I'd like to take the time to talk with you about Myths.
According to the sighted people around me, I've been letting down the blind community. I don't appear to be fulfilling all my obligatory requirements as
a fully paid-up member of the blind brother and sisterhood. I'm not sure how far back in time blind typecasts and myths evolved, but I don't seem to be conforming
to any of them. I'll explain.
Contrary to the myth that blind people have heightened audio talents to make up for visual loss, I am living testimony to the opposite. When I sing I sound
like a camel with a hernia, rumbling my way through a song. Mark, my blind musician friend, said that he didn't believe in people being truely tone
deaf. He thought that if someone could hear and appreciate a piece of music, they couldn't possibly have a problem. Then he heard me sing. Mark reassessed
his theory and made an exception in my case. He went a step further and added: "Ian, your singing is against human rights and it should be immediately
band from public areas.
When it comes to playing musical instruments, it's no different. Frustratingly, I've had a go at a number of instruments over the years with no success.
I'm so bad, I can barely get a tune out the radio. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, George Shearing and Jeff Healey have done me no favours and I feel I've
let everyone down by not fulfilling my blind stereotype.
Another myth is that when moving around, blind people look like the walking dead, arms outstretched in front of them, at shoulder height, in order to feel
their way. In a room that I'm familiar with, I don't do this, although, admittedly, I have walked into the occasional door, but I'm sure someone must have
moved it while I was out. Another "bad habit" I've got is looking at people when I speak to them. Now I think I am just being polite. Let's be honest,
it's not hard - all a blind person has to do is to turn their face towards the voice, but doing this doesn't half confuse people. "Is he blind? I knew
he could see a little, but he seems to be looking straight at me."
Now, this next myth always makes me laugh. People are always disappointed when I don't ask to feel their face, so that I can get a better understanding of
what they look like. Going around seizing people's ears and inadvertently sticking my thumbs up their nose to get a better understanding of a stranger's
looks isn't for me. We can blame a 1980s pop video (Lionel Ritchie)and for this fallacy.
Oddly, those people who do offer their face for examination (usually drunks and idiots) - are not generally the kind of people I would like to get my hands
I don't even have the basic blind tools such as a Braille
watch or an audio liquid level indicator. It appears that the only blind stereotype I do conform to is having a guide dog; thankfully, this is one symbol
of blindness I am more than happy to have.