No, I’m not referring to preparation for loss of sight. I’m not referring to the skills-learning that someone “going blind” might undertake…the hours of O&M (orientation & mobility) training with a qualified instructor where someone learns techniques in the use of a white cane (example: streamline caning, tapping method, sweeping method) and use of sound reflection to determine position and location as well as learning to judge traffic flow etc., thereby allowing a blind person to travel independently. No, I don’t mean the time spent learning about, and purchasing adaptive devices which allow a blind person to read, cook, write, do math, tell time etc such as talking clocks, tape recorders, tactile measuring cups, talking book players, water level indicator, talking calculators etc… I’m not thinking of the exchange of information and tips with others who are blind which provide one with helpful ideas to make a home safe (removing scatter rugs, and repositioning furniture …) and allows one to perform the same tasks as they did before they couldn’t see, only differently (cleaning floors by using a grid system, marking appliances with bump dots to facilitate cooking and cleaning, using elastic bands and large print labels to distinguish containers….) I don’t mean the hours some people (15%) spend learning Braille, first uncontracted or Grade 1 Braille, then contracted or Grade 2 Braille, so that books, documents bank statements, telephone bills become accessible when available, as well as providing a means of ‘writing’ on the go with a slate and stylus, or reading storybooks to their children..No, I’m not referring to the assistive technology (Jaws, Guide, Window Eyes and other screenreading software, Kurswell scanning software and other scan- to-speech programs) that are available which enable blind people (who can afford or otherwise obtain them) access to the Internet, e-mail, document writing and reading etc as well as potentially obtaining education and employment in a more equatable manner so that they earn a living, raise families…essentially the usual happy story, except maybe there’s no station wagon in their driveway. Nor am I talking about joining blind sports and recreational organization for the usual reasons one joins them, like getting exercise and playing cribbage. I’m not referring to any of the stuff that a blind person learns over time that provides the skills so that they can lead independent, full, happy normal lives.
What am I’m talking about? I’m talking about preparation to attend a screening of the Canadian co-production of the movie, ‘Blindness’, based on the book of the same name by Jose Saramago. This involves researching the plot summary (very disturbing, depicting a world gripped by a blindness epidemic….trouble is, all the blind people are portrayed as helpless, altered and desperate…), linking to articles on the Net, listening to the BBC production available ’till October 8th on Sendspace, following the protest in the USA by the NFB, sending out a media release to local media and responding to those who have requested interviews following the screening tomorrow, and preparing a statement in anticipation that this movie’s buzz (as one which portrays blind people in a vile and unacceptable manner) is accurate. The statement would likely ask the people of Halifax and beyond to give it a MISS altogether, NOT support the filmmaker and theatre by paying for admission to see it, to look beyond Mr. Saramago’s comment that this is a “allegorical” film and his dismissal of the blind community (who are widely protesting it) as “ridiculous”, and send a message that this film is NOT OK with the blind community…I’m just preparing for ‘Blindness’, ’cause this movie is sending the wrong message about real blindness, and frankly I don’t care if Mr. Saramago’s literary soul is crushed in the process. Metaphor shmetaphor!