Editors Introduction

This is the fifteenth volume in the Kernel Book series. Its title, To Touch the Untouchable Dream, comes from the article by Ed and Toni Eames, who recently went to South Africa. They tell of their visit to a game preserve and the techniques they used to experience the wonder of it.

The first of the Kernel Books was issued almost eight years ago, and since that time, more than three million have been put into circulation. If generalizations were effective, we could have saved a lot of paper, space, and time by writing a single paragraph or two to convey our message. It would probably go something like this:

Being blind is not what almost everybody thinks it is. Contrary to popular belief, the real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight but the misconceptions and misunderstandings which exist—misconceptions and misunderstandings by the public at large and also, unfortunately, sometimes by many of the blind themselves. However, we are learning new ways of thought about blindness, and every day our situation is improving. This is true because we have established our own nationwide self-help organization, the National Federation of the Blind, and because more and more sighted friends are doing what they can to help us.

We know that with proper training and opportunity the average blind person can do the average job in the average place of business and do it as well as a sighted person similarly situated. We know that blind children can successfully live and compete with sighted children, that blind seniors can function as well as sighted seniors, and that there is almost no job that some blind person is not competently doing. In short, through the work of the National Federation of the Blind and of our sighted friends and associates we are changing what it means to be blind.

If generalizations were effective, we could, as I have said, have saved a great deal of effort by simply writing and distributing these two paragraphs. But generalizations are not effective. They don't convey a sense of reality, so we give details and write the Kernel Books. The present volume is part of the process.

What happens when a blind man who has been an outdoorsman goes camping and climbs a tall tree while a passing tourist stops to watch? You will learn in this book, and I think you will find the interchange interesting. At least, I did since I was on hand to observe it.

And what happens when a blind father, waiting for his wife, is holding his baby in his arms and is approached by a sighted bystander, who believes that the blind are not competent to do such things? Then there is the blind person who teaches another blind person to operate a chain saw, and the blind woman who talks about baking bread. These and other true-life first person stories appear in this volume.

This is not the stuff of high drama. Rather, it is an account of the ordinary routine of daily life, the detailing of how average human beings live and work and play—perhaps as compelling in the long run as the most graphic international news story. I know the people who appear in these pages. They are friends and colleagues of mine.

Besides blindness, we have at least one other thing in common. We give our time and effort to the work of the National Federation of the Blind. We do this because the organization is the focal point for improving the quality of life for the blind of this country. Life has been good to us, and we feel the need to give something back—to help the newly blind, blind children, blind job seekers, blind seniors, and each other. We feel strongly that we must contribute as well as take, but we also realize that if we are to go the rest of the way to real equality, we will need help from sighted friends. These are our core beliefs, and we feel great hope and confidence in the future.

I hope you will find this book, the fifteenth in the series, both interesting and entertaining. If you do, we will have achieved our purpose and come one step closer to touching the untouchable dream.

Kenneth Jernigan
Baltimore, Maryland