Commentary: Living in a Blind New World

Despite all the information that exists about blindness and visual impairment, unfounded fears and misconceptions are still present among the general public. I have always believed that these negative attitudes are the biggest and most difficult obstacles for people with vision loss to overcome. The Perkins School for the Blind is trying to change this with a new series of PSAs about living with blindness. The series, called Blind New World, features actors who are blind. Each PSA addresses common misconceptions encountered by people with vision loss in their everyday lives, and the series will eventually air on television and other outlets.

I know firsthand the importance of educating the general public about living with vision loss, because I encounter many stereotypes almost on a daily basis. More often than not, people are shocked to hear that I have a job and live an overall happy life. My conversations with those I’ve just met revolve around how I do my job and daily activities. It’s not that I dislike answering these and other questions – I’m actually happy that people are willing to ask. Besides, I can’t blame them for asking, since chances are they’ve never met someone like me before.

Once people realize I’m like everyone else, I notice they are much more at ease. It’s at that point when we get into broader conversation about other topics not related to my blindness. This is exactly the message that the Blind New World PSA series wants to spread to the general public – our blindness is just one characteristic, but it does not define our entire life. Like anyone, we have different social, academic and professional interests, regardless of our vision loss. I hope that these PSAs will help create more awareness about blindness, which will in turn create more opportunities for us.

The media is a great avenue for spreading information and even changing the public’s attitudes and minds. Since the Blind New World PSAs will eventually air in places like television and movie theaters, I believe they will reach countless individuals throughout the country. Never before has a media campaign of this nature been done, and I have high hopes that it will help demystify the erroneous and negative attitudes about people with vision loss.

I believe that the public’s fears and misconceptions about blindness exist simply because most have never seen or met a blind person. These PSAs have the enormous potential of opening the eyes of the general public so that future generations of people with vision loss will live in a better world. You can watch some of the campaign’s PSAs by visiting www.blindnewworld.org.

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