National Federation of the Blind Comments on Foundation Fighting Blindness #HowEyeSeeIt Campaign
Baltimore, Maryland (September 26, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind commented today on the #HowEyeSeeIt challenge launched in the past month by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has garnered considerable recent publicity. The NFB has also delivered a letter to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and NFB members are using the #HowEyeSeeIt hash tag to counter the campaign via social media.
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind is deeply concerned that the #HowEyeSeeIt challenge, as currently structured, will do lasting harm to the ability of millions of blind Americans to live the lives we want. In encouraging people who are not blind to don blindfolds and make videos of themselves attempting everyday tasks, this campaign perpetuates the fears, misconceptions, and low expectations that society has about blindness by giving those who take the challenge or view the videos an inaccurate understanding of the lived experience of blind people. In particular, suggesting that it is difficult or impossible for blind parents to care for their children is false and irresponsible. As a blind father of three children who also happens to be married to a blind person, I can say unequivocally that, with nonvisual techniques, we can, and do, capably parent thriving children every day. Yet children have been removed from the custody of blind parents solely because of misconceptions about their ability to care for them, without any actual proof of abuse or neglect, and the #HowEyeSeeIt campaign threatens to worsen this already grave problem. This is only one example of how this campaign will harm the chances of blind people, including board members and supporters of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, to live productive and happy lives.
"To be clear, we have no quarrel with the Foundation Fighting Blindness or the medical research that it seeks to fund. However, we believe that this particular method of gathering support will harm the very people whom the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the National Federation of the Blind, in different but complementary ways, seek to help. I and other members of the National Federation of the Blind have told the Foundation Fighting Blindness that the perpetuation of misconceptions about, and by extension discrimination against, the blind is unacceptable, but so far we have been ignored. We therefore demand that the Foundation Fighting Blindness stop filling its coffers by spreading misconceptions and jeopardizing the dreams and aspirations of blind people."