IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
National Federation of the Blind Comments on Foundation Fighting Blindness #HowEyeSeeIt Campaign
Baltimore, Maryland (September 26, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind commented today on the #HowEyeSeeIt challenge launched in the past month by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has garnered considerable recent publicity. The NFB has also delivered a letter to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and NFB members are using the #HowEyeSeeIt hash tag to counter the campaign via social media.
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
"The National Federation of the Blind is deeply concerned that the
#HowEyeSeeIt challenge, as currently structured, will do lasting harm to the
ability of millions of blind Americans to live the lives we want. In
encouraging people who are not blind to don blindfolds and make videos of
themselves attempting everyday tasks, this campaign perpetuates the fears,
misconceptions, and low expectations that society has about blindness by
giving those who take the challenge or view the videos an inaccurate
understanding of the lived experience of blind people. In particular,
suggesting that it is difficult or impossible for blind parents to care for
their children is false and irresponsible. As a blind father of three
children who also happens to be married to a blind person, I can say
unequivocally that, with nonvisual techniques, we can, and do, capably
parent thriving children every day. Yet children have been removed from the
custody of blind parents solely because of misconceptions about their
ability to care for them, without any actual proof of abuse or neglect, and
the #HowEyeSeeIt campaign threatens to worsen this already grave problem.
This is only one example of how this campaign will harm the chances of blind
people, including board members and supporters of the Foundation Fighting
Blindness, to live productive and happy lives.
"To be clear, we have no quarrel with the Foundation Fighting Blindness or the medical research that it seeks to fund. However, we believe that this particular method of gathering support will harm the very people whom the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the National Federation of the Blind, in different but complementary ways, seek to help. I and other members of the National Federation of the Blind have told the Foundation Fighting Blindness that the perpetuation of misconceptions about, and by extension discrimination against, the blind is unacceptable, but so far we have been ignored. We therefore demand that the Foundation Fighting Blindness stop filling its coffers by spreading misconceptions and jeopardizing the dreams and aspirations of blind people."
About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.
The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information that exist. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance.
The Alaska NFB actively works in our communities to provide education for understanding causes of blindness, methods of prevention and additional resources to deal with the effects of blindness among family and friends.