THOUGHT PROVOKER 21
with the flow
Last Updated June 13, 2001
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
"I just hate this!" I shut the house door into the attached garage,
feeling for the bucket and towels I had placed there minutes ago. My bare
toe found the plastic side of the bucket. It
was empty and moved, slid a few inches, grating on the cement floor. This
would be my first time washing the car since I lost significant vision. I
hadn't been doing much at all, if the truth was known. Didn't feel up to
“This is all so awkward." I said aloud, not caring if there was someone
around. I found the towels with my other foot. "Come on stuff."
I pick them up and walk to where I can hear the large opening onto the
driveway and where I knew the car sat. “I would hate to break my toes!" I mutter, slowing down, feeling with
my outstretched arm for the left edge of the doorframe.
“You sit here." Setting the bucket at the base of the doorframe, I
reached to where I knew an outdoor spigot came out of the front wall of the
garage, a foot over from the doorjamb. My fingers followed the attached
garden hose. It went out into the yard.
“Darn it! Who used this?" I had expected the hose to still be coiled
just below the spigot, the nozzle draped over the handle.
“I refuse to go hand-over-hand to find the other end!" Muttering again, reaching back down, I turned on the water. "My counselor would like this one. Like a broken record he's always saying, 'Alternative techniques!' Bugs me no end!”
Right hand fingers trailing along the passenger's side of the car, I walk cautiously to where I hear the running of water just out in the grass of the yard. Moving, I'm still too cognizant of my unprotected feet and I hate that feeling.
In the grass, it feels scratchy yet soothing underfoot. My toes find the cool water. Reaching down I don't find the spouting nozzle, but I feel the flow of water pushing at my fingers, from left to right. I follow the stream. The column of water becomes stronger, more concentrated. My fingers lock on to the nozzle.
“I've got it!” And I didn't just mean the hose.
**1. “As I read this passage, it was obvious that the person writing this story is
newly blinded and is unaccustomed to using techniques which are alternative
to those he used as a sighted person. Since I have always been blind I have
always used alternative techniques to sight. Washing the car was no big
deal for me. In fact, my dad even insisted that I learn to change a tire
even though I couldn't drive. Guess what! I had to help someone do it
once. Thank goodness the writer did wash the car though; this was his first
time, and I imagine he felt good about it after he completed his task. That
could have been his first step to learning to live his life as a blind
person. All of us, blind or sighted, are a little apprehensive when we
tackle something new whether it be a new job, a new living situation or just
doing something for the first time. I keep remembering the first time I
turned on a computer. I was scared but I did it. The writer is to be
commended for making a first effort. Let's hope he found that it gets
easier. When I see overprotected blind people, I want to tell them, "I wish
you had had my parents." My parents never denied me the right to try new
things and they were very good at helping me figure out alternative
techniques to the ones they used. I frankly feel that blind people who
refuse to try are their own worst enemies and look what they're missing.”
Joyce M. Porter (Houston, Texas, USA)
FROM ME: “…are a little apprehensive when tackling something new…’ What do you think about this? And this, ‘…refuse to try are their own worst enemies and look what they're missing.’”
**2. “Boy, this one hits close to home! I'm sure that will be the case for many
others in this forum.
I had a similar experience with yard work. One of my household chores has
always been to mow the lawn. This became a tall order when glaucoma took a
good portion of my vision away, but I decided that it was just too expensive
to pay the kid down the street to keep up my lawn. I attempted to perform
this task in the same way that I always had, but it just didn't work. I
made a terrible mess of things, missing a big patch right in the middle of
the yard! It was just impossible for me to mow in a straight line due to my
very narrow field of vision.
I was going out to make another attempt a couple of weeks later. I was just
thinking glumly how awful it was that my wife would have to fix my mistakes
after I had done most of the yard. After all, I was the man of the house!
The yard was my responsibility! (By the way, this is not a suggestion that
females can't do yard work; it's just the way it works at our house. Some
of my other "manly" duties include taking out the garbage and washing
dishes!) As I made my way over to the lawn mower, I stumbled over a stack
of yellow 5-gallon buckets that I had kept around for no particular reason.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could use the buckets to line up on as I
made my way across the lawn. I got to it, moving the buckets as I went. It
was so much easier to keep a fix on those bright yellow buckets! When I
finished, I took off my shoes and walked through the grass, looking for
patches that I might have missed. I had managed to stay on target, and
hadn't left any big patches like the last time. Just then, my wife opened
the front door and peeked out. "The lawn looks great!" she said.
It occurred to me after that experience that it is probably possible to
accomplish most tasks with a little bit of thought and inventiveness. I
have to admit that I still catch myself thinking, "Well, I can't do that
anymore, since I have lost my vision." But I try to turn this attitude
around and think, "OK, how can I accomplish this task now that I have lost
my vision?" Sometimes, I think the biggest challenges we face as blind
people is our own attitude! I am sure that there will be other stories on
this forum that will make me think, "Wow! What an ingenious solution to that
problem!" Can't wait to read them!”
David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
**3. “This story brings to mind the same phrase that this individual got bombarded
with by his counselor, but I heard it from EVERYONE when I was growing up --
Mom, Dad, Itinerant Teacher, Teachers -- I couldn't get away from "The Curse of
Alternative Thinking/Doing"! I still hear it from my husband, too. :) However, I
can advise him in the same light as we're both visually impaired and have our
"I got it..." means that he, without thinking about it as such, adapted exactly
what his counselor suggested -- find different ways of doing things/reaching
your goals -- methods that making their attainment easier for you. The
individual could have crawled on his hands and knees as he says his counselor
would have suggested in order to find the nozzle, but, thanks to his/her
stubbornness, he/she found another, less uncomfortable way of getting to the
nozzle -- following the sound of the water and following its flow to the nozzle.
The stubborn resistance he/she feels now will help to stimulate the "alternative
thinking" in the future.
I can relate to this situation. I always wanted to do things my way as a child
-- heck I still have stubborn streaks. I recall when I was taught how to find a
dropped coin or other small object -- bending down and sweeping my hands in
front of me in an expanding circular motion until I found the dropped item. It
was very difficult to do -- especially in front of others. I hated it when I'd
start using this method, then a person would hand me the item and tell me it was
way off to one side or the other and my search would've been fruitless. I'd
thank them and over time I learned to listen to the sound of the coin when it
dropped then I'd start searching the area where I last heard the sound of the
coin settling on the floor/pavement. I've gotten good enough so that I can
identify what type of coin fell and usually could walk over to it and pick it
up. Now, I pick up coins for others! :)
I only wish I was so innovative when it came to making shortcuts for tasks I do
on my computer. *sigh* My husband is helping with this, but it is still
frustrating when he has to remind me of them. Oh well...such is the life of the
disabled. :) I've gotten him into the habit of sorting his change in his holder
instead of placing it on the dresser and trying to pick out the pennies every
morning to leave them behind. I've even taught him a couple of time-savers on
the computer. :)
Another instance where I've used alternative thinking is in the grocery store. I
can tell other patrons where things are in my local supermarket better than the
employees that work there because I've memorized where things are. It seems, and
my mother confirmed my theory, that sighted people just look for the items they
need. They don't notice when it changes positions on a shelf. To me, this is
just another example of the sighted taking for granted that which we so much
desire...but that's another story for another time. :)
In conclusion, it is a team effort in learning "alternative thinking"
techniques. The important thing is that the other person - sighted or not - must
not treat the disabled person as though they are incapable of coming up with the
idea. Try not to "tell" the person what to do. "Suggest" the idea.
A word to the disabled individual - newly and pro alike. It is hard to do, but
try not to let yourself become intimidated by uncomfortable situations. To me,
it seems, more often than not, that the non-disabled sees this as weakness on
our part. When they ask if you need help...simply say "Yes and Thank You" when
they help you find what you're looking for. You don't need to make excuses about
it being dark or crowded, etc.
Thank you for your time.”
Shelley Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts )
**4. “I know that there is a right and wrong way that is taught by facilities for
the blind, but I believe that anything that works is fine. It is interesting
though, as I was growing up, and losing more sight, I never attended any
rehab type classes. However, about 10 years ago I went to a computer class
and after talking to others there, I discovered that the way I taught myself
to do things was the same way that was being taught. My point is, human
beings are very resourceful and will figure it out. That's why we are the
dominant species on the planet. (Grin)”
Elaine Morgan (Holliwood, Florida, USA)
FROM ME: “Holding on to the thought of alternative techniques, ‘Is there a right or wrong way’ to perform them? How do you answer that one?”
**5. “My first thought regarding this provoker is why in the world was this guy
barefooted? All I could think of was scorpions getting his poor bare toes!”
Reeva Parry (Hillsboro, Illinois, U.S.A.)
FROM ME: “What do you say, but I say, ‘The absence of visual acuity has little to do with knowing your environment.’”
**6. “Would you believe a "Water Wiggle?"
I suppose our protagonist followed the hose to a water toy of some kind.
I'll guess it is a Water Wiggle, or something like that. We used to have
one to help beat the occasional 120-degree heat in L.A.'s San Fernando
Valley. The gadget works by water pressure. It has a 'U' shaped tube
inside of a rubber cup-shaped head. One end screws to the hose, and the
other end lets a stream of water flow out. With enough water pressure, it
is quite animated, can levitate and zip around, all the while spraying
Good thing the spigot wasn't fully on!
Or perhaps it was something more sinister?”
Fred Chambers (California, USA, FMChambers@csupomona.edu Agricultural Sciences)
**7. “I kind of like this story because it gives a perspective I'm not used
to seeing. As a person who was born blind, following a hose with my
hands seems the most natural way in the world to find it. The
embarrassment of the protagonist is interesting.
Also, you've got a technical problem here, Robert. If I were going to
wash a car, having an open nozzle on a hose would *not* be the way I
would choose. I keep one of those gun nozzle thingers on the end of
my hoses. And when I pick it up I don't usually get soaked because
However, finding the water with your feet seems realistic, though.
Now, you gotta talk about the sighted family member who comes out to
say, "You didn't wash this at all, it looks awful! There are streaks
all over this car! Rinse it and do it again." Never mind that you've
been out there the past hour doing this work...”
Ann K. Parsons (Rochester, New York, USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MICQ Number: 33006854)
**8. “Well, this is a mighty interesting one. Man, I don't
know what to say. I really don't have a specific opinion on this one.”
Stacy (Wisconsin, USA)
**9. “More than likely the fellow would stand by the wall where the hose was
connected and pull the hose to him instead of traipsing out to the yard to
find the end. That way he'd coil back up the part of the hose he didn't
need and not have to hunt it down in the yard. At least that's what I do.”
Kelly Ford (Blind-issues, USA)
**10. “I would respond by saying since the hose was in the wrong place,
the woman had a right to be frustrated. I have experienced situations where
I would try to find something that dropped and I would accidentally kick it
away from me. I think the woman had difficulty washing the car without
sight. She was not used to the incidents that totally blind people go
Beth Kats (California, USA)
FROM ME: “Some responders refer to the character in our Provoker as male, some a female. Gender has nothing to do with it. Right?”
**11. “Well now, in Oregon the guy might have gotten hold of a slug. I hope not,
for his sake, as they are slimy and gross in the extreme. It might also be
a snake, probably one of those harmless "garter snakes," as we used to call
them when I was a kid. I don't know why the guy didn't want to go hand over
hand to find the nozzle anyway, or better yet, simply draw the hose in to
himself hand over hand. That's what I would have done. And I wouldn't have
gone into the grass, or even out into the driveway, for that matter, in
bare feet! Slugs are really, really gross to step on! I can tell you from
Carol Ashland (Eugene, Organ USA,
Left click or (Press return on the line below to email me directly.)
FROM ME: “Another sample of, ‘Know your environment.’”
**12. “This person may have recently lost his sight. He probably doesn't really
believe what his counselor has been trying to teach him about the
capabilities of a blind person and that alternative techniques really do
work. But, by going out to try to wash the car on his own, he learned a
lot about alternative techniques. He didn't wear shoes, so found the
towels and bucket with his feet. He knew where the hose was supposed to
be, but it wasn't left as he expected. So, he used an alternative
technique to find the nozzle; turning on the water. Again, he used an
alternative technique to find out where he was. He felt the grass and
running water with his feet, then found the nozzle by following the flow
of water. I suspect that many, if not all, of these things were
techniques which he developed on his own. No one was there to tell him
how to find the towels or bucket; no one told him that he didn't have to
follow the entire hose from one end to the other to find the nozzle. So,
he not only learned that he can wash the car, but he also learned or
developed some techniques which allowed him to accomplish this task
independently. I think the most important thing he received was the
feeling of accomplishment. The knowledge that he could go out and wash
the car, on his own, and it was a fine job. Independence is a great
feeling. Many years ago, shortly after high school and after receiving my
Optacon, my mother asked me to start dinner. She didn't leave the can of
vegetables she wanted me to use on the counter, so I had to find it in the
cupboard. I got my Optacon and, without to much trouble and in a
relatively short time, I found the correct can. I was so excited, but
there was no one at home to tell. But, I did it myself. I've been blind
all my life and learned "alternative techniques" as a matter of course.
So, this was something a little different and, I'm sure, gave me the same
feeling of accomplishment and independence as those learning alternative
techniques for the first time.”
Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania, USA,
FROM ME: “…feeling of accomplishment… What do you feel about this?”
**13. “O.K. I could be dead wrong, but what I felt from the reading was that the
man felt a sense of joy, at not only finding the hose, but of the
surprising feeling of comfort that he received from the cool stream of
water,...so much so that he forgot about thinking about how uncomfortable
his feet were, and how much he hated having to wash the car!!
The soothing feeling of the water comforted him and created a sense of joy
Just a feeling I have, if he were me.”
Julie Daniel (USA).
**14. “Even being born blind, you still can experience difficulties. I
can say one big one is fitting in with sighted peers. When my family is
having a conversation together, I feel kind of left out because I don't
always know what to say or how to relate to what they are talking about. I
think a lot of it has to do with the sight being absent from you. Many of
the things sighted people talk about is what they see. Sometimes, sighted
people don't reach out because they don't know how to talk to a blind
person. I can relate to problems of blind children because I had them. It
can be harder for blind kids to be included with their sighted peers.”
Beth Kats (San Marcos, California, USA)
**15. “Comments on writing Hi Robert. That writing
reminded me of when a wrote frequently a few years ago; it creates a
great word picture for both the sighted and blind reader. I think that
its interesting that as blind people, we write as we feel/perceive
things, and not as someone might see them. This makes it all the more
interesting for the sighted reader.
Please send me any more of your writing, if you have more. I am not a
publisher, but just a fellow writer. If you do send some, send it as
part of an e-mail message, and not an attachment.”
Wayne Merritt (email@example.com )
FROM ME: “I sent him my short story, “Walk In My Shoes.”
**16. “I know that I have already responded once to this one, but it really rings
true when I think about events that are occurring in my life at the moment.
I hope that you will indulge me a bit here.
I lost a large part of my vision a little over a year ago. I got myself a
cane, and used what I called the "poke and hope" method for getting around.
I was a lousy cane user, but I did not do anything about it. I just
couldn't get past the fear I felt when trying to navigate using the cane.
Instead, I depended on my wife to guide me when we were out. Bless her for
putting up with it!
It has taken me thirteen months to pull my head out of the sand, but a good
friend offered to include me in on a very lucrative business he was
starting. I told him that if I could get my mobility skills up to par that
I would love to participate. So, I got busy and lined up some training.
Recently during an outing, my instructor had me walk about a mile and a half
to the local store. I had to cross a four-lane divided highway in the
process, something I was not looking forward to. This was a really busy
road, and I was crossing it blindfolded! Was I crazy?? I crossed the
highway just fine, and hoofed it back home.
Since then, my self-confidence has gone through the roof! I really feel
better about myself. I am becoming confident in my abilities, and feel
better about myself in general. I think that this is the main thing that
the writer of the Thought Provoker gets from his experience. As he is
preparing to wash the car, his attitude is not exactly great. But, after
realizing that it is possible to perform the task at hand, he feels excited
and empowered. He will probably take this experience with him when he gets
ready to do something else new, allowing him to just jump in and try it.
Today, I am supposed to meet my instructor after work and learn how to use
the rail system here in Atlanta. I have to admit that I'm pretty nervous,
but I hope that my previous experiences have built my confidence level up so
that I can just go for it without worrying about it.
I hope that all of us can take a lesson from the writer of the story.”
David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
FROM ME: “Empowered!’ How many other adverbs of this nature will fit the above story?”
**17. “Like a light bulb coming on! I had that very experience. It wasn’t washing a car, but cooking. Go for it guys! Blindness isn’t as bad as most people think.”
Marvin Wenchel (Long Island, Kansas, USA)
**18. “I think there will always be tasks in our lives as blind people which
require us to come up with alternative ways to accomplish them. When we're
having difficulty coming up with a way to do something, we need to ask
ourselves some questions. First, if I've been having a lot of trouble doing
this is it something I really want to do? Second, have I tried to ask
another blind person how he/she does something? This involves some
humility, but is often worth it. Third, is it so inefficient for me to do
this task as a blind person that it is not a good use of my time? I
consider all of these things when I'm really stumped about a task. For
example, I have not found a way to neatly frost a cake. Making the cake is
not the hard part. Decorating it can be hard. I suppose I could come up
with some novel decoration like MandM's and licorice, but it is not worth
it to me to have to frost the cake myself. I don't know about anyone else,
but sometimes I find it hard to do something using an alternative technique
when some sighted person is watching. Sometimes, he/she is not familiar with
how a blind person does something and simply wants to take over. I think
that self-confidence and gentle assertiveness is the key in these situations.
One of the previous writers said it was important for him to mow his own
grass. I don't think this is important to me at all so I have not bothered
to learn to do it. Am I using that as an excuse? At this point, I don't
think so; especially, since I don't have a yard that I have to mow. (We
have a caretaker.) I applaud any of us when we take the time to learn to do
something that we really want to do, are expected to do, or must do.
Creativity and a positive attitude go a long way By the way, has anyone
figured out that cake frosting technique? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .”
Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
FROM ME: “This lady brings up a very good point! Do we or anyone need to perform and master all the same tasks around the home or anywhere in life? And if we do, what does it mean if one person can handle it better or faster than the next guy?
As for the frosting of a cake- one pointer is, freeze the cake before trying to frost it. When frozen, it is more solid, easier to manipulate and not tear.”
**19. “I have found with in my own family a tendency to forget my blindness.
They'll go so far as to be talking to me and point something out. I
nod. Comment and the conversations goes on.
If its something that has to be responded to, there's a pause a small
smile of embarrassment and we continue talking.
That could be because there are three of us blinded in my family. The
school for the blind is nearby and the students are always stopping by to
My siblings just grew up familiar and quite comfortable with blindness.”
Janet George (Napa, Idaho, USA,
I C Q 51610857)
**20. “Well, this feeling of independence I can strongly
relate to. I think we should have a provoker on this sometime. What do you
FROM ME: “I like it. Yes. How about anyone else?”
**21. “I have no idea what I wrote the first time. As I had a bug in the computer
and did a lot of damage to the PC. So, in buying this new one I quickly
read through and reacted right off the top of my head.
In reading this story and reading the input this time around. The first
thing it could be he/her or could even be a sighted person.
There are many different stories that I could have come up with. From
owning and running a household one has to learn quickly or be gone quickly out
of the picture.
The term alternative technique was used, but I choose to say instead common sense
for a handicap with open views to survive with his or her life. As I laugh
when I read this each time. For the many times it has happen to myself in
attempting any new project bare foot or not.
The car wash reminded me of when I was married and my one son wanted to wash
the car and even though' sighted and healthy in all ways. This story reminded
me of that occasion when my son was forgetful and couldn't find the things
I enjoyed the input on mowing the lawn. Even though I'm totally blind. I
like the idea of the buckets. I'll add a rope as a guideline in my case.
Now for my input like the water hose- instead a ladder. As I think I
mention in the last laughing input. We already had snow here in Maine. I
needed to get the plastic gutters down off the house for the winter. My
youngest son wasn't available. As busy with his business. So, into the
garage with my Indian slippers on (fit tight) to get the ladder out of
the garage. Knowing the lay out of my property it was no problem in getting
where I needed to go. Even though Bowie (guide Dog) was free running in the
lawn and thought I didn't know. He kept bumping into me to make sure. Once
in front of the house; my neighbor ask me what I was up too. In explaining
to Ed. he told me you have a lots of guts in getting on the ladder. He
guided myself in putting up the ladder. Of course I knew where the gutter
was and Ed said are you sure, Gene? NO! But what the heck I'm going to give
it a try. If I can't do it then you can. So very carefully climbing the
ladder and Ed telling me where the snaps were I Brailled over and undid the
snaps and each section. That in itself was interesting as getting down and
moving the ladder and getting back up to undo the snaps and each section.
When it came to taking it down I was a bit nervous but did it. Here you ask
why Indian slippers. Well it was cold and I needed something on to tell me
the exact stepping I was taking. These are very good in doing that and
being leather you can't slip. After getting all the gutters down and put
away. Ed ask me why do you want to do everything yourself? Well, Ed it is
a great since of accomplishment of being able to do something yourself.
Besides the fact you were right there in case I needed help. He then noted
that is what I like about you Gene you don't let anything get in your way.
I reminded him there is times that one needs help from a sighted person.
Like when I was snow blowing the sidewalk and using the chain link fence as
a guide and found that not always does that work. That he had to give me a
hand. So, like the person with the water hose it gives a person a chance to
be his/her own person and a wonderful feeling inside of being able to be
"Normal" and independent. As one of your persons said he hated it when a
person lives a sheltered life and not getting a chance to do something on
their own whether it is a small project or a big one. That since of the
unknown and just trying it with the first time a sighted person close by to
guide if necessary. That since of freedom and a wonderful since of
accomplishment inside of yourself.
Building up ones self-confidence and self worth.
By the way I didn't know Mr. Newman that you too are blind. Cool and
wonderful things you are doing in this forum. Keep up the good work young
Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA) email@example.com )
FROM ME: “To get with the flow of things, how about sighted assistance?
Second, as for my visual status, I am totally blind due to a car accident at age fifteen; see just as good out the back of my head as I do the front. I need to include a bio page in my website.”
**22. “I can read these and look back at a time when I was
fortunate to have limited vision. I have used my mother in law's lawnmower
to trim off the water shut off that the city provided her. Oops there goes
the mower. I have set the sprinkler up in the yard to get part of our lawn
and most of the neighbors. In a serious nature, my last driving experience
with no license was to hit another car on the main road and when the lady
yells out" what is your problem? Are you like blind or something?" and a
police officer standing there I repeated," as a matter of fact yes. Two
years ago New York state took my license for being legally blind." we all
need to laugh, cry and pick ourselves up again. Let some else mow the grass
and drive the car. I do a lot around the house and listen to some neighbors
who think because I cannot see at all anymore, that I also cannot hear. I
have painted my stockade fence at night, using one had as a guide and
had a blast. My wife tells me it was a good job but I got a lot of paint on
me. There is one thing I enjoy the most besides dancing and that is playing
on this PC. The person who built this for me is also a totally blind
retiree. So folks, reach out and touch someone and live life to its
fullest. Use a bartering system for the hard chores and spend a buck if you
Lee A. Stone (Hudson New York, U.S.A., firstname.lastname@example.org )
FROM ME: “’Use a bartering system for the hard chores and spend a buck if you
have to.’ Are there not times and tasks that any of us, be we blind or sight and/or young or old that we will need assistance? Is anyone truly so independent that they never need to have assistance?”
**23. “I have been blind since birth, but I can still relate to the hesitance and
fears this person felt while washing the car. I have grown up using
alternative techniques, yet still experience frustrations similar to those
that this person faced. Looking for something using "search technique" and
not being able to find it, attempting to locate a building or even a desk
in a classroom after repeatedly becoming lost with a formerly easy route,
and trying to find things that sighted family members have inadvertently
relocated--I could go on and on! I feel that I was somewhat over-protected
in childhood, particularly in mobility, because in elementary school I
relied on sighted guide. As a result, my mobility skills suffer. I
encourage all parents of blind children to raise their kids in a trusting
environment, giving them the help they need (telling them where things are,
using Braille labels, making sure not to move household items around, etc)
while giving them the independence necessary to try new things and become
more confident and less afraid.”
Arielle Silverman (Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
FROM ME: “This is not the first person we have heard from who was born blind and has a parallel experience to share. I also like her encouragement, recommendation to parents too!”
**24. “Being in this guy's shoes of losing vision, I can emphasize with his
feelings of frustration. I was 18 when diagnosed with RP which came as
a double blow due to my existing hearing loss. My TCB counselor is of
little use in "helping" me find those "alternative" methods, sigh and
the rehab teacher comes from a different perspective as he has always
been blind and has no hearing loss. Quasi deaf-blindness is unique in
our location of Texas and I have been fortunate in finding a wonderful
computer network of blind and partially sighted people to assist me in
finding alternative methods of doing life.
Although my window to the world may close, my connection to the world
will not! Getting there is not the same but it sure is worthwhile!”
Debra Streeter (Victoria, Texas, USA)
FROM ME: “ Here we have a deafblind person sharing from her perspective. She points out what she has gained from a connection to a network of blind and partially sighted people. (Much like this forum and others.)
‘Getting there is not the same but it sure is worthwhile!’ This is her last statement. What all do you read into it?”
**25. “I've been enjoying reading the responses on the last two thought provokers, but being sighted really felt I had nothing to offer. However after doing a late evening car wash I remembered about 10:00 P.M. that I hadn't emptied the bucket of sudsy water. I ventured out into the side yard and it was pitch black. I felt for the faucet and turned the hose on full blast. It was stretched out like an anaconda into the tomato patch. I gingerly stepped barefoot through the damp grass as the sound of gushing water got louder and louder and then it happened. I stepped in a fresh pile that our 6-month-old German shepherd puppy had left there midway to the garden. A few expletives later and a promise to cut back on the amount of puppy chow for our dear pooch and I realized, it could have been worse. My toes could have met a far worse fate and the bucket of sudsy water and hose were put to good use immediately!”
Suzanne Lange (California, USA)
FROM ME: “Non-visual alternative techniques for the sighted! Yes, wouldn’t they be for anyone needing to function where sight was not an option?”
**26. “Holy cow, I've been doing this all my life and I never knew there was a
technical term for it. In fact, I thought there was something wrong
with me because I had to find different ways to do things than everyone
else, or so my family pushed me to believe. They were always ragging on
because of the alternative technique stuff. Say for instance I wanted to
get something out of the refrigerator, a jar of mayonnaise. I'd open the
door and feel around with my hands inside. Nothing in my mom's house
was ever put in the same place twice, so I had to do a lot of
feeling around. My mom would always burn red when she saw me 'feeling
around' for something. She’d scream at me "Open your eyes and do it
like everyone else." Well it got to the point where I was afraid to do
anything - in front of my family at least. I'm still that way around
them, terrified that I'm going to be screamed at for not seeing
something. It makes me pretty nervous and often times I GET SICK WHEN
I’m AROUND THEM.
Now that I'm married still nothing is ever put in the same place twice,
but at least my husband doesn't freak out if I can't physically see
something. And about the hose stuff, I thought I was pretty brilliant
coming up with one like that. I can never find the gun nozzle to the
coiled up hose, so I turn the water on and follow the sound of the
One last thing, I've noticed that a lot of us are writers. Do you guys
know that the NFB has a writers division that puts out a magazine four
times a year?”
Patricia Hubschman (Levittown, New York, USA, email@example.com )
FROM ME: “Can anyone speak to the importance of family support?”
**27. “I think it is not always true that each one of us has “that moment” when it all makes sense. I think for me it came with time and one day I just knew it. I remember I use to hate being blind and that ruled my life. I still hate it, but that feeling now resides in the back ground and no longer in the fore ground of my consciousness. However, I have met several who did experience one of “those moments,” and they all weren’t blind people.
I do think this provoker is important for people to read and understand. Some of us get down, and being down means that you sometimes can’t see your way out of the hole you are in. Just knowing that it is real and can happen to others is good encouragement.
”I’ve got it!” is a real human emotion and is a great feeling. A good teacher tries to set it up for their student if at all possible or at least knows that by making the student work on a troubling area, that the student will most likely work it out, another real human factor (though not wanting to put down this potential of “getting it” from the experience of beings from other worlds too).”
**28. “First of all, I enjoyed the story in this provoker. It was reminiscent
of the first few stories you wrote; not only the content but your vivid
descriptions were really well written. Thanks. (Sometimes these
discussions get too intellectual and not very creative. This story had
thought and creativity in it.)
Second, the way the person used bodily appendages to find things was
familiar to me. Though totally blind, I didn't use a cane on a regular
basis until I went to college. As I read the story, I had conflicting
feelings. On one hand, I kept wanting to say "get a cane! Get a cane!"
And on the other hand I felt the familiarity of it all, doing things
canelessly. To this day, I use my cane when out in the public and most
of the time when outdoors but seldom in very familiar surroundings,
especially my home. I get in trouble sometimes for this since other
members of my family (including the feline variety, often move things
around. And then there those times when I move things around and forget
that I have done so. I still tend to be barefooted or sockfooted at home
most of the time since I get more cues this way. Also, since I have
orthopedic foot problems it is really dangerous for me (and really to
everyone else) to have things on the floor that would be better not to be
there. This foot technique has been particularly helpful when dealing
with young children and the various felines I have had around in my life.
When my daughter was young, she was perfectly behaved about not leaving
things on the stairs, but she would sometimes leave toys in other places.
So far I have not found a way to teach felines to put their toys away.
I think they could know how to do this just fine, but it seems to be in
their nature to refuse since "It wasn't my idea."
This thought-provoker also reminds me how my former husband, also totally
blind, used to mow the grass at night, barefooted, and he did a great
job. He also used to get up on the roof and clean things off, scaring
the neighbors to death. One time he fell and hurt himself pretty badly,
but he was aware that this could have happened to anyone. The wind had
blown his ladder out of place. In trying to readjust it, he lost his
balance. He just thought all of this was ordinary stuff to do.
I really enjoy reading the varied responses from others. We are all at
different places in our journeys and that makes things interesting. I am
glad we are not all alike and that we are not forced to all do things in
one specific way--how uncreative and boring this would be!”
Laurie Merryfield (Washington, USA)
FROM ME: “Yeah, me too. I’ve always known there is more than one way to skin a cat.”
**29. “I think that it is good for any person, blind or sighted to try
new things. In the past, people have griped because I move too slow. At
the Foundation for the Junior Blind, the teachers think that as long as the
task is accomplished, that's all that matters.”
Beth Katz (California, USA)
FROM ME: “What was the main point of this young ladies message? 1. The teachers are wonderfully supportive…’ or ‘There is a problem with expectations here…”
**30. “At first the person washing the car is uncertain about the whole activity,
but he/she decides to give it a determined try at it. Even though he is
confronted with a hose not being in the expected location, he moves beyond
that quickly and finds the nozzle simply by turning on the water and
following the flow. Good common sense. I can imagine some people, having
to try to do this for the first time after loosing sight, might become
frustrated and perhaps even quit on the experiment. But this writer
didn't do that, which is a credit to him or her. He just immediately
tried a method to find the nozzle and move forward with the experience
despite the initial uncertainty, he completed the job and felt good about
it, having accomplished a task which was new to his experience as a blind
To me, the author’s choice of being barefoot at the task is a good one.
This is, of course, a personal preference, but to me, it prevented shoes
and socks from getting completely soaked in the process and the warm
concrete of the driveway, along with the cold water which was sure to
puddle up at places, and flow down the drive, made for an interesting
experience. It kind of made me feel that I was getting into the groove
and that it didn't matter how much you sloshed the water bucket or hose
around, you were kind of "going to the beach", so to speak. Often, when I
lived in Florida, a number of us would wash the family car together, and
sometimes the hose would go a little wild and you'd get just a little wet,
but that was the fun of it. I should think the car washer in this
provoker had a lot of fun too, and a strong feeling of accomplishment.”
Steve Zielinski (Chicago, USA)
**31. “I could relate to the story of the lawn mower. I experienced mowing a lawn
alone for the first time this summer. I did manage to get it mowed well
after a long time and many extra trips back and forth across it. I enjoyed
having done it when I was done and knowing that if I needed to, I could do
it again. I know that when I need to do it again, I will be able to. The
buckets are a good idea and one that might work for me. I am interested in
hearing others from people who are out there mowing. I do wear short shoes
that allow me to feel the grass against my feet. That helps some if the
grass is long enough.”
Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
**32. “Family support. I can say I had a lot of that. My family was always
there for me. We climbed trees got in to trouble over stealing fruits
from neighbors. I was constantly loosing my things, not because of
blindness but because I was careless and just dropped things any old
place and forgot where I last left it. My brother was always there to find
I remember two incidents that show their supportiveness.
Once I came home from a regular high school. My tape recorder went
flying in to one couch and my schoolbag and cane went flying in the
The next morning I searched everywhere for my cane. I had to go in and
wake my brother up to come help. He growled, $10. Do you see me
going about loosing my eyes? You will have to pay this time.
I smile often about that. Oh it didn't stop me from loosing my cane. I
still did and he still woke up and found it. I don't remember him
charging me again.
The other time there was rioting in Jamaica. The roads were blocked
around my college. Everybody else had left. I remember standing in the
hall and listening to the empty corridors around me. I wondered how in
the world was I going to get by the roadblocks and home. I began to
I didn't hear any footsteps I only heard the familiar deep voice "ready to
go home" even now I can still feel the joyous relief I felt. My brother
had come for me.
I was a long circuitous walk home through back roads, through rough
neighborhoods but he was always there holding my elbow.
He must have had a fierce look because no body approached us.
Have had a very, very supportive family. I could tell many stories
where we have been there for each other.”
Janet (Idaho, USA,
I C Q 51610857)
33. “Alternative technique is an interpret phrase. It is in a large part a matter of perspective, point of view. A technique which may be seen as an alternative to one man is seen as the norm to the other guy. Yes, print is just as much a visual alternative technique to Braille, as Braille is commonly seen as a nonvisual alternative to print.”
FROM ME: “What may be alternative to one, is normal to another.” I like that!”
**34. “I’m a rehabilitation teacher of the blind and visually impaired. The learning of alternative techniques is the biggest and fastest cure for putting the blind blues to rest. It is true, most people feel low and are quite handicapped when they first experience vision loss. It all changes as they learn and use new methods. They become confident again and gain all that comes with it, too. So when you see anyone who refuses to learn an alternative, you can bet that person is still having an adjustment problem. I’ll throw in here is what one of my students said on this subject, ‘They’r acting like a baby and that’s dumb.”
Betty Parnell (USA)
**35. “This was almost how it happened for me! It was during a travel lesson with the long white cane. I was out in a parking lot. I was lost and about ready to pull out my hair. It was cars and cars everywhere! I stopped, calmed myself down and listened. I heard the traffic on the main street, where you come in and out of the lot. I heard the sounds of that street traffic echo off the building that the lot served; the building was on the opposite side of the lot from the street. Then I heard a woman’s laugh as she and several friends came out of the building’s main doors. I HAD IT, I COULD PICTURE IT, I KNEW WHERE I WAS!” I new then that the world hadn’t changed, just my perception of it and I would be okay, I just needed to use a different set of factors to work with.”
FROM ME: “Read my short story called, “Traveler.” This guy who sent in this response, though he wishes to be nameless, could have walked out of that story.”
**36. “I went to a blind center a few years ago. It was the best thing I ever did for me. There I learned I didn’t need my eye sight to be independent. I would like to have my eye sight, but I don’t any more. But like I said, I learned to use my other senses better than before and in most cases it works great! Now when I can’t really do something, I remember that even before I went black blind I had to ask for some help, sometimes. Now is no different. But like I said, I am again independent and it is the techniques I learned at the center that made it possible.”
FROM ME: “I usually tell people, “We human’s a intellegent and adaptive. Blindness really dosen’t have to be a big handicapping characteristic if you work at making the adjustments necessary to function.”
**37. FROM ME: “How might culture influence the learning of alternative techniques for the partially or totally blind person?”
**38. “I think it's about finding that point of commonality with other human
beings. I've been blind all my life & my experience has been that a lot of
sighted people think that makes me a different kind of being from what
they are. I would think that might come down on a newly blind person like
a ton of bricks. Also I know how it feels to have to learn something new &
incorporate in into your life. It’s very disruptive. Nothing feels natural
& you almost don't feel like yourself for awhile.
In this scenario, the protagonist got past all that for a little while
feeling the grass on his bare feet & the strong surge of water probably
almost as though it was coming up from the ground. I think I might have
elected to find the hose that way even if I didn't have to just so I could
enjoy those sensations. I think the character was pleased to have found
something that worked for him & was able to register the pleasurable
sensory experience in the process. It doesn't have to be as it is for most
other people in order to be enjoyed &/or appreciated.”
Lorie McCloud (Corpus Christi, Texas, USA)
FROM ME: “This is not our first response from a person who was born blind. Think of what it is she shared with us and what others have to this point. One difference she so adeptly points up is how the newly blinded person may feel the change in status from that of being sighted to now being blind or going from the accepted norm to becoming a ‘different kind of being.’ So then, what all is in her very first statement, ‘I think it's about finding that point of commonality with other human
**39. “All too often we find ourselves facing a problem not knowing what to do
next, as we have become used to solving it in one fashion but this time
we don't have all the elements at hand to do it that way. That's where
being flexible comes in--those who are not willing or able to take a
different tack will not be able to find any solution.
For the parents who find themselves facing the blindness of a child,
almost immediately they find themselves feeling overwhelmed and full of
despair, as they cannot imagine how their children will be able to do
anything. Once they begin learning the alternatives available for
their children, they almost always become more relaxed and positive.
Suddenly many of them find themselves feeling freer in their own lives,
as in learning of alternatives for their kids they become more willing
to seek out alternatives for themselves as well. Not only do these
parents find ways to empower their children, but they, too, find
themselves empowered to be flexible. A great deal of the fear they
have always felt begins to slip away as they find out they don't need
the lights on all the time to walk through a familiar house; and the
night can become friendly as they learn to listen to the music of the
wind in the trees and the murmurs of the neighborhood as all move
inside. They learn to find things by sound as they teach their
children the same thing; they learn to examine things by touch as they
help their children to explore the world in this manner. They become
more willing to move out of the groove, and find the world can be a
more exciting and fulfilling place to live.”
Bonnie L. Sherrell (Teacher at Large, Port Townsend, Washington, USA)
FROM ME: “Depression some times makes it hard to choose and may be at the root of inflexibility. What do you think? And, how do you suggest a person experiencing depression should work/fight to over come its effects upon going with the flow?”
**40. FROM ME: “Follows is the full text of this response-“
“>**29. "I think that it is good for any person, blind or sighted to try
>new things. In the past, people have griped because I move too slow. At
>the Foundation for the Junior Blind, the teachers think that as long as the
>task is accomplished, that's all that matters."
Beth Katz (California, USA)
“Foundation for the Junior Blind?!! WOW! AT LAST! To find someone from the
Foundation! I am overjoyed.
How many other people on this list are former Foundation people? I was
known then as Beverly Stivers, and am now Sylvia Stevens. I need to find
out what happened to several former FJB people, such as Bill Braley, Scott
Langbridge, Danny Conine, Sharon York, Leon Allgire and Princella
Hendricks, Mike Couy, Kurt Dyke, Jame Thierry and Barbara Sinclair.
I am in contact with Mike Gorman, Wayne M. Thompson, Nola Frame, Velda
Brinkman and I know of several other people still around.
Sorry to use the list for this purpose, but I was just so delighted to find
a Foundation person!”
**41. “This title, “With the Flow,” hits me on several levels. First, this person who has lost significant vision by virtue of that change in visual status has been taken out of the main flow of society. This is a problem, one that has many repercussions. I wonder if he or she is still working? How about the house payments? How about his or her career future? On a more personal level, how about their feelings as a man or woman; is that threatened? Any fears of being abandoned by a friend or spouse? Then of course they are out of the flow of how they normally functioned as a sighted person.
With the flow of the water, they seem to get something… its that thought process of problem solving which is a flow, one that usually comes easy, but in this case it was halted, confused; but now its coming around again. These alternatives the counselor was so rightly pushing at this newly blinded person was correct, just initially hard for some of us to get on to. Nevertheless, most of us do get on to it and then as to how far a person goes whit it boils down to what the person is made of, what they want and will work to get. Sure, more support is needed, but the ultimate ingredient is what that person feels; this can be influenced by education. I would recommend getting together with other visually impaired person who have made a successful adjustment. “Seeing is believing,” that means seeing that others have mastered the adjustment and knowing that if they can you can.
So, getting with the flow again is most important. It is the little currents that will first carry you, influence you and just let the flow go and live.”
Marty Anderson (USA)
FROM ME: “Recall Helen Keller? Recall the scene with her and the flow of water? How was that similar to what this Provoker is driving at?”
**42. "I have read all 41 of the post and found some new and interesting
ways of doing things. First let me say that I am sighted and my wife is
totally blind and I have had to learn things that most people do take for
granted. First and foremost I had to enter her world so for a weekend I
went around blindfolded and done things or at least tried to do things
that I was use to doing being sighted and I was bumping into walls and
doors and you name it and my wife laughed at me and ask me if it was
easy being blind had to say no it is not easy, but I did learn that even
eating was a big deal but I did.
We have many blind and disable friends and I do ask questions so that I
can understand and learn.
Now to the Provoker:
The person that wanted to wash the car I can very well understand that
they wanted to do something that was a challenge for them and to undertake
it was to say I will not be closed up and stay behind closed doors and I
want to be part of the world.
A good example of this is one of our friends is blind (meaning
that he has artificial eyes so he can not see if he wants to. NO
disrespect please) but he has taught me that a person that is blind is
very much the same as the sighted person only thing is that he does
things different and this makes life easy for him so I ask him to teach
me a few of his ways of doing things and yes for a sighted person it is
clumsy and hard. So he put a blindfold on me and ask me to do it again
and then I could understand that his way was easy.
I hope that I have not bored anyone to much but all people are
different and each person does things the way that is easy for them and
if a person needs help ask and there are many people that are very
willing to help."
Willie Burton (Benton, Arkansas, USA)
**43. "I'll have to limit my reply to the situation in our country, as I don't know
enough about other countries and their cultures. However, we have a whole
rainbow of cultures here in our rainbow nation. Learning in general, not
only the learning of alternatives, has rather critically been influenced by
politics over decades and generations. There have always been pretty good
schools and universities for white learners while the education of blacks
has been neglected to a large extent and the education of Asiatics and
coloureds sort of slotted in between. This situation has of course also been
reflected in the blind community. For over a century there has been one very
good school for white blind pupils and later there were established a school
for Asiatic blind children and a number of rural schools for black blind
children, but most of the latter type have been rather sub-standard - some
run by missionaries, not many providing schooling all the way up to matric.
Also, as far as the learning of Braille, mobility skills, etc. the black
blind have been neglected until quite recently. Things have started to
change now and are improving for blacks. The one traditional white school
for the blind now has pupils of all races. Traditional black schools are
upgraded. Tertiary education of blacks is no longer sub-standard and
separate. Teaching of Braille and mobility and other skills is now the same
for all and available to all. However, the political situation of the past
has caused many black blind people to have a tremendous disadvantage. Many,
many couldn't find employment and were either cared for by their extended
families or else became beggars or lived on pensions or found their way into
sheltered employment. Most have been illiterate and had no mobility skills.
I don't think there is any sort of in-born cultural difference as far as the
learning of alternatives (or any other sort of learning for that matter) is
concerned. I think the difference is in the fact that black blind people
have over generations been disadvantaged and, even now that things are
becoming equal for all, as a consequence they still are at a disadvantage.
Some high-flyers have done pretty well - even in difficult times - but the
majority have had a battle. Things are improving, but it will take another
generation or so.
I think an interesting development in time will be the different approach
that will emerge in respect of the rights of blind people. White people have
tended to be very complacent and to accept the bad that comes with the good,
while black people have learnt to fight for and demand their rights and in
the long run all blind people will benefit from this approach.
Christo de Klerk (Alberton, South Africa)
FROM ME: "If the situation for a group of blind/visuall impaired is 'okay,' might complacency become a broplem? Anyone else seeing this happening? What motivates change?"
**44. “I love what Bonnie said in her response about parents finding alternative
techniques for the blind child, or sometimes children in the family. I
happen to be the only blind person in my family, but my parents wer very
unsure for awhile in my life, what was expected of me, and what i shouldn't
be expected to do. Now, of course, they know pretty much, and are becoming
slightly more resourceful.”
**45. “Oh, my, gosh. Is that really what it is like to have to wash the car blind?
I guess so, but never thought about it. That poor person in the story has
such a struggle just to do something on his own property. I can't imagine
having to feel with my feet for something. Then he has to carry towels and
bucket while groping around to get out of the garage, and have to feel around
for everything, including where the hose is. Why can't this person have
someone help him. I am just overcome with pity that he can't see what he is
doing or even if someone is there. Why even try to wash a car that you
cannot see, cannot use? Aren't there other things to be done that he can
enjoy doing for himself that don't involve having to feel around for things
outside, where it can be dangerous? People who can't see have no idea how it
looks when you are groping for something, when you get close enough and then
kick it out of your reach, and have to stumble around feeling for things. It
is really a very pitiful sight to see, and that is why those who have good
vision are always so anxious to jump in and say here are your towels and I'll
carry your bucket while I lead you over to the car and then get the hose for
you. Either that, or they totally look away, not wanting to see another
human in such a helpless state, even though the blind person is actually
helping himself by using his other senses. People who have been blind since
birth cannot react to facial expressions and probably couldn't care anyway,
but those who have lost their sight later in life know what kinds of looks
they are getting from the sighted world. Maybe that's why they often resist
canes and other signs of blindism at first, so they won't have to encourage
the looks of pity from others. I suppose that is the point of all the
mobility training, so that once one is good at getting around without looking
like an object of compassion, people won't stare and think of you as one.
Once you have to ask for help, though, or need to grope blindly for a door
handle or elevator button, you can be sure that some goodhearted person will
jump in and want to help you "see where you are going" so you won't have to
get there the hard way of feeling, hearing and smelling your way around. So
my point is that if you are blind you don't have to keep trying to prove
yourself by doing chores, because any sighted people that you may or may not
know are watching you are feeling sorry for you anyway. Instead, yell for
your spouse to come help you, and when they come running, blast them with the
hose. Have a good time, and don't sweat the small stuff.”
K (Florida USA)
FROM ME: "what do you think, does the story depict a guy in the beginnings of adjustment and ability to function or a guy who is use to blindness and useing alternatives? If he is a beginner, do you think he will improve? What will it take to improve?"
**66. "I thought that this story was particularly interesting because it
addresses one man's adjustment, or beginning acceptance if you like, to his
blindness. The fact that he would get out and wash his car, instead of
staying inside his house feeling sorry for himself shows some level of
acceptance, or at least something which says, "I don't want to stay inside
today; I want to get out and do something. How bout I wash the car?"
Also, at the end when he says, "I got it," this shows that he (or I guess
she depending on which gender you can invision in this story), has not only
found the hose by himself, but also has conquered the fear of not being able
to do the task without sight. I have experienced this many times, like
recently when I was looking for a particular computer graphic on my computer
screen, and using a screen reading program, or program that reads the
Windows screen to me, which allows me to use the computer independently.
Anyway, I think that the graphic was in the background of the screen and my
reading program was jumping over it. Finally, I clicked some area of the
screen that my reader said was blank, and it worked!! And I had thought I
would have had to call a sighted person to help. Maybe I will on other
things, but I didn't that time.”
Wayne Merritt (Denton Texas USA)