Braille Monitor January 1985
When we say we are changing what it means to be blind, we are speaking literally, not figuratively. The myths, the stereotypes, the traditions which are taken for granted--even the words which have always been used are being called into question. As more and more Federationists become increasingly conscious of how the world regards the blind and behaves toward blind people, they make the connection between actions and language--between the subtleties of speech and the subtleties of behavior. Betty Pacelli is such a Federationist. She is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.. She is gracious, courteous, and even-tempered; but she is also a person who believes in speaking her mind. Recently she had occasion to write to the National Society to Prevent Blindness. Her purpose was not to engage in confrontation or vituperation but gently and firmly to call the Society's attention to a matter which she thought should be changed:
November 8, 1984
On October 15 and 16, 1984, the Danbury Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut held an informational display in the lobby of the Danbury Hospital. The display included a receiver from the Connecticut Radio Information Service (CRIS) with literature explaining the program, aids and appliances which blind people use in daily living as alternative techniques, and literature about blindness from the National Federation of the Blind. We were observing White Cane Safety Day, which is recognized nationally. Mayor James E. Dyer, Mayor of Danbury, presented the Danbury Chapter with a proclamation to further support the day. We also had available literature from your society including: The Aging Eye, Cataract, Glaucoma, Your Eye For A Lifetime, Macular Degeneration, and Diabetic Retinopathy. In reading the pamphlets ahead of time, I found one thing that I would ask you to consider changing with your next printing. That is the use of the word "victim." It appears in the Glaucoma pamphlet and in The Aging Eye pamphlet.
I have glaucoma, and I honestly do not feel like a "victim." I am a woman who is legally blind, a patient of an ophthalmologist, a mother, a grandmother, a very busy lady who is involved with the National Federation of the Blind, and I do not feel like a "victim."
The way a person deals with any part of life depends so much on how he/she feels about him or herself. If I were to think of myself as a "victim," I would probably be living a very different life today.
So, there it is. The word "victim" could so easily be replaced by something more nearly in accord with the facts. I hope you will consider this change so that when others read your literature, they will not feel "victimized." Thank you for any consideration and response.