[bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

  • From: Slythy_Tove <mcg907@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2006 09:39:00 -0800 (PST)

Oh, no, Neal, I don't suspect anyone particularly find you to be blind and 
pitiful.  I simply have heard so many comments over the years from people who 
expostulated about the blind (isn't that just a pitiful thing - poor man/woman 
- can you imagine being like that?)  or the deaf (hey, look at the dummy!  What 
a retard!).  Society, in general, would rather the disabled be out of sight and 
out of mind and probably would be happy if we had huge institutions to lock 
folks away again.  

I remember a really crass woman in a restaurant making a fuss because my sister 
took her daughter, who had serious brain damage from a warm water drowning, out 
to eat with us.  The woman kept making nasty remarks about how disgusting it 
was to take something like that out in public and I had one of my Mt. Vesuvius 
moments and let her have it.  We got in quite a shouting match and, 
interestingly enough, the restaurant asked her to leave, not us.  Score one for 
the good guys.

I know what it is like to be treated differently in that when I was a child 
many folks thought I was Indian (as in Native American) because of my dark hair 
and skin and in North Dakota and Idaho being Indian is was a chancy thing back 
then.  Or they thought I was Mexican (including the Mexicans) when I could not 
speak a lick of Spanish.  My Mom was part something - part what is open to 
debate - black, asian - something that is decidedly a "person of color" so 
people never knew what to make of me, but in little towns where Mom is the 
"donut lady" and Dad is "the judge" I was pretty much left alone.  In Alaska I 
was routinely considered Native Alaskan or outside Indian, but over the years 
in the land of sunlight coming from in from a slant I seem to have lost much of 
my ingrained pigmentation and no one thinks I look anything but white now. 

Yeah, there is a lot of that "look what the blind person can do" stuff that 
goes around.  Dan has been insulted a time or two when people marvel that he 
can sign his name.  They don't realize they are being rude - they just have no 
concept how anyone who is blind can function at all because they can't imagine 
it.  And then there is the "Stevie Wonder" or "Ray Charles" syndrome where it 
is just so amazing.  (sigh)

At law school one of the teachers is in a power chair with a progressive 
neuromuscular illness.  My kid spent time in a chair so I both could talk chair 
technicalities with him and also see him as a human being who happened to be in 
a chair.  We have often commisserated over the fact that as soon as you go into 
a chair you lose your identity as a human being and become the chair.  People 
would walk up to me and say, "What is wrong with her?" to which I'd respond, 
"Why don't you ask her?  She's not deaf."  People will do the same thing with 
Dan and I'll generally do the same thing, "Ask him.  He's blind, not deaf."  
People are so darn intimdated by anything other than totally normal - whatever 
that is. 

I can believe you were on tour.  You are a gifted musician and I loved your 
Christmas music, especially your own compositions. 


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