Ten Advantages of Being Blind
by Julie McGinnity
Editor's Note: When I saw this post on social media, I reached out to Julie to ask if she’d be willing to let us post it to our blog. This is a great example of someone who lives the life she wants.
Ten Advantages of Being Blind (brought to you by me, not on behalf of the entire blindness community):
1. I can always read my own hand (Braille) writing.
2. I can read in the dark or no matter what is going on around me visually. One time in middle school, we lost power, and I had to tell everyone to quiet down because I was still reading while they were freaking out.
3. I can read presentation notes and still look straight at the audience.
4. I'm not inhibited by a default to sight as the only sense worth using. Need to put batteries in something? Need to use a screwdriver? Need to pack a bag or get something out of it? What about feeling how clothes fit in addition to or instead of looking in the mirror? It is my understanding that sighted people literally depend on their eyes, and only their eyes, to do these things (and more) in general, and they don't really have to. I can do the exact same things by using my other senses and often, I’m more efficient at the task.
5. I literally cannot judge someone based on how they look. Don't get me wrong, blind people can be just as judgmental as sighted people, but we can't use the visual beauty bias against people or make snap judgments about a first impression that relies on sight. That's just off the table and honestly helpful when meeting someone.
6. I don't have to care about cars! Sure, I have to care about transportation and how I will get somewhere. But car makes and models? Nope. Thank goodness, too, because there are very few things more uninteresting to me than cars and their mechanics. I also don't have to own a car and will never be pressured to do so. Quite a relief, if you ask me.
7. I literally don't have to look where I'm going. Although I certainly have to pay attention to where I'm walking, I can have my head turned in any direction as I listen to a noise, talk to a friend, or look towards my dog to work with him. Not to mention, I can put hoods and scarves over my face if I want.
8. Since audio books have been an important part of my life and education, I learned from an early age that I can listen to a book while doing almost anything. Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, anything, all while being wrapped up in another world. It's magical, and although some sighted people probably do this, I've never met any.
9. I have been able to work with a dog in one of the closest human/dog partnerships available to people. Not all blind people want guide dogs, but remember this list is personal to me. I cannot imagine my life without the bond and connection partnering with a dog brings. I knew when I was very little that I wanted a guide dog, that I would love working with one, and that I would live my life on six legs as soon as I could. It's always felt off to me to call my dog my eyes. He is an experience, a lifestyle, and my companion traveler who keeps me safe. I actually pity my sighted friends who will never know what it is to work with a dog.
10. I love my blind friends. The blindness community has its struggles and issues; don't they all? But I knew diversity before I understood what it was because I got the opportunity to meet blind kids from all kinds of backgrounds. By the time I was in college, I had blind friends from all over the country. How many middle class sighted kids can say that? I've been to conventions and received mentorship others have to scrape up on their own. My life is a thousand times richer, and I have been educated on so many things, in addition to blindness, because of these friends and this community.
Not sure where this came from... I just get very sad when I see posts about how awful it is being blind. Although I understand everyone's experience is different and that there is grief that comes with a loss of sight, I also want to share my love of my identity with everyone. For me, it's not a death sentence or a punishment or anything negative, though there can certainly be downsides to it as well. It's just who I am, and it's completely normal.