I was fortunate to be asked by National Public Radio to appear as a guest today on their nationwide program "Talk of the Nation". I stress "fortunate" because it’s a privilege to be asked to share with the public ideas about disability in general and blindness in particular.
But I felt a sense of disappointment with the interview today. Today’s host, Lynn Neary asked me questions like explain "how" I (a blind person) could know what a painting by Jackson Pollock might look like. I gave the obvious answer–namely that I have descriptive friends who tell me these things.
Unfortunately, I think we ran out of time before the really important questions could be asked. What I had hoped for was an interview in which I might talk about "why" 70 per cent of the nation’s blind and visually impaired people who are of working age remain unemployed. I wanted to talk about our contemporary inheritance from the Victorians who saw a disabled body as an economic liability in the machine driven world of the Industrial Revolution. I wanted to talk about "why" these outworn ideas persist in the United States–so much so that we continue to stand in amazement when a superbly intellectual and gifted man like Governor David Paterson emerges from the pack.
Instead the interview sputtered badly I’m afraid, though I tried to explain that blind people bring critical thinking and emotional intelligence to their public and professional lives.
The good news is that tomorrow I am scheduled to appear on NPR’s "On Point" program. With any luck, I’ll have an opportunity to discuss some of this then.
NPR’s Blog of the Nation "Colors and Fog": What It Means to be Blind