Braille Monitor                                                    March 2008

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A Child's View of Blindness

by Judy Jones

From the Editor: Judy Jones and her husband Chris are leaders in the NFB of Washington. They have raised their two daughters to share the NFB’s philosophy about blindness. In the article that follows, Judy tells the story of an early example of the benefits of this healthy attitude about blindness. This is what she says:

My husband Chris and I are both blind, and, when our eldest daughter was three years old, an incident occurred that gave both of us an interesting perspective we have shared with many since then. One evening we had a couple over for dinner who are longtime friends and who are both sighted. After dinner, as I headed toward the kitchen, our daughter, noticing this couple had arrived dogless, pointed out this fact to me in a whisper. I explained that they didn't need to use guide dogs the way Mommy and Daddy did. "Then where are their canes?" she asked, thinking that must be their travel solution. I again explained that, like her, they didn't use white canes. "Then how do they get around?" she asked. She was honestly curious.

It was then that I realized she saw our tools for mobility as a means of independence. We had always taken her everywhere--shopping, parties, church, kid activities, etc. She knew that, while kids didn't need to use dogs or canes, adults had better have either one or the other to round out their independence.

This was our first indication that she never has viewed blindness as a hindrance to our lifestyle or activities. This happened some years ago now, and she and her younger sister continue to get all the questions we get. Peers want to know if it's really true they have blind parents and how we accomplish the daily tasks of life. The girls are always quick to tell kids that Chris works for a well-known technical college in our area and that I have a small Braille transcribing service. The reaction is, "Cool!" Both girls get tired of the same questions from new acquaintances, but realize, as we do, that it's all part of the ongoing public education blind people must engage in every day.

We are all grateful to the National Federation of the Blind for the way it has supported and upheld us. Through the years the Federation spirit and philosophy have rubbed off on our daughters and helped in building their self-worth. They too believe in security, equality, and opportunity for themselves as young women. They speak out when they think something is unfair or wrong and believe in working to make a positive difference in every situation they face.

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