Future Reflections October 1981, Vol. 1 No. 1

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Myths and Facts about Blindness

As a parent of a blind child, you have probably realized that there are many beliefs about blindness and blind people that simply are not true. Some of these myths are now, to us, obvious and even laughable; others are very subtle, more difficult to detect, and therefore much more damaging to the image of our children and to all blind people.

"Myths and Facts about Blindness" will be a regular feature in each issue of this newsletter. The format may change from time to time, that is, the discussion of myths and facts will not always be in the form of a true/false test. We hope you will write in to contribute to this feature, and let us know about your views and experiences.


This will test your knowledge and attitudes about blindness. Answer true or false and give yourself a score of ten for each correct answer.
Answers are listed below the test.

1. Blind children will be more frightened of their environment than sighted children.

2. Sighted children of blind parents are smarter than children of sighted parents.

3. Blind children very often successfully attend regular public schools.

4. When a person loses one sense, such as sight, the other senses become more acute to make up for the loss.

5. A blind child can learn to read Braille just as efficiently as a sighted child can learn to read print.

Answers to True/False Test

1. FALSE....We are all individuals and are made up of many characteristics; this is true whether we be blind or sighted. Some blind children may be naturally shy and timid, therefore easily frightened of their surroundings. Other blind children are extremely bold and will venture forth to learn everything they can. We must also rememember that one's environment will affect how fearful or bold a child will be. A child from a quiet, orderly, very structured home may be more easily frightened of anything new than a child from a boisterous, less orderly family where she is expected to handle frequent changes in her schedule and environment. A blind child's ability to handle changes in her environment depends, just as it does with all children, basically upon her personality, and how her home environment has prepared her to deal with such changes.

2. FALSE....It is sometimes believed by the public that such children are born smarter to make up for their parents loss. This is not true. The very young sighted child of blind parents does not do the leading, cooking, cleaning, reading and other caretaker jobs. Their children need not, nor should they, take on tasks before they are old enough, or mature enough to handle them.

3. TRUE....More and more blind children are being found in regular classes with other sighted children. Many schools have itinerant teachers who teach such necessary skills as cane travel, Braille, typing, and progressive attitudes about blindness. The rest of the child's learning is in the classroom with the regular teacher and sighted students.

4. FALSE....Blind persons may, through experience or training, use their other senses more, but those senses will not become measurably more acute or better. In short, if you have a hearing loss then lose your vision, don't expect your hearing to improve -- it won't. Anyone, however, can learn to use their senses more efficiently, and many blind people have done this.

5. TRUE....According to Doris Willoughby in A Resource Guide for Parents and Educators of Blind Children: "...with proper training and practice, most students can learn to read and write Braille at a speed which is appropriate and competitive in school and on the job." Sadly, many blind persons never reach their reading potential. The key is, of course, in the "proper training and practice" which necessarily includes positive attitudes about Braille. Teachers with inferior Braille skills, negative attitudes about the usefulness of Braille, and low expectations of their students will generally produce students with inferior Braille skills, negative attitudes about Braille, and low expectations of themselves as Braille users. Reading print quickly and efficiently comes from years and years of training, experience, and a love of reading. The same is true for learning Braille.

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