Terms, What Are We


Terms, What Are We

     “I would like to introduce our guests who will be speaking to us about the unsighted, ah… excuse me. I believe the correct political terminology is the visually challenged.” Said the Human Relations director to the staff gathered for the Handicap Awareness in-service.

     My partner and I nudged one another knowing that we'd key in on this statement as a great jumping-off point into our presentation. This terminology issue was to be part of our intro, but we were planning to take it way beyond mere terminology and/or semantics. Among other points, we'd
use our personal visual status--one of us having no light perception bilaterally and the other with good bilateral central vision but no peripheral.

     Later, heading back to the office on the bus, we heard. "Yeah, I went to high school with a guy who was partially sighted." Said a fellow passenger, after we had explained where we had just come from and were doing. "So one of you is a partial and the other black blind, right? Did either of you go to the school for the visually handicapped?"

     "They're blind. Blind!" Greeted us as we transferred busses at a shopping mall, our long white canes clearing our path through a crowd of school kids wanting to get on the bus we had just vacated.

     "Are you boys looking for the stop to catch the downtown bus? OOOOOH, you're visually impaired? So is my husband." Said an older woman.

     “among other things!” And the too of us laughed. “Excuse me, mam. Yes we do need this bus. And yes to your second question, we do experience blindness, but that’s okay. It's this last point that we are reacting to, the variety of terms and meanings people will use when referring to us.”

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. “I think that all the terms that are used at present to describe differing levels of sight are confusing to people who have no knowledge of the subject. Personally I hardly never describe myself as Visually Impaired because I can see very little. I say I am Registered as Blind with a little
sight. I have noticed that in the USA the term Visual Handicap is used
rather a lot. In the UK the word Handicap is seen as very! negative. I consider that I am impaired by a society that is mainly aimed at a sighted community, I do not have a Handicap.”

Jayne Connor (High Harington, England)

FROM ME: “Seeing what terms mean in various countries is going to be very interesting! All ready we see a start of a definition for the UK for blind, visually impaired and visually handicapped.”

**2. “Wow! What a question. I prefer visually impaired, however, other visually challenged people correct me with "You can only use that term if you are partially
sighted." I do not like the word "blind", because of the pictures that come to mind. Some one sitting on the street corner with a tin cup, or just plain helplessness. I have found that if I need to explain to someone over the telephone why I can not give them specific information off a printed paper, they are less intimidated when I use the term visually impaired. If another prefers another term, I have no problem with that either. This is similar to African Americans or people of color.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “Is this terminology issue of vision be seen as the same as the one concerning race? Is there depths needing consideration beyond just the one or two word labels? Can blindness and blackness be similarly viewed and used? Like, ‘Oh, you are blind, how blind?’ and ‘Oh, you are black, how black?’ I have a friend who uses blind for all degrees of vision loss and he explains it by saying, “It’s a starting point to comprehension. Saying blind is like saying tall.’ Put some thought into that one!”

**3. “I just had a conversation with a student of mine about the name of our agency. We are now the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and he remarked that it was a terribly complicated name. He wondered why we couldn't just say Visually impaired or visually handicapped
instead of using more than one P.C. term in the title. I said that it satisfied more people in the blind community to use two terms. As I said this, I made a mental note that he didn't offer the word blind as a choice. He wanted to know what the difference was and I explained that it really has
nothing to do with the amount of vision one has but how they feel about themselves as people with this characteristic. I talked to him about the label I prefer and why, and how other people will have a different preference if they have a different view of themselves possessing the same characteristic that I do.
I never liked the term Visually impaired because it seemed to bring the word impaired to the fore. The same with visually handicapped and other such descriptors. I grew up using the terms partially sighted and legally blind depending on what I wanted to emphasize. Partially sighted made me
feel closer to "Normal" because I didn't believe I was "normal". Legally blind was a technical term I used with rehabilitation agencies and other places where paper work was involved. I didn't like the term but it opened doors without necessarily lumping me into the same category as people who
could see nothing at all. Of course, the word blind was just plain bad and didn't describe me at all. I was really visually impaired because I was limited to doing only what I could do with my vision, such as it is. If I couldn't see well enough to do something, it didn't happen.
Eventually I met other blind people, both partial and total, and learned something about blindness. First, I learned that totally blind people were doing things I didn't have enough vision to do. Gee, what happened? wasn't I supposed to be better off than these blind people? If sighted people were
better off than me, shouldn't all this partial vision count for something? Nevertheless, totally blind people were traveling, holding down jobs, participating in athletics and doing many other things I couldn't do. Many of them could even do the things I could do better than I did them. So what
gives? They knew something I didn't know. They knew techniques for doing things without vision so that those with none weren't impaired by not having any and those with some weren't impaired by not having enough. Many of the people who knew these secret tricks for daily life called themselves blind
regardless of their visual status. Why? Isn't there a big difference between a blind person who can see a little and a blind person who can see nothing? As I studied the alternative techniques of blindness, I began to learn that there was only one difference between an individual who could see
nothing and an individual who could see everything... the method they employ to perform a given task. Not the level of success, only the methodology. As I learned and mastered these techniques I became less impaired by my limited vision and more normal. I came to see blindness as a minority
status instead of a visual or medical status. I think of myself as a blind person in the same context that I think of myself as a female. I'm no more or less impaired by one than the other because neither characteristic limits me enough to matter. I feel good about all the hard work I have put in to
keep blindness from being an impairment in my life and the experience helps me work just as hard to help my students reach the same goal. Even if they never to learn to value the word blind, I will know that they are not necessarily impaired.”

Jane Lansaw (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Terms have definitions. In respects to terminology, this lady in part, a large part, says, ‘It really has nothing to do with the amount of vision one has but how they feel about themselves as people with this characteristic.’ Here it is the inner definition of the blind person themselves which is being spoken of. So then, is this more a battle of words or of feelings?”

**4. “In my humble opinion, folks who use other than the word "blind," to describe folks who cannot function as sighted folks are intel-impaired. Seriously, they act from fear and ignorance, not realizing that their intent to soften their language actually insults and is no blessing. to deny implies a need
to deny. It implies that the blind are necessarily.. what? Would not anyone referred to as white challenged, male-impaired, unchristian feel a little... What?

Now, the other side of the coin is that there is a time and a place to do public education, indeed, there is a way and a way not to do this most important job.

What we are, how we act and how we think all speak volumes about the abilities of the blind. When actual legitimate opportunities for exchange and discourse offer themselves, yes, we can and would be wise to engage in dialog with persons with whom we can relate. Discretion is advised, though.
Discern available time and energy for interactions that will often be complex for some who have little experience in such issues. This is most people, and probably most occasions. Many contacts can be fruitless and frustrating, though valuable nevertheless. Gage the situation. Can the
message be presented clearly and completely in the given amount of time? Can it be delivered appropriately, given the location and the individual to be educated? How important is it to convince / persuade a given target of your lesson? Is it the media, politician, other educator, friend, family
member? These may require more thought and preparation. Is it a passer-by, a passenger on the bus, a clerk, a small child in the mall? These you may plan in advance to suggest a word in passing.

Remember that not everyone is educable. Sometimes those who seem most important to us will not hear or understand.

Generally, the best results come when one lives appropriately as a blind person, consults wisely with those who will understand, and let go when it is neither possible nor important to change someone else's mind.

There are two old sayings I like that may have some value:

‘One convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.’
‘Do not teach the pig to sing; you will only waste your time, and irritate
the pig.’”

Michael Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “When and how works best to change the mind-set of another individual on an issue such as the one encapsulated in this THOUGHT PROVOKER? What do you think?”

**5. “In the politically correct society of today, terms seem to be very important. Everyone is extremely afraid of offending someone by using the wrong word. Therefore, great lengths are taken to avoid using the one word which accurately and adequately defines what we are..."blind". There's
nothing wrong with saying the word. Yes, perhaps you have some residual vision, and it's okay to explain what that means if someone is interested, but, if you fall into the legal definition of blindness, then just say
that's blind and leave it at that. It seems that people must be thinking the word, Blind, in order to try so hard to avoid saying it. So, why bother going through the trouble; just use the word, blind.”

Cynthia Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA)

FROM ME: “Psychology. Do you all know about avoidance? So do we not use some words because we don’t like what they mead? Then I ask, how often does it follow that we also then not take the time to learn needed methods to function and live with that condition which is represented by that unpleasant term?”

**6. “I am blind! There is no going around that. I wouldn't say that I get annoyed when somebody uses a different term such as visually impaired, sight impaired visually challenged etc.; It just seems to me that you should call a spade a spade and not try to give it a more fancy name.”

Janet (Nampa, Idaho USA)

**7. “My first thought when I read this Provoker was, "What difference does it
make what people call us?" I mean, if people's intent is the same, does it
really matter? How politically-correct do we really need to be before
simple communication becomes impossible?

I am not a fan of political correctness, as I view it mainly as a way to
segregate and group people rather than bringing them together. We have
Asian Americans, African Americans, Caucasian Americans, Italian Americans,
German Americans, Guatemalan Americans, and so on ad nauseum. I suppose
people would have to refer to me as a Caucasian English Danish Scottish
American to be entirely politically-correct. However, are these terms
really valuable when what we are really talking about is the fact that we're
all Americans?

Upon some more thought, however, I think it does matter. Some terms
denoting some kind of sight loss (or other disability) have a negative
implication, some a positive one, and some are just neutral. For example,
if someone referred to me as visually handicapped, I would probably not
appreciate it much. That term implies that I am somehow less than a full
contributor to society. Visually impaired is a bit more positive, as there
is nothing in this nomenclature that says, "You can't do so-and-so", it
merely says that I can't see as well as the normal individual, which, as
much as I'd like to change it, is 100% accurate. Blind, to me, anyway, is
one of those neutral terms. It is a fact that I cannot see, and by
definition, that's what the word "blind" means in the English language.

I have even read on this very list about labels that the blind place on
other blind individuals. I have heard the term "totals" when referring to
those who are blind to the extent that they have no light perception. I
think that's a shame, as it even places a distinction between two parts of
an already-small minority.

My feeling on this is that we shouldn't get too hung up on terminology.
Some people will view us as "handicapped" no matter how we refer to
ourselves. Others who receive a positive interaction with a blind
individual will think of us as people first and blind second. I think the
most important thing is for us to view ourselves in a positive way
regardless of the label society wants to place on us.”

David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

FROM ME: “Is there any country that actually legislates terminology for persons with a disability? In the USA, what is the process or rule for what is termed ‘politically correct?’”

**8. “This is an interesting topic which I discussed at length with a blind colleague ( or is it colleague that is blind? ) over many beers about a month ago. Afterwards, I ran across the following definition in the American Heritage Dictionary. Can anyone figure out the five letter word they are
careful not to use?

or Braille (br³l) n. 1. A system of writing and printing for visually
impaired or sightless people, in which varied arrangements of raised dots
representing letters and numerals are identified by touch. --Braille tr.v. Brailled or
brailled, Braill·ings
or braill·ing, Brailles or brailles. To print or
transliterate using this system. [After Louis Braille.]

, Louis. 1809-1852. French musician, educator, and inventor of a writing and
printing system for visually impaired or sightless people (1829). He lost
his sight at the age of three.”

Chris Kuell (Danbury, Connecticut USA)

FROM ME: “Interesting! Look what they have done. Or, should I ask, ‘Do you see this as a disservice, a problem or not a problem at all?”

**9. “Unsighted; Visually challenged; Partially sighted; Visually handicapped;
Blind; Visually impaired; partial...

Just a few of the terms that I picked up on the thought provoker, just a
portion of the terms I hear on a daily basis. Why are there so many
different terms for the same condition? Well, I am sure that the answer is
as complicated as the perception that the term represents. Who has coined
these various descriptors? Is it the sighted population trying to make
blindness palatable? Is it the legally blind people themselves, trying to
better describe their eye condition? Is it a bunch of bureaucrats in some
office in Washington D.C. trying to legislate social appropriateness? Could
it be organizations representing the blind and visually impaired trying to
make a political statement (You know, "I am blind here me roar!")

I like the way the two individuals in the thought provoker handled it. They
laughed at the many terms and perceptions that people have of the blind and
visually impaired. It may be important to make a distinction, or maybe it's
no big deal. You cannot call someone legally blind if they don't meet the
definition. Likewise many groups of people take terms and labels very
seriously. It is this group that has become the driving force behind better
descriptors for the various eye conditions.

I was in training with several blind and visually impaired people and one of
them spoke up and said, "I think we should change the term from visually
impaired to partially sighted. This way we are focusing on what the person
has, rather than what the person doesn't have." Does this thought process
make sense? It was a person with a visual impairment who made the
suggestion. Does this mean we have to put another term in our quiver?

Probably so. I am sure that people, for whatever reason, will continue to
use phrases that either make them feel better about talking to a blind
person, or feel that the term better describes their eye condition.
Regardless, we will never be able to legislate social perceptions, and
therefore, we are stuck with a plethora of terms to describe us. It's okay.
Does a rose by any other name smell less sweet?”

David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “I am setting here ticking off on my fingers the many and various reasons why some feel it is important to use a specific term. How many can you come up with and, more importantly, what of the legitimacy of those reasons.”

**10. “We just had this discussion on another list about a week ago. Me
personally, I prefer the term blind. I have light perception but I
really don't see the need to gussy it up with details, we are blind. I
think that the reason for all these cutesy terms is more for the comfort level of the sighted than for anything else. Blind has always had a negative connotation but if a thing is a challenge or an impairment that
implies it can be gotten over that it is just a barrier and that makes the sighted think it isn't so bad. It's a sad state when whether either a thing can be acceptable depends on it having a comfortable name.”

SueEllen Melo (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)

**11. “First of all I am "BLIND", "legally" is the medical term I do not feel I should have to explain that I hate PC as it is silly! The one term mentioned here that upsets me is "Handicap" as it is the French fraise for
Cap in Hand that conjures up images of a beggar begging for coins to be put in the cap! A insult in my opinions I am blind not a beggar!”

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

**12. “In a few words: I think people with no vision should be called blind. Hey, call a spade a spade! People with partial vision I guess are visually impaired. It really doesn't matter much, except that people get all flustered if they think they're not using the politically correct terms
nowadays. I think unsighted, unseeing, and visually challenged are silly-sounding terms.”

Carol Ashland

**13. “
It's too bad we can't change the reality by changing the terms, but it
doesn't, does it?”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

FROM ME: “This lady is not speaking of changing the reality of people being blind; this is life. So put some thought into what she is referring too. Do you believe her?”

**14. “I think that there are as many descriptors for blindness as there are blind people - very few of us have the exact same version of visual impairment. For quite a while I was legally blind but "passed" as
sighted as I was able to compensate in such a way as to look sighted. Today, it is far more obvious that I am legally blind and in some ways it is easier in the sense that people have a bit of understanding
when they see a long cane or special glasses.

I think there are many people out there with "silent" disabilities that are in their own way life altering but not as obvious as visual impairment. Communication is the key - we need to try to talk to
one another, even if it doesn't come out quite right and we have to not overreact, but try to educate and also reach out and respond to others' needs.”

Catherine Alfieri 7 Summer Tree, Pittsford, New York

FROM ME: “communication. Picture a scene with four people having a conversation relating to the duties of a job. One of them is the trainer is fully sighted. Two of them have the same level of vision and they both use a different descriptor ? Then there is the fourth person who has the same basic level of vision and functional limitations as these last two, and doesn’t look it, doesn’t advertise it. Can you map out a diagram of how that communication played out?”

**15. “I am blind. I tell people who ask what the politically correct term is. I
say that with dignity and pride. I am not sightless, I am not visually
challenged I am not unsighted. I am blind and I feel good about myself.
Some people can be educated. Some, well they are still clueless even after
listening to one of my presentations or chatting with me in a store, on a
bus, in the beauty shop or whenever I happen on to people who talk with me.
How do we educate the sighted people? One at a time.”

Joyce M. Porter
Employer Education Specialist
Job Opportunities for the Blind, Texas
Houston, Texas USA

**16. “I have always called myself a legally blind person, and don't like the term "visually impaired" I feel this term has done more harm than good and tends to tell the public that we are ashamed of using the word "Blind". I'd like to see a discussion as to whether the criteria for Legal Blindness should be
raised due to advancement in computers it seems that the very higher partials are held to a much higher degree of respect and I feel that because they can see computers with the enlarged enhancements, it puts them on a more even level with the sighted? what do you think.”

Renee Michele Zelickson (Huntsville, Alabama USA

FROM ME: “Well, who wishes to answer the lady? Please do, but don’t for get our PROVOKER.

Second, In fact, what do you think would happen if- Take one of these more successful people in programming who are one of those ‘…the very higher partials…’. They want to switch jobs, employers. Walking in to an interview, they refer to him or herself as being blind.”

**16. “I'm as blind as we get, and I have no wish to call that trait by any other
name, at least, not on a regular basis. I'm not about to whine if
somebody says "sightless" or "visually impaired" once in a while. And for
some, "visually impaired" is probably a more accurate term than "blind."
Unsighted is grammatically correct, but wastefully uses three syllables
where one works just fine. "Visually challenged," though, seems more
applicable to somebody using his or vision to do something difficult than
to somebody whose challenge is a partial or complete lack of vision.

The real point--or problem--is this. People who use some word or phrase
in place of "blind" because they feel uncomfortable about that word tend
to think they are being, or trying to be, more caring and enlightened.
They are not. Instead, they are indicating some measure of belief in the
deep-rooted notions that have blighted the lives of blind people. They
may use their polysyllabic substitutes to distance themselves from the fear
and pain that often comes with those stereotypes, and maybe even somehow
to distance the real people they're talking with or about from those notions. But I have no evidence that they tend to think more highly of our abilities than those who use the simple word. Indeed, it may be the
other way around!

In 1979, when I was a first-year law student, a classmate referred to me
as "unsighted." I used the word "blind," and she made some disapproving
noise or other. I remember thinking that she was treating my blindness as
if it were cancer or something else about to kill me. Although I then had
little more than the rudiments of an equalitarian philosophy of blindness,
I figured there was something wrong with that.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a matter on which the National Federation
of the Blind's public pronouncements (at least, the ones I know of) are
right on target. I also think the wider world of those struggling against
oppression would do well to adopt applicable variations of NFB's

Al Sten-Clanton (Boston, Massachusetts USA)

FROM ME: “Is there someone from the NFB who would like to give us a quick synopsis of your group’s perspective?”

**17. “This is getting a little ridiculous. I mean, it doesn't matter what we're called, we can't see. I don't like handicapped, but then, I don't play golf. Sight challenged, that's fine, visually impaired, that's ok. Blind, well, duh. And, sightless, disabled, whatever, as long as you give me a
chance to live a normal life, you can call it whatever you want to call it.”

Sarah Lanier (Alabama USA)

FROM ME: “Is this a totally healthy attitude/approach?”

**18. “I prefer to be considered visually impaired. the word "handicapped” seems to have a negative connotation to me and I've never really liked the word "challenged". I also don't like to be considered
blind, since I have some vision.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming USA

**19. “A term that really used to get my goat was "sightless." Which was used a lot for people like Ronny Milsap and Stevie Wonder by talk show and awards show personnel.

What I find interesting are the terms that disabled people call themselves and the able-bodied. To someone in a wheelchair, someone who does not have a mobility type of impairment or disability is a "walky" To a blind person, someone who has normal sight is a "sighty" or "sightling" Blind people can call themselves "blinks" but don't let a sighty use this term!

Yes, we all develop our descriptive terminology and our slang too!”

Laura Collins (Rapid City, south Deceit USA)

FROM ME: “Interesting! What other nicknames might there be for persons with various degrees of vision loss and would they be used for all levels of degrees of blindness?”

**20. “Hello, I have many thoughts on this subject. But, I will keep this short.

I do feel that we and other groups are effected by the labels placed upon us. And my term for my vision problem is visually inconvenienced. I don't feel that I am any different than the next man or woman, I just need to make adjustment so to me, it is an inconvenience.
Thanks for reading.”

Abby Spillman (Blindfam)

**21. “I remember when I was in Catholic School in Florida I was called "GravelGerty" because I was so tall, not because I was bad-looking. Actually, it made me laugh because Dick Tracy and cohorts were my favorites, and as a result, it wasn't any fun to the perpetrators. Besides, my mother taught me the chant: "Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!

I had a wise mother!”

Dorothy Stiefel (RPlist)

FROM ME: “Here is mention of another type of label or term, NAME-CALLING. What are some of these that sighted folks would use for us, the blind and/or the person with some useable vision? Did they get divided up into classifications for blind folks that had no vision and blind folks that have some vision, too?

**22. “Those of us who have experienced vision loss can't agree on what terminology to use to describe our visual status, so how can we expect the general public to use only one term?

Dorothy, my mother also taught me the chant, "Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!" However, after 28 years of teaching in the public school system, I have concluded that this is one of the biggest lies ever told, as many people, both young and old,
are severely "hurt" by the words of others. There is much more crying in school playgrounds because of words that were said than because of physical assaults.

Just my two cents worth.”

Don Moore (RPlist)

FROM ME: “Couple of interesting thoughts. A. If we the blind can’t agree upon a set rule for terminology, how do we get the others to agree? So, it the problem larger than we thought? B. Words, terms, names can hurt. What all would need to happen to get this hurtful name calling to stop? Is this part of the non-acceptance issue?”

**23. “Well said, Don Moore. The words we speak to each other can be as injurious or as healing as anything, and it's right that we care what we say to each other, and what we call things. In this connection, I'm not sure which aspect of the blind terminology issue this current Thought Provoker is actually alluding to or trying to evoke, but regardless, what we call our various conditions certainly matters, to us and to others.

But I digress. Your point, which essentially is a reminder of the fragility of the human heart and our obligation to be compassionate, is well taken.”

Joel deutsch (RPlist)

**24. “As a "Visual Disabilities" major, specializing in "Rehabilitation Teaching for the Adult Blind," one of the first topics we were asked to consider was the taxonomy (spelling?) of blindness... I suppose the first thing to consider is the denotative definition of Legal Blindness. Lest any of us have forgotten, it is: "A
visual acuity of 20/200 or less with best correction in the better eye, or a visual arc subtending 20 degrees". In lay terms, if a person with 20/20 looks at something at 20 feet distance, it looks as if it is 20 feet away. If a person looks at that same distance at 20 feet, it looks as if it were 200 feet from the person with 20/20. The visual arc roughly means, tunnel vision, looking through a soda straw, or a gun barrel...

Having only had light perception until I was around 19, that no-man's land of those with some useable vision--or vision perceived to be useful by those Who have it, whether it is or isn't in a particular instance, is the sticking point...

Of course, the legal definition of blindness is somewhat arbitrary, but was put into place around 1918, when the US Government decided to render Vocational Rehabilitation Services to it's war blind of world war I. There had to be some boundary. But, if drivers license requirements prevent someone with 20/70 in the best eye with best correction, from driving, then, the person has a Visual Handicap with respect to the process of driving, and can therefore be said to be Visually Handicapped... The problem is the sense that there is a "spread effect" and that if someone is considered Visual Handicapped in that one area, they may be perceived to be handicapped in theirs...

Any condition that affects the working of the Visual Mechanism can rightfully be considered to be a "Visual Impairment". Whether it is a
disability depends upon the individual. For instance, print isn't accessible to a Totally Blind Individual, unless they avail themselves of technology to make it so... The degree of accommodation to that disability is in part a function of the efficacy of the technology, and in part a function of the ability of the blind person to make use of it. How often do I personally run into blind people who have both pieces of Adaptive OCR software that can arguably be considered to be the "best there > is" at the present time, yet, they haven't "Read their Friendly Manual", acquired formal training, or, spent time developing the skills necessary for the art of coping with the wide world of capriciously formatted, divergent qualities of, and variegated colors of print and paper. They are still to some degree, "Print
Handicapped," and it is a function of their Visual Impairment/Disability.
Personally, I only consider myself to be mildly Visually Disabled when it comes to the world of print which I encounter in my life. My disability pertains to hand-writing, and print on surfaces, or color/contrast combinations not accessible to the technologies I have at hand and have learned to master. . If I got my
Optacon fixed, I'd be less print handicapped with respect to print on odd surfaces, and
potentially with print in odd color combinations, because my hand and mind are more flexible than the technology. I'd still be handicapped with respect to
hand-writing, until I learned to recognize cursive letter shapes and
practiced decoding the non-uniform world of hand-written print... (grin)

On the other hand, I am, Visually Challenged, Visually Disabled and
Visually Handicapped with respect to my ability to access much of the information on the displays of much of the musical equipment Pleural attempt to use-effects processors, hardware sequencers, and instrument control panels because of the positioning and nature of displays used and their inaccessibility to
adaptive technology--unless the device can be controlled via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface", someone or I have written the software necessary to control it, and I have mastered and implemented it... That is, I perceive that with the current level of technology available in literate technological countries, blind people are only as disabled by their visual impairment as they allow themselves to be, and as much as barriers are erected by those who are totally "visual able." (retinal chauvinists/sightlings) through lack of thought/consideration of our needs and capabilities, or those attitudinal barriers which discount us or our abilities to meet Visual Challenges provided by our impaired sensorum...

W. Nick Dotson ( Pensacola, Florida USA)

**25. “In response to the latest thought provoker:
I like to think of myself as an individual who is blind. I want people
around me to be able to see beyond my white cain and see the actual me.”

Kevin Lofton (kevin@mcil.org)

**26. “Just a humorous note on this. Our NFB chapter V. P. here in Daytona Beach, Florida jokingly refers to people who have vision as being light dependent.”

Bill Outman (NFB-talk)

**27. “I love it! Sometimes I think the jokes are the best part of these pc terms!”

Jeanne smith (NFB-talk)

**28. “As an individual who was sighted most of my life, I too had a difficult time deciding what the correct terminology was in regard to blindness. Since I have partial sight, am I blind, visually impaired, partial sighted, disabled? I felt guilty if I said blind, because I wasn't totally blind, disliked the term disabled as it conjured up a picture of being in many pieces, etc. When asked, I simply say I'm VI. If asked why a simple "result of disease" will suffice. I do not take offense if I'm described with one of the many terms used to describe the blind. I realize there is a far deeper problem.
The issue is we, as society, have the need to "label" each and everything, or person, who may be different. Who sets the standards for different or acceptable? We do. We do it when we do not question, do not hold individuals accountable, do not work for change, do not work together.”

Jimmie Ray (BlindLaw)

FROM ME: “Who sets the standard? A good thought and question? By default is one way; by not taking an active stand and making an effort to influence minds. Then, there is the active method wherein individuals and groups consciously work at a consensus. With this latter concept in mind, who in your mind should be listened to more strongly; the blind themselves, professionals providing services to the blind, etc?”

**29. “I had to laugh at some of the "politically correct" terms used for blindness in this PROVOKER! I have heard them before, as well as many others. I will never forget the first time I was called "print impaired” (by the way, I am totally blind, due to bilateral retinoblastoma, or cancer in both eyes.) I think the political correctness is getting out of hand.. People are way too afraid to use the word blind. in high school, I had a principal who continually called me "visually challenged" no matter how much I told him not to do so. It really annoys me sometimes how scared people can be to use the term blind, but the best thing I've found to do is just to let them know that we are not ashamed of that, so they shouldn't be, either. It all comes back to that one big, important word, education!
Usually if you can break the ice with someone, you can get them to stop
trying to be all politically correct about it.

I do want to say one thing, though. I know that there are bound to be many who disagree with this, but I am going to say it anyway. I don't believe that terms such as "visually impaired" or "partially sighted" or "partially blind" are totally taboo, nor that the term "blind" should be used for absolutely everyone who has vision loss. Perhaps I myself am laboring under a misconception, but when I hear the word "blind" I either think totally blind, or someone who has very extreme vision loss, like maybe light perception. however, I've seen people who still have a lot of usable vision left refer to themselves as blind, and I don't agree with that. I know that like me, most people think of total or near total vision loss when they hear the word blind. If a person has usable vision left, I don't see what's wrong with referring to them as visually impaired or partial.. Now whether you want to say partially sighted or partially blind, that's up to the individual. I just don't think the term blind should be used as a blanket term for all degrees of vision loss. If someone doesn't want to use the word blind because they are ashamed, that's one thing. Not using it for clarification seems to be another. Hope I didn't set off too many fireworks for you with that one, Robert!"”

Alicia Richards (Lincoln, Illinois USA)

FROM ME: “Afraid and ashamed, these are two words that we have heard time and time again during this PROVOKER. So think about that. What is it with being blind that would make folks feel either of those ways? Then knowing that there are many of us out there who do not feel either of those ways and are very happy that about that, which would you rather be? And how did the ‘good’ feeling folks get that way? Could the ‘bad’ feeling folks be changed?”

**30. “I am blind and not any other visually challenged or other term. When people address me as such I say yes I am blind and it is ok to call me blind. I also work with people who identify themselves as visually impaired or partially sighted. This is ok with me but in most cases I try to convey to them that you may loose your remaining vision and now do things that the blind have to do to survive. I worked with a young man who has some vision and does not want to use the cane. He was upset one day because he ran into a fence and when I asked him about his cane he said he did not want to draw attention to himself. I just told him well he might have drawn more attention by running into that fence.”

Craig Hedgecock (Troy, New York USA)

**31. “I don't like the word "handicapped." It comes from "hand in cup," which might relate to the previous thought-provoker. Disabled really isn't appropriate either but it's not quite as grating as "handicapped."

Otherwise, I am blind. All the other terms do not describe me as well or as appropriately.

Some people are afraid of or ashamed of the word "blind," so they try to circumvent by stuttering out other terms: visually handicapped, visually impaired, visually limited, visually blind (yeah, someone called a group of us that when I was young) hard of seeing, sightless, partially sighted, high partial, low partial, and, when we were in school at the school for the blind, "sight-saving," which always sounded weird to me. There may be others.

Part of the problem with using "blind" is that it has so many meanings
and several of them are negative, even though they don't apply to physical blindness. Check in several different dictionaries and look at the 7 or more definitions there. Wow! That gives our culture
"permission" to think negatively, if it needed another reason. Well, I'm blind and that's the only truly appropriate term for me.”

And another thing--People keep asking me if I have a little vision or not, more so lately since I got my "new eyes." I really want to tell
them it's none of their business; it's like asking my weight, or how much money I make. I am especially uncomfortable when it is asked at a job interview or in any situation where I might be taking some responsibility since I know that the more vision I would report to have, the more secure they would feel.... which is just not the point. If they were just asking out of curiosity it wouldn't be such a problem, but in an interview, we know it is not just a curiosity factor.”

Laurie Merryfield (Washington USA)

**32. “Wow, what in interesting story! I guess I never really paid too much attention to this type of stuff. Granted, there have been very few people as of yet in my life who have asked me what I wanted to be referred to. My band director has and to me, visually impaired is just fine. Blind isn't bad either because after all, that's what we are. I never have really understood why some people don’t like using the word blind around me. It's always been puzzling to me.”

Stacy (Wisconsin USA.)

**33. “In response to this thought provoker, I would say that there are different terms to describe a visual impairment, sightless, unsighted, blind, or visually impaired. When I talk to a certain business person, I say "visually impaired," but sometimes, I say that I'm totally blind.”

Beth Kats (San Marcos, California USA)

**34. “In my opinion if you meet the legal definition of blindness you should be referred to as blind. Others who do not meet this definition may be referred to as visually impaired. I do not like partially sighted.”

Angela Farmer (Human Services list)

**35. “I agree with Angela. Your life can be better if your blindness is acknowledged for then you can grow without being dishonest with yourself.”

David Stayer (Merrick New York USA)

**36. “I know some people who do not like to term themselves as blind for the deadening connotations invoked. "Blind" somehow raises a fear in the general public that would be softened by the terms," non-sighted," "visually impaired," and " "Visually challenged."
Again both disability ending in "handicapped." also has its own mental labels attached.

Like any minority group, I think that it is up to the individual what they want to be called.
And, if someone calls or labels you something different, it is your choice to educate them.
As long as you realize that some blind people do not mind being called," Blind." And, this is okay. Because in the long run, whatever you call yourself your abilities are going to be assessed by the general public.”

Jan M

**37. “I am visually and hearing impaired. Nothing upsets me more than when somebody refers to me as 'deaf-blind'. I am not deaf or blind. I can see and hear. According to the dictionary, 'blind' means someone who has NO eyesight and deaf is someone with no hearing. Why would, or should, somebody be classified as being 'blind' if they are not? These terms are all-consuming and sets off a negative image in sighted people's minds. I find it hard enough to fight the world into believing that I'm a capable human being, even though I have an eyesight problem which goes far beyond the scope of most peoples understanding as it is.
It's only worse with the incorrect classification of blind or deaf.

My younger sister has no central vision, but good peripheral. No one has ever referred to her as 'blind'. She's a professional person, and
if labeled with that term, she probably wouldn't be. I'm not saying a person should pretend to be whether not - if you can't see, you can't see and learn how to get around that. But why insist on being labeled 'blind' or 'deaf' if that's not the case?”

Patricia Hubschman (Levittown, New York USA)

FROM ME: “Changing what it means to be blind.” If a more positive concept of blindness can be achieved, would this woman, a person who feels this way, still feel like this? What if any changes might occur within her, if a more positive concept of blindness is achieved?”

**38. “so many 'politically correct' terms used nowadays .. it does confuse me as to why and how we felt the need for this to emerge ..when I read optho reports I read the words legally blind or no light perception and so forth ... the medical profession seems to have not been immersed in this so called what to me is only awkwardness of how do we refer to the differences in people ... I often sit and wonder if all the strife we experience nowadays is because we are so careful in what we do say there is a lot we don't say .... the most humbling lesson I ever learnt was waiting with one of my very young students in the office foyer at the end of the school day for her mother to arrive ..she and I were chatting ..there was another student next to us sitting quietly ..a staff member spoke to him and commented to me he was new to the school and had very little English ..I immediately introduced him to my student and visa versa ... he pointed to her cane and said why the stick ..she explained it was so she could move
around and walk safely ... he sat listening then asked her why she needed the stick to see ...she explained to him she was blind (her words) and so she could not see anything but a bit of light her cane kept her safe ..he thought more and asked then how did she read ... her comment was so simple it made me just sit in wonderment ...all she said was you see with your eyes ..you read with your eyes I see with my fingers ... I was born blind so my fingers see for me ... I have a mental illness to me there is no stigma in the word nor any politically correct term I would use in fact at times I can laugh and say see I got the insane stamp here ...I have 5 disabled children ...two with ASD one I refer to as being an a spy … politically correct terms puzzle me ... there is no right no wrong word when you are talking to the person and listening ..truly listening with your heart and responding .... some people with disabilities perhaps rely on this type of term to disguise the fact they are still not at an acceptance stage with who they are and the talents they possess along with the limitations ..but we all have limitations don't we ???? ..... the main
people who seem to be really uptight about politically correct terms are those who have not accepted that in our own way we will have disabilities and limitations ...hence the terms used to make it seem so normal so everyday ..so polite ...I would take honest caring discussion from the heart with a person any day over some person who is so busy being careful what they do and don't say they are not listening or talking with me ...with the me show I am ... limitations, talents, disabilities and all .... we are all human we are all unique and the keyword is for me acceptance ..real acceptance of
the person for themselves.”

Julie r oz

FROM ME: “This response, as well as several others prior, have made the statement that it is the person, be they sighted or blind or with some loss of vision and are uncomfortable with it in themselves or with the public, , that it is them who use all the alternative terminology such as partially blind, visually impaired, visually challenged, etc. Is there any truth to that?”

**39. “This short story is a reminder to me of how interesting life as a blind individual can be. The # of politically correct names the world has come up for us is amazing. One of my favorites of mine was one that my disabilities councilor from last year called me, "sight impaired." I understand why they call us these, they just don't want to offend us, and in doing so it is also a way of denying the truth. That we are the dreaded "B" word...blind!

It is like something I saw on TV the other day. It was a commercial for a new Casper animation, and in one part of the commercial Casper says, "I'm a ghost, yeah know, the LIVING IMPAIRED!"

Now, I'm not criticizing the public for doing this, I am simply saying that I understand why they are so insistent on calling us these names. And if this makes it easier for them to be around us then so be it. However, it is completely unnecessary. We are, what we are.”

Brent Heyen
Chadron State College
(Chadron, Nebraska USA)

**40. “In a message dated 11/5/00 2:40:40 PM Central Standard Time,


Ummm how about ***PEOPLE*** is that so damn hard? I for one am sick to death of everything having to be politically correct. Those that are blind, sigh impaired, visually disabled..."whatever"; are... guess what??? PEOPLE!!!!

As another human being on this earth that has the capabilities to see; I have a duty to do whatever I can; in a dignified and polite manner to help those who need it in life. If a man in a wheel chair needs help crossing the street, it doesn't matter to me HOW he got that way or WHY his is in that wheelchair or what I'm "SUPPOSED" to call him; it matters that I extend my own two legs to help him. To make his life a tiny bit easier than it is for him.

Do I feel pity for those that live sightless in this world? -- Yes, but in very selfish ways. Having *sight*, I can't fathom not seeing the smile on my children's faces, not to see the color of the sky, the flowers in spring and to only be able to hear the ocean and not watch the waves ebb and flow. But then I don't take the time to *feel* the world around me as acutely as those that can't see.

I don't need to confirm to someone that is blind that they can't see anymore than I need to confirm to the man in the wheelchair that he can't walk. What DOES matter is that if people took half the energy trying to decide what *term* to use -vs- helping those, in some small way, that need help in this world; my opinion is all lives would be a lot more harmonious.”


**41. “I have two main thoughts for this one. First, I am blind; I like it; I use the term to express myself as who and what I am. Second, though, this wasn't always the case. I think every kid with a disability goes through a stage where he or she realizes he's different. So it was with me, and thus the term "blind" was a term f derision. I also placed myself on somewhat of
a higher plain because, after all, I could see a little. Never mind that as
far as bike-riding and traveling alone, it made me a little dangerous. So
when I became a total, well, the term "blind" became more acceptable, as
there was now no longer any question that I was what everyone said I was.
In time it became a term of pride rather than derision. And this leads me to
my next point. I think so many times in our society, meanings of words
change. Terms of derision can often become badges of honor. The term
"queer", for instance, meant gay, which in many circles was also a derisive term. The last thing you waited to be growing up was "gay" or "queer". Now the term "queer" is used by many sections of the gay community as indicative of someone who is "out", or having gay pride. I won't say I approve of its use as far as I'm concerned, but it's not for me to deride others for that use. Also, the term "liberal" has taken on negative connotations,
especially since 1980 when Carter was unceremoniously kicked out of office
and the Democratic plan for society was virtually upended by events. Just
as easily the term "conservative" to many means "right-wing reactionary
religious bigot." This is not necessarily the case, but these connotations are there, depending on how you say "conservative". Even the term "blind", for
that matter, can even get my hackles up depending on how someone uses it. I
will not, for instance, be called "you blind fuck" and think f this as a
compliment. But anyway, keep up the good work, and cheers!

John D. Coveleski (New York, New York jcoveleski@mindspring.com)

**42. “Blind" is a convenient summary for me.
It tells me that a person can't see well enough under normal lighting conditions that he or she must do some things differently as compared to the average person. Perhaps he or she walks with a cane or a dog.
Perhaps he or she reads braille or large print. Perhaps he or she wears extreme glasses that allow him or her to function visually, sometimes.
This person is blind.

I suppose that other softer words may be used to lessen the emotional burden of the word "blind". These terms are easier to say,
more politically correct if you will. But they do not change the different way a blind person must do some things
due to visual problems.

I hope that one day "blind” won't drag with it all of the negative emotions that make softer words necessary.
After all blindness does not mean, ipso facto, helplessness.
But so many people think that way. We have a lot of minds to change.”

Chris Weaver Program Coordinator
Mathematics Accessible to Visually Impaired Students (MAVIS)
(New Mexico State University chrweave@nmsu.edu)

FROM ME: “More of the ‘Changing What it means to be blind,’ I’d say concept. So my thought is- in history, have terms and/or concepts like blind been changed in meaning? Changed from a negative to a nutural or positive? Which ones? How did it come about?”

**43. “I've learned that no matter what term is used for blindness, I still find myself explaining my own sight or lack of sight to people. According to the Social Security I am legally blind. Then at the doctor's office I have central vision only. I tend to use all of the "blindness" terms that best describes me. I don't fit in just one slot.”

Angelica Freeman (Phoenix, Arizona USA)

FROM ME: “Might it be that the blind person who can explain him or herself under all these various terms, that they would be the one to have the least amount of hassles in this life. What do you think?”

**44. “I am a "blind " person who has some vision. I am not ashamed of the B word, although I used to be.
I am not ashamed of the techniques and tools such as the white cane, although I used to be. This TP comes at a very special time in my professional life. Recently, I have found myself engaged in the midst of a controversy...terminology related to word "blind".. "Blind" "partially sighted", "visual impaired", "low vision" etc. All are names, descriptions related to what we call ourselves, how we describe ourselves and how we are described, particularly when there is some amount of vision involved.

There seems to be a hierarchy of blindness, or better put, of vision. The person who meets the definition of being blind but has some vision, is in a quandary. Often there is a reluctance or resistance to self-identify or be identified as "blind" since they have some vision. These individuals may want to use vision, be seen as sighted, able to pass and may even think of themselves as better off than a person who is "really blind".
But the quandary also precludes their acceptance by the "normally sighted" community due to functioning, physical appearance or their and society's perception of inequality...all based on difference of vision...Vision for many is seen as a "lifeline". It is critical that they continue to pass because they have always gotten along and have been encouraged to get along that way. Vision for them is not simply a resource. It has significant status value.
Society not only promotes vision, assumes its normalcy and essentiality, but also tends to reject those who are different. The "partially sighted " person invariably finds lack of acceptance, if not soon, then later when they fail to "pass" when they are found out. Many live in anticipation, fearing when their secret will come out, but they go on anyway.
They are truly "between a rock and hard place", the "rock" being sighted society and the "hard Place" being "blind". They are indeed "vision dependent"
Society also maintains conversely negative attitudes toward the blind because of fear, difference, and ignorance. Reaction to the blind in general is either "amazing or sympathetic. The attitudes of the society toward the blind are often so debilitating that the person with a little vision often adopts them and bases their worth and identifies with those who are sighted. Thus we have a "hierarchy of blindness" based on amount of remaining vision. The blind person with no vision also often has a negative attitude about blindness but cannot pass since they do not have that little amount of vision to get them by.

One reason for training and treating persons as "blind" and negating the vision variable in training is to eliminate the hierarchy of vision, training based on vision, and these attitudes about vision and blindness.
But as a part of society, professional staff who come in the doors every day to work in rehabilitation can bring the attitudes with them. These staff can be blind as well as sighted. Vision and use of it is valued. Non vision techniques are okay for persons with no vision, but maximizing vision is preferred. No matter that most students have very limited and progressive conditions. No matter that they fear blindness and have attitudes about it and its alternate techniques that are unhealthy, vision is still the norm. The problem here is that most will lose vision and rely on others if they cannot rely on self and non vision techniques.

That is why for these folks vision training doesn't work...the same reason it is preferred. It is easier. In fact, I would say that there really is very little "vision training". What folks are mostly trained on is application of their current vision condition to different tasks . Persons have been and will continue to use vision to do things regardless of whether they get training. They will just bring their head closer, increase lighting, reduce glare or use larger things like timers and darker lined paper. The vision they use is the same.

The most effective "vision training " I have experienced is use of magnifiers , CCTVs, large print software, telescopes for increasing use or ability to use vision. Contrast and lighting training is really not changing the vision that folks have and will use as much of using aspects or modifying aspects of one's environment. Nothing wrong with this stuff. It can be done in a short period of time and increases the tools available to the person. The problem with it is that the environmental conditions on multiple fronts change. Vision does change for persons with progressive conditions and also with age and sometimes accident. There are not enough vision efficiency strategies to compensate and if there are, one must continue to learn and train throughout the process of progressive loss in particular.
Most important is the changing environment. As one moves through space the environment changes. As one goes from a room to another, outside, terrain changes , curbs and branches come up, it gets cloudy and bright, etc. Some places are well lit others not and then there is nightfall. Nothing wrong with low vision training, travel under different conditions, but how much training and how many gadgets can one endure?

Perhaps most important as an example of vision preference and disfunctionality is preference for young students who have some vision to continue in print rather than starting to learn Braille. This issue supercedes blindness and adjustment...it is literacy at its worst potential. Use the vision and make the print larger and larger rather than learning Braille as a primary or additional tool. There are also proponent’s of "partial occlusion for travel. Limited vision is limited just enough to attempt to address a dysfunction such as looking at ones feet, but still promotes use of even more limited vision to address a symptom. The person in this case still learns that vision is better than non vision techniques and will likely continue to use it rather than the cane. Proponent’s of this approach say that their goal is to have persons use vision, not take it away as with non vision training. Non vision trying of course does not "take away" vision and in fact promotes its use as a tool which can be used or not in varying situations. Secondly, the partial occlusion technique does not follow logically the philosophy of using vision rather than taking it away thus contradicting the premise of this well intentioned but misguided approach. However , let me get back to the resistance to the "B" word. The real problem with the vision approach is that it cannot and does not address the heart of the issue …adjustment to blindness and either avoids it or promotes the artificial Hierarchy of vision and negative attitudes about blindness, blind persons and alternate techniques. It did not surprise me that students would or might be resistant to being referred to as "blind". After all they have not for the most part been told they are blind. If they have vision they are told they are visually impaired. I'm told its less demeaning, that they feel better as low vision rather than blind. This is interesting. The words "low" and "impaired" don't sound positive to me. More interesting is the negative reaction of some staff to the B word. Not that sighted staff surprise me with resistance, but some staff who are blind with some vision..do not want to use the term with blind students and do not want to be referred to as blind. It is negative, demeaning, and as one told me like using a negative racial term sometimes called the "N word" . Sounds like a negative attitude toward blindness to me...and in an agency for the blind and even organizations of and for the blind at that.

It strikes me funny how people who are blind with some vision can have it both ways. I question if in fact this may be a personal rather than a professional issue for them. For example, eligibility for certain programs, reader services, SSDI etc require one to be blind according to the law. How can one hold out one hand and take these things based on blindness and with the other "push away" an acknowledgement that they are blind? If they only realized what they are doing and saying and its impact on consumers. If they only realized how freeing it is to overcome the negative attitude about blindness, overcome the fear and in fact make it a positive, acceptable and respectable thing to be blind. That takes some work. It takes some training without using vision, It takes participation in discussion about attitudes , it takes training in alternate techniques. But it starts with the word. Blindness has for some and needs for many more to become positive, be a characteristic like blond hair or blue eyes, neutralized through training , use of the word and non vision strategies so it can be seen as a nuisance rather than a negative restriction.

Some have expressed concern about using the term since it can be "psychologically devastating. It can with the wrong attitude. Some have suggested the need for therapy. If a blind person needs therapy it is not because blindness is a neurosis or mental illness, but perhaps therapy is needed for other reasons. It concerns me when an agency or organization, or school "for /of the Blind" refuses to use the term with its consumers and staff. It presents a specter of shame and promotes little to negative expectation. No wonder why 70 percent of the blind of this country are not employed. Why would they think they could or should go to work? If we are ashamed of them as blind then is it not reasonable that they should be too?

So I salute those who have worked and continue to work toward equality of opportunity and change in attitudes.

The person in the scenario with vision gets it. Fortunate for him that someone told him its okay to be blind.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

**45. “I am blind...Vision is no challenge for me, I just ccan't do it. My
reaction to all the political correctness in the world today ranges from
mild amusement to extreme annoyance, depending upon my mood. We have become
a society of over-sensative idiots (or is that intellectually challenged
individuals?). We are so afraid of offending someone else, that we stumble
around trying to find this week's PC terminology, often losing track of what
we were trying to say in the first place.

I remember a class in graduate school, when the professor was using
the NFB as an example of collective action. He said that the visually
challenged had done an excellent job of organizing for collective action.
Then he turned to me and asked "Visually challenged...is that the correct

My response was "I believe that's the current politically correct
term, but I'm blind." It is my opinion that blind is a very functional word
that says what it needs to convey. If you meet the legal definition of
blindness, then you're blind.”

David Bundy (West Columbia, South Carolina USA

**46. “Terminology is a thing with me. Sometimes I think I am too thin skinned
about it but it can get on my nerves. I work every day at the Nebraska
Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired with people who experience vision loss. Talking about what we experience doesn't bother me much. What I find to be the most disconcerting is professionals in the blindness field who cannot stand to call a person blind because they are afraid of
belittling the person. As a result, they often use some other demeaning term such as sightless to describe the condition they think we are in. I usually just tell people that I consider myself blind and that I don't have a problem with it. If they are one who really needs to know, I also tell them
that my definition of blindness simply means that a person needs to find non-visual ways to do what other people do visually. In most cases, my explanation is enough. In those where it is not, I just have to figure that the philosophy they have about blindness is different than mine and move on.”

Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “’A thick skin!’ We have seen this sentiment of not getting unduly upset by things people will say, several times and I’ll bet we see it again. Do you see the reasoning these different people are using for when or why you let it slide, not get up set? Think of where that fine line of acceptability is for you.”

**47. “I had to think about this one for quite some time before I decided I would write a response to this thought provoker. To me, the basic question is understanding labels (terms) that one uses to describe a situation. This is extremely subjective to anyone's particular definition of the
label/term. I, myself, am blind or at least that is how I refer to myself. Yes, I do have some usable vision, light perception and shadow vision which can be measured at 20/2000 visual acuity for all that it is worth. I guess the issue is how the term is used and the intent of the usage. If
the term is used without malice or hatred behind it, isn't it a good term? What difference does it really make to what term is being used at a given moment in time as long as the intent behind the usage is one that has an honest and good intent. Granted, when you are confronted by someone who is
uncomfortable with the term you use, common courtesy says, "Which term are you comfortable with?".”

Jeffrey Pledger (Burtonsville, Maryland USA)

**48. “First of all I agree with Lori Number 40, we're people. Yes, I'm blind but that's
like saying "you have blonde hair, you're hair is red," it's a characteristic that is a part of me. It doesn't stop me from leading a normal life having a family working a nine to five job. It also doesn't stop
me from being a soon to be father (around about July) it just means I can't see. (Not c conventionally anyway.) I think I see and perceive things just as well as the next person. Even though I do things differently or acquire information differently doesn't mean I can't get the job done, or that I
don't obtain the necessary information. It is and has always been a characteristic and I try to keep it that way. When I interviewed for this job that was one of the biggest things "You're blind." Yeah, your point? I
may use different software, different set ups for certain thins but the bottom line is I get the job done, can lead a normal productive life and don't and have never let anything get in my way along those lines. That's
all I have for now, there may be something later on. Take care and as always Robert keep the good ones coming.”

Timothy Emons (Huntsville, Alabama USA)

**49. “Blind is blind no matter how you cut it. I would rather have someone call me blind rather than being so paranoid as to what to call my condition, that they would be afraid not to approach the subject at all. I mean, everyone is so afraid that they are not being politically correct, that they miss an
opportunity to learn something about what we can do, instead of thinking that we can do nothing. I don't really care what they call it. If I have
to give a title to my blindness, that's what it is, "Blind". Now my wife has some vision, and she describes it as visually impaired or blind. I think visually impaired goes to those with some vision. To me, impaired
means less than the norm,, but as far as blindness goes, blind is none. One term that bugs me, even more than handicap, is "sightless". I don't know why, but that term bugs!”

Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)

**50. “This PROVOKER takes me back to a day several years ago. I was 32 years old at a rehab center learning adaptive techniques after severing both optic nerves in an auto accident. My first day there, another client of the center came up and asked me if I was blind or visually impaired. He too had
been left totally blind after an auto accident. I told him that there was nothing impaired about my sight and that I am totally blind. He argued, "No, you're visually impaired. Don't you understand what that means?"

That was a puzzling question to pose to me at that early stage of working to acceptance of my blindness. I hadn't considered semantics within the blind community. I had figured that whatever the degree of blindness, we would all gather underneath the same banner. How naive I was.

I have since met several persons who cling to their protective shield, saying "I'm not blind. I'm visually impaired." I have come to the conclusion that whatever coping strategy one has in place to work to their
acceptance is the right method for that person. It is not my place to tell them what they are.

That is really what this PROVOKER is about. It is not our place to tell people what they are. More than this, it is how we, as individuals, identify ourselves. If somebody uses terminology we do not agree with, like
many other things associated with the blindness, it is our place to attempt to educate the public. If you don't let them know how you feel, they will have no way of knowing and assume they were using the right terminology.

No matter what term anybody else uses to describe themselves, I have stuck to my guns since that first question. I am as blind as I was that day. There is no impairment to my vision. I still get a little chuckle when somebody asks me if I'm legally blind. Being I have no light perception and
wouldn't qualify as that, I tell them I must be "illegally blind."

Ron Graham (Houston, Texas USA 1captron@gte.net(

**51. “What term I use depends on the situation I am in. When I am around my peers and professors at the university I tend to say visually impaired. I have
learned I am more accepted if I use that term than, say, partially blind. As someone else mentioned, it
seems to term blind brings images of helpless people just wandering around. I feel like I have a strike
against me when it comes to the professors if they think of me as blind, but if they think of me as not
being able to see as well as they can they aren't that way. My peers have mixed reactions, some just look at
it as if I'm speaking Greek, some assume that I need to be led around on a leash, and others care enough to
have questions so they will better understand. I think that people thinking that blind people, partials
or totals, can't do anything is very outdated and unfair. The only thing that is going to change this
is educating the public and achieving our best.

Personally, I don't think or feel like I am any label. I am me and I see as good as I can see. It is others
that put a label on me or make me put one on myself. I will admit, though, that the term legally blind
seems kind of odd to me. It makes it sound like someone decided somewhere along the line to pass a law
that it is okay that I have less than 20/200 vision. It seems to me that society thinks there has to be a
correct label for everyone that is not "normal" that won't hurt their feelings I think that it goes too
far sometimes. Who is normal, everyone has their own problems. If we came up for a term for everyone that had an issue we'd never be able to keep track of them
all and no one would feel accepted in the world.

I think it comes down to using the term you feel most comfortable using and find most effective in helping
people understand. That way when they come across someone else that is blind, visually impaired,
whatever you want to call it they won't feel as uncomfortable and will be more educated.”

Wendalyn (university student, Nebraska)

FROM ME: “’…seems to term blind brings images of helpless people just wandering around…’ Many have said this in one way or another; a reason to not use the term, ‘blind.’ Others say, ‘…change what it means to be blind…’ What argument, persuasion would you use to convince those who avoid using the uncomfortable term ‘blind’ to use it, to model it, to explain it and to change its meaning?”

**52. “The terms I prefer are "partially sighted" "low vision" "legally blind" and 'blind" for the varying degrees of visual impairment. I used to be partially sighted. As my vision decreased, I became low vision, but was not yet legally blind. This meant that my life was significantly impaired, BUT I could not receive any assistance because I did not fit "the numbers". State and federal agencies are VERY firm on those horrible "numbers" aren't they?

Anyway, I went from being "low vision" be "legally blind" and suddenly the floodgates OPENED! All the things I COULD have used before were suddenly available. Someone I know who was going through the process of losing her sight completely, contacted the Braille Institute in Los Angeles to ask
them for lessons in Braille. Their response? "You are not blind. Come back when you are legally blind!", leaving her to cope with her fear and isolation, alone! She told me "I feel as if I'm 'illegally' blind!" What a
concept! A visual outlaw! Someone outside of society's pigeon-holes. I really like that term!

When describing my status to others, I use the term legally blind. I then explain, if explanations are necessary. Now I will come to a point that divides a lot of us: I am handicapped. I am NOT disabled. Why? Well, you can handicap a horse, and it will still run the race, even carrying the
extra weight (the handicap). A Golf handicap is the number of extra 'strokes' deliberately added to a golfer's score to 'slow him down' to the
rest of the party's speed. A handicap, in the sporting sense means an impediment placed in the way of a superior player. The term disabled, however, means something entirely different. If you disable a car, it will
not run. "The bomb will not go off, I have disabled the fuse!" Something that is disabled is incapacitated, broken, stopped... DISABLED. Do WE want to be incapacitated, broken or stopped? Or do we want to be players with a couple strokes off our game or extra weight on our saddles? Call me
handicapped, thank you!”

Sylvia Stevens (USA)

FROM ME: “HANDICAP; BLIND; DISABLED; IMPAIRED; ETC. Interesting the negatives and positives of a term. We’ve seen responses saying one or another of these terms are a terrible negative and later we se it as a positive. I’m thinking, scratching my head, when is this a case of semantics or of true philosophical differences? What makes the difference between a word thing and a belief thing?”

**53. “As a person who sees a little, but not very much, I've considered from time to time how to refer to myself -- blind, legally blind, visually impaired, partially sighted (used widely in the early 60's), person with low vision (probably, my preferred PC term of the day), visually handicapped (definitely un-PC), etc. As my eyesight decreases, the term "blind" becomes more and more accurate, and it is the term I use most, since it gets the message across quickly to everyone. However, there are some people out there with no vision at all who have expressed the view that persons with even a small amount of eyesight should not be called "blind," and some members of the public who see my eyeglasses and insist that I can't be "blind." As for "legally blind," no one in the public at large knows what it means, so it's not very helpful. The terms "visually impaired" and "partially sighted" have never quite done the job in communicating the severity of the problem to other people -- after all, neither of them really means anything specific other than saying that a person's eyesight is not perfect. Frankly, I like the concept of the term "low vision," which is comparable in many ways to the PC term "hard of hearing,” but it is not really much in circulation yet. As for the term "handicapped," there is a myth out there suggesting that it comes from the French term for hat in hand, suggesting references to begging. My boyfriend, who is fascinated by etymology suggested otherwise, so I looked up the etymology of the term "handicapped" and found the following: "There is a false belief that this term meaning disabled derives from begging, or cap in hand. ... It does have
its origins with hands in caps, but it has nothing to do with begging and originally does not refer to disability at all. The word comes from an old method of setting odds. Two bettors would engage a neutral umpire to determine the odds in an unequal contest. The bettors would put their hands holding forfeit money into a hat or cap. The umpire would announce the odds and the bettors would withdraw their hands--hands full meaning that they accepted the odds and
the bet was on, hands empty meaning they did not accept the bet and were willing to forfeit the money. If one forfeited, then the money went to the other. If both agreed on either forfeiting or going ahead with the wager, then the umpire kept the money as payment. The term appears as early as the 1650s and
is applied to horse racing in its modern sense about a century later. The sense meaning disabled, comes from the horse racing term, where the umpire decrees the superior horse should carry extra weight--a handicap. A disabled person carries an extra burden. The sense of a disabled person appears around 1915."

Jeanine Worden (Arlington, Virginia USA)

FROM ME: “Any other definitions out there?”

**54. “Interesting, isn't it, all these terms, any of which somebody will find offensive. I work with and have friends in that community of people who have some medical condition which affects the eyesight. My friends call themselves both visually impaired and blind. Most professionals in the UK
use the term ‘visually impaired’ except those who are involved with the National Federation Of The Blind Of The UK, who use the term ‘blind’. The two organizations concerned with people with sight and hearing problems use the term ‘Deafblind’. So, perhaps the moral is that when one hears a term
which one finds offensive, one should stop and think, before deciding that the intent was offensive. If we cannot decide amongst ourselves, how on Earth can we complain about the words that others use. And if you ask, when I say we, I mean the disabled community, or should I say impaired or
handicapped or differently abled............aaargh!”

Dave Nelson (Carlisle, UK)

FROM ME: “INTENT! Another term or major thought that we’ve seen mentioned in this PROVOKER. Is this not the Altamonte point?”

**55. “Well, we have opened up what some people may think of as a can of worms. I have lived through both terms for this. When I was younger, I had 20/200 vision and although my parents would refer to me as blind, I hated it, because I could see, and pretty good I thought. Yes, medically, I was referred to as legally blind and that was ok, I guess. I just did not want to be called blind when I had sight. Later on, I lost all my vision. Now, I think of myself as totally blind. I say this as I have
had experiences when I would just say I was blind and they wanted to know how much I could see. So, now, I just say from the start that I'm totally blind. Some people still need further clarification and I then tell them I can't see anything. They usually understand after that. My husband, on
the other hand, has 20/200 and is called legally blind, but he can still see quite well. This does present a problem when he encounters something he can't see. The public expects him to be able to with no assistance, so whereas I refer to him as a high partial he calls himself blind. I think
this is all terms and whichever the individual person feels more comfortable with. I think for the most part, society is going to have a hard time understanding us, because there are so many different levels of
sight that we can have and what is expected of one, may not be able to be done by another.”

Lisa P. Briones (Sacramento, California USA

FROM ME: “Sight or blind; white or black; on or off; negative or positive. Are all these pairs of terms in their sense of meaning, equal one pair to the other? Then, within a pair, are there shadings, degrees… like that to be found here?”

**56. “In response to your thought provoker, I don't think their is much else to be
said. In fact, I think I will pass it on to all of my friends who are
sighted. However, I wonder how most sighted folks would feel if the same
set of biases/standards were placed on them as in the following message
which I recently received.” (It was my message to him. RLN)

Fred Olv er

**57. “Given the education field's tendency for acronyms (VIP = visually impaired people; SS = sight saving; PS = partially sighted), I just hope we don't include the term "visually disabled". Then we'd be teachers of the VD!”

Oiram Osetroc (Chicago, Illinois

**58. I have a new term to share with people. When I was voting the other day. A election official whispered to another that, I was sighted handicapped.
I couldn't help but laugh. I consider myself blind.
Those other terms just don't fit me. I find myself correcting people who refer to me as sight impaired, or visually challenged. I tell them I'm blind because that is the way I am and it is not going to change.”

Melissa R. Green

**59. “We are you?

You are an individual.

An individual who has a Visual Impairment, or who is Blind.”

Catherine Johnson (AERnet)

**60. “This is a tough one. I've mostly used visually impaired when interviewing for a job or talking to people on the phone who require information which I visually cannot provide. Lately, as I've grown older, I do use the word blind more frequently.

I do think that the main thing is that the public become more educated as to the abilities of blind people. Sometimes I think blind has a negative connotation. All these terms may make the general public feel like they are being politically correct, but acceptance is more than just using the
correct term.

Janet Ingber )Queens, New York USA)

FROM ME: “’…All these terms may make the general public feel like they are being politically correct, but acceptance is more than just using the correct term…’ Think through what this lady is getting at in this sentence.”

**61. FROM ME: “This is a second response. It came about after writing her first response and talking it over with a friend. The first one is #29”

“Basically, the reason I don't like the word "blind" being used as a blanket statement for all degrees of vision loss is that's when people start to think that someone who is totally blind or near it should have the same skills and ways of doing things as someone with a lot of residual vision.
I know totally blind people can be independent. After all, I'm totally blind, and I'd consider myself to be as independent as I can be for my age. However, you do have to admit that the amount of vision a person has and the extent to which they use it effects the ways they do things. To call
everyone blind denotes that all should do the same things the same ways, no matter the amount of vision they have.

I know what I've said isn't set in stone or anything, but that's how I think about it. Talk to you later!”

Alicia Richards (Lincoln, Illinois USA)

**62. “I'm blind. I was in a car accident about a decade ago that left me with some upper peripheral vision and a few specks of tunnel vision. When I was in blindness training, our teachers rarely ever walked with a cane, choosing sighted-guides as their most common mobility mode. Only the
Braille teacher walked with a cane, and it was one of those folding aluminum jobbies that came up to her chest. Our teachers told us we were V.I.P's, short for Visually Impaired Persons. So I was not blind. I was
something like vision impaired, visually-impaired, print-disabled, etc.

After graduating from U.C.S.D, I finally responded to one of the frequent invitations, mailers, and cassettes from the National Federation of the Blind. I attended a meeting, and met blind engineers, teachers, and other blind students. It was only after meeting successful productive
well-adjusted blind people that I realized that I was blind.

My earlier teachers seemed to have instilled their own feelings of inferiority into me, and probably every student they had. I now understand that it is respectable to be blind. It is normal to be blind. Blind people, with proper training and attitude are capable of performing as well as sighted people at almost every job.

Currently, I'm serving an internship with a non-profit research arm of Sea World. An agriculture researcher, I rely on my understanding of the complex interactions of the coastal ecosystem on fish. I develop research proposals designed to improve fish health and hatchery performance.

I'm also a member of the NFB's Agriculture and Equestrian Division, and find the networking between fellow farmers and ranchers to be very helpful and inspiring. Knowing that other blind people are doing similar jobs really empowers me when I set my goals.

Blind is beautiful!

Feel free to contact me about blind scientists and farmers!”

Fred Chambers (Pomona, California

**63. "Hello my name is Darryl Salley, and I am a member of the NFB of New York.
My vote without a doubt goes for the term of blind being used in all cases.
Take care for now, and have a great day."

Darryl Salley (BlindLaw)

**64. “When my sighted daughter was about five years old, she had a friend of the same age who was also sighted. Both the fathers were blind. Without any hint or instruction, these two kids divided the fathers of the world into two classes that fitted their experience: fathers were either blind or unblind. I never observed any sighted fathers being the recipient of the designation, "unblind", but I can imagine that they would have been more than a little surprised.
I guess it is a matter of experience and perspective. Very few normally sighted persons ever have the need to be classified as "unblind" in a way that
blind persons often find themselves in situations where sighted persons find a need of classifying and distinguishing those of us who lack any sight or
an adequate degree of it. It is not surprising that they should identify us in terms of this sense that they regard as so precious and so essential for the activities of life. When confronted with an actual human being who lacks what they regard as so essential, most people are perfectly aware of the
term "blind", ;but have so many negative associations with it that they, no doubt, feel a little reluctant to use the term which, in their mind, involves some pretty negative features. Whether this is the origins of politically correct terminology in all or most cases, I don't know. What I do know is that
we, who are blind, are a lot worse off if we allow ourselves to get trapped in whatever associations cause this reluctance to use the term "blind". We are truly pitiable if we begin to see ourselves in those terms. We are made more conscious of the negative associations of the word blind when the world around us tiptoes around a word that they clearly believe connotes inferiority--just listen to the way it is employed in ordinary speech to describe foolish and stupid; behavior. So, next time someone asks you if you are "sightless" or "unsighted", just ask them if they are "unblind".”

James S. Nyman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “This gentleman gives one of the best explanations on why it is so many blind persons and their groups are wanting to change what it means to be blind, to make the word, the connotation be a respectful one. Read it again with this in mind.”

**65. “Up until a few years ago, there was no other way of describing myself except
blind, so when I first encountered the term visually impaired it struck me as being evasive or attempting to be careful not to call people what they really were. To me, it was like people asking me if I listened to something on the television--it just didn't sound right and struck me as attempts to
try too hard not to hurt my feelings which would have been less hurt by "normal" terms. I wonder if people who are deaf have this same reaction to being called "hearing impaired". I would like to think that as a community we could eventually have the same sense of pride about being blind that many
of the deaf have about being deaf.”

Zhenya Smith (Amesbury, Massachusetts)

FROM ME: “Being blind. Being deaf. What do you think, are all that call them selves deaf really totally deaf?

Think also of this- why isn’t deaf as scary or as ‘bad of a word’ as blind?

Here are a couple of thoughts- for generations, when people were asked to rank order the God most terrible physical conditions, blindness was number one; until cancer, then aids pushed it down to the number 3 position.

also, think of some of the nastiest tortures or maiming acts that Man has done to their enemies. To blind was one of the ultimate acts. I mean, have you ever heard anyone say, ‘I’m going to poke your ears out!’

In addition, think through your language, your culture. In English, USA, blind is used allot to denote a negative. Examples- Blind corner, Blind drunk, Blind as a bat, rob you Blind, etc. (You add to this list).

In saying all this, could we see why it is that sighted public would be reluctant to call one of us blind?”

**66. “What Do You Mean Blind?
By: Jeff Altman
There are words in our language which have the power to make people
uncomfortable, that cause a wide variety of strong emotions , and inspire
people to try to avoid there usage. Such a word is "blind", and in recent
years this word along with many others that describe an individual's
physical characteristics have come to be viewed as improper and even
demeaning. Of course it is not the words themselves, which are the problem,
but rather the beliefs held by our society regarding the conditions they
represent that create this sense of discomfort.

Certainly becoming blind is not a desirable outcome for anyone, and I
believe that it is fare to assume that most people would initially find this
experience to be very frightening and frustrating. Any physical loss creates
emotional Trauma, and this emotional response can only be made worse when
the majority of the information available regarding this condition is simply
false and misleading. There are so many myths and misconceptions regarding
blindness that the truth is often difficult to recognize, and sometimes is
overlooked entirely.

Many dictionaries define blindness as "The inability to see.", but in fact
the majority of blind persons have some degree of vision. A more correct
definition of blindness would be, "A level of visual function which is
limited to the degree that the individual is reliant upon other forms of
sensory information in most situations, and has developed and utilizes
alternative non-visual techniques to carry out the majority of ordinary
daily activities."

Many of these alternative techniques are well known by the general public,
such as the long white cane, guide dogs, and Braille, but unfortunately they
are not truly understood by most people. The sources of information most
people have at their disposal tend to reinforce the belief that the blind
are persons of limited awareness living lives of quiet desperation, forced
to resort to methods which are woefully inadequate for meeting the demands
of even the most basic of Daly tasks, leaving us hopelessly dependent upon
the assistance of others, and incapable of caring for ourselves, let alone
functioning as contributing members of society. It is interesting to note
that another popular myth about blindness shifts us to the opposite end of
the functional spectrum, endowing us with superior hearing, sense of touch
and smell, and even a mystical sixth sense. For those of us that are blind,
we find it truly amazing that these beliefs persist in our society when so
many of us live ordinary lives, and such perceptions could not possibly be
any further from the truth.

At first it may seem incredible that such clearly different points of view
could be accepted as equally true within one society; however, there is a
logical explanation for their co-existence. Should one accept the notion
that the loss of vision renders a person hopeless, helpless, and oblivious
to the world around him or her, then what possible explanation can there be
when you are confronted by a blind individual who is functioning at a level
well above your expectations, other than to come to the conclusion that such
people must possess non-visual sensory powers well beyond those of ordinary
persons. Of course, it is unthinkable to consider that beliefs about
blindness passed down to us by our parents, teachers, and popular culture
are false, and therefore, any blind person that does not fit into our notion
of what a blind person should look or behave like must be an exception to
the rule. Since blindness is a relatively rare occurrence, it is unlikely
that the average person will have the chance to have experiences, which
discredit our society's prevailing beliefs.

Unfortunately, the fact that the majority of blind persons have some degree
of functional vision tends to further compound the confusion regarding the
true levels of awareness and abilities of blind people. It is commonly
believed that the more vision you have the greater your awareness of the
environment and ability to perform ordinary activities. Therefore, very
often the success a blind individual experiences is credited to his or her
ability to see, rather than his or her skill and competence as a person.
Many blind persons unaware of the truth of blindness, have come to accept
these myths as reality, and they find it easy to assume all blind persons
must share their own negative experiences with blindness. They have been
lead to believe that the successes they have achieved either result from
their reliance upon remaining vision, or are based upon their own unique
talents and abilities. Many somehow perceive their success in performing
the ordinary activities of daily life as a great accomplishment, worthy of
praise and social recognition.

Given these culturally held beliefs about blindness, is it any wonder that
so many persons, both sighted and blind, seek to avoid the use of this word.
For many blind individuals there is the hope that by pealing off this label
they can emphasize the physical abilities made possible by utilizing their
remaining vision, and somehow slip the bonds of the social barriers
blindness creates. These individuals may even aspire to escape from the
self-defeating dreadful notions of the effects of vision loss they have
internalized, and if at all possible separate themselves from any
association with blindness.

For the sighted individual there is the comfort in knowing that ones choice
of words has allowed you to describe the person's physical characteristics
without the risk of offending or having to undertake the effort required to
actually change your beliefs or attitudes about blindness. Among the
guardians of political correctness there is a certain sense of pride and
gladness in knowing that our society has become more accepting and inclusive
by simply changing the words we use to describe those we consider less
fortunate, and they are prepared to defend their position by harshly
chastising anyone that might challenge their notions. They have defined what
is appropriate language and attitudes regarding the characteristics of
others, and they seem unwilling to consider any other opinions on the
subject, including the opinions of the very people who are living with these
characteristics. It is interesting to consider that in spite of the proud
accomplishments touted by the guardians of political correctness, blind and
disabled persons are still rarely welcomed as equals in either social or
employment situations.

Our popular culture has generated a whole series of socially acceptable
supposedly non-offensive euphemisms to replace the words we find
uncomfortable, and with regular usage and more than a little social
pressure, they have become common place in our language. Words such as
blind, crippled, or handicapped are now looked upon as improper or even
cruel. Terms such as "Visually Impaired" and "Physically Challenged" have
gained favor as the appropriate terminology, and labels such as
"non-sighted" are not unusual in this awkward age of the guilty social

For the sake of argument let us consider how well such euphemisms would be
accepted should they be applied to characteristics other than blindness.
For example, would it be appropriate to regard a person of Asian descent as
being "Racially Impaired", or a person living in Eastern Europe as
"Culturally Challenged", or for that matter a person having a darker skin
tone as "Non-white"? Clearly such references would be viewed as offensive
and demeaning, and the reason is easily recognizable. Each of these terms
compares the individuals characteristics to a perceived higher standard, and
therefore infers that the individual is somehow inferior. Can this be any
less true for persons who are blind or have other characteristics, which are
considered to be disabilities?

Certainly we are obligated to respect the wishes of others when making
reference to their individual characteristics, and therefore should a blind
individual feel more comfortable with the term "Visually Impaired", it is
only proper that we accept his or her personal preference. However, I
firmly believe that we should not feel the need to avoid the use of the word
blind, since it properly describes a physical characteristic without making
any comparisons. If a blind individual is offended by our use of the word
blind, it is not because we have done something wrong, but rather it is a
matter of that individual's personal opinion. While it is appropriate to let
these persons know that we understand their feelings and we should respect
their choice of terminology, we should not feel obligated to apologize for
using a perfectly appropriate word. On the other hand, should the word
blind be used in conjunction with a statement which is intended to justify
an action which denies opportunity based upon a belief system that holds
that blindness renders an individual less aware or less capable than others,
then there are many good reasons to apologize.”

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “How did you like the proposed definition of blind as Jeff gives?”

**67. “It seems like a lot of folks really do worry about what terms are used. I really don't care....really. But I guess we have to have an answer when people ask "What term do I use?". So I usually use "visually impaired". It really is amazing, the prejudice within the blind/visually impaired
world. It's like we never grew up "I'm blinder than you", "I am NOT blind", "I see better than you". That's really what it seems to come down to.

I am not real excited about organizations telling us what to use either. We are individuals and it just so happens we have different levels of vision. We can do anything in life we choose. We can choose to limit ourselves due to our vision loss, or we may try to prove to the world we can do it all!

I am a "Little Person", which is the correct term these days, by the way! .Midget, dwarf, squirt, peanut , etc. are some of the other terms used! Words hurt, only if we give them power to hurt. As children....they seem to hurt more, since we are still building our confidence and identity. As
adults...we can choose. Sometimes we are in the mood to get offended by certain words. It just may be the straw that broke the camels back. We, as humans can be so fragile sometimes. A lot depends on the attitude of the person using the words. Like someone else said "INTENT".

Oh, by the way....you can call me........Joyce!

My 2 cents of babble! LOL

Visually Impaired. Future blind person, whatever....”

Joyce Cass Pratt (Gillette, New Jersey USA)

**68. “Edwin I could just hug you for real on your most wonderful response .... (Response 44)honestly could ...do you mind if I keep your answer it is just so down to earth and so so so uplifting I think for those I am lucky enough to work with to hear .... 'I am blind ....vision is no challenge for me ... I just
can't do it' .... that is just it in a nutshell ... just like for my aspie
kid empathy is not a problem for him ..he just can't do it ... there has
been so much emphasis by who knows who started this sort of thinking that
it really makes any and everything into an issue ...the fact is everyone is
different ... I am short LOL so to reach 7' is not a challenge to me as you
rightly said I just can't do it ... I so so admire how well you phrased the
whole thing so aptly .... shame commonsense got left out of politically
correct terms if you ask me ... but give em time they probably will come up
for a term for that too *grin*”

Julie L. Robottom.
Visiting Teacher Service - Visually Impaired
Northern Region - Gresswell Cluster, Australia)

**69. “Renee, People discriminate for many reasons. What you described was discrimination based upon a level of perceived functional ability or style. What needs to be overcome, here, is not the term used to describe the individual, but rather the level of perceived competence, functional value, ability
to deliver what is required to get the job done. You do that, and the term blind will have its proper perspective.”

Mike Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**70. “This is another great PROVOKER. Growing up, I referred to myself as visually Impaired, as did everyone around me, mostly because of the negative feelings already spoken of regarding the word blind, for I could see--a little bit. In recent times, my vision has decreased to basically the perception of light
and some forms and I now regard myself as blind. This is in part because now functionally I am, but more so because I came to see that it is respectable to be blind after meeting many successful blind people. In summary, blindness is a state of mind, rather than a physical reality.”

Paul Wick (Sacramento, California USA)

FROM ME: “’…state of mind, rather than a physical reality…’ What all can be read into this short phrase? Do people make ‘blind’ into something bigger, badder than it really is? Would not this be a great revelation?”

**71. “I also meant to respond to your question after **29.

Since I have become blind only three years ago, I have experienced the
adjustment from bad feelings about blindness to good ones. Or, perhaps it
is more accurate to say that I now have good feelings about myself.

When I first lost my vision, I went through the classic series of emotions;
shock, denial, bargaining, depression. They were awful. I don't know how
my spouse managed to stand me for the first year of that. After a while,
with my wife's support and encouragement, as well as the support, experience, and encouragement of other blind Internet users, I began to realize that my life wasn't over because I became blind. That was almost as shocking a revelation as the fact that I had lost my vision had been. It's
not like I woke up one morning and just said, "OK, it's time to get over
this," and everything was suddenly alright. It just sort of sneaked up on me that I was becoming adjusted to the new challenges, opportunities, and downright pains in the butt that blindness brings to us all every day.

I don't think that anyone ever stops adjusting to a life change like vision loss. But we all change and grow as time passes, whether we are blind, visually impaired, handicapped, or "sightlings" (that's a hilarious term to me!) and all we can hope for is to become better, happier, more productive
individuals over the long haul.”

David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

**72. “I'm beginning to wonder how many ways we can say blind. A dear friend of mine told me that he wasn't comfortable with calling me "disabled," because he found me to be more capable than most sighted people he knows. He didn't like the word handicapped either so he chose the term "visually
disadvantaged." Blindness is not the norm so people must come up with terms which allow them a certain amount of comfort and dignity when dealing with us. These terms inevitably must vary from person to person and from situation to situation. The sooner that we personally become comfortable
with the variety of terms describing the degree of our abnormality, and the ability to use them intersperse them in everyday life, we may find that we, as well as others, will feel
more at ease. Let's face it, blindness is not normal. We can learn to live normal lives given the proper training, circumstances and the desire to do so, but this still doesn't change the fact that "we" the blind are the minority. Therefore, let's make the best of it and show 'em all what we can d do.”

Freda Trusty (Pensacola, Florida USA)

FROM ME: “’…Let's face it, blindness is not normal….’ Here is another way to view this; for as long as ‘Man’ has been ‘Man” and able to see, he/she has also experienced vision loss, blindness. So going blind, blindness is within the range of normality for ‘Man’ Granted, not many of us experience it, but is it not also true for other human traits like genius or red hair or freckles and like that? Think we can broaden what normal means when it comes to eye sight?”

**73. “It is fact that the word blind has developed into a negative. History is here with all of its baggage adding a heap of long held, understood and accepted truths about the status of being blind; you all know what that is, I don’t have to write it out. Only recently, in some countries has being blind become manageable in respects to the living of a ‘normal life’. So yes, terms mean some thing. Language is one of those things that separate we humans from the animals. Terms and meanings are what aid us in learning, in living, in surviving and prospering, in advancing and guaranteeing the future of the race. As for changing what it means to be blind, this is a noble task. As the author of this forum writes, we humans are intelligent and adaptive and can more successfully adjust to vision loss, blindness much better than what would first be suspected. What strikes me, is to further our progress toward this goal would be to gather more of the writings, speeches and join and take part in activities which promote this reality.”


74. “I was interested to find that a number of people referred to the cultural implications of the various terms used. It seems to me (and I speak as a Christian here) that the highly pejorative use of the word "blind" in Judeo-Christian literature (The Bible included) has a lot to answer for. Blind is seen (Ha) as either punishment for sin (Hebrew Bible / Old Testament) or latterly culpable refusal to accept the message. Perhaps people from other cultures/faiths could comment? Does the same apply?”

Dave nelson (carlisle, United Kingdom)

**75. “Labels do set the mind and initiate action. Classification is another key notion here. Fore example, humansapian is the class name. It speaks of a specific class or type of organism. It is in the next level we began to specify the individual characteristics; caucation, Negroid, Asian, etc. Thus, ‘Blind” could work if you can get people to agree to it as a general classifier. Next the individual might explain what level or type of blindness when needed. But changing what people have so long understood what the word ‘blind’ has meant in terms of the level of vision loss is a tall order. I agree that the characteristics of what ‘blind’ means in regards to ability is possible to change and needs to be changed. Good luck, I am with you.”

DR. Mossin (USA)

FROM ME: “Where I work there is a slogan, a dictate of awareness we are to have when communicating, interacting with others and it is, ‘WORDS COUNT.’ Interesting how meanings, reactions and the like to a word/term will change, evolve over time. From my culture, think of the word ‘gay.’ It went from a positive to a negative. So as an exercise, think, come up with another word from your culture that has done this or even better, what is one which has gone from a negative to a positive? Additionally, what can cause this swing in meaning? Can you force it?”

**75. "Just a brief thought on political correctness. I was, for many years, a
political activist. It is my concerted opinion based upon my study of the
history of social and political movements that terms go out of favor as a
result of the social action of those to whom a given term applies and not
the other way around. The prime example is the now offensive terms
previously used to define Blacks in this country. It was the result of the
long fought civil rights movement that changed the terms or the specific
language referring to that particular group. While many have tried to
champion negative terms attributed to such affected groups in a way to,
"take back the terms," it does not nor cannot erase the fact that words do
have meanings and potentially contribute to the degradation of said group.
As Blacks in this country, for example, might use the word "nigger" among
themselves, it does not change the negative and socially unacceptable
affect that this has upon that long and continued oppressed group.

In so far as the term blind is used to accurately describe a characteristic
of a person who must devise alternative techniques to function efficiently
and normally in life regardless of one's visual acuity, it is definitely
Okay to be blind. Much progress has been and continues to be made in
changing "what it means to be blind" and no effort to force or otherwise
cover up the fact shall impede this progress."

Maurice Peret (Rehabilitation Instructor
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

**77. "The term "visually challenged" bugs me. Just as a woman isn't genetically challenged, nor a black person pigmently challenged, we aren't visually challenged.

This term poses two problems. First, the "visually" part is an incorrect word in my view, as it connotes what we look like and not that we don't happen to see terribly well. Second, we all face "challenges" of various kinds. I do not like euphemisms, and their continued use shows us how much we need
a term around which we can all agree. I prefer "blind" myself, but understand why some others do not."

Laura Rank (
John Rae (Toronto, Canada)

**78. "A response to the thought provoker Terms: What We are Called...
Here's a vote for the idea that words matter. Anyone who speaks a foreign language has probably noticed that an entire world view is implied in the structure of the language. In English, we "have" cancer or ALS but we "are" blind. We can have the choice of "being" diabetic or "having" diabetes. Certain challenges are assumed to be part of our beingness, while others are only things we have. Wonder why. It's the same in French, where "he" makes the weather (Il fait beau) and you "have" a stomach ache, but you "are" blind. At least Mandarin is neutral, with all verbs in the infinitive and no helper verbs (but try to find a blind Chinese out on the street walking anywhere in the PRC. They're all hidden at home by their families. Whether they "are" or "have" their blindness, their culture defines it as shameful for themselves and their families.) Is some sense of differentness and/or shamefulness lingering in our language as well?
For those who brought up the traditional "sticks and stones," it's a nice concept but it doesn't work unless you are extremely self-defining. As long as
you are dependent on the good opinion of those around you, it's more the adage," Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart."

My personal opinion is that we have our degree of sightedness the same way we have our tennis shoes, and both are equally unimportant to the essence of
who we are. But I'd like our culture and our language to frame people's thoughts in a more positive way."
Laura Ranks (USA)

**79. "Responses to this thought provoker have come up with a wide variety of different terms people call us by or use to describe us by--visually impaired,
visually challenged, unsighted, etc. One name that my brother was called by his peers when he got glasses at age four was Four Eyes. Needless to say,
that hurt him. I not only think that sighted people come up with these different terminologies because they're just ignorant or are afraid of offending
the person, but I have to agree with Resp. 16 after reading all the responses and thinking about it more--that it's possible that sighted people use words
with many syllables or a string of words with many syllables (visually impaired, visually challenged, etc.) to maintain distance between the sighted and
the *whatever you wish to call them* or to hide behind their deep-rooted fear of blindness. For sighted people to use the word *blind*, is an abrupt word
coming out of their mouths because it denotes something that is abnormal or not normal to them, being that most of the world is sighted. The real question,
though, is what is termed *normal*? That word in itself is a subjective term, for in some cultures, blindness, or any other disability, is not seen as
an inconvenience or an abnormality. *Disabled* and *blind* people are revered in that they are still seen as being able to contribute to the community
in their own way even if it's not in the same manner or method as everyone else's. Likewise, as many have pointed out, a person's ancestral heritage or
physical characteristics of having black hair vs. blond hair are not seen as abnormal. So, to describe blindness or any other disability as an abnormality
or just a happenstance is actually based on the individual and how they were raised.
Because *blind* people (the word "blind is in stars to allow the reader to insert whichever term they prefer to use( also use these different terms
based on whether or not they have light perception or based on their visual acuity, could it be possible that *blind* people are using these terms because
they, themselves, have either not adjusted well to their own blindness or accepted it? Is the possibility of these varying terms used among those who
are legally blind also due to their deep-rooted fear of being categorized into those stereotypes about blind people? The first question, Robert alluded
to, but I came up with the second question. Based on the responses to this thought provoker, I would dare say that it's possible that those who are legally
blind but have light perception use the terms *visually impaired*, *partially sighted* and/or *low vision* instead of blind because they don't want to
see themselves as blind or be categorized into those stereotypes about blind people. Using these terms other than *blind* is, perhaps, also their way
of hanging onto the sight they still have or, in the case of those who have slowly deteriorating sight, their way of convincing themselves that they won't
lose the rest of their sight if they can at all help it. I could be wrong, of course, but it's a thought that came to my mind to possibly ponder.
Between *blind* and sighted people using different terms to describe the disability, impairment, or lack there of, there's a level of confusion that
has developed among all of us. Sighted people who have always gone by the dictionary definition of "blind" to determine who is *blind* and who is not
come into play. Then they hear other such terms as *visually impaired*, *low vision*, *partially sighted*, etc. from *blind* and other sighted people,
which confuses sighted people all the more; thus why sighted people do not know exactly how to define us. When they define one person as *blind* based
on a blind person they met previously who defined themselves as blind, and that second person becomes offended because they define themselves as visually
impaired, then the sighted person becomes confused as to which is correct or offensive. I think that we have these different terms, then, used by eye
doctors and various agencies and organizations who serve *blind* people today because of the different terms sighted and *blind* people use to describe
blindness. Thus why the change in name from "... Services for the Blind" has become "... Services for the Visually Impaired", "...Services for the Blind
and Visually Impaired", etc. To include all ranges of visual acuity to no light perception as well as to fulfill ranges of political correctness. The
worked "blind" in names of organizations and agencies is a catch-all term ranging from those who are legally blind to no light perception. Perhaps, as
a solution to this confusion and to be inclusive of those with different ranges of visual acuity, a new definition of blindness, as written out by Jeff
Altman in Resp. 66 should replace the old definitions of "blind" in the dictionary. In addition, the other terms--"visually impaired", etc.--as agreed
upon by *blind* people, should be included in the side notes to the dictionary definition. In addition, names of organizations and agencies who serve
*blind* people could include "visually impaired", or whatever other term is desired and agreed upon by the majority, in addition to "blind" in their organization
and agency name.
Just as in the case with blindness, people of different races endure different terms as referred to them. A friend of mine and my husband were talking
one day while I was in the other room, and he was telling her that he's Black-American and Native American, not African-American, because his roots do
not trace back to Africa. He further went on to explain that he's Black and Native-American. She, then, asked what to call him--African-Native American,
Black-American Native-American, etc. He replied, "well, my name is John. I surely don't call you White Girl or Norwegian. I call you by your name--Holly".
When describing my husband, though, he's Black and Native-American named John, or his name is John and his race is not brought up unless asked. The point
that I'm making in this part is that, many Black and African-Americans are categorized under the tag name of African-American even though they are two
different kinds of people. In response, some Black-Americans have bought into the African-American tag name also to fit in and shame those who won't.
As mentioned earlier, Black-Americans do not trace their roots back to Africa whereas African-Americans do. Again, like with organizations for the blind,
organizations that serve Black and African-Americans should include both Black and African-American in their name. I think that this is why we have the
NAACP, as it covers all who are non-white.
As for how I describe myself, I'm an Asian female named Linda who happens to be blind even though I have light perception. To use the term *sightless*
or *visually challenged* is like describing someone who is wheelchair-bound as *walkless* or *mobility challenged*. I may have a disability, but I do
not consider myself disabled. To me, saying that I'm disabled is embodying my disability rather than the disability being a matter of happenstance. My
disability as a blind person should never be in the forefront of how people talk to me or relate with me. Sure, the sighted person may have to read can
labels for me to place Braille labels on them, but they don't have to cook for me. When talking to another *blind* person, I wait until the person uses
the term they are comfortable with to describe who they are before I use "blind", "visually impaired", etc. Everyone has their terminology for a number
of reasons which should be respected. I think that that's why I don't get offended when someone refers to themselves as partially sighted even if they
may only have light perception while I refer to myself as blind even though I have light perception."

Linda (USA)