Avoid the Stigma of the Word ‘Blind’


I like Jody Paterson’s columns. They are often full of compassion and cogent social analysis. Her most recent -a plea to remove the stigma affecting marginalized groups -is no exception.

But this one contains a glaring irony: Her repeated negative use of the word blind.

Blind means the absence of the sense of sight, and nothing more. The blind are a visible minority, a group of people who share a characteristic. It is
not acceptable to use a group of people as a metaphor for something negative.

Metaphorical use of the word blind -adjective or verb -to mean unaware, illinformed, or any number of negative baggage-laden uses, reinforces
misconceptions and stigma -the very things Paterson wishes to remove.

Blindness does not mean lack of awareness, understanding or perception. Through alternative techniques, vision is not necessary to be fully aware,
perceptive, competent and independent. With training and opportunity, the blind can compete on terms of equality with the sighted.

As Paterson says, “stigma costs people jobs. It costs them their children, and their housing. It brands them as outside the norm, forever ‘other.’ ”

With regard to blindness, I hope Paterson will follow her own advice and “quit substituting prejudice for thought.”

Frederick Driver, Victoria

The Victoria Times Colonist

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