Blindness And Eagles


Blindness And Eagles

     “EAGLES! Oh WOW!” My friend said in an excitement-filled whisper. We were out bird watching. She is sighted. She would visually spot a bird and describe it. I am blind and could auditorialy recognize most of the birds in our region. We were a good team. “There! it's landing on a nesting site. Top branch of an old tall tree. There is a Mating pair and one fledgling. The baby is big enough to fly. It's teetering on the edge of the nest, wings half spread, looking around, uncertain. You can tell what he's thinking, 'Should I jump!’ The father is flying around close in front of him. His mother is in the nest looking like she's saying, 'Go Baby, Go!' There, I think he'll jump. No! He hopped back into the nest. Oh! There he's up on the edge again! Oh, this is too much!"

     Knowing how off the wall my next comment would be, but still wanting to share the thread of thought that had crystallized I said, “Doesn’t this remind you of some blind people we know?”

     “What?” My friend asked.

e-mail responses to

**1. “Thinking of blind people as being like eagles learning to fly is a simile worth considering. Blindness does seem to be different in a sense though. That is: Eagles are hard-wired to fly and it is the exception to the rule when one doesn't. The reason for this is that the eagle wouldn't stay alive if it didn't learn to fly. Unfortunately for blind people there is no prerequisite to fly. If we don't learn to spread our wings, pick up that cane, read Braille, take notes, apply for that job and essentially step out into the world, there are those who will take care of us. When the eagle doesn't fly it won't live long because mom and dad won't take care of it. If a blind person doesn't choose to fly there are plenty of people who say: "That's ok, you probably couldn't have done it anyway." "Don't worry, your monthly SSI or SSDI check will still be here." "don't worry, it's only a special few blind people who can travel well, read Braille and live normal lives working and so on. You're just not one of the special few."

Blindness is a challenge and unfortunately we don't all meet challenges with the same success. More blind people would be successful though if there weren't the public and often professional perception that success isn't realistic anyway. In a day when a blind man has climbed Mt. Everest there are still blind people who don't believe they can find their way to the store, cook a meal or raise children. Then there is the unfortunate truth that many young eagles (children) are encouraged by their parents not to fly. They are not allowed or expected to fall down, run into things, participate in sports, use the cane or read Braille. They lose their instinct to fly and by the time they become young adults they may have had their wings permanently clipped. When young blind kids aren't expected to behave like normal sighted kids, when they are pampered, protected and stifled, their brains eventually give up trying. This is the real tragedy and whether it can be reversed later in life is difficult to say.

In any case there are still many blind people with the hearts of eagles. They want to fly and know it can be done. They see the other eagles soaring in
the clear sunlight and say, "That's for me. I'm going to fly." And they do jump out of the nest and join the ranks of the new generation who have seen
that flying is our natural and proper birthright.”

Mike Bullis (Portland, Oregon USA)

FROM ME: “’…Eagles are hard-wired to fly…’ right, the species would die out otherwise. Recently during a tour of a national forest, my wife and I saw an owl and hawk in a cages. Both were found injured and to save them, they were provided medical assistance and as a result of their injuries they could no longer fly. Thus the decision to place them at the visitor center. So with out their ability to fly, their independence as it were, look at where they are at. Is that so different than a blind person who lacks their independence?”

**2. “The scene described reminds me of what a lot of people, not just blind, experience. I worked at a mental health clinic for over 16 years. I saw many examples of young people who got stuck in adolescent development and were never able to fledge, to speak. In the case of blind persons this may be the result of learned negative attitudes which undermine confidence. Other people were unable to get out of the nest because of depression, loss of motivation associated with substance abuse, or dependent personality disorders. Some had learning disabilities that made them so slow on the job that they weren't able to make it economically on their own. Sometimes the parents encouraged this dependence, while other parents were frustrated, bringing their young adult for treatment so he/she could get over the problems preventing them from succeeding.

If that blind man and his friend kept watching they would have eventually seen that eagle fly from the nest. I wish human development were as predictable as that of birds.”

Susan Knight, Columbus, Georgia USA)

**3. “Perhaps he is referring to the inevitable fear of leaving the comfort of the "known" and taking off into the "unknown." In the nest all needs will be met for the young one. On the other hand he will never know the self satisfaction of soaring in the wind or rising the thermals spiraling high into the sky. Safety could be equated with limitations. Limits on expansion of living skills and independence and definitely having a life of ones own. When fear is replaced with a feeling of self empowerment, then a new life begins. With all of the joys and challenges inherent with just one leap from the "nest."

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)

FROM ME: “Trading the nest for the sky? That is a big jump; yet it can start with the smallest of steps. So, when thinking along the thought of ‘self empowerment’ being that ‘power’ within us which makes us step out with confidence and independent out into the brave new world, are we saying that all ‘power/strength/wisdom/etc’ has to continuously come from you the person, yourself?”

**4. “I feel that this man was talking about the differing responses to
blindness. Some people are birds that leave the nest and others are
rabbits that never leave the burro and some are monkeys that enjoy life and
are happy go lucky. But all these creatures are beautiful in their own way.”

Best wishes
Jayne Wilma and Miller (Harrington, Cumbria England

FROM ME: “A good point. Or, should I write it, ‘A good point?’ Meaning, I realize many of us will shout and push ‘INDEPENDENCE! INDEPENDENCE! INDEPENDENCE!,’ but where and who draws the line here? Do all blind folks need or want to be Eagles?”

**5. “"I think the blind man in this story is referring to independence. Some blind people really have to make that decision to get out of a sheltered lifestyle and become independent people. Sometimes they need help
from others, be they parents, friends, teachers, or whoever. Sometimes too, like the baby eagle in the story, people get really close to deciding to become
independent, then get nervous, and jump back in to their previous lifestyle. I know this is a very short and straight-up response, but I really think that the
symbolism in the story is good and definitely applicable to blind people, but aside from that, I have nothing else I can think to say. Perhaps more
"thought will be provoked" by some of the other responses that begin coming in."

Alicia Richards (Colorado Center for the Blind, USA)

**6. “My answer will be a short one. I would hope parents of the blind will read and see the significance of this story. The baby Eagle or human both start in a nest of loving care. Part of that care has to be the wisdom and strength of the parents to guide their young to that day when they will need to face and take risks. Even to that day when they will need to take the ultimate test, the leaving of the nest and striking out on their own.

I would hope that parents, if not knowing how to parent a blind child, will seek out support from the blind groups, the blind themselves. There are local, state and national organizations who have this service available and it is free. These are people who have been raised as blind children themselves.”

Marilyn M. (USA)

FROM ME: “The two largest groups of the blind in the USA are the National Federation of the Blind and the American Counsel of the Blind. Both have website; and

**7. “I think the blind person in this message is referring to the fact that there are some blind people who are afraid to get out and enjoy life. I know many people who sit in their homes all day and do nothing but watch TV. They are very able, but they grew up believing that they couldn't do anything with their lives. I feel that a lot of this attitude comes from some parents' guilt. My father has told me on several occasions that he's talked to parents who say they feel enormous amounts of guilt because they couldn't do enough for their blind child, or because they gave birth to the child in the first place. To make up for this guilt, I have seen parents try to do too much to help their blind child. Whether it be things as simple as making the bed
in the morning, or as much as using good table manners when eating in public, sometimes these parents don't seem to know how much to do or not to do.

I know a young girl who, at the age of twelve had never spent a night away from home, and didn't know how to do anything with personal grooming. She was unable to pour her own drink or serve her food. She wanted to learn, and was frustrated with her inability to do these things, but her parents simply wouldn't let her have the experiences that would allow her to learn. I am happy to say though that three years later, she is finally learning to do these things for herself, and is very proud of her accomplishments.

I grew up believing that I can do whatever anyone else does. Some people might say that I am not being honest with myself for believing this way, but in my opinion, I'd rather have high expectations of myself than to believe that I am incapable of doing anything worthwhile. Blind people have a lot to offer just like anyone else, and I see no reason why we should have to feel that we are any less than any other individual just because we are blind.”

Caroline Congdon (Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA)

FROM ME: “Visualize a young bird setting under a bush, feathers disheveled, an unhappy look to its posture. Could a human get there; like that in feeling? What could cause it, what could cure it?”

**8. “Oh yes, afraid to jump out of the nest syndrome. But can this also come later in life? We might say this refers to the young, high school or college age who are still living with their parents. But what about us older ones who lost our sight later in life? Are there others like me who would really rather stay home then to go to the store? How many of us would rather stay home in our nice safe area then to brave the vast unknown out there? I know with myself, my venturing out of the "nest" has come in baby steps. But slowly my horizon is growing larger.
Oh yes, it is not always easy for one blind to try his/her wings. But when we do it is wonderful, well most of the time!”

Ernie (Walla Walla, Washington USA

FROM ME: “Yes indeed! How about what this gentleman is suggesting… leaving the nest of comfort at any age when going blind is scary. In fact, is there any one particular age range that would be scarier than another?”

**9. “This story could be about a young blind school girl who is learning to walk with the long cane. She is learning to cross a busy street with her instructor behind her. She has crossed the street a few times - first holding the arm of her instructor, then with him close to her side. Now she is standing on her own, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. There, she knows it is the right time but......! "Why didn't you go,: asks the instructor.

"Well, I was terrified and did not know how close you were to me," says the young girl shyly.

"Come on, trust yourself! Next time you go," says the instructor.

She waits for the traffic lights to turn green again. She listens attentively and when it turns green, what does she do? She moves forward and crosses
the street confidently!!

"Well done, Audrey! I told you are going to do it and you did it very well. Come, let's go and have a warm cup of coffee," says the instructor proudly.”

Janie Fourie (Pretoria, South Africa

FROM ME: “A great provoking short story on a specific life example. Who else has one to share?”

**10. “I think that the blind man is referring to the fact that some blind people are afraid to venture out and do things on their own. They are like the baby eagle sitting on the edge of the nest. They are literally
afraid to try new things and then jumping back into the safety of the nest.”

Douglas Royce (Salisbury, North Carolina USA)

**11. “I feel that the little bird that is trying to learn how to fly is just like a newly blinded person trying to learn how to use a cane or Braille or learning skills that blind person has to use. At first the blind person is unsure about using a cane or Braille and as he/she learns the skill, they become more confident in their abilities. As they learn more, they eventually become very confident and are able to travel anywhere they want to go, are able to communicate
with people and are able to live like a normal sighted person. This is true with the little bird, who will eventually learn how to fly with training and opportunity. However, he will maybe fall, and that is something that is expected, but like this bird, the blind should not be afraid to keep trying to succeed and learn new skills.”

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa, USA)

**12. “Sometimes it isn't just the blindness that keeps us from getting the most out of life, but our fears. We can be afraid of making foolish mistakes, getting hurt, or just tired of always being the one who must put the sighted stranger at ease with us long enough to find out who we really are. A real person, not a condition. When I was working to polish my cane skills with a rehab mobility instructor, he said that I was the best cane student he had worked with and didn't understand why I was planning to go train with a second guide dog. One of my blind friends thrives on challenge. He wanders around strange
cities meeting strangers, getting lost etc. and sees it all as a great adventure. When lost, I feel like a rabbit in a strange woods, alert for the fox behind every bush. My heightened perceptions make me a good cane traveler, but at a cost. I often find myself needing a glass of orange juice or other sugar laden treat to balance the adrenaline shakes completing a complicated route with my cane. I try not to let my fear keep me from doing the things I need to do, and having a warm friendly presence at my side, my guide dog lessens that stress level. Even when lost, I have a friend along! The only criticism my cane instructor could make was he said I had the wedding march step when leaving a curb. I stepped from the curb when I thought I had the light, paused and then almost ran across the intersection. He said this pause was dangerous because it might confuse drivers as to my intentions. For
me, it was more of a second chance to change my mind incase someone was planning to turn right on the red light or just run the light. Whether it is crossing the street, moving to a new city, or going after a new job, it can be scary moving from that safe curb and entering the danger zone of the street, the job market, or the world. Trying our wings unsupported is not always easy.”

DeAnna Noriega (Colorado Springs, Colorado USA)

**13. “I think that some blind people are just afraid to leave the nest. We have this blind kid who is 23 that lives down the street from me, but he claims he can't do stuff like crossing streets because. I on the other hand, can't stand not being allowed to fly. I'll be much happier when I leave the nest!!! I think it's important for us to fly!”

Lisa (USA)

**14. “There are many ways to interpret this story, but as Gene Rayburn from The Match Game used to say: "Say the first thing that comes to mind." O.K. This reminds me allot of when I was first testing my abilities in a unfamiliar place - my mobility abilities, to be more specific.

When John, my husband, and I moved out to Minnesota from Connecticut so I could finish my college under-grad degree, I felt very much like that baby bird. I was in a new environment and didn't know exactly how to begin exploring it. Just like that baby bird, I'd been given the necessary skills to go forward, but trying to find a starting place was the challenge. Just like that baby eagle, I had to just take the plunge and learn from my potential mistakes.

I have a feeling that eaglet did something similar to my strategy and started exploring close to home. Then, as his wings got stronger, he/she moved further and further away from the nest. I started by becoming familiar with my immediate neighborhood - learning where the bus stop was, learning where the convenience store was, learning where my apartment complex's management office was, etc, then began to move outward and started exploring what was known as the Uptown area.

Its a really organized city once you pick up on the patterns. The streets are numbered and named and progress in order. I'm sure that eaglet learned familiar land marks so he/she could return to the nest each day after exploring. As I progressed, I, too, picked up land marks so I would know where to get off of the bus to go to my local grocery store, bank, pharmacy, etc. The baby bird, in time, will learn where is best to get food, etc.

I now live in Boston, but I had an easier time of "taking he plunge" because I'd done it before and I'm sure that eaglet, once he/she built their own nest, had an easier time of learning his/her surroundings because he'd done it once or many times before.

I am treading new waters yet again with my mission to start a non profit organization the provides product package information on the Internet at little to no cost to the print-impaired and normally sighted alike - The Product Access Project @

And the pattern continues... We all take risks everyday in our lives and blind/vision impaired individuals, but that first "plunge into the wild blue yonder" is always the hardest.”

Shelley Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)

**15. “I think that your Eagle Thought Provoker has applicability beyond the blind community as well. These are universal concerns and fears that all people have at one time or another. The blind certainly face major issues as blindness affects mobility and visual communication. I often say that managing and living with a major disability can be like an extreme sport - a huge and constant mental, physical and emotional challenge. The disabled are far braver than their "athletic" counterparts who are said to be heroes but just play at games or make believe heroes in the movies that are overpaid to be fakes. We should stop beating ourselves up and stop letting others beat us up - we are far, far braver and heroic than those pretenders!
We already soar like eagles and do far more with far less - the really brave. I would like to see some of these athletes and media stars do
likewise - many would melt in a heartbeat and be exposed for what they really are not.”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, NY

**16. “I relate this story to all people. Those who are risk takers, bold, daring, shy, hesitant or lazy. This is about people who have a basic personality, and if they do become blind, their personality will still call the shots. I can say that I know of people, in general, who require a lot of encouragement before they will take the first step in something new. I don't see this being a blindness issue at all.

I have seen some people who are blind that are unsure of what limitations they have because of their blindness, and some people who believe they have limitations that don't actually exist.”

Penny (USA)

**17. “Yes, oh dear me yes! This reminds me so much of myself. for sixteen years I chose to be a housewife caring for my husband and children.

An incident this past spring caused me to take up my dream again of becoming a teacher. I can see myself as the eagle. Uncertain, afraid, nervous yet wanting with all my heart to spread my powerful wings and take of soaring, soaring.

All the doubts all the fears gone! gone - replaced with confidence in my ability to pursue my chosen dream career.

Still, I am teetering! searching for the confidence to take off!
Watching other blind teachers who have gone before me show me the way. I am listening to others encouraging, reassuring and, probably even pushing a little.”

Janet (Idaho USA)

**18. “Never mind reminding me of "blind people" I know.... This reminds me of people in general. Uncertainty happens to everyone at least once in our lives and risk-taking can be a difficult thing for some people. "Should I jump or should I stay safe in my nest?" "Should I talk to the new kid in class or should I let him talk to me first?" "Should I get married to this person or is someone more suited for me right around the corner?" "Should I get a guide dog or not?"

But the main thing to remember is that this eaglet has a mom and dad (support group) to encourage and to guide him/her in whatever decision s/he makes. Support makes all the difference. That's why I love RP-List so much!”

Leann (RPlist, VIP in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA)

**19. “I enjoyed reading this, but was not going to reply because I am not blind and probably shouldn't even be here, and I wouldn't want to insult anyone by trying to relate to the fear blind people must face the first time they travel somewhere new (no matter how old they are) or try something different. As I read, the person who compared blind people to birds, rabbits and monkeys caught my fancy, and I started to picture the sighted animals
interacting to the blind. There are the predators, always there are predators, who will try to take advantage of those less fortunate, the pacifists, who will make way for you but expect you to keep up, the shy ones who will make sure you are not in danger but will never reveal their presence, the social ones who will approach with caution but quickly relax and be friendly, and the vultures who will, as you know, eat you alive. I
also was touched by the letter from the woman who wants to be a teacher but has always been an at-home mother, and now she is comparing herself to that little bird way way up there in that nest, wanting desperately to fly and
needing a mental push of confidence. It sounds to me as if she is already
mentally ready but physically could use a brush up on getting around and
whatever else there is to learn to ensure supreme confidence in the working world. You go, girl, as Oprah would say. You've got your wings already, so
shake them out and give it a try! Who was it who said that life was all
about going out on a limb, after all, that's where the sweetest fruit is?

One more thumbs-up, to the person who wrote about true heroism and how the title often goes to celebs and not the real people who honestly are heroic.
Hold your head up proudly, and think like a hero!”

Kar (Florida USA)

FROM ME: “Approximately one fourth of the membership of THOUGHT PROVOKER is sighted; that would be 100 sols. We de get several responses each PROVOKER from a sighted person; they just don’t announce it, yet knowing that the respondent is sighted is good. Part of the beauty of a forum such as this comes from its diversity of membership. Hearing only from the blind about the blind would be to limiting in thought. What do you think?”

**20. “This sounds like anyone trying something new for the first time.”

Judy Jones (

FROM ME: “There is much simple beauty in this statement. Yet, is there not some unique influence or effect or spin to a situation like our young feathered friend is faced with if blindness is there?”

**21. “There are four of us: two are excellent cane users but now by choice use guide dogs while the third one, who can still see a little but who will use his cane when walking with me and I, who is the fledgling Eagle. The trio is out to help me gain street crossing mobility. The nest is the curb and I must lead the way. Traffic whizzes past then stops while the traffic crosses the street I am facing. I hesitate, waiting for one more light cycle before
starting across for I must be the one to tell when it is safe to cross. Traffic changes and I step out confidently but not before another watching Eagle
, perched on the sideline calls out the "all clear" signal. Again at the next crossing I must repeat the above steps to be sure I am safe.
I, like the young eagle, must learn to fly! Still, unlike the young eagle, I can exist without flying but my comfort zone will be greatly reduced if I
will not jump off the nest! Once off the nest I sore in the clouds for a job well done. Now why was I afraid to try this sooner? My breathing comes
easier now in regular rhythm and I stride on. Oh yes, soaring is so much more enjoyable then just sitting on the nest's edge and looking over the same
scene continually. Now I have tasted and found freedom and it feels great! Maybe next time we will "sore" in the town's busiest section where more
storms lash at me as I hover on the edge of the nest, fearing again the vast wild mass that swirls past me.”

Ernie Jones (Walla Walla, Washington USA

**22. “’leaving the nest’ for those of us who are blind is not quite as "do or die" as it is for a fledgling eagle. It is a process and I'm thankful for that
fact. How many stops and starts did it take for many of us before we became self-sufficient? I frequently encourage people to keep trying, in my role as a rehab counselor and they need to have a few setbacks in order to learn. It is a journey and there are going to be detours, curves and dips. Its
all about growing and lifelong learning.

This topic is very timely for me, personally. I've just gotten a promotion and will be managing about ten rehab workers, later this month. Talk about
wanting to hop back into the nest! I've been a counselor for thirteen years and this new challenge is pretty darn scary. But, its a good scary!”

Danney Yates (USA)

**23. “Because of poor skills, and low expectations of themselves as well as that of others. Their dependency is familiar, comfortable, and safe. But
they know that in their restricted and sheltered life they are missing out on allot of things including true freedom. But the fear of the foreign and scary outside world and their doubts about their ability to deal with it, keep them from venturing out much. Also many have difficulty giving up the special privileges they have become used to, and take on the responsibilities that come with the freedom gained by independence. Even those blind people who are often independent can have difficulty taking risks at times that will allow them to gain more independence and success.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)

**24. “This short story reminds me of myself at times. One such time was when Dan had the choice between 3 jobs. One was a "whatever we decide to have you do at the VA in Lincoln" job. First they wanted him to be a campus cop, then when that didn't work out, they decided on something clerical. Although he would have kept the same pay, the job would have been something unrewarding. Another option, for the same money, was to move to Grand Island to continue as an addiction counselor. Having just been laid off in Lincoln, what is the status of that hospital? The third option, which he took, was to take a job as an addiction counselor for the Department of Corrections in Lincoln. It pays much less but would not require a move or doing busy work just to stay on at the V A.
I was on the edge of my nest scared to death. I was actually relieved when he took the job in Lincoln because it didn't involve moving or finding a job for me. People at work hoped that we would not move, partly because I would have a harder time than Dan would finding work.
But the mother eagle has landed and is squawking at me again to get out of the nest. Another job has opened in Grand Island. The place must still be open. Dan is talking about commuting because he doesn't want to move. I am not excited about moving either but this time, I think I can face doing what ever needs done. Last year, I decided that I will never be that afraid again. I am sticking to that decision. Life moves on and as a blind person, I must be able to do whatever it takes to get on with our lives.”

Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**25. “Many people who are blind "protected" from themselves denied
independence by caring loving families. I expected to read many answers on
this one so kept quiet but no longer, does this one hit to close to home for

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

**26. “I’m trying to grow. Writing about my problem helps. I am a baby bird that hasn’t left the nest. I am 47 and still living with my parents. I work at a hotel reservation center, but my father takes me to and from work. I have never been in love, but I think of it. Mostly I don’t think about my life the way it is, because it is how I have always lived. But as I am getting older I am feeling nervous about what will happen when my parents are gone. I also think about what life would have been if I had not always lived at home. With my thinking about it now, I feel I will be able to make changes. I read these THOUGHT PROVOKERS and I like what all of you write. I am not you, but maybe someday I can be more like you.”


**27. “Blindness and eagles? I read the most recent thought provoker
which compared blindness to being an eagle. In my view blindness could or at least should be compared to another animal, the spider.
Spiders only like to stay in one place for a short time, but even when they leave, they leave their webs behind. Metaphorically, we
can say that blind people may only stay in a place for a short time, but they leave an impression, (good or bad) on the people they
come into contact with. As a side note to this, (and for those who loathe and fear spiders, I'm sorry), I have great respect for spiders
and if a sighted family member says there's a spider on the window sill for instance, I strongly object to killing them. The reason is that in general they aren't harmful and they kill and eat insects that are more dangerous. I hope the next time you see a spider or even a spider's web, you think of it as I have and relate it to our situation as blind people.”

Michael Alvarez (Monmouth, Oregon USA

**28. “I find there more of a dissimilarity than similarity. The bird will, because of its natural instincts, fly while a blind person, or any other person with some fears, will not on his/her own. I believe that it all depends on when the person lost sight. For example, there are some blind persons, blind from childhood, who never move out of their comfort zones because they were super sheltered during childhood: parents, friends and government even agencies.
On the other hand, a person who looses sight later, I mean late, may have huge difficulties moving out of that comfort zone. I know, that was my case. But, a person came into my life and turned things around. A blind person needs a strong support group, like the eagle's parents, who will encourage them to move: friends, parents, spouse or a support group of persons who've been there, done that. Additionally, I believe that this bird could be compared to anyone who has a decision to make about a new move: job, new home, marriage, school or having children.”

BenC (Huntsville, Alabama USA)

**29. “I was that young inexperienced and frightened Eagle. I say I “was,” but not now. Going to a rehab center changed my life! Where once I was frighten to venture out of my home alone, I now stride out with my long white cane. Where I once had fears that I would never have my own nest/house, I now have my own apartment. I also now work, something I thought I could do but didn’t know what. So what I say is needed, is not just encouragement, but some one with knowledge of working with the blind to show you the way. This is different than just a human parent showing a normal baby human how to grow up and all that. Most parents are sighted and do not know how to teach a blind child. Not that they couldn’t learn and in fact they do need to learn. So learn those blindness skills and the blind themselves teach it the best!!”

Mike P. (Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “Learning blindness skills is a must! Learning these skills from a competent blind instructor can also be a plus. What do you think about who should take the lead role in teaching , in re-enforcing good blindness skills?”

**30. “I haven't had the time to read these all of the time, but I happened by this one and felt the need to respond.

First of all, I love birds. I used to keep canaries, and I always thought I'd like to be one and to sing sweetly and fly freely. of course, most canaries
rarely get to fly, but they are for me a symbol of that kind of freedom.
Anyway, I think we as blind individuals often find it fearful to leave the nest, and sometimes are well meaning parents find it fearful to let us, but I
am not sure we hold the only corner on it.
Anyway, I had the opportunity to soar like an eagle. I decided to ride in RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), and I decided to do this accompanied by no one. Not that I wouldn't have gladly had someone go with me. There just wasn't anyone available. I did it, selecting the riders from E-mails and going on a charter where I knew no one. It had its bumps, but I have come back soaring, feeling the more confident, feeling that perhaps I could actually have tackled some of the things I had feared to tackle before, and hoping that this experience keeps me soaring.”

Cindy Ray (Leon, Iowa USA)

**31. “The blind are unique within the human family, just as Eagles are unique within the family of birds. Carrying through with this notion, just as Eagles as a species of bird has its own set of challenges when setting out to leave the nest, jumping into the world of independence, I’m sure they have their fears to over come. Some meet those new risks with little trepidation due to the great support and teaching they had received from family. Where though it can be the same basic story for some blind people, it is not always true. Not all blind people have parents who are skilled in the support and teaching of a blind child. Even when a blind child gets specialized teaching from blindness professionals, there is no certainty that they will receive positive reinforcement of the kind that will build a confident individual, one willing and ready to take on new risks.

Using the Eagle was also very apperpoe, in that they are regal birds, at the top of their species. We too are at the pinnacle of our chain and potentially the most capable of handling a brave new world and be its master. Blind people can be just as successful as sighted people if the blind individual has his or her confidence and blindness skills on their side.”

Mary P. (Kansas USA)

**32. “As a single person who is active, I have one of these experiences sometimes daily. I have chosen not to change my lifestyle, however, that means many adjustments. Since the progression of my RP, my oldest son and my significant other have been "hovering" to make sure I don't get into trouble. I basically have tunnel vision in one eye, so if I wear my contact lenses I have some sight, however, knowing it is going to go, I am working to adjust now. I didn't realize how active I was until I had to inconvenience them to keep participating in my activities. I am in the process of stepping out of the "nest" on a regular basis now. This past weekend I had an expo to do (I do spiritual counseling and teach meditation classes(my spare time activity)) and wanted to try going on my own. I didn't wear my contact lens, however, I took it with me. My son took me and helped me set up my booth, then left. Within 15 minutes I
was feeling the fear again. All the people and activity overwhelmed me. I lasted for an hour and then I went and put on my contact lens. I finished
the day. On Sunday morning I had my friend make a sign for me, I was going to try it again. It said, "If you have questions or would like a reading,
please approach the table, KaSandra is legally blind". This time I took a book with me. It worked! I sat at my booth and read my book and the clients approached when they had a question or wanted a reading. Many were curious and asked questions about my eyesight, so I was educating also. One client came who had macular degeneration. He asked me questions and admitted he hadn't gone for help because he was ashamed and didn't know where to go. I gave
him some numbers and names. A lot of people received help that day on many levels. I received another peace of my independence back. I have found that it is not always easy (most times it is hard), however, there is always a way to do it.”

Sandra Oliveira (Long Beach, California USA)

**33. “This is a great time to have this PROVOKER! Recently, my husband and I have been looking for a different church. We visited one that had been recommended by some close friends. I was excited to see some people I knew from my time as a 4H leader. While Marleen and I were catching up on all the happenings in 4H and fairs in general, people were quizzing my husband about his daycare arrangements for me. My husband has a tendency to hold me back anyway, but this collaboration made me feel like the eagle being kept in the nest. These parent birds were encouraging similar to my own parents. They were low-income, but they made special efforts to make sure I had chances to develop; whether it was camp, horseback riding, movies or pizza with school friends. How frustrating
that is to have people assume I could not be a professional in the community. After this experience, I felt guilty for using the services of a volunteer
reader. My volunteer happened to say before leaving, "I am so happy you have something for me to do. I don't feel as useless. So, I wonder, how many sighted people work without any assistance from others?”

Marcia Beare M.S.W. (Martin, Michigan USA)

**34. “Reading the first response of this, I was thinking that many parents don't encourage the blind to be independent and lead a normal life like they should. My parents let me be independent at home. Sometimes, I still have
to remind them not to do too much for me.”

Beth Kats (San Marcos, California USA)

**35. “I find this very interesting, but is it possible that, sometimes the adult eagles could try to let the chick fly prematurely?
I was mainstreamed as a kid, then again later after spending about 3 years in special schools at, I guess, the most difficult time of my teens - a stage in which I found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that I could not see well. Also, as a partially sighted kid, I did not always know myself what and what I could not see which made the adjustment rather difficult. I think somehow, if I had the security and the support and opportunities I had in the special school for just a bit longer, I might have become a much more confident student, especially later at university.
I'm not blaming my parents at all - in a sense I guess this step taught me to rely on myself to solve problems, but how much guidance and pointers do parents have available to know exactly when to protect and when to let go? Of course each family will handle this process in their individual way as people and circumstances differ greatly, but I just wondered about those parent eagles. Probably their instinct is the only thing that guides them in the end.”

Retha Stofberg (Kimberley, south Africa)

FROM ME: “If the Eagles only have instinct, what all do we human’s have?”

**36. “Well, this one is interesting and so are the responses. It is nice to hear about those who soar like the eagle and I can certainly admire their spirit. However, having only recently become severely impaired, most days I feel more like the proverbial chicken with its head off, flying into walls, etc. have RP and until a couple of years ago could get around with little or no assistance except at night. I have had only limited cane training at this point but intend to get more soon. It has been quite an experience just finding my way around my own house and learning how to do things without sight. I don't know if I will ever be one of the eagles, or one of the fledglings teetering on the edge of the nest. In my younger days I learned to fly small
airplanes, so I don't think I am a timid sole. However, I was not a daredevil either and never considered skydiving. No way was I going to jump out of
that plane. When learning to fly they make you practice many takeoffs and landings before you can go on a cross country flight. To me, the landings and takeoffs compare to learning how to get around my home and area neighborhood and I want to be confident with that before I go cross country.”

Marie (Vancouver, Washington USA)

FROM ME: “Would you say, that this lady ‘Is’ like the fledgling in our story?”

**37. “Great responses about eagles. I think #1 and your comment about how care taking of the injured birds is similar to what is done to and for blind persons both in the name of rehabilitation and with good intention.
I like the dynamic of the father who is there setting a good example, ready to provide training , but not willing to do it for the young eagle. This kind
reminded me of the "discovery" method of travel training. Not waiting 3 or 4 weeks to learn to travel inside the nest before going outdoors, as is the
pattern of some e traditional approaches. Not the focus on motor training on how to flap wings or a cane for that matter before proceeding into the real
world. And Mom wanting so much to get the youngster out because in spite of the fear, its the best thing for long term independence.
You can see the traditional rehab center as the nest, the father trying to model and encourage and use the discovery method to teach travel and the mom, let's say like a few staff who really want to get the student eagle out into the world so he or she can soar, or at least have the opportunity to do so.
But if the nest is a rehab center and if we look closer we might see some other things. There might be some eagles with professional credentials who do not agree with mom and dad. Lets call them the Association for Eagle Rehabilitation. They have been trained by other like minded eagles who are also certified and believe that it is important for the eagle student to stay in the nest for awhile. Let him make that choice, albeit uninformed. Let's make sure he has enough indoor training before going outside. Let's page him to dinner , let's check to be us he is okay every evening. After all he is just a young eagle. Can't expect too much and we, the professionals know best.
Another thing, let's be careful, he prefers to be called a "low flying " or partially winged " animal. Let's not use the word "eagle" and talk about alternate techniques for eagles to travel. By the way, let's maybe not even train him to use his wings to travel. After all, he has such good use of his legs. If we teach him to fly, since he can use his legs to walk, he will not fly when he finishes training. Seriously, is this not what we sometimes do with the blind...we as rehab professionals, we as society...we as the blind ourselves. I could take up more time and space developing the analogy between the scenario and current philosophy and training , but the point is made. One friend of mine sent me something called "The myth that is Rehab. " Basically, it challenges our expectations of what we believe blind people can do and how our beliefs about blindness and vision shape attitudes and expectations. Is rehab really about services, case management and all that stuff? Or is It necessary because Blindness is so bad that VR is a treatment needed for a sometimes cure of mediocrity? Is it not the attitudes and expectations and beliefs that hold us back? He asks the question about what is rehabilitation of and for the blind if those who practice in the profession are basing what they do and what they expect the blind to do on a traditional model that is geared toward fixing the blind person, dependence and not addressing the society, attitudes, beliefs and expectations about blindness. He might put it this way. "If there were not the
negative attitudes and low expectations of the blind throughout society would formal rehab services even be necessary?" It is only necessary to the extent to which we continue to hold true the stereotypes about the blind and blindness. After all with good training and a good philosophy I would guess that about 99% of eagles fly...I would that were true for the blind in terms of employment and equal participation in our society.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

**38. “Independence for us is, like it is for the Eagle, it comes with the leaving of the home and striking out on our own. It is a stressful time for all of us, the feathered, the non-feathered. For the blind and their families, it can be hard. The parents know that for the blind life will not be like it was for them when they, sighted, left the nest/home; they know society has negative attitudes toward the disabled. This is where meeting and joining other blind adults and their families is so great! Seeing that others are making it and learning from them what is necessary to be successful, this is so critical. Do you one and all, seek out a positive consumer group in your neck of the woods. I believe in the NFB and their ways, but I know this has to be a personal choice in each of our lives.”

Marvin M. (USA)

**39. “How do we face stress/ Jumping from the known to the unknown is not with out fear. What needs to be done is to look before you leap! The way to look ahead is to read about blindness, learn how to function with reduced vision, get advice from confident and skilled blind people, get some training from a upbeat instructor that does not short you on expectations, and practice, practice, practice. Blindness is not the most handicapping disability like some may think. We humans are too smart to allow that, unless we get to thinking it is; we can be our own worst enemy.”

Lucky Math (Port Huron, Michigan USA)

**40. “This has proved to be an exceptional "thought provoker." If we are to
compare blind individuals to eagles we must remember that the parent eagle
is prepared to catch the floundering fledgling if it falls when making its
solo flight from the nest. Also, since the parent is also an eagle it knows
how to properly instruct the eagle how to fly. This brings up the question
dealing with the need and appropriateness of competent blind individuals
teaching life and other skills to blind individuals who need to learn
independence. Doesn't this seem to be the most practical solution to the
problem? Who can better teach someone else to handle a situation adequately an another who does so while dealing with the same limitations?
Also, I agree that we need sighted input to this forum. Otherwise we will
become narrow minded and one-sided.
Keep the good topics flowing!”

Alfreda Trusty-Dotson (ensacola,Florida USA)

FROM ME: “No one can deny the value of having the blind help the blind. The problem or debate which then arises, ‘Who do u ask with in the blind community to provide the assistance and to what extent are these blind individuals and/or groups allowed to contribute to the adjustment of the newly blinded and their families?’”

**41. "After reflecting on this thought provoker, I believe the blind Guy was refering to those blind people whom do not take a risk, take a chance to explore their envioronment --to see what new things he/she can experience. Most of us, at times throughout our life are afraid to challenge ourselves ---to broaden our horizons , learn new things and meet new people. For many,
the fear of the unknown is very scary but it is worse to be afraid and not take the risk at all. This is true for sighted people too. Although, for us sometimes especially for newly blind people, they want to stay in their comfort zone and " not push the envelope".
This is often seen in travel situations, in finding a new job and/or being involved in a new relationship.
Moving to a new location or traveling somewhere one has never been can be especially scary. However, one does not know all the new wonderful people they can meet along the way and all the great things they can learn as well. For some, it is much safer, to take the easy way out --stay put in their familiar world,with family and friends they know, or to stay at a dead end job that he/she does not like, but stays because they think they won't get another job or won't find one that is better. In addition, some are afraid to fail to " fall on their face". Yet--this too, is part of life and through failure and making mistakes along the way, we
thrive and become a better and stronger person. As they say, " One must sit down to failure before dining on success". In this particular exchange between the two friends, the baby bird is like the young person who is not quite ready to leave home and be on their own -though they very much want to be independent and " spread their wings and fly". They think their parents "cramp their style". But, when the time comes, they are scared to get their first place --knowing they will have to pay the bills. They usually have a rough start and may have to call on Mom and Dad for help.
However, in time, they learn the ropes, take the chance "spread their wings" and get back on their feet. Then, they wonder, why they were so afraid and why they did not take the risk sooner to get out there and experience more of life. We are all like this at times including myself. There have been times when I felt just like this. When I became totally blind I became depressed and felt like I could not do much for myself. I stayed home unless I was with a sighted friend or family member, I did not want to go anywhere, and at times I was anxious about starting a new job --actually whenever I start a new job, or move to a new location I am always a little anxious. However, I also wanted to challenge myself and find out what was out there --live somewhere else,travel to Europe, take a new job etc...I was scared but
new I would eventually adapt to my new situation and that I will be alright. In the process, I have made many new friends, have seen more things and have more work experience. It is better to try than not try at all! So, those of you whom are afraid to take the risk --try --get out there. The worse thing
that can happen is that you will fail or not like it. But, you learned something from that experience. We gain from every experience we have both good and bad.”

Take Care.”
Karen Hughes (Tempe, Arizona USA)

**42. It’s good to go back through these thought provokers and see if there’s anything I’ve missed that might be more relevant now than it was say, oh, two or
three years earlier. And I think the correlation between eagles and blind people is particularly relevant for me now in some ways, but certainly it’s
relevant for blind and sighted humans alike.

I’ve always prided myself at being a pretty good eagle, able to ride the air currents pretty well on my own and judge what’s best for me. I spent the first
23 years of my life in upstate New York which is a completely different world from the one I came to know in New York City when I came to law school almost
seventeen years ago. It was an adjustment for me then; I missed playing in my band, I missed my family and friends, and life down here seemed to be pretty
hectic and cold. But I already had friends down here, and was going through the process of self-exploration which was also exciting, but soon after I came
down here, it was clear to me that law school wasn’t where it was at for me.

Unfortunately I stayed, or fortunately, whatever you might think. I made a sort of life for myself, got a job I tolerated most of the time and hated and
feared at others, but the money was good and it seemed they were willing to put up with me. I dreamed about bigger and better things, but mostly I bought
lotto tickets in the hope of hitting the big one. Never happened as you can imagine. I reminded myself a lot of George Jetson: "Yes Mr. Spaceley." I was
pretty harried a lot of the time, but there were moments when I had some calm.

I also dated a handful of guys, not to many, but for a while envisioned I’d someday find the right one. Had to keep that particular aspect secret from my
family, which could be stultifying sometimes, but I admit it felt safer at others. And if not deliriously joyous, I was not unhappy. And my parents were
happy with me because I was supporting myself and to them I’d made it big.

Then to my surprise, I met someone wonderful, dated her (which was a surprise at the time, to me, many of my friends and the guy who was pursuing me pretty
steadily), married her three years ago and started a life with her. She moved from Minneapolis to New York City, which was an adjustment to her. We had
to adjust to one another because as similar as we were in a lot of ways, we were also different. I handled money differently than she, she wasn’t a roll-with-the-punches
sorta person in some ways, and I needed to be more organized because there was someone else to think about now.

And she and my parents always had a difficult relationship, to the point where they’re barely speaking now. Added to that, we wanted to move out of New
York City, start our own business, and we had some difficulty doing that, from which we’re still trying to recover. My parents, of course, wonder why I’m
doing all this when it’s perfectly safe where I am. I can’t explain that so much of what I’ve come to know has become a prison rather than a safe place
to land that it’s just not realistic for me to stay here anymore. And I know they want me to stay in New York and to some degree think Sue should stay
here as well.

So all this adds up to this perfect storm where this eagle is getting buffeted by a borderline super typhoon. I’m a little scared of falling into the Pacific,
and I can’t swim, and I hate deep water, especially 100-foot waves! But we all have to take those risks at some point in our lives, so I do it now that
I’m 40, probably not as adaptable as I was in my early twenties, and hope I don’t crash. I’m sure it’ll be all right in the long run, but I just hope the
next year’s typhoon season’s a little milder than the past two or three, okay?–

John D. Coveleski (