May 16, 2008 

EDUCATION 
Opening others’ eyes
 
Blind professor helping UI students, doctors see
disabilities in a new light

By Diane Heldt

The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Blindness is thought by many to be a great calamity,
still viewed in 19th-century Dickensian terms, says University of Iowa
professor Steve Kuusisto.

  But the reality, says Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, is that
his talking computer, his guide dog and public transportation allow him to do
most anything sighted people can.

  “It’s not an obstacle to having a good job and a full life,” he said.
“Nobody has to have a second-class life. Really, the sky’s the limit.” That
philosophy, the 53-year-old Kuusisto said, fuels a new vision of disability
that is emerging. That vision moves away from viewing people with disabilities
as “defective,” he said, to finding ways for technology and society to help
them lead the richest, fullest lives.

  It’s a vision Kuusisto (pronounced COO-sis-toe) brought to the UI last
fall when he joined the faculty as an English professor with a joint
appointment in the Carver College of Medicine.

  At the medical college he is a “humanizing agent” who helps educate
doctors about disability issues. UI officials hope Kuusisto bridges the goals
of disability advocates and health professionals.

  “I’m probably the firstever poet named to a faculty of ophthalmology,”
Kuusisto says with a smile. 

 

Continue reading

Lance Mannion and the "blind guy"

From Lance Mannion’s Fragments of an autobiography:
Tossing a football around with a blind guy Lance_and_steve_2

"But Steve’s real point, I think, is the same one he’s been making to
me since we met, which is not how blind people see the world but how to see the world.

From the start, Steve’s been telling me the same things over and
over again.  Don’t just look, observe.  Listen.  Ask questions.
Notice everything.  Notice people.  Take note of how they move, how they sound, what they say.  Pay attention to them.

Pay attention to everything."

Thank you, Lance.  We both loved your post. 

~ Connie & Steve

Photo description: Buddies from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. "Lance" is on the left. He’s blond, sporting a blond beard, wearing a yellow Oxford shirt, holding a football.  Steve is standing next to Lance, leaning on his left shoulder.  He’s got brown hair, a brown beard, round glasses and is wearing  a red t-shirt.