Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Big Is My World?

In the normal scheme of things, my world should be as big as I want it to be, but in today's society it is very difficult for me to define the size of my world. You see, my world is not really in my hands. For the most part and sadly so, my world remains in the hands of society; there are days that I wish I could change this, but I can't.

One of my favorite quotations is by Robert F. Kennedy: "Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?!" And this is the philosophy that I use every day of my life in order to define my world in my own way.

You may be wondering why I would say that my world is not in my hands but rather in the hands of society.

Society has, inadvertently, continued to erect countless barriers for me and others who are blind and visually impaired. They have erected daunting barriers for millions of persons with disabilities and have even gone the extra mile to do the same for seniors. In the case of persons with disabilities, and in particular persons who are blind and visually impaired, one of the most challenging barriers that I and my cofrères face is a barrier called Attitude.

This barrier is nothing new and has been around for a long time. If we do not take steps to bring it down, then I am afraid that we will find ourselves short changing tomorrow's generation of disabled kids, preventing them from experiencing a better future. In short, if we do not start to be pro-active in stead of re-active, we will be robbing our disabled kids of their rights to a future that ought to include them as contributing members of society.

All my life I have had to battle attitude barriers from society. As early as I can remember, my parents had to battle the system to allow me to obtain my formal education. Then, as a university student I had to endure constant remarks from those professors who made no effort to hide their discontent about having a blind student in their class. In the workplace I and others have had to deal with the narrow-mindedness of managers and co-workers alike who do not believe that blind and visually-impaired persons can be productive.

This is why I am so glad that I can now use the Internet as my workplace. Most of my clients are blissfully unaware that I am blind and, frankly, they would probably not care as long as I was able to perform to their satisfaction.

I am not content to sit back and wait for things to happen and this is why I have managed to expand my world much more than many others like me. I challenged an ice skating school to teach me to ice skate; I have learned to play chess; I have written two books; I have hang glided, sailed, and even driven around in a parking lot. No, I am not showing off! Just trying to motivate others to expand their world. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, but one has to be realistic.

The attitude barrier needs to be addressed. To be charitable (which I am), I can say that 99.9% of the time, this barrier is erected by those who are limited by such things as: cultural beliefs, fear of the unknown, fear of interacting with those who are different, and an unwillingness to learn new things and meet new people.

Here are two websites that you can visit in order to learn more about the world of blind and visually-impaired persons: National Federation of the Blind (http://www.nfb.org) and American Foundation for the Blind (http://www.afb.org).

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and reminding you to go out there and help us to lower the attitude barrier. You will not only be helping us but you will also be helping to create a better future for others.

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