[nfbwatlk] class essay

Lauren Merryfield lauren1 at catliness.com
Sat Jun 18 20:56:48 UTC 2011

Wow!  That belongs in the Monitor!!!
Really well-written, and true.
advice from my cats: "meow when you feel like it."
"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." ~
Albert Schweitzer
My new book, "there's more than one way to love a cat," is available at 
Visit us at catliness.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mary Ellen" <gabias at telus.net>
To: "'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'" <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 10:43 PM
Subject: [nfbwatlk] class essay

> Our daughter Joanne is a linguistic anthropology student and was assigned 
> to
> do a one page essay on the ways society reenforces discrimination.  She
> could have chosen a number of groups and picked one from any number of 
> ways
> that discrimination and bigotry is permitted to continue.  Here's what she
> said about language and the blind.
> Don't Turn a Blind Eye on the Discrimination Against the Blind
> By Joanne Gabias
>                North American societies are trying more and more to be
> accepting of disabilities. They do so by adding Braille to elevator 
> buttons,
> adding closed captioning on television, and making sure there are 
> wheelchair
> accessible parking spaces. These actions may alleviate discrimination to 
> an
> extent, but in everyday society, discrimination is far from extinct. As we
> know, language creates, transmits and perpetuates culture. In our society,
> expressions that refer to someone as being naive, inattentive or stupid 
> all
> use the word blind.  Discrimination against the blind can only diminish 
> once
> our language removes these connotations (of being naive, inattentive or
> stupid) from the word blind.
>                 "What are you, blind?" This statement is normal in 
> everyday
> speech in our society. No matter the context, this phrase is degrading, 
> and
> indicates the person is subpar.  Until this expression is out of our
> linguistic vocabulary, it is impossible for a blind person to be treated
> with respect and not be cast in these stereotypes of being naive,
> inattentive or stupid.
>                "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" -
> Desiderius Erasmus. This famous quote, once again or almost more so, shows
> the blind as inferior human beings. This quote implies that the blind can
> never achieve greatness. They will always be lower than everyone else. In
> fact, having no sight rather than a small amount of sight is more
> advantageous, since having a small amount of sight can be unreliable in 
> many
> situations.
>                The English proverb "the eyes are the window to the soul"
> implies that people whose eyes don't work, don't have souls, and souls are
> required to be human in our culture. In other words, the blind are not
> human.  Our society puts so much importance on sight that it is difficult
> for a blind person to show the world they are just as able as a sighted
> person.
>                The list of linguistic discrimination towards blind people
> is abundant. Until the connection between blindness and naive, inattentive
> and stupid is removed from our language, discrimination towards the blind
> will continue to be transmitted and perpetuated throughout our culture. 
> As
> Mark Twain once said "The difference between the right word and the
> almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning 
> bug."
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