Future Reflections Special Issue: Sports, Fitness, and Blindness
What is the truth about blindness? The pursuit of the answer to this question is not some head-in-the-clouds, philosophical exercise far removed from the realities of everyday life for parents and teachers of blind children. It is not even one of many important questions--it is the only question.
Consider, for example, an ordinary life skill typically taught by parents: making a bed. Can a blind kid learn to make his/her own bed? If so, when should he/she learn? On average, how fast and how thoroughly can he/she be expected to make the bed? Is it possible for a blind person to be as efficient, as thorough, and as fast as a sighted peer? If one blind person can demonstrate equality or even superiority in bed-making, does this prove anything regarding the capacities of blind people in general? What difference will it make in the life of a blind child whether he or she ever learns to make a bed? Does the capacity to make a bed have anything to do with the larger question of whether or not this child will someday be able to get a job and earn a competitive paycheck? The answers to these questions about a simple, mundane task are all connected to what one believes to be true about blindness.
And thatís what this publication is all about: The pursuit of the truth about blindness. We--that is, the collective ďweĒ of the National Federation of the Blind--provide our readers with all the evidence we can muster based on the accumulation of knowledge gained over decades through the collective experiences of thousands of blind people. This task is not easy for it involves busting down some tough myths about blindness. For it is these myths, not the physical fact of blindness, that are the greatest barriers to full participation in the community. The purpose of this special issue on sports and fitness is to help you break down such barriers for your son, daughter, or student at home, in school, and in the community. Of all the myths about blindness, one of the most stubborn to overcome is the belief that blind people canít do anything physically challenging.
Some of the articles in this issue are originals and some are reprints from previous issues of Future Reflections or other publications. They are a collection of stories by and about blind adults, blind kids, parents, PE teachers, and coaches which confirm this truth: blind kids donít have to be relegated to the swing on the playground, keeping score during PE class, or sitting at home listening to music while everybody else goes to the ballgame. Blind kids can swing a bat, race down the soccer field, rock-climb with friends, dive at the community pool, compete on the gymnastics team, hike up mountains, play a family game of touch football, cheer on his or her favorite team at the sports stadium, and more. They can, that is, if we expect it and give them lots of opportunities to practice and build up stamina, dexterity, strength, and resilience in body and in mind. This is a truth you can count on.