Throughout nature, there are examples of living organisms that are born with, or develop some form of defect, disfigurement or disability, and humans are no different. Many humans are in fact born with some form of disability, and a disability can either be something which is physical or mental. Some of the more difficult disabilities that people have to live with, whether they are born with them, or develop them later, are deafness and blindness.
Blindness is a disability in which one is unable to see things with their eyes, and it is considered to be an extreme form of visual impairment. Visual impairment is a disability that actually affects a large number of people around the world, as according to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 285 million people who deal with some form of impairment, with around 39 million people around the world being completely blind. People who are blind, have to live their lives in different ways compared to those who can see, but when you disregard their disability, they are ordinary people just like everyone else. With that being said, there are some things about blind people that are worth knowing about, so here is a list of things you might not have known about blind people.
15. They Might Not Have Heightened Senses
Thanks to pop culture, we have come to assume that if we were to ever lose one of our senses, than all of our other senses will become stronger as a result; but that is not truly always the case. It is true that blind people have to rely on their other senses more in order to function because of their lack of sight, but they usually have to depend on their memory or specific sound cues in order to get through daily life. Blind people may not actually develop a sixth sense, but there have been cases of some blind people being able to use what is known as echolocation. Echolocation is a process in which an object’s size and location can be determined within a given area by using sound waves, and some blind people have been able to use this ability by either clicking their tongues or snapping their fingers in order to create said sound waves.
14. It Is Okay To Ask Them Questions
There are times when people feel strange and awkward around people, it happens everyday to any number of people, but for some reason, we feel more uncomfortable when we are around people who have certain types of disabilities like blindness. It is possible that people just do not know how to be around those who are blind, or that they have a bunch of questions they want to ask that they choose not to because they may seem offensive or derogatory. For the most part though, blind people are fine with any kind of questions regarding their situation, as they usually do not see their blindness as a limiting factor in their lives; in fact, they are more than glad to share and explain their experiences if someone is genuinely interested in how a blind person goes about their life.
13. They Do Not Always Need Help From People Who Can See
When we see a blind person, they are either by themselves, or they are with someone they know and trust who helps them to move around. Usually, when we see a blind person in public who is being helped out, we can take solace in the fact that that person is likely going to be able to move around freely without getting lost, bumping into anything, or getting into a minor or serious accident; but when a blind person is seen in public alone, there is a part of us that thinks: “why isn’t there someone with them to help them get around?” Blind people though, have a greater awareness regarding their surroundings than we think they do, which is why we do see them in the outside world on their own, and why they are capable of living on their own. Sure, blind people need some help at the beginning in order to become familiar with a new area or object, but people who can see, also need that kind of help, we just do not automatically assume that they need it like we do with blind people.
12. Not All Of Them Use A Cane
The easiest way with which we are normally able to identify a blind person, is when we see someone sporting a pair of dark glasses accompanied by a traditionally white cane. Many people do believe that there is only one type of blindness, but there are in fact multiple forms, which is why there are actually two types of canes; the fully white kind and canes which have a distinct red tip at the end. Not all people who deal with blindness use a cane, however, many instead chose to use the help of man’s best friend. Dogs are able to assist blind people by acting as their guides, but these are not ordinary dogs, these are dogs who have been specifically trained to guide blind people through doors, past crosswalks, and around curbs; these dogs are also responsible for watching their owner’s right side in order to keep them from walking into another person or object.
11. They Like Being Spoken To Normally
If you know someone who is blind, or if you just happen to be in the company of someone who is, then it is highly likely that you have altered the way you normally speak in order to not offend and “accommodate” said blind person. In these types of scenarios, you probably thought, or think, that you need to avoid using certain words when having any sort of conversation with someone who happens to be blind, and these words almost all have to do one way or another with sight. Words like see, look, watch, and even viewpoint or witness, feel like taboo things to say while speaking to a blind person, but even though such words may make some people who are blind a bit uncomfortable, most do not take any sort of offense to them. In fact, watching your words may actually turn out to be counterintuitive as the blind person in question may begin to feel awkward that you are outwardly trying to avoid certain words for their benefit. Blind people want to be treated like everyone else, so just speak to them like you would anyone else.
10. They Feel Insulted With Unwanted Help
It is a part of human nature to want to help other people, that is why so many charities and philanthropic organizations exist, and why so many people become volunteers to aid the sick, disabled, injured and homeless. When it comes to blind people, many of us simply assume that they need some sort of help because of their lack of sight, and even though blind people do appreciate the help most of the time, there are times when they just want to be treated like everyone else, instead of being given unwanted help simply because other people think their condition demands it. This kind of unwanted help comes in various ways, like when helping a blind person cross the street, and bringing them to their destination, when all they did was ask for directions, or if you help them carry their groceries or help to count their money when they are paying for something. Unwanted help like what was just mentioned, is sometimes considered by blind people as overcompensating kindness, which makes them feel somewhat inferior and insulted. The point is, help a blind person if they ask for it, but do not go overboard just because you think they need all the help they can get.
9. They Visualize Numbers In The Opposite Direction
We all have a basic understanding of numbers, we know that zero basically means nothing, and that numbers either become smaller or bigger the more that you count downwards or upwards. Blind people understand the concept of numbers, but what many people may not know is that they are also capable of visualizing them, just not in the same way that we do. For those who become blind later on in life, they continue to visualize numbers in the same way that people with sight do, because of their memory. Blind people who have been blind from birth who have never actually seen what a number looks like, are still able to visualize numbers, but in reverse to how we do. We see numbers from left to right (1,2,3,4,5), but people who have been blind their entire lives visualize numbers from right to left (5,4,3,2,1).
8. They Engage With Their Environment Like Everyone Else
It is assumed that a person who is blind, is not really socially active, and that the only reason why they ever leave their home is because they have to, either to go to some kind of job, or to get groceries and supplies. This is indeed true for some blind people, who enjoy solitude and staying in spaces that they are accustomed to; but there are also blind people who are much more outgoing. Many blind people like to experience new things and places, which is why you sometimes see blind people at concerts, restaurants, and even the movies. There are also blind people who take part in more adventurous types of sports and activities, such as hiking, racing, snowboarding and even skydiving. This outgoing behavior is not caused by anything specific really, it all actually depends on the person themselves and what their interests and preferences are; which just so happens to also be true when comparing introverted and outgoing people who can see.
7. Their Success Depends On Us
Like with all disabilities, blindness is something that people have to deal with every single second that they are alive, but just because it is a disability, does not mean that blind people are not capable of doing some of the same things that people with sight can do. Blind people, like people who can see, go to school and work because like everyone else, they want to be able to properly support themselves and maybe others in the future. The types of education and employment that they do receive though, according to psychologists, is directly connected to what our expectations are of them, and it also depends on how much positive outlooks they receive from us. The more that we believe that they are capable of doing something, then the better they will perform, this is a principle which is true for everyone, as things like self-esteem, self-worth, and belief in one’s self, are important for everyone to succeed, and blind people are no different.
6. They Understand Colors In Different Ways
Most of us have a favorite color, and the reason for that is because we find the appearance of whichever color that might be, to be the best based on the perception of our eyes. Those individuals who have been blind since birth may not be able to actually identify what a specific color looks like, but they do understand the concept of color. They are able to associate certain colors with certain concepts, like saying that the ocean is blue and roses are red; they can also associate colors to terms, like red meaning hot and blue meaning cold. For those who go blind later on in their life, they are still capable of relating to colors just like people who can see; and for those who deal with some other form of severe visual impairment, they are mainly able to see only very bright colors, and they can also have a difficult time in telling similarly toned colors apart.
5. They Are Not Ashamed Of Being Blind
There is a common misconception among many people who are indeed able to see, that those who are blind feel bad or ashamed of themselves because of the fact that they have no sight. The truth however, is that even though some blind people do feel this way, most of them in fact do not. Most blind people view their lack of sight as more of a physical challenge than a disability. They do not see their blindness as a debilitating condition, nor do they consider it a reason for them not to enjoy life. It may come as a surprise to many, but people who are blind from birth actually feel less negative emotions than people who can see, which means that they are in fact less likely to have anxiety or go through stretches of depression. This goes to show you, that we who are capable of seeing should not just assume that a blind person is living a sad or miserable life because of their disability, because in truth, many of them are happier than most of us are.
4. Not All People With Visual Impairments Are Blind
People tend to think that there is only one type of blindness, but in reality there are several different types of visual impairments which just seem similar to total blindness. According to the World Health Organization, of all the people in the world who have been identified as being visually impaired, only about 15.88% of people are completely and totally blind. The other 84.12% of identified people actually possess some form of partial or lingering vision which still allows them to perceive some sort of color, light, or physical form and movement. In some cases, people in this 84.12% category are also capable of seeing things in the form of blurs, or as images that are distorted to a certain, sometimes extreme, degree. So the next time you see someone who you believe is blind, keep in mind that that person may actually only be visually impaired, and that they may be able to see you in some form or another.
3. They Dream
Most of us have dreamt at least once throughout our life, even if we cannot remember ever having done so. Dreams can be short, or they can be long, dreams can be funny, complex, arousing, sad, terrifying, and sometimes even feel completely real. In regards to blind people, we tend to think that just because we are able to see things, that only we are capable of dreaming of things; but the truth is, that there is more to dreams than just sight. Blind people are in fact able to dream, they simply cannot see anything while dreaming, but that does not mean that they are unable to experience everything else. In a 2014 study, 18% of blind people studied said that they were able to taste something in their dream, while almost 30% of people stated that they were able to smell something; and in that same study, nearly 70% said they felt touch while 86% said they heard distinct things. The study also determined that blind people feel the same types of emotions while dreaming as people who are not blind.
2. They Slowly Lose The Ability To See In Their Dreams
As was mentioned in the previous entry on this list, blind people are indeed able to dream just like the rest of us. What the previous entry also stated, is that they also dream somewhat differently than people who can see; but what is also interesting is that not all blind people dream in the same way. For those who have been blind since birth, they are capable of experiencing every sense in a dream except for sight, for obvious reasons; but some blind people can also see things in their dreams as well. People who become blind later in life are able to continue seeing things while dreaming, and that is because their memory allows them to remember what things looked like; unfortunately though, the longer that a blind person who was not born blind lives, their ability to see things in their dreams diminishes over time.
1. They Have More Nightmares
Continuing down the dream route, is quite possibly the most shocking thing that you might have not known about blind people: that they experience more nightmares than people with sight do. For anyone who remembers their nightmares, they can truly be terrifying experiences, especially if they revolve around any sort of phobia you have. Blind people experience nightmares that are tied closer to their own reality, which is why their nightmares mainly deal with things like getting lost, falling into a ditch, losing their guide dog, or getting hit by a car. The reason why they have more nightmares than people who can see is because they find it more difficult to avoid certain stressors in their daily life, which is why many of them suffer from higher levels of anxiety than the rest of us. This should come as no surprise to us however, as the stressors and anxiety they do feel on a daily basis, are directly linked to the types of nightmares they have, because the examples of nightmares mentioned earlier are legitimate things that blind people do fear and stress over everyday of their lives.
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