Members and leaders of the National Federation of the Blind from across the nation do a fantastic job of countering low expectations, misconceptions, and stereotypes about blindness. We believe the #HowEyeSeeIt Blindfold Challenge being promoted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness unnecessarily perpetuates negative perceptions and fears about living with blindness. If you haven't taken action yet, or want to let others know how to counteract this harmful fundraising campaign, here are three quick tips:
1. Don't participate. Putting on a blindfold for a few minutes is not the way to learn about blindness and blind people. This does not demonstrate the reality of what it is like to live successfully and independently as a blind person. Do not participate in the #HowEyeSeeIt Blindfold Challenge.
2. Don't donate. The National Federation of the Blind generally supports medical research on eye conditions, but spreading fears and misconceptions about blindness is not the right way to fund this research. New treatments or cures may or may not be available in the future, but the one thing we know for sure is that perpetuating fear about being blind jeopardizes the dreams and aspirations of blind people living successfully and independently today. The Foundation Fighting Blindness must understand that this approach is unacceptable, and does not portray the lived experience of blind people; there must be consequences. Don't donate to the Foundation Fighting Blindness until it stops spreading unfounded fears regarding blindness and blind people.
3. Educate. Blind people, along with our family members, friends, and supporters, please post photos and, preferably, short videos with the #HowEyeSeeIt hashtag showing how blind people perform various tasks and live the lives they want. If you're blind, take a few minutes to make a video of yourself preparing a meal, cleaning the house, or playing with your children. Here are some tips for shooting a video. If you're sighted, help a blind friend or family member make a video, or make one yourself in which you talk about what you have learned from the blind people you know and how they are living the lives they want. You can watch my video contribution on YouTube.
It's really that simple: don't participate in the #HowEyeSeeIt Blindfold Challenge or donate to the FFB. Instead, educate the public on how blind people live the lives we want.