It Takes Two Wings to Fly
Amazing to me that in 2024, discrimination and ableism are still prevalent in the disabled and blind communities. Those of us who are blind know THIS IS TRUE. The unemployment rate has plateaued at 70%, transportation discrimination with rideshare companies is high among guide dog users, and websites are mainly geared to those with sight leaving the blind in the dust in acquiring equal access to information.
Discrimination and ableism in society are so rampant that it has practically become the norm. “That’s the way it is.” There are low expectations of what blind people can do, and blind people themselves begin to take on this belief, leaving both society and the blind hard-pressed to lift both their wings and fly.
It takes two wings for a bird to fly. The blind person must believe they can fly and society needs to empower the blind person to fly. Thus, the two wings.
When I spoke to the faculty and students at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in January 2020, the faculty told me that the biggest issue amongst their middle and high school students was suicide. When I inquired as to how come, I was told this was due to the fact that the students believed they didn’t have a future and couldn’t make it in today’s society!!
I Was Stunned!
Back when I attended a parochial high school in the early 70s, I was thrown into the depths of deep depression. Being the first and only blind student in a sighted school was challenging psychologically and physically. Access to Braille books took three months leaving me behind in all my classes. Cane travel was unheard of for blind students and mobility instruction was left for when blind people entered society. With no one to talk to and even with my parents I felt isolated and alone. Therapy would have been a welcomed option and relief. However, my parents and teachers choked my inward spiral to teenage hormones. And yet, in my wildest dreams did I ever think of killing myself. As an adult, I have had thoughts of suicide and even have had a plan. Fortunately, I had the love and support of a professional psychotherapist and I am who I am today because of her.
WE MUST BE THE CHANGE! We, as a society must change our perspective on how we see blind people. We must have high expectations for what they can do! It’s up to us to nurture, guide, and empower them to be all they can be!!! If we do our part, then, the blind children (and adults) of tomorrow will grow up knowing that all things are possible! When they know this down to their core, they will be productive members of society.
Blind people, like me, have a lot to contribute to society and the world at large. It’s first up to society to learn, educate, and teach themselves a new perspective. Then, and only then, can the back pacts of discrimination and ableism be taken off and the wings of high expectation and normalization can be put on. It takes two wings to fly-society and the blind. Together we can make it happen and change the way we see and change the way we live.