Blindsided

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Do you see what I mean? It’s in plain sight. Can’t you see what I’m trying to achieve? Just a few every day expressions that emphasise the importance we place on our ability to see.

I remember my secondary music school teacher asking the class whether they’d rather be blind or deaf. “Neither” is obviously the common sense answer. Nobody gets to choose, but she insisted. I would rather be deaf I said. This was clearly the wrong answer in the eyes of a music teacher to whom hearing is especially important. But I was too busy imagining what would be missed in a life without sight. Art, nature, loved ones. The truth. I love music but I also love silence. I still think I would make the same choice.

Last Friday I attended a community funding event where we were asked if we had ever tried speed dating? One guy on the table next to us gingerly raised his hand. I had actually been twice myself in that same week, but didn’t put my arm up until it was clarified we were talking about “project” speed dating (kudos to that guy for putting his hand up first though I think he might have had something different in mind!). Speed dating is quite a fun term for the inner workings of public funding. Larger organisations with power tend to win out. Smaller players are left to beg for the crumbs.

The day before this I had met Julie and Jim. They were worried about other people who are isolated and lonely, without confidence and the ability to access technology. I warmed to them immediately as an example of the tireless, selfless voluntary work that goes on in the heart of communities, often without notice. I felt more than a little awkward as I offered my plain ordinary business card to their sighted companion.

Julie told me she’d been featured in a community film. Coincidently the following day the community event I attended showed the first few minutes. I don’t know if it made it more emotional that I’d met the interviewees mere hours before the showing but I certainly had a big lump in my throat.

See what I saw here.

This puts everything into perspective. It’s commendable and inspirational how people react in the face of adversity. Julie laughs as she recalls how she had to pretend to be able to see for fear of losing her job. Her smile masks the darker issue of prejudice. Despite all the lip service paid to equality and inclusion, blindness is still (pardon the expression) pushed out of sight.

I don’t often take my three children shopping with me, for obvious reasons, but we ended up doing so last weekend. At the supermarket checkout we were given coins to vote for one of three local charities. I was heartened to be able to support Blind Life in this way and I hope you will be too. I never done this before on my blog but if you were moved by the film and can donate, please do so here.

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