Why I Wish Society Would Stop 'Hiding Under a Blanket' About Disability


Dear Society,

There are a few things I wish you would understand about my life as a person who is blind.

People who are blind do not need to be spoon fed, unless they’re still toddlers. A spoonful of sugar only helps the medicine go down, it does not help someone live with blindness — so stop sugarcoating life and disabilities in general.

As someone who is blind, I am not dependent on others for daily tasks such as getting dressed, brushing my teeth, and cooking. When I listen to a book, I will proudly say that I read it, because that’s my way of reading. I am capable of going to college and getting a job. I am able to cross streets and travel on my own. I am not helpless. I do not enjoy pity. And I refuse to accept a politically correct society that revels in calling me “differently abled” instead of disabled.

If you are blind, you have a disability. To whomever came up with “differently abled,” I’m sure it was with very good intentions. I understand your line of thinking. People with disabilities cope in our own ways and adapt with different abilities, and thus are differently abled. However, I refuse to accept the soft padded room that some in my generation seem to want. I am disabled. Just because some people have chosen to view disability as a negative, that doesn’t mean I do. I am also a firm believer in person first language. To me the person comes before their disability. I am not my blindness. I am a woman named Gabriella first, and blind second.

I’m tired of living in a society that refuses to acknowledge that I have a disability, that I’m blind. Society is so careful not to ask questions, for fear of causing offense. It would be nice to one day live in a society that saw me first, and my blindness second. Unfortunately, that is not the way things are right now.

I believe fear is the reason people don’t mention my blindness, are afraid to laugh at my humorous take on it, and unsuccessfully hide their pity. I wish people would get out from under their blankets and stop hiding from the Overly Politically Correct Monster. He only bites a little, and you’ll be all the better for it.

And don’t worry, I’m also guilty of holding too tightly to the blanket.

I’m tired of living in a society that perpetuates blindness stereotypes. Just because you saw it once, that does not mean it should be generalized. For instance, a few months ago, my guide dog and I were kicked out of a bakery because I did not look like I was blind. People who are blind are all different. We don’t all carry canes, especially if we have a guide dog. We don’t all wear dark sunglasses. We don’t all use echolocation (clicking noises) to get around. We don’t wear mismatched clothing… at least not all the time. We’re not constantly running into things… only sometimes. We don’t need “helpers” to function.

I know I’m being harsh. I thought it’d feel better if I ripped the Band-Aid off fast, instead of going through a slow and painful process. It’s OK to be curious. It’s OK to encourage independence in children who are blind. It’s OK to kindly offer help to those who are blind, and to walk away if they refuse it.

I don’t think many people are ready to get rid of their blankets — I know I’m not. But I’m trying to hide beneath one that is much smaller than the one I’ve become accustomed to.

Sincerely,

Gabriella Drago, a girl who is blind

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