Insights on blindness: The benefits and challenges of being blind

By Rolando Terrazas

I met with members of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona to gain insights and perspectives about blindness. Here is what stood out from those conversations.

Ben Bloomgren said it is a blessing to have been born blind because he it gives him a different perspective on life. From Bloomgren’s experience, many sighted people imagine blindness as something that comes later in life.

Nikki Jeffords was declared blind until after she graduated college. For Jeffords, one of the most frustrating things about her blindness is people’s unwillingness to see beyond her blindness. She said, often people pay too much attention to her blindness and they don’t take the time to find out who she is. On the other hand, Jeffords said, one of the best things about being blind is that she is able to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Mark Schmidt, who was born blind, said he has the opportunity to perceive the world in ways that other people don’t. He also points out some of the disadvantages, such as exploring a new area that he has not visited before. He said while it can take much longer to make travel plans, his blindness also allows him to find places he didn’t intend to find in the first place.

From Schmidt’s point of view, one misconception he has experienced is that he cannot read people’s body language because he is blind, but he said that is not the case:

Sebastian Ibanez said for him it is very important to educate younger people. As a motivational speaker who was born blind, he works with children in middle school and high school. His approach is that if one educates younger people, when they grow up to be professionals they will have a better understanding of disabilities in general.

Kristen Johnson has lost sight steadily throughout her life. Johnson suggests more inclusivity of blind people in journalism — not only in regards to coverage, but also as blind journalists. She mentions it would be great to see blind journalists on camera reporting news, or to see articles about important stories being covered by blind journalists.

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