Bust 5 Myths About Being Blind and Become an Awesome Hero

Listening Gargoyle at Carcassonne
Listening Gargoyle at Carcassonne. HArry Williamson/F11/Spring Studio

Let’s get real. Myths have served a useful purpose in sharing the ancient worlds where amazing stories of culture, art and literature were born, but myths about being blind are tales that have been accepted as truth and may be doing more harm than good.

A myth gets distorted over time – so here is your hero’s quest to be an awesome myth-buster in our modern world. You can change the tales of the past to the truth of the present by taking hold of these 5 myths about being blind and help remove them from the dark recesses of traditional thought and cast them heroically into the light of a new understanding!

Be Gone, Myth

#1 Experiencing Déjà Vu is a Visual Thing

Not true. The phenomenon  we know as ‘déjà vu’ (which literally in French means, already seen) is a strong sensation that people experience when something seems to have happened before. The fleeting sensation is not restricted to being triggered by eyesight. 

I am able to verify from personal experience that, through my other senses of smell, hearing and touch, blind and visually-impaired people can also experience déjà vu.

#2 Visually-impaired People Can’t Advise on Design & Color Choices   

Why would you ask a visually-impaired friend to help you choose a color paint for your kitchen renovation? It’s hard enough deciding even with full sight. The beauty is, your visually-impaired friend can use their imagination to offer color choices because their eyes are free to see the possible.

We also create our homes by placing objects in very specific places so design is a pleasure for us too.

Choosing tactile furnishings to create a warm space couldn’t be more appreciated by the sense of touch, so seeking our design advice is not that strange after all.

#3 You Don’t Ask a Blind Person if a Garment Looks Good on You

Actually, you can. When I am with a sighted friend and they are trying on clothing, I often know if the garment suits them by the way they talk about it as they fiddle with it.

The more they try to convince themselves it might look OK, the more I see the garment as not being a great fit – their eyes are deceiving them.

A person’s voice changes favorably when the garment is perfect for them and they stand a little taller. These are the signs I look for when giving my honest opinion.

Choosing clothing is a 'feely' thing. The moment you slip into a good fit, you will know it. The garments your eyes trick you into buying are often those clothes you never end up wearing. Why not try seeing how you feel next time – with your eyes closed!

#4 Art Galleries & Museums with Visual Displays are of No Interest to the Blind

What a deceptive myth. Our eyes may not see clearly but there is still so much knowledge to be gained by spending time in a gallery either doing an audio-tour or going with a friend who appreciates the fine world of art.

The experience brings a sense of closeness to others in this time of curious exploration and a sense of fun as we design a ‘portrait’ together for my mind’s eye to imagine.

I become like a child in a candy store with visually-impaired eyes wide open and curious mind alive as people describe paintings by the Masters or help me to find the best lighting to see a sculpture through a striking silhouette.

On other occasions, the curator of an exhibition has given me special permission to gently touch an exhibit which never would have been experienced if I hadn’t ventured inside the gallery. Gift stores of museums also offer an opportunity to carefully touch objects relating to the theme of their current display, giving a whole new meaning to ‘touching art’.

#5 All Blind People Know How to Read Braille

Not necessarily. I am legally-blind and have never had to learn braille in order to read. I do admire those people who have the ability to run their fingertips across a series of raised dots, known as braille, to identify letters, words, numerals and music symbols.

Some blind people choose to learn this tactile method of reading and writing while others choose to use assistive technology in adapting to reading print material.

So if you offer a braille menu or brochure to a blind or visually-impaired person, don’t be too surprised if they say they don’t read braille…where there’s a will, there is always another way.

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