Editor's Introduction

Five years ago we printed What Color is the Sun, the first volume in the Kernel Book series. Now we come to the eleventh, Beginnings and Blueprints. Although the previous ten and this volume contain widely divergent subject matter they have a constant theme—what it is like to live on a daily basis as a blind person. Just as with the others, the stories in this book are true. They are the firsthand accounts of blind men and women as they live and love, work and play, laugh and cry.

The people who appear in these pages are friends of mine. I know them through our joint efforts in the National Federation of the Blind. We have come together to help and encourage each other, to find other blind people who can benefit from being part of the Federation, to participate in joint activities for self-improvement, and to inform the sighted public about what we are and what we are trying to do.

In short, we are changing what it means to be blind, and an increasing number of you our readers are helping us do it. If we are to achieve our goal, we think it must be done with a lighter touch than preaching and statistics. That is why we began the publication of the Kernel Books and why we try to produce at least two of them each year. They tell of the everyday happenings in the lives of ordinary men and women—people just like you: a man and his children who repair a roof, a mother who wonders what the future holds for her daughter, and a man who likes to go fishing.

These are people who might live next door—people who go to work, raise children, experience disappointments, make successes, plan for the future, think about tomorrow's dinner, wonder about taxes and wage increases, and hope for better things ahead--people who yearn and dream, laugh and cry—just like you.

We hope that when you read this book, you will feel that you know those of us who appear in its pages and that you will, in a very real sense, regard us as friends and acquaintances. We are trying to take the mystery out of blindness, for our lives as we lead them are not mysterious.

In many instances they could better be described as run-of-the-mill. I say this even though I know that it is not possible for a blind person to live a completely run-of-the-mill life in today's society as it is currently structured. Too many people believe we are either thoroughly helpless or thoroughly marvelous (or perhaps both) to permit it. Since around 50,000 people become blind in this country each year there is a perfectly good reason for every member of the sighted public to learn about blindness and what it is like. It will inevitably happen to a family member, a friend, or a neighbor.

But that is not the principal reason for you to learn what this book has to tell. All of us (blind and sighted alike) will have richer lives if we see each other realistically and with understanding. It is better for all of us to achieve our full potential than for some of us to be left behind unnecessarily.

Above all, I hope you will enjoy this book, that you will find it interesting and worthwhile. Beyond that, I hope you will contact us if you need our help or want information about blindness, or if a friend or family member needs help. The Kernel Books are becoming a major factor in changing what it means to be blind, and you are an important part of the process.

Kenneth Jernigan
Baltimore, Maryland

Why Large Type?

The type size used in this book is 14 point for two important reasons: One, because typesetting of 14 point or larger complies with federal standards for the printing of materials for visually impaired readers, and we wanted to show you what type size is helpful for people with limited sight. The second reason is that many of our friends and supporters have asked us to print our paperback books in 14-point type so they too can easily read them. Many people with limited sight do not use Braille. We hope that by printing this book in a larger type than customary, many more people will be able to benefit from it.