About Us

This blog is about how the world is viewed by the visual and the visually impaired. The intent of this blog is to bring the two worlds together. It is administered by two fabulous sisters, Toni, who is sighted and Robin, who became visually impaired in 2002 at the age of 18 due to misdiagnosis.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Wonder...

Life can be scary because there are no guarantees of what will and will not happen at any given time. It is like Forrest said in the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump, “My Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Generally speaking, the world is an unpredictable place where some people are born with/without one or more of the five senses. It is these life circumstances that ultimately shape what we think about ourselves and others. In the midst of life circumstances/experiences, comes emotions; how we feel and deal with what we’re given.
Some people could say that I have experienced two sides of life; with and without sight. For eighteen, almost nineteen years, I was able to see everything around me such as, shapes, colors, objects, etc. Since I have lost my eyesight, especially when I was attending school, people have often inquired about whether or not it is easier for a person who is born blind to prevail over their situation compared to a person losing their sight. In my opinion, there is no clear cut answer to this inquiry because people handle situations differently, no matter how long they have been living with a particular circumstance. For example, not all people who are born blind want to have the ability to see; everyone is different with various desires. We all feel and heal in our own way, on our own terms.
This topic has intrigued me for a while; therefore, I decided to do some research. There were quite a few articles and polls that peaked my interest. Specifically, there were two polls that asked similar questions, but generated different results. One poll titled, “What would be harder to overcome, being born blind or becoming blind later in life?” by answerback. The results of the poll concluded that four respondents voted it would be harder for a person who is blind to overcome their situation compared to two respondents who said it would be harder for a person who loses their sight. This poll shocked me because I thought it would be harder for a person who loses their eyesight later in life to overcome their situation because they’re entering into a world of unknown; whereas, people who are born blind, that is all they have known. However, what makes this topic interesting to me is the fact that I wonder if there is a sense of longing for something you never had. Living in such a visual world, I presume it would be harder to adjust and relate to things that you have never seen. Sure there are other ways to visualize what is around you, such as through texture, height, and shape, sound, smell, but it seems as though the association would be more difficult.
The second poll that I located is titled, “Would you rather be born blind or go blind at the age of 20?” by yahoo polls. The results of this inquiry revealed that seven respondents reported that they would rather be born blind compared to five respondents who said they would rather lose their sight at the age of 20. Some people feel that it is easier to deal with blindness, if you have never had the ability to see in the first place. Losing something like your vision, to which you have had your whole life, can be traumatic. Whereas on the other side, people who lose their eyesight have had the opportunity to experience what the world looks like.
In terms of my situation, when I took my undergraduate math course this topic of discussion arose between myself and professor. We both concluded that it was probably easier for me to navigate through the class because I could visualize the graphs and charts from when I could see. It was also interesting because my professor told me that when I was trying to solve a problem, I would close my eyes, as I was trying to think my way to the solution. When I travel to various places and the scenery is being described to me, I have the ability to recall and compare it to what I know. As my niece gets older, she is becoming more inquisitive, and often asks me if I know what she looks like. The last time I was able to physically see my niece with sight, she was a baby. With this in mind, to help me visualize my niece, my family told me that she looks exactly like Toni when she was little. Of course it is still hard not being able to visually see my niece, but at least I have some depiction to imagine what she looks like.
Whatever the case may be, being blind can cause a person to face interesting, challenging, shocking, and wide awakening experiences that ultimately create an atmosphere of learning. My blindness does not define me as a person, but instead it is an addition to my identity that I am learning everyday from. Our experiences shape our unique perspectives; therefore, Beautifully Blind invites all of our readers to share what’s on your mind.


  1. Do you have any thoughts regarding reading for those that were born blind versus those that became blind later in life? Is it easier to learn braille if you've already learned to read print? Or is learning braille as a young person just as easy as to learn to read print? I know that the braille literacy rate in blind people is very low, and I wonder if it has something to do with when a person goes blind. I'd love any comments on this!
    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  2. Literacy rates among blind individuals remains to be a controversial topic of discussion. Some people, especially proponents of Braille, feel that literacy rates are dropping among blind children because Braille instruction is decreasing. According to the National Federation for the Blind, decades ago, the percentage of blind individuals who knew how to read and write Braille was at 50 percent compared to around 10 percent for today’s generation. The reasoning behind this decline is attributed to the shift from Braille to electronics, such as computers, books on tape, and e-book readers. Through my knowledge gained on this subject, it was apparent that a blind/visually impaired child’s literacy is coupled with their usage of Braille. Instead of being able to physically see their alphabet, numbers, punctuation, etc.; blind/visually impaired children have to rely on touch through Braille or tactile. The overarching fact is that in order for reading to be beneficial, whether it is done through Braille or printed materials, a person must learn the fundamentals. Blind and sighted children learn the same subject matters, but in different ways.
    Braille is a complex system where an individual must form words and sentences through the sequence of dots. For a person who already knows how to read, after learning the Braille alphabet, reading Braille might be easier because of the already learned basics of how words are formulated. I assume that young blind/visually impaired children, who learn their materials through Braille, would be introduced to the concept of learning Braille the same as a sighted child would be introduced to concept of learning how to read. Hope this response answers your question!

  3. Braille is a skill like any other skill. a few hours mantra each day with fingerprints learning tapes soon got me the basic habits.
    Pracitcally, i only use braille for labelling cds, records and long term foodstuffs,nothing else will do, and from this stance alone, braille will always have a niche. Also, i make braille pictures to: photos taken and converted to a more contrast rich tone, with braille poems along the contours. the first public appearances of these at myarchN social network, and snail posting one to Tintagel castle in Cornwall, where the proprietors were holding an arts friendly peace vigil. Neither invited such works, but i felt compelled to put my bandwagon on their open platforms, for a platform is a platform at the end of the day. Motivation to do such, was not really about anything other than slow~awareness into areas of life that still seem to get things done through quiet meanders, and because i can :)

  4. This is very interesting to me. My son was born blind, and is 17 months old. I'm on a new journey, trying to educate myself and advocate for my son. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Many blessings.
    PS.. I love the 'I see with my heart'. I feel that way about my son, and often have used the line 'I want to help him see what his heart feels'.

    I look forward to keeping up with your posts.

  5. Dear Jen,
    Thank you for your interest in Beautifully Blind Inc. I am glad we could be of service to you. In my opinion, blindness can be a challenging journey; especially for those who are new to this condition. With this said, I commend you for taking the initiative to educate yourself about blindness and advocate for your son. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a strong support system; especially for those who are facing challenging circumstances. It is apparent through your words, that your son has a wonderful support system in you. Although your son is a baby, I am sure he senses and feels your heartfelt love for him. Although Beautifully Blind Inc. does not endorse the following site, this resource might be informational to you. The site is http://www.blindchildren.org. Please feel free to contact us as much as you need, and good luck!