With this volume we publish the tenth Kernel Book. The first nine have been well received. No, they have been more than that. The comments have been nationwide and enthusiastic. I think it is not too much to say that these little books are playing a significant part in changing what it means to be blind in America in the last decade of the twentieth century. And what are the Kernel Books about? They deal with blindness, but not in a medical or professional way. They are a departure from what is usually written, an attempt to take the mystery out of blindness by giving firsthand accounts of how blind people live on a daily basis. Other firsthand stories about blindness have also been written, of course, but not in such large numbers and not in this format. Year after year and book after book we are building a picture that shows what blind people are really like and how they feel. The details differ, but the pattern is the same. In effect, the people who are writing in these pages are saying:
Blindness is not as strange as you may think it is, and it doesn't have to be as terrifying. I am blind, and this is how I lead my lifenot just in broad terms but in my daily activities. Here is how I know whether a light is on when I enter a roomhow I cook my food, raise my children, and participate in church activities. Mostly my life is just about like yours. It has more routine than drama about it, being a mixture of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears.
I don't spend most of my time thinking about blindness. It is simply one of the facts of my life. I remember it when I need to, but that's about all. I think about who is running for president, last night's dinner, and today's discussion with a friend.
This is what the people who appear in this book are saying. I know them. They are friends of mine, colleagues in the National Federation of the Blind. Some have been my students. I have met others in a variety of ways. But by and large, our common bond is the National Federation of the Blind.
In fact, the National Federation of the Blind has been the vehicle for improving the quality of life for blind people throughout the country. It has certainly changed my life, teaching me to think about my blindness in new ways and helping me understand what I can do and be.
The Federation is a nationwide organization primarily composed of blind people. It is a self-help and self-support organization, believing that blind people should take responsibility for their own lives and that what they need is training and opportunity, not dependence and lifelong care. The Federation believes that blind people can and should do for themselves, that they should work with each other and cooperate with their sighted neighbors to make the world better than it now is.
As to the specifics of the present Kernel Book, the title pretty much says it. It is never too late to learn new techniques and new ways of thought. This is true for the blind as well as the sighted, the old as well as the young. We hope you will enjoy these stories and that whether your goal is to climb a mountain or knit a sweater, you will succeedand that along the way you will learn new tricks.