Blindness Awareness Month

Cover of Planet of the and dog....

Whether you know it or not this is Blindness Awareness Month. Let’s get right to it. Blindness is a disability. It involves eyes. Awareness is from the late Old English gewær “watchful, vigilant,” from Proto-Germanic *ga-waraz (source also of Old Saxon giwar, Middle Dutch gheware, Old High German giwar, German gewahr), from *ga-, intensive prefix, *waraz “wary, cautious,” from PIE root *wer- (3) “perceive, watch out for.”

Awareness among the sighted means keeping your eyes peeled lest you run into a blind person which wouldn’t be good.

In the old days if you encountered a blind person, especially first thing in the morning you had to run to the woods, find a tree with twin trunks sporting a hole between them, gather the rain water found there–then find a black cat, cut its fur, burn it, and mix the ashes with the spunk water and rub it into your eyes. This would forestall becoming blind by association.

(See the Oxford Encyclopedia of Superstitions.)

Be aware.

It’s Blindness Awareness Month. Do you know any blind people? Do they make you uncomfortable? Do blind-deaf people make you really really uncomfortable?

Let’s not hire them. I don’t think there’s enough spunk water and cat ashes to go around.

According to the World Health Organization there are “at present at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed.”

The truth is the World Health Organization doesn’t know how many blind people there are–the “at least” is meaningful both as a nod to the lack of quality data and also as a confession of sorts: we have to guess at the number of blind citizens both globally and in the US.

Stealing from Al Gore the blind are an “inconvenient truth.”

According to the American Foundation for the Blind 75% of the blind in the US are unemployed.

While statistics are hard to come by students with disabilities who matriculate to colleges and universities are far more likely to drop out than their peers.

I thin we should rename Blindness Awareness Month.

Let’s call it Blind Pride and Global Employment Month.

I’m not fond of awareness unless its attached to action.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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