The Right kind of Blind

I know I really shouldn’t write this, but at this point it doesn’t matter. I’ve ran away from those who will most likely look upon this with disdain, as if I don’t look upon myself with even more than those on the outside can. I was reading a post from someone who mentioned “the right kind of disabled.” That struck something in me that I’d been looking for for a long time. I thought I was the only one. Maybe I am. But it needs telling anyway, so why not.

Acceptable disability

You know those blind people who can get around an area they’ve barely been to, or cook on a stove, or even communicate well with body language and such? I’m sure many in the blind community know of, or are one of these. These blind people don’t need much. They don’t ask for help, they know their way around, and workplaces are proud to have the acceptable kind of person with disabilities, because they barely notice that the person is blind.

And that’s the key, isn’t it? The person that can hide their disability so well that no one really stops to think about it.

The wrong kind of blind

Yep, it’s one of those blog posts. If you want something more cheerful and full of Christmas bullshit, there are lots of Amazon sales going on I’m sure. So, I’ve been blind since birth. You’d think I’d be adjusted to it and know how to do every little thing. You’d think I’d be one of those web accessibility experts by now, talking about Alt text and ripping web devs a new one because they used a div instead of semantic HTML. But nope. I’m the other kind of blind person. The kind the media doesn’t want to talk about. The kind organizations are ashamed of. The kind they had to put into a corner and hope he doesn’t rock the boat.

Nope. Instead of web accessibility, I’m all into OS and app accessibility. Instead of bravely taking on my problems, I run from them. All the way away from them. Yes, that’s why I left Mastodon. No, I didn’t kill myself; I’m far too cowardly for that. I’m the weird one that’s all into text formatting, Markdown, and understanding things like that which almost no other blind person cares about. I’ve tried Seeing with Sound. I use AI. I feel passionate about free open source software, even though I keep those feelings locked up tight so I’m not too disappointed in it.

While just about all blind people I know love parties, loud noises are sometimes physically painful. If I hear a pot clang, or a door slam, it’s like a stinging feeling in my arms or shoulders. So I stay home and chill. I joke to the people around me that I’m the most chill person they’ll meet. But it’s sadly not a joke. Everyone else wants to go somewhere, or do something, or get out of the house. My house is my vacation.

So what?

Being the way I am comes with a ton of downsides. I’m not as quick or persevering as the acceptable blind person. I was once in a meeting to help make an operating system more accessible, in which we needed to open a document and work on it. It was using a web app that the organizers said would be accessible. I had issues with it, and so I spent the five minutes we had, trying to find accessibility documentation for the web editor. There was none. And then when I asked about it everyone was all quiet like it was an intrusion and I shouldn’t be there and why was I even trying. And then the people seemed to shrug their shoulders and go on with the meeting. I can never forget that.

Side note: If any corporation, company, or organization says they take accessibility seriously, or that they put accessibility front and center, they’re most likely lying to you, and mocking you cause who dares tell someone they’re not doing enough in “the good fight?” Lol, Microsoft. We know you. Windows 11 speaks for itself.

And now, at this point, I’d give tips on how you, yes, you, can help the unaccepted blind. But I won’t, mainly because it’s all over every other blog post about dealing with neuro-divergent people. Listen, then act. Of course, the listening part is really, really important. But then acting is what’s actually going to make the person trust that you actually give even a single damn. Lots of companies, organizations, and nonprofits are great at listening. They have issue trackers, support lines, ticket systems, help desks, and open-door policies. But then when it comes to acting, well… We need more people to make us do it, we need more feedback, maybe next year, this should be sent to IT instead because I can’t actually help you, RIM is too expensive; see if you can make a deal or cut down the price for us, we’ll make a committee for this as a part of DEI even though they have lots of other stuff and none of these people are blind so yeah good luck haha, well we should do it but it’s hard, we don’t want to do it because other software should do it for us. Just kinda try not to lean on these excuses, and you’ll be good. And if all you’ve got left is “We can’t help with accessibility,” then just tell us. Tell us you don’t care enough, or can’t do it, or have tons of other priorities, so we can go somewhere else.

Devin Prater @devinprater