The Braille Monitor                                                                      _______    December 1997

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Don Morris
Don Morris
Boy examines goat.   In backgroung other animals are visible
David Seyfarth of Mississippi examines a mountain goat with the help of a friend.

 

Setting the Record Straight about Sensory Safari

From the Editor: At almost every National Convention since 1991, we have enjoyed interesting displays of mounted bird and animal trophies provided by members of Safari Clubs International. Volunteers from the group also conduct individual or small-group tours of the mounts, pointing out interesting details and offering tidbits of information about the species at hand. Those who have taken advantage of these opportunities have found the experience enlightening and fun. The Sensory Safaris have been particularly helpful to blind children through the years since they are certainly unlikely to learn in any other way exactly what a mountain lion looks like, how large an elephant's foot is, or how wide a wolf's mouth actually opens.

Members of Safari International are understandably proud of their contributions of trophies and volunteer effort to help blind people appreciate the beauty and power of wildlife. Not surprisingly the group's magazine, the Safari Times, carried a story about the New Orleans Sensory Safari in its August, 1997, issue. Also not surprisingly, they got some of the facts wrong and inflated the centrality of the exhibit that its Louisiana members put together for our convention. Don Morris, one of the leaders of the NFB of Maryland, read the article and was moved to set the record straight. This is what he wrote:

August 14, 1997

S.J. Sagi
Safari Times Editor
Tucson, Arizona

Dear Mr. Sagi:

My son Kirk, who is an avid hunter and a member of the Safari Club International, shared the August, 1997, Safari Times with me.

I read the article about the Sensory Safari (page 16) with interest. I have been a member of the National Federation of the Blind since 1967 and on several occasions have gone through the terrific exhibit put on by SCI. Your club and its members are to be commended for sharing their enjoyment of the hunt as well as sharing their knowledge of these fine specimens.

Not to be critical but from the perspective of a purist, I would like to correct and add a few elements to your article. First, the 1997 convention of the National Federation of the Blind was the largest gathering of blind people ever assembled anywhere on earth. We registered 3,346 conferees. Our convention lasted not only from June 30 to July 1, when the Sensory Safari was present, but through a full slate of day-long meetings from June 28 to July 6, 1997.

In this age of political correctness I noted Mr. Stroup's reference to our members as "sight impaired." In fact, we believe it is okay to use the word "blind." Often euphemisms are offered so as not to offend or embarrass. However, we who are blind do not require such niceties. We believe that blindness need not be more than a physical characteristic. It is not a condition which embarrasses us. It does require us to learn alternative techniques in order to compete on the basis of equality with our sighted peers.

Please see the enclosed article as an additional eye-opener about blindness. I am sending a reprint from the Braille Monitor, the monthly publication of the National Federation of the Blind, about a blind Federationist from Waterloo, Iowa. Ted Hart is a competent, confident, creative, and enthusiastic person who has not let blindness stop him from accomplishing his goals. The article describes how Ted, a totally blind person, acquired his own personal trophy.

Thanks again to your club and its members for bringing examples of wildlife that we can discern tactilely. Your efforts help broaden our experience and knowledge. We look forward to seeing you in Dallas.

Best regards,

Donald J. Morris