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Stories of Hope

Art Imitating Life

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By Beth Sanderson

I’ve grown up around blindness. I’ve had Glaucoma most of my life, and slowly diminishing vision
because of that. In addition, my father is completely blind, and has been my entire life. It was normal for
me. Want to show dad something? Put it in his hand, and describe it to him. And audiobooks are still
“reading.”

But I never really saw blind people in books and movies, or in TV shows growing up. Sure, there were the
old Mr. Magoo cartoons, but I never really thought about those. And I didn’t really feel left out, not
seeing people like myself and my father on TV. I honestly didn’t think about it.

That all changed when I started watching a show called Early Edition with my mother. I don’t remember
the character’s name, but there was a woman who was blind. She lived alone, and went about a normal,
contented life, and I was absolutely awestruck. She didn’t fumble around or need lots of help. She
just…was. She lived her life, and she happened to be blind, the way I happen to have brown hair.

More and more, in pop culture, we’re seeing things like this. Representations of people with low, or no,
vision who are still able to live normal happy lives. Yeah, you still have the comedic portrayals of
blindness, and you still have instances when the blind person comes off as helpless, but they’re
becoming less and less frequent.

I’m far from an Activist, but I’ve got to say I absolutely love seeing strong, independent blind characters
in pop culture. There’s even an entire trope in Japanese media revolving around the concept of a blind
swordsman.

I don’t want people to go crazy with it, and I’d rather they be handled realistically (because no matter
what the rumors say, we don’t have supersonic hearing, and I don’t think Daredevil could really drive a
motorcycle) but I think it’s great to have some instances in popular media of blind people proving we’re
just like everyone else.

I do a little creative writing, in my free time, and I’ve been toying with the idea of a fantasy novel with a
blind heroine, because I think it’d be fun to describe things without the sense of sight, and fantasy lends
itself well to all sorts of things people wouldn’t have thought possible. Not sure that anything will ever come of it, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

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