The 1994 book, Standing on One Foot, describes an episode in which Dr. Jernigan caught himself believing in the stereotypes that he had been trying to eradicate. The "Editor’s Introduction" and his article, also called "Standing on One Foot," tell us these things:


by Kenneth Jernigan

When we started publishing the Kernel Books in 1991, we thought the series might run to three or four volumes and a modest circulation. Now, over three years later, we are issuing the sixth Kernel Book, and our circulation is approaching two and a half million. This represents a substantial amount of both work and resources, but we think the effort has been eminently worthwhile.

I have been asked why we chose the name Kernel Books, and there are a number of answers. In the first place, I suppose it has to do with whim. I thought the title was catchy, so I used it. But there is something more. We wanted to go to the very heart of blindness, trying to show our readers what it’s really like-and, for that matter, what it isn’t like.

If you are blind, what do you think and how do you look at things (not how do you look at them physically, but your point of view and perspective)? How about dating and marriage? What about children, recreation, work, and relations with others? In short, how do blind people live and feel on a daily basis? What we are trying to do is to cut through the sentimentality and misconceptions to the very "kernel" of the subject.

I do a lot of traveling throughout the country, and until recently, people in airports and on the streets who struck up conversations recognized me (assuming that they recognized me at all) because they had heard me on radio or seen me on television talking about the National Federation of the Blind.

Now, that has largely changed. More often than not, I meet people who have read one or another of the Kernel Books. They tell me that they feel personally acquainted with those whose stories have been told. They also feel comfortable talking about blindness-asking about the little things, such as how clothes are selected and matched, or how a blind person does grocery shopping.

This is exactly what we hoped would happen, and I think the present Kernel Book will be no exception. In its pages you will meet a blind father and a sighted mother who, with some difficulty, adopted a baby. You will experience with a blind college student his attempts to come to terms with himself and his blindness, and you will go to the courtroom with a blind woman as she is called to serve on a jury. Of course, you will also get further acquainted with people you have met in previous volumes.

As to the title of this book (Standing on One Foot), it comes from one of my own experiences. All of us are products of the culture in which we live, and that is true of me as well as anybody else. Therefore, although I have spent most of my life trying to help people understand the facts about blindness, I found myself sometime ago falling into the same trap that I have been urging others to avoid. It caused a good deal of soul-searching-but enough! You’ll find the details in the following pages.

As I have already said, we want you to know about blindness, but we also want you to know about the National Federation of the Blind. Established in 1940, the Federation has, in the opinion of most of us who know about such things, been the single most important factor in helping blind people live normal lives and do for themselves. We who are blind still have a long way to go, but we are getting there-and the Kernel Books are helping. The reason they are helping is that they are one of the major factors in our campaign to increase public understanding and awareness. We are truly changing what it means to be blind, and you who read these books are helping. May you enjoy this book, and may you find it worthwhile.

Kenneth Jernigan
Baltimore, Maryland