Friday, 27 January 2012

A BLACK-AND-WHITE EXAMPLE OF IGNORANCE.

"How can you see if you're blind?" Certain uncharitable people have asked me this over the years as if they caught me in a lie. The fact is that I have partial sight, even though the Government of Canada considers me to be legally blind. I can only distinguish general objects, not details such as people's eye colour.

One striking example of fully-sighted folks misunderstanding my limitations happened in January of 1988. Being newly licensed as an amateur radio operator, I devoted much of my free time to the hobby. Every tuesday evening, the Northern Alberta Radio Club held an on-air meeting called a net. At the end of each one, people listed radio equipment that they had for sale or which they wanted to buy. When the controller of the net mentioned that a certain person had a black-and-white video camera for sale, I was the first one to express interest in buying it. The man selling the camera objected on the grounds that I was legally blind, but the net controller declared my offer to be an official bid.

I could feel the waves of hostility as I walked into the next meeting of the club with my money. The man with the camera sold me the device but I could tell he felt nothing but contempt for my audaciousness. After all, what possible use would a video camera be to somebody like me.

As it turned out, I did use that camera quite a bit. I made video letters for my sister, Diane, and a few home videos of me with my rabbit, Floppy. I even made videos for some electronic music tunes that I composed. I still have the camera to this day and it still works.

I've written about other occasions where my poor vision has caused consternation among my sighted associates. Many of these vignettes are included in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoirs. Feel free to contact me directly or friend me on Facebook to learn more about these paperbacks.