LINGUIST List 8.316

Mon Mar 3 1997

Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <annlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Koutsomitopoulou Elenh, Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted
  2. Deborah D K Ruuskanen, Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

Message 1: Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 18:05:16 -0200 (GMT+2)
From: Koutsomitopoulou Elenh <elenaeexi.gr>
Subject: Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

Dear Colleagues,

Following the discussion on the blind-sighted communication i
surprisingly find quite 'sighted' persons to be proved (at least
partially) blind (or deaf). Only this way one could explain the
negative pre-occupations underlying some opinions about the blind
colleagues (thus about any colleague in handicap). Communication is a
matter of intention to "make contact" and intention for such a contact
doesn't seem to appear when people bear some negative thoughts about
others. In the same line, the blind and the sighted can communicate no
problem when they really intent to. The practical difficulties are
always there for sure but one can overpass them once one finds the
appropriate welcome environment. The same with everyday communication
among sighted persons; could one ever communicate effectively when the
potential receiver is negative? Of course extra will power is needed
when one wants to communicate with a blind (or deaf) due to the
obvious impediments. But the point I'd like to make is that we
shouldn't stress so much on the topic as if we do regard it as
"special". Using labels for speakers ("sighted", "blind") we at least
contribute to the underlying discriminative way of thinking of this
topic (like the "women", "men" labels). It is one thing to want to
reveal the social stereotypes (hence to mention the "labels") and
another to want to discuss a special case. I think we should include
the "blind-sighted communication" in the broader frame of
communication topic. Unless we want to examine the "practical" matters
taking place here (as Kela wanted, i suppose) or we want to critically
touch the "dirty" point of the social discrimination of people with
disabilities or we DO believe that people should be categorised into
"sighted" and "blind", "hearing" and "bad-of-hearing", and so on...

eleni koutsomitopoulou
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Message 2: Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 12:47:48 +0200 (EET)
From: Deborah D K Ruuskanen <druuskancc.helsinki.fi>
Subject: Re: 8.290, Disc: Communication between blind and sighted

First, I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to
this discussion. Second, Thank YOU, Robert E, for responding so well
to the paternalistic attitude some people in our society display
toward the disabled. As noted, a good deal of this comes from social
ineptness on the part of the non-disabled who don't know how to react
to a disability. I myself sometimes watch someone in a wheelchair
trying to negotiate a ramp up or open a door and wonder if I should
offer to help or if they would be offended. Regarding the blind, I am
most impressed because the thing I would LEAST like to lose are my
eyes. Rather my legs than my eyes. I simply don't think I could
cope. Perhaps for this reason I have pushed so hard at my university
to provide things like pocket notebook computers to make their life a
little easier. The suggestion for that came from this discussion: the
notebooks are now in the budget and will be made available when
needed. On another note, I have noticed that I myself close my eyes
when speaking face-to-face with someone who is blind. I'm not sure
what this says about my attitudes. I was quite annoyed with a
colleague who forgot to inform me that someone I had invited to lunch
in order to meet him after said colleague had spoken highly of him -
that this person was in a wheelchair. I was at a social loss when he
finally arrived - there was no lift in the building and they were
redecorating one floor, and kind students had literally carried him up
the stairs. So disabilities should be mentioned, but we should not
perhaps feel burdoned by our inability to cope with someone else's
disability. Sometimes it is due to ignorance and our fear of the
unknown and our fear of becoming disabled. Thanks again to all our
blind colleagues for helping your sighted colleagues to see. 

Cheers,
Kela -- Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen \ You cannot teach a Man anything,
Leankuja 1, FIN-01420 Vantaa \ you can only help him find it
druuskancc.helsinki.fi \ within himself. Galileo
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