this lesson the hard way. When I left my job at the National Labor Relations Board in New York City to return to Iowa to work for Kenneth Jernigan
at the Iowa Commission for the Blind, I first did some traveling with other, more experienced staff members to become familiar with each of the Commission’s
jobs. In traveling with one particularly talented VR counselor, I observed her for a few days and scarcely made a comment. Toward the end of the week I
decided that perhaps the time had come for me to participate. To get started I asked a man whom we were visiting, “How long have you been blind?” “Blind”
was not the word I should have used. “I’m not blind!” he screamed out at me with obvious distress.
As a novice, and perhaps as too much of a purist, I had failed to take into account that the people who have not yet accepted their blindness enough even
to get to the point of taking necessary training may need to be dealt with differently from those who have made the decision to get on with their lives.
From that day forward my approach changed completely when dealing with newly blinded people who had not yet agreed to enter a training program. “How long
have you had poor eyesight,” or some meaningless or useless variant thereof, became a routine part of my conversation. I did not want to make that same
mistake again and perhaps even undo what had already been done to begin to persuade that potential new customer to get involved in proper training.
Having understood this last point, we who are blind must become comfortable with who we are as people. As with black Americans, we who are blind must learn
to love ourselves as we are and for who we are, to attain true freedom, dignity, and self-respect.
Once we have come to know intellectually and to feel emotionally that we are normal people and that it is respectable to be blind, then I believe that
we of the Federation have a duty to pass it on so that others may experience the freedom and empowerment which flow from internalizing the truth about
blindness. So by all means use the word “blind” in your daily life and in helping those around you to get rid of the prejudice and low expectations that
flow from a belief that the blind are inferior, but be sparing in its use when you are meeting newly blinded people or members of their families. If you
approach the newly blinded in this way, it will not be long until their attitudes begin to shift. Eventually, of course, we of the Federation intend to
introduce the truth and to teach the whole world that it is respectable to be blind. We can make all of this come true if we stick doggedly to the principle
spelled out by some wise philosopher who said, “Life is action, not a spectator sport.”
Braille Literacy Canada PROUDLY PRESENTS A SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF
Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia
in Montreal November 4, 2018 – 2:30pm
Proceeds from this special presentation of Raising Stanley / Life With Tulia will benefit Braille Literacy Canada’s Edie Mourre Scholarship Campaign, and every dollar raised through this event will be matched dollar for dollar by a third party donor.
While the public is increasingly aware of service dogs, very few know much about the process of raising a guide dog puppy or the reality of the working life of a guide dog.
When you see a well-behaved guide dog for the blind walking easily with their handler along crowded streets, do you ever wonder, “How was this dog raised?” or “What’s life like working with a guide dog?” or perhaps “I wonder how the dog knows where to go?”
Using art in the form of storytelling and painting, Raising Stanley / Life With Tulia celebrates and describes the journey from puppyhood to working as a guide dog for the blind to being a pampered, retired pet. Storyteller Kim Kilpatrick and visual artist Karen Bailey have collaborated to bring you on a theatrical journey using storytelling and paintings that capture the essence of the guide dog experience – the good, the funny, and the magical – in a form that entertains and educates all ages, from children to seniors.
Join us after the show for a coffee to discuss what you’ve learned and ask the burning questions that have still gone unanswered.
Sunday, November 4th, 2018
Show 2:30pm – 3:45pm (reception to follow until 4:45pm)
Tickets $25 ($20 for Students)
CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts
5170, ch. de la Cote-Ste-Catherine, Montreal, QUebec
GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!
You may also order by phone by calling the Segal Centre for Performing Arts box office at 514-739-7944.
Copyright © 2018 Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Please share this invitation widely to anyone you think will benefit from our collective skills and knowledge.
Theme: Presentation by Richard Harlow – Accessible and Touchable Art
When: Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Time: 1:30 until 3:30 PM
Where: The 710 Club, 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo
- Presentation by Richard Harlow – Accessible Art
ALL BLIND AND VISION IMPAIRED PEOPLE WELCOME!
Richard creates tactile art that can be experienced via touch as well as sight!
For those who cannot experience art through sight, they can now feel the beauty of accessible art.
Much of his art can be experienced from a seated position – so someone in a wheelchair would have a great view.
Need more info?
You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Call us: 250-586-6285
OR visit our facebook page and message us there.
- Coffee and other goodies will be on offer.
- Bring your 2019 Membership Dues as they’re due by January 1, 2018.
NOVI Social and Recreational Organization, and the Get Together with Technology group come together to serve the peer mentoring, assistive technology and daily living skills development needs of Nanaimo and area residents.
Since 2001 the Nanaimo Organization of the Vision Impaired (NOVI) has served the social and recreational needs of Nanaimo residents, and recently this group altered its name to better reflect the dynamic nature of their brand of mutual support and forward thinking ideas and activities. It is now known as “No Obstacles for the Vision Impaired” (NOVI), and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the 710 Club from 1:30 until 3:30 PM.
Since 2013 Get Together with Technology (GTT), a program of the Canadian Council of the Blind, has been meeting monthly in Nanaimo to provide opportunities for blind and partially sighted residents to learn more about the assistive technology so prevalent in our lives as we attempt to level the playing field in education, social interaction, recreation and independent living.
These two groups have embarked on an amalgamation of their efforts while expanding their support to the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted residents of the Nanaimo and Parksville areas. In order to facilitate this collaboration GTT has moved its meetings to align with the Tuesday NOVI gatherings so the two organizations can consolidate their human resources that more and better support may be delivered.
- 1st Tuesday from 1:30 until 3:30 PM, NOVI Social/recreational gathering in Nanaimo lead by Henk Pauelsen.
Forth Saturday from 10:00 AM until 12 Noon, GTT Nanaimo and NOVI members will meet at the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Nanaimo Downtown Branch, 90 Commercial Street to discuss access to information issues, assistive technology and anything pertaining to living with, and adjusting to vision loss. VIRL staff also participate in these Saturday morning meetings to provide information about services and supports available through the Public Library system.
NOVI and GTT will retain their independent organizational structures and membership dues, however will work in collaboration on local social activities, learning independence skills and peer mentoring endeavours.
For more information please contact:
Henk Pauelsen at 250-586-6285 or NOVI-Group@Shaw.ca
Living Without Looking/Independent Living Skills:
Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 or IAmDonnaHudon@Gmail.com
Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343 or albert.GTT@CCBNational.nett
What Does �Blind� Have to Do with It? The Right to Parent from a Sighted Daughter’s Perspective
— Read on nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm18/bm1808/bm180812.htm