Blind Girl Buys a Bed for the First Time

Happy Birthday Shout Outs

Before I get into buying a bed for the first time, I wanted to post about some very important things on my heart today. If you’re only interested in my bed experience, that’s perfectly fine. Feel free to skip ahead to that section of my post. Part of this post will reflect upon the passing of a loved Perkins teacher who is missed by so many. We all share memories of her, so the Roz part of this post is for those of us who had the honor of knowing and learning from her. I started this blog to reflect on things and start conversations and sometimes self-reflection is included in that. I wanted to give a birthday shout out to my sister and my number one fan! Happy birthday, Morgan! I hope when I’m 33, I’ll still look like I’m in my early twenties! 😉 Love you and I’m your number one fan! ❤ My good friend Jessica has a birthday tomorrow! Happy birthday, Jess! I’m so thankful to have a lifelong friend like you. Love you and I hope it is filled with lots of your favorite Starbucks drinks. ❤

 

Reflecting On a Very Special Teacher

I always think of my high school English teacher, Roz, and I know so many of her students do too. Some of us like to remember her by talking like her. Never gets old. This day in 2016 flashes through my mind like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget my good friend, Laurie, blowing up my phone. When we were at Perkins, Laurie and I used to send each other urgent messages to get each other’s attention and mess with one another, but a year or two into college I told her we shouldn’t do that anymore. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t do that to anyone else. Just a silly thing Laurie and I had. This day came around and on this particular Friday in 2016, I was with Phillips and kept declining Laurie’s calls. Once Phillips and I were finished with my audio project we had been working on, I asked him to submit my work onto Sakai for me. Sakai is an online platform professor’s use for students to upload assignments. I called Laurie thinking it would be a quick call. I figured it would be something silly or if it was something we needed to talk about, I’d say, “I’m sorry, I’ll call you back when I get home,” and that would be it. When she picked up she said, “I have to tell you something. You’re not going to like this.” Again I figured I’d say something like, “Oh that sucks, sorry. I’ll call you when I’m done with Phillips.” I said, “Okay, what?” She then told me Roz had passed away. Her passing was a hard loss for so many Perkins people. Yes, even guys cried over it. Laurie and I chatted for a minute and I cried a little but said I’d call her once I got home. This is something you could only understand if you knew her, but I felt like my world stopped. I knew I’d pick myself up, but I was in such shock. I don’t even remember what I told Phillips but I knew I was done for the day. He asked if I was okay and I told him a little about her. Waiting for my mom to pick me up, Phillips made me laugh so incredibly hard. He made a silly comment about flip-flops and how blind people have good hearing. I called Laurie once I got home and we cried. I told her about Phillips silly comment and she laughed just as much as I did. I did learn a lot about life from Phillips yes, (Promised the good Lord I’d always share about him since he came forward when I really needed a reader) but part of why he is special to me is because he made me laugh so hard when I felt like my world stood still. Much like surprising me, that’s definitely not easy. Thank you Roz for giving so many students the gift of reading, Braille and so much more. And thank you, Phillips. God is sure interesting. For whatever reason, the few times something really emotional happened to me my final semester, it almost always happened on Phillips shifts. He’s the lucky (maybe crazy for sticking it out Haha!) duck I guess. “Alright!” Definitely sounds much funnier in person than in writing.

 

Buying a Bed for the First Time

This weekend I experienced buying a bed for the first time. I tried more mattresses than I can count! Now before any people freak out about me not buying a bed, let me say it was never because it was handed to me because I’m blind. Different situation. People think blind people are handed everything and that’s not always true. Let me say, if you are blind or in a wheelchair living in Rhode Island, DO NOT (in caps) go to the Wakefield Cardi’s location. The place is so packed you can hardly move around. I understand they have to sell as much as they can, but this makes getting around a bit difficult. If someone went there in a wheelchair they wouldn’t be able to move around either. My other issue with stopping in at this location is I was judged on my blindness from the moment we walked in. The woman there told me she could only sell me one or two different beds and that was it. She said they weren’t having any sales and she wouldn’t sell me anything else. If you were there you’d tell how judgmental she was. She went quite ahead of us, not offering to guide me to ones I should be feeling. Now before any blind people freak out, I’m not expecting everyone knows how to guide, but they can make a choice to do it if they want to.

 

I went to a Mattress Firm location to look around. Anjelika was wonderful! She dealt with me for pretty much everything. This is so important because people often don’t speak to the person with a disability but rather to whoever is with them like they aren’t there. The particular Mattress Firm location I went to has plenty of walking room which is great for easy access. Anjelika answered tons of my questions, guided me around and had me try many different mattresses. She even told me about any upcoming stairs! She took her time and wasn’t pushy. This is great because I don’t like when people are too pushy selling you products. The fact that Anjelika didn’t rush anything is amazing. Even though people need to sell what they can, you’ll find when it comes to people with disabilities, (and without too sometimes) they can’t be bothered. I had difficulty with Yelp, but when I tweeted Mattress Firm about her, they told me they receive training on dealing with customers with disabilities. This is great but even greater that someone like Anjelika is actually following through with her training. I had such a great experience with her I had to tell people about it.

 

Thanks for reading. How do you find people treat those who are out and about with disabilities? Anyone have any Roz memories to share? Please do so. Anything else I should be blogging about? Let me know! Find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley, on Facebook at Miranda Oakley or leave me a comment on my website.

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

In the Dark, My Thoughts On Episode 2

Since people are still talking about the show In the Dark, I thought I would make a post about my thoughts on the second episode. I think I might make posts sharing my thoughts on each episode.

 

I still need to set up description for my TV, but I still like the show. I’ll have you know I was multitasking during last week’s episode though. If you don’t know me and are new, welcome! It’s great to have you here. I am a huge Chris Young fan. You have to give him a listen if you haven’t already. He’s certainly not for everyone, but he has so many good songs I could never pick my favorite one. I even love the music he put out before he was signed. He has such a smooth voice. There’s nothing like a good, smooth, Chris Young track. He was playing the Grand Old Opry Thursday night, so I was listening to him sing (Thanks to the WSM App) and the show at the same time. Because of this, I paid little attention to what he was actually saying so I could watch the show and paid more attention to him singing. He was fantastic!

 

Moving onto the show, I am leaving what I liked best for last. I liked that they included highlights of the episode before. This is good for anyone who may have missed it or decided they’d watch the show and began watching it during the second episode. This also lets people know to stop freaking out because Murphy, the girl who is blind, doesn’t like feeling faces like the trailer makes you believe. I didn’t like how during the episode Murphy’s mom tells her she’s going to help them bring in donations the following day for the guide dog school Murphy’s parents work at. I didn’t like this. Anything I didn’t like though didn’t make me want to stop watching the show, or you know, boycott it. I didn’t like this part because this made it as though they were putting together a picture perfect package. Guide dog school, blind girl, donations. If Murphy was into the cause and fundraising for it, that’s different. Don’t use your daughter for picture perfect moments just to look good. We do see blind students or people with disabilities raising funds for causes, but the difference is in real life, people don’t mind. Let’s use Perkins School as an example. Perkins always had students sign forms to be used for publicity. When a friend and I signed forms for them, she and I used to joke that we had sold our souls to Perkins. The point is, nobody was forced into it from the beginning. There were a few times once you signed forms they were disrespectful, but this post isn’t all about poster children and respecting or disrespecting them. That’s for another time, another post. With all respect of course, Perkins is never going to use poster kids who don’t like being there to help bring in money for them. At least when I was there, they used a couple of us who had things to talk about. I always compared being a poster child to an internship or job. You were given great experiences but you also had a certain responsibility. You needed to do what you could do to make them look good and give people a reason to give to them. Sure, we had to talk about great things about Perkins, but we got good grades, played sports or participated in other activities we could speak about.

 

What I really didn’t like was when Murphy mentioned how she wouldn’t be judged for what she was wearing at the guide dog donation event because she’s blind. Girl! You are wrong about this one, okay! Everyone is judged on what they look like, blind or sighted. She also has a cane, so you better believe she or any blind person for that matter is being judged! I know part of why I was such a huge outcast in college was because of my white cane. That’s hard for people, but as blind people we all know this is true.

 

Next, let’s talk about how Murphy wants her best friend to look for guys for her to sleep with. Her best friend, Jess, tells Murphy what she’s doing with guys isn’t a good idea but still tells her where a guy is. Hello? What kind of a friend are you!? I did like though that when Murphy thinks she has a UTI she calls her doctor. She is also seen using her accessible technology again which is great. As blind people, no matter which side of this heated debate you’re on, we can all (or should at least) all agree that we’re glad the network did give her a brain. Thank God for that.

 

Everyone has their own definition of stupid. I personally believe Murphy could be a whole lot smarter with men, but if she was, they wouldn’t have a show. I think that it’s good to have blind people to relate to. I always wished I had more blind role models growing up, but believe me, I’m so thankful for Gloria. I think it’s great Chloe, the younger girl who is blind has Murphy. By the way, does anyone know if the girl playing Chloe is sighted? How come nobody freaked out over that but went crazy over who played Murphy? I’m not trying to start anything here because I know how this show made people have quite heated conversations. I’m really just curious. Hopefully Chloe grows up and learns to think for herself and be smart with men.

 

Lastly, I loved when they were showing Pretzel, they said how he is a canine actor and told viewers to go to

https://www.guidedogsofamerica.org/

to learn about real guide dogs. Wonderful, wonderful job CW! This should at least let people know Pretzel isn’t acting like an actual guide dog because he’s not real! Everyone’s been freaking out over him, too. He’s not behaving right because he’s not a guide for a living. We should be thanking this show because it’s creating so many great conversations. Each debate turns into discussions about so many topics which is always a good thing. What are your thoughts on this second episode? Let’s talk! Find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley, on Twitter at mirandaloakley or you can drop me a note right here on my website in the comments. Thanks for reading! In my next post, you’ll learn all about a blind girl buying a bed for the first time. What an experience that was!

My best to you all,

Miranda ❤

Happy One Year!

April marks the one year anniversary of my blog. Can you believe that? It really is crazy how time flies. My blog turned one yesterday but I really wanted to get yesterday’s post up. I wanted to make a post today to thank everyone who has stuck with me for a year. Thank you to all my new followers. It has been my dream for my writing to reach people around the globe and that’s finally happening. Thank you Jesus. Not to be famous but rather because as blind people, we know our system meant to help us is quite broken. Because of this, I created my blog to shed some light on issues we need to be talking about. I hope people who find my blog find support from what they read or from whoever it might connect them with. Thank you to my best friend, Helene, for helping me in the beginning to get this set up. She and I have been friends since we were six years old and I couldn’t imagine life without her. Quite a bit of life happens from six to thirty. =) I’m blessed to volunteer on her Vincent for Boston campaign which you all should check out and get involved in if you can. Read and learn about it below.

https://helenevincent.com/

I don’t often post about politics because that tends to divide people, but when you learn about her campaign, you will quickly see she is bringing people together. Who can’t get behind that? The goal of my blog is to bring people together, blind, sighted, whoever needs a voice, and create a safe space to discuss tough topics. We can’t create change if we don’t ask difficult questions, create discussions, and start hard conversations.

I want to thank my good friends Kaylan, Tori and Lindsay for also taking time to help me with my site and anyone else who has helped me along this great journey. I learned you have to hang out where your community is, and let me tell you, getting back on Twitter this year has really helped me. I’ve made so many great connections there. Thank you to everyone on there who supports me. Here’s to another year! If there’s something I should be blogging about I haven’t touched upon so far, please reach out. Find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley, Twitter at mirandaloakley or feel free to drop me a note on my website.

Have a great day everyone!

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

Should We Boycott In the Dark?

For this week’s post, I am sharing my thoughts on the first episode of the In the Dark TV show. Everyone in the blindness community has so much to say about this. Since the debate is so big right now, I’m sharing my thoughts. Since the debate is so huge right now, I bet these posts will mostly interest my blind readers anyhow. I’ll be sharing with you points I think we should be discussing that happened throughout the show. I will also be talking a little about the novel God’s Bits of Wood because it includes a character who is blind. This blog is my own opinions and is not meant to attack the NFB. If these points are too direct for you, or if my post is too long and too all over the place for your liking that’s fine. Then maybe find another post of mine to read and come back next week. If you haven’t watched the show and plan to, watch it before reading this because I will be discussing certain details in the show. If you haven’t read last week’s post, go to the post before this one and read that one first. Before I get into today’s post though, I see I have new followers. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who is viewing my blog from across the globe. I appreciate all of you. It’s always been my dream for my writing to reach people around the world and it’s finally happening, all because of you.

 

I personally am a huge fan of In the Dark. I think the writers definitely did their research. I actually started watching it because I wanted to see how the blind character was going to be represented. The trailer of this show makes the actual show something it is not.

This next point is a big one we need to talk about. You wouldn’t understand this just by going off of the trailer. The trailer shows Murphy feeling someone’s face and all these blind advocacy people went off. I’ve gotten comments recently from the shows Facebook page asking me how I know things about a show I can’t see. I’ve read about the show from reading people’s comments and I watched the trailer and the first episode. In the show, Murphy actually tells this person she doesn’t want to feel their face because it is weird. True point that you would completely miss if you stop watching after the trailer. I said it in my last post, but I’ll say it again here. Blind people don’t go around feeling faces. And if they do, tell them a handshake is better. There are guys (yes it’s true, I knew one) who like to feel faces to check out girls and that’s not okay. I use my blog to educate, so if you haven’t dated her for a while, you have no business doing that. Another great point worth noting is that Murphy talks about how she’s not a dare devil which is the characters way of saying she’s not a superhero because she’s blind. She talks about how she doesn’t have a heightened sense of smell.

 

Another point we should talk about is how many blind children often get whatever they want. You will only understand this if you have been around blind kids long enough. Now I’m not saying this is always the case, but I’ve seen this. In the show, Murphy keeps telling her mom to turn down the heat because she’s hot. Her mother mentions how she’s not going to just so she can have what she wants. I think we need to talk about how just because the blind girl yells because she’s not getting her way, if the mom is cold, she doesn’t give in to the poor blind child like sometimes happens in real life.

Do I think this show is worth all the protesting going on trying to boycott it? Definitely not. Calm down, NFB. Let’s talk about blind characters in movies and novels and boycotting them. I’m not one for chick flicks, (I personally call it one but call it what you wish.) but there’s this movie called Ice Castles that nobody in this community (or in general) talks much about. The girl, Lexie, gets hurt figure skating and goes blind. This character goes through ups and downs, her family feels horrible about her accident, but it’s her sighted boyfriend who finds a way to help her skate again. She ends up doing well but the character’s struggles are clearly seen. Lexie’s not made out to be perfect by any means. The movie shows her fighting with her boyfriend too which is good in a way, because yes, blind people have relationships too. We laugh and we fight like you do with working eyes. Nobody in the movie, in comments or in reviews went, “Oh my God you’re sighted and you’re dating a blind girl! How sweet!” I could be wrong, so somebody please, correct me if I am. I never heard anyone talk about the blind girl in this at all like they are with In the Dark. By the way, the woman playing Lexie in Ice Castles is sighted. I’m pretty sure the actress is sighted in both versions of Ice Castles, but if she isn’t, someone please correct me. I really like how the blind woman is represented in both versions of Ice Castles. The 70s version is wicked different from the 2010 version! Anyone catch that? I’m such a Rhode Islander. I like different things about each version of the movie.  Nobody hardly talks about that movie let alone went around boycotting it, did they?

 

Let’s talk about boycotting now and the mindset it is creating. Many people in the blindness community talk about how they would like to be treated like sighted people. I’m included in that conversation. My issue with boycotting over blind characters is that nobody sighted thinks about this until blind people who are outraged put the idea in sighted people’s heads. Some sighted people know of the NFB, but lots of them aren’t aware of them at all. I have never heard of anyone boycotting novels for blind characters. Have you?  Let’s take the novel God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane for example. I’ve never heard anybody talk about the blind character, Maimouna, in this. I wrote a paper on this novel in 2013 for one of my English classes so that is how I am able to quote from the text. In my class discussion I talked about how I liked how Maimouna was treated equally even though she is blind, but guess what? Not many people gave blindness any thought. I spent some time researching what inspired Ousmane to create the blind character and haven’t found anything. Did the author have a blind family member or friend? Did they date someone who was blind? Nobody asks questions like this. When we read the novel, my professor never said, “Now Miranda, there is a blind character in the text we’ll be reading. Do you think you’d be okay reading this? The character may not be represented the right way.” Nobody thinks about how blind people are represented. I don’t like putting words in people’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure my professor never even thought about the blind character and if she was represented okay or not. Why? Because most professors, especially in mainstream settings, don’t even know what representing blind people looks like. Many people in the blindness community believe in boycotting movies but nobody ever says a professor should take a novel off their syllabus because they don’t like how that blind character is represented. If they have then please, send them my way.

 

Going back to my God’s Bits of Wood point, the novel depicts the character like this. “Maimouna was blind, but this is not to say that she was pitiable. Far from it. She held her splendid, smooth-skinned body like some goddess of the night, her head high, her vacant glace seeming to contemplate an area above people, beyond the world” (16). Nobody said not to read that novel because the blind girl is too perfect. Is Maimouna made into a goddess because she is blind or is it because she has a beautiful spirit? Nobody is asking or finding answers to questions like these. The text says not to have pity on her, yet she is described as being above others. Nobody has freaked out over the fact that she is placed above other people, the world even, and blind people aren’t above sighted people. How come nobody has ever discussed that or raised questions like this? If anyone has, please point me towards them. There is only one English professor I know who actually knows a little about the NFB and that is because she follows my writing. I’m blessed to call her a friend and one of my mentors. Nobody in the English department at the college I went to ever said anything about the NFB and honestly, I don’t think many people cared to learn or ask about it.

 

Turning it back to In the Dark, throughout the first episode there is a cop who helps figure out who killed Murphy’s friend. The cop introduces Murphy to his daughter who is also blind and Murphy tells him not to pity her because she is blind.  This is so important. I liked when the women were talking about how they didn’t know what “Right there” was because they were blind. The cop was trying to help her find a chair and said something like, “Right there,” I’d also like to mention that while some stations offer this show with audio description, I don’t know how to get that with Verizon. Anyone who can help me, please reach out. I watched the show without anyone describing this. I don’t know what people are talking about when they say it isn’t described. The trailer wasn’t described though which is kind of funny because there’s a blind person in it, so I think that should have been. How many times do we have to tell sighted people we have no idea what “Over there,” or “Right there,” means? Can you say #Relatable? I sure can! Something else the show does well with is how Murphy uses her phone. She gets frustrated when her phone doesn’t do what she asks of it. They even show how her phone can read texts! Many people were freaking out over her parents working at a guide dog school. From what I understood, Murphy ends up working there to own up to keeping a check that was supposed to be given to the school. They’re showing blind people can own up to mistakes like people with sight. The only thing I didn’t like was how Murphy often had direct eye contact. Many blind people do not do that. In the show we see sighted people hesitating to give her a check as if they’re concerned she’ll lose it. This happens where sighted people think blind people can’t handle important things like this. It happened to me once with concert tickets. I said I’d take them but the person waited until she could give them to a sighted person going with me. We also see her manipulate a guy, saying she’ll pay him if he tracks her friend’s phone but she never pays him. This shows that you don’t have to just be sighted to have awful behavior.

 

My last point is a big one that few are talking about. This might be upsetting to some, depending on your culture. I realize I have followers from all over. We should be applauding this network actually. So many people in society think blind people don’t date, can provide sight into what a good relationship is or do anything physical. I’ll pose the question to any of you. If you are sighted, do you think people who can see are ever blinded by relationships? You can’t ever lose sight if you are sighted right? Or can you? It depends on whether you believe there is more than one meaning to the word sight. I mean it’s sad Murphy seemed to sleep around, but she also knew she shouldn’t with her friend because he was too young. The network did give her a brain. The fact that this network showed a blind girl having sex is huge. And a whole bunch of sighted people just freaked out over the fact that blind and sex are in the same sentence. So many people don’t believe that blind people should receive sex education which is so wrong. When you cannot see, you better be having sex education! Communication is important, and it is ten times more important when you are blind. This may be too blunt for some, but we need to talk about the tough stuff. I wrote so much because this debate is so huge right now. Here’s an awesome video by Bill Boules you should watch.

https://mobile.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10219565683401367&id=1493541060&_ft_=mf_story_key.10219565683401367%3Atop_level_post_id.10219565683401367%3Atl_objid.10219565683401367%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1493541060%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10219565683401367%3Astory_location.4%3Athid.1493541060%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-8297308739060416303&__tn__=%2As-R

Now that you know what side I’m on, I want to hear from you. Which side are you on? Let’s talk. Find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley, on Facebook at Miranda Oakley or feel free to leave a comment right here on my website.

Miranda ❤

Should We Protest In the Dark? Trailer Review

I’ll start this post by saying depending on what you consider long, (everyone has their own version of a lot of reading) this post may be a longer one. If you don’t have time for that, I’d say come back to this post when you have the time to read it. Recently the trailer and show In the Dark by the CW network is receiving some heated controversy because the actress playing the blind woman is sighted. Certain blindness advocates even started the popular hashtag #LetUsPlayUs because they felt an actual blind woman should play that character. My thoughts on the trailer and the first episode of the show will be broken up into two posts. If you don’t have time to read this entire post, let me provide you with some takeaways. In my opinion, the show is nothing like the trailer. I think the trailer makes this show seem like one it is not. My second takeaway would be that this show actually does a great job at representing a blind girl. The blind girl has a job, owns up to her mistakes and says how blind people shouldn’t be treated differently because they are blind. She even says feeling faces is weird which is definitely not something you would get by judging this show only by its trailer. I’ll explain more in my second post. When we only go off of the show’s trailer, we’re simply assuming everything about it. We hate when sighted people do this to us. Why would we as a community take this show so far with assumptions? Lastly, if you aren’t a fan of the show, that’s fine, but there’s no need to attack others who like it. I’ve seen quite a bit of attacking going on on Facebook over it towards lots of people, my twin included. I’m not here for this kind of behavior. For any of you uneducated sighted folks, yes, blind people can be mean too. I don’t actually have a twin for anyone who might be curious. I call one of my best friends, Amber, my twin because no joke, we are about 70-90 percent the same with a few obvious differences thrown in. If that’s all for you, I hope my takeaways were helpful. Should you decide to stick around for this post and the next one, thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

The NFB (National Federation of the Blind) held a protest over this show. Read about it here.

https://nfb.org/about-us/press-room/blind-americans-protest-refusal-entertainment-industry-cast-them

If you look on Facebook you will quickly learn that this show is creating some rather heated discussion. That being said, while I welcome different opinions, my blog does not allow for disrespect so if you can’t be kind in expressing why you agree or disagree, find another place to share your comments. A video about the protest can be found below.

https://www.newsflare.com/video/285953/politics-business/national-federation-of-the-blind-protesting-new-show-on-cbs-in-the-dark?fbclid=IwAR2BuVNRm2CxcaqPAL8JAL9_9JVGh1K0zQ2hdSilXRnDfWQV5fP6fyAdqzE

 

For those unaware, the trailer shows this “blind” woman as a drunk, depressed person who is horrible to her guide dog. She can be seen feeling someone’s face. Watch the trailer here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPVM49F4CGY

I think this show has similarities to Bird Box in that it has the potential to support negative stereotypes about blind people, but only if sighted people choose to develop that mindset. I can understand the concern over this show in the sense that often when sighted people come across a blind person, they get it in their head that every blind person is the same. This can sometimes get frustrating and exhausting. The thing is though, not every sighted person responds that way. I personally didn’t like how the blind character, Murphy, mistreated her guide dog and used her blindness to get ahead rather than waiting her turn. I think though this comes down to the characters personality. Some blind people are upset because they think this character makes it as if all blind people are depressed, drunk, incapable people who do nothing with their lives. This is because the “blind” woman just naps and eats candy and drinks too much.  in the show the woman does say that her life would be just as much of a mess if she could see, so I’ll give the writers of the show that. What I don’t like though, is how they have her feeling someone’s face like that’s a typical thing blind people do. This one I think does support negative stereotypes because uneducated sighted people think those of us who are blind go around feeling faces when we don’t. I have felt few faces, but only if the person takes my hands and shows me. Even then, I just sort of react like, “Uh…Alright. We don’t do that.” I think it can be quite awkward, actually. I mean, how awkward would it be if I said, “Oh hey Kaylan! You’re my new reader. Great, nice to meet you! Let me feel your face since I can’t see.” No way. If any blind people try to act that way, you tell them a handshake is better. Trust me, there are those blind guys who think feeling faces is okay to check out girls. No no. While we’re on the subject, I do use my blog to educate, so unless you have been dating for a while, you do not need to be doing that. So yes, the few faces I touched I never volunteered myself or I should say, my hands. I will say though, when I went to CMA Fest in 2008 in Nashville, meeting Jack Ingram was a meet and greet you can bet I’ll never forget! He took my hands, put them on his face and said something like, “Hi, I’m Jack.” He was nice, but it was interesting to say the least.

 

Every advocate has their own opinion here, but I don’t think people should be bent out of shape over this characters behavior because sighted people can be rude, drink too much or be depressed. Why make everything about blindness when sometimes it really isn’t? I’ll mention this in my next post too for anyone who might miss it or need this said again. There’s a saying that was created in the disability community called Inspiration Porn. My issue is, people get upset about a blind character being too bubbly, too happy or too friendly. Too perfect. You have people ranting about how blind people aren’t always bubbly flowers who can’t be touched or hurt. Okay, I’m with you there, but you have a show like this one where the blind girl is depressed with some issues and you say now all the sudden the show is showing sighted people that all blind people are depressed? No. Whether the blind character is real with human issues or happy and a positive person, certain blindness advocates will have issues with either one. Some advocates are going as far to attack others who don’t have complete issues with the show. There’s no need to take it that far.

 

I will say though that I think protesting the show is a bit too extreme. And this, folks, is the exact line that will make or break my blog. And I’m okay with that. Honestly, this post is probably worth more of a read to blind readers anyways since the debate over this show is so huge right now. Lately any blind people who say protesting is too extreme are getting a lot of crap for it. Here’s the thing with the NFB. You have people who really love it or you have those who really hate it. And then you have those few of us (or at least it seems that way anyhow) who don’t completely hate it but don’t completely love it either. There are a few people including myself who have respect for the NFB’s work to help make sure we can use technology, etc. but we believe sometimes their advocacy goes a little too far. I agree with those few blind people asking, why isn’t all this energy put into unemployment issues?? Okay let me say since people are so heated about this, in a way demanding actors play disabled people is helping make sure qualified people get jobs. At the same time, why not turn the focus to unemployment in all areas? Why not talk about ways to make sure staff are better trained at doctor offices and hospitals to deal with someone who is blind? Right now 70 percent of blind people are unemployed.

 

I personally don’t think having a sighted woman play someone who is blind should always be turned into a bad thing. Sure, they might not know what life as a blind person really looks like, (See what I did there? Yes, we say words like look and see.) But they can learn a little about what life might be like for us. I know, I know. Doing something with your eyes closed is not the same. I think that blind actors should be included in shows and movies, but I also don’t have an issue with people without disabilities playing the part. For me personally, I believe if you are going to have a sighted woman play a woman who is blind, make room in your filming budget for her to receive training on using a cane, a dog, etc. Sure, she’s not going to do it like us, but she’ll never do it like we do. She’s sighted!!! Something else we should take into account is the fact that mobility teachers we often speak about during conversations like these are sighted. They had to receive training and go blindfolded for part of their training. But they are sighted and we learn from them don’t we? The sighted sometimes really do teach us, even if they might not quite get it like we do. So I say let us teach the sighted and let us be or learn how to be open to the sighted teaching us. Let’s find a way to learn from one another. I don’t have the start all end all answer on how to do that, but why don’t we put our brains together and come up with something?

 

Did you watch the trailer? Is the NFB taking this too far? Let me know your thoughts. I’ll write about the show in my next post. Miranda ❤

How the Heck Does a Blind Girl Shave Her Legs?

I’ll be honest and say that this post took a lot of courage. I always said once I finally figured out how to shave my legs I would share how I do it to help other blind women. I am a smaller blogger though and wasn’t sure if I should make this post now or wait until my blog was around a bit longer.

 

Molly Burke and Joy Ross are two amazing women I have followed for quite some time now. You should follow them too if you are not already. I pray I can meet them someday. If anyone knows how to help with that, please reach out. Thanks. When I watch them being open with their fans, it helps give me strength sometimes to be vulnerable with my followers. I am all for helping people, but sometimes vulnerability isn’t easy. Molly Burke recently uploaded a video where she is learning how to shave her legs and that is what helped inspire me to make this post. Girl! More power to you Molly because waxing doesn’t freak you out and you’d rather do that than shave. You can watch the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh1mSQYu-qw

Shaving is one of the hardest things to do when you are blind. I can remember one of my best girlfriends and I having a conversation that went something like this. “How do you shave?” “I’m still trying to figure that out. How do you do it?” Before I get into how I do it and what razor I use, let me give some background. For the longest time I had help shaving. While I knew teachers at Perkins might be respectful, for me, shaving was too personal to learn from teachers there. I always felt better at home. Before I figured out how to shave a few years ago, one reader in college said she could help me since I lived on campus. She offered herself to me so I wouldn’t have to wait for help. But I couldn’t. Some might call this prideful and that’s fine. I say this was me being particular about my body. After all, it is my body. I control everything about it. Someone else shouldn’t write about it without me being okay with it. And if you have a disability, adopt these rules if you don’t already have them. What made this difficult was my mom and aunt weren’t quite sure how to teach me. This made for very frustrating discussions. I felt learning how to shave at school was too risky because they are always logging everything. This means everything is written down for the staff who fill different shifts. What if someone put what we worked on in the log? Teachers and staff are always talking to each other there. They say things can be private, but when you deal with staff for a while, you learn that’s not always true. What if they said they wouldn’t but what if it came out at one of my meetings? It is my body. I couldn’t risk my confidentiality being broken. As people with disabilities, we are used to having little privacy. Other than college, you always have an IEP. This is where everyone goes around the room talking about your strengths and weaknesses. They usually have a handful of people. To sighted people privacy is between two people. For a disabled person? Privacy means whatever is “private” is only known to those five or ten people. And as people with disabilities, we learn to get used to this. But if it came up at one of my IEPS, it wouldn’t really be private because of all the people there.

 

And then one day in the summer of 2014, it finally happened. My privacy was broken. My confidentiality was violated by a professional in the human services field. This will be surprising to those not involved in the disability community, yet not at all surprising to those used to hearing about disrespectful staff who could care less about the people they are working with. It happens all the time at group homes and in private care. Nobody really says anything out of fear of losing their job so I’m saying something. The few good ones who do, other staff like to talk crap and stir up drama about them so they leave. And it works. And you know what? That person with a disability you don’t give a crap about? That human being you can’t figure out? Last weeks check? They pick up on a change in staff and behavior. Yes, even those who cannot speak. And to those of you who do say something, thank you. I know it has to take a lot for you to do that. I remember once at Perkins these staff were talking about this one staff I liked. I privately told a teacher I really trusted and she told me to tell the staff I wasn’t comfortable listening to them talk that way. Thanks, Anne! ❤ I like my blog to be cause for discussion, so let’s have one. If a few good people say something and nobody really fixes the issues, are we really doing anything to correct those issues? Let me know what you think. It took me so long to feel my way through how hurtful having my confidentiality broken was. You better believe I worked extra hard on shaving after that! I worked on it before but what happened to me should never happen to someone else. I had a lady come to my house for an evaluation of my skills. This woman was required to take notes and write up a report for my state case worker at services for the blind. In this evaluation this lady also had to include what I could do myself and what I needed help with. She even included I can use the bathroom on my own! I happened to need to take a bathroom break for a second and later found out she wrote all about how during her evaluation, I went to use the bathroom and could do that all on my own. Shaving came up and I asked her out of respect for my privacy if she could please leave that out of my report. She said she wouldn’t mention it. For any teachers reading this, hi! Let’s talk. I understand you need to take notes when you evaluate students. I understand those notes and reports need to be shared with family and professionals on that student’s team with all the right release forms signed. Where do you draw the line though, between writing about what needs to be worked on and respecting that student’s personal request for privacy of their body?

 

A few months went by and I kept asking my case worker for a copy of my report. She wouldn’t give it to me. On August 15, 2014, she finally emailed it to me. I began reading through it and came across all about my difficulty shaving. I couldn’t believe it. First of all, it is my body and I can’t have my report? What is wrong here!!!!??? I also couldn’t believe I was told something would be left out and found out it was later included. If it absolutely needed to be included, have the guts to be honest with me and tell me you can’t leave it out. Never say something so personal will be left out if you cannot do that. I was so upset I needed a release. I got some music, went on my exercise bike and balled my eyes out all at the same time. I couldn’t breathe. This was all great physical and emotional releasing except that wasn’t touching my feelings. Part of the email to one of my lifelong friends who is also blind read,

“I’m crying while typing this. I was evaluated and asked the lady to not include in her report that I have difficulty shaving. She said she wouldn’t but she did! I can’t tell you how I feel because I can’t describe how horrible I feel right now. She even said I didn’t want her to talk about that.” When I called this woman and talked to her about it, she told me she couldn’t remove my shaving difficulty from my report because she no longer had access to it since she gave it to my case worker. She also told me she didn’t know what she was going to include in her report about me until she went back through her notes. It is no secret that my case worker is blind and also uses a reader from time to time. This means that if my case worker needed my file read to her for some reason, this reader can read her parts of my file. This also means that now, this reader also knows all about my body and what is difficult for me. Signing forms aside, this is never okay. Teachers, you may disagree with me. That’s fine. We’re all adults here.

 

Shaving can be so hard because every blind woman will tell you at least once that when your legs are wet, it is harder to feel what hair has been removed. Sighted people always have difficulty understanding this one, but even famous people like Molly Burke think wet legs are hard to feel. For anyone wondering, waxing freaks me out. I don’t like the feeling of hot wax touching me. Maybe one day I’ll get over that but for now I can’t handle it. If you are almost always very cold like me, I suggest filling the tub with tons of hot water. I’m talking lots of hot water. I like to sit for a minute or two so my legs can warm up. I have taught myself how to shave standing in the shower but I find sitting is easier. Try both ways and see what works for you. I suggest sitting and shaving first until you get the hang of it.

 

When it comes to razors, I like to use the Intuition brand. You can change the heads on it and they come with soap in them. I hold my razor in my right hand, splash some water on my leg, and use my left hand as a guide. I’ll hold my guiding hand a little above where I am shaving so I know where I should shave next. This razor makes it much easier to feel your legs than disposable ones. I like to split my leg into four sections. It is good to shave with your hair, not against it. This means when you move your razor, you want to make an upward motion with your hand. I start with my shins and knees. Then I move to my calves. Next, I shave the top of my thighs and finish with the back of my thighs. I then check my legs with my hands to make sure they are okay and do my best to shave spots I missed. If you are a blind girl or woman and you miss spots sometimes, sighted people do it too. I then double check my knees because those are harder for me. I hope this post helps some of you. Feel free to use this when teaching a blind girl. Remember to respect them the same way you want people to respect you. How do you shave as a blind person? Let’s talk! Shaving can be hard but sharing tips always helps.

Have a great weekend! Best,

Miranda ❤

Ableds Are Weird but Aren’t Blind People?

Today’s post takes a look at the hashtag that’s been gaining some popularity lately. If you’re like me, you have probably seen it all over Twitter. If not, read on. People with disabilities recently started the hashtag #AbledsAreWeird as a way for them to discuss the awkward and strange encounters they have had with people who are not disabled. This discussion has caused some debate among the disabled community. Some advocates have no issues with it, while other advocates like myself think there’s another approach to share this same story. I’m not saying that blind people or people with other disabilities should always have inspirational speech. I’m not saying blind people should always be kind and never slip up. If you search the web, you will learn that sighted people often expect blind people to deliver everything with composed, calm, flowery speech. This is a bold statement to say about sighted people, I know. Talk to people though. Once you take the time to really get into a conversation, you will find others with disabilities driving my point home. I mean, are you, as a person without a disability, always flowery all the time? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody is.

 

Yes, strange things definitely happen while you’re out traveling when you are blind or in a wheelchair. Just this morning the driver, who did well, taking me to my appointment got out of the car while I was walking with my cane and said, “I forgot you have trouble seeing.” One time in college I was looking for a study room in the library with my reader, Selena. The lady giving us a room said, “If you have trouble with the seeing, you should probably take the elevator”. Selena and I joked the rest of the semester about it. I mean, “Trouble with the seeing?” You don’t often hear that! The last example I’ll give here is again something that happened at college. I walked into my Nutrition class and asked for help to find a place to sit. Because of my specific mobility challenges, (each person is different,) my mobility teacher suggested I be guided around the bigger lecture hall classes. I did better on my own in smaller classes, where most of my English courses were. Once I walked in to Nutrition, these students started whispering among themselves. “She can’t see,” I can’t? Thanks for ruining the surprise! =) I’ve had many times in life where people can’t for the life of them figure out how I would accomplish things without sight.

 

If you look around the internet, you will read about people with disabilities being grabbed by non-disabled people trying to help them. In case you missed that memo, PLEASE, ASK BEFORE GRABBING. (In caps, for my blind followers.) To me, (And my friend Ashley, linked below) calling able-bodied people “Ableds” seems like a silly thing to say. I get it though, they are people without disabilities. Yes, people can be mean. Yes, people can be nice, too. I know plenty of great “Ableds” as they are lately being called. I believe though, when we call them, “Weird”, we are potentially pushing them away. I mean, let’s not make excuses. Sometimes we all need to be put in our place. We’re not all alike, thank God. I’m human and I’ll be honest and say that certain people around me get me better than others, but while sighted people not taking time to get to know me gets exhausting sometimes, differences can also make life interesting. I’ll be honest and say while I appreciated all of them for different reasons, I worked well with certain readers better than others. It just comes down to the fact that certain personalities click better. Not everyone is going to be like Kaylan and Lindsay. And not everyone will be like Phillips. But really, they should be. That aside, I believe that sometimes it can be awkward for those with sight to interact with those of us who, well, have a little trouble seeing. I think we should find a way to address this, other than just saying, “Well, they don’t know.” That’s fine, but let’s work to come up with something. Why would we want to potentially push sighted people away when we’re trying so hard to prove how normal we are? Think about this. So many sighted people meet one blind person and then have it in their head that we’re all the same. So if they meet one person who uses some technology with human eyes mixed in, then all blind people do that, right? If a blind person is left inside (until they’re over) during college firedrills, everyone of us must be right? Incorrect. Like you as an able-bodied person, we’re different too. But if they think this, then what do we do when they come across #AbledsAreWeird and they start thinking all blind people are mean or don’t want to interact with them? We spend so much time showing sighted people how “just like you,” we are to the point that it almost isn’t normal. I feel like what may have started out as harmless, (calling something weird isn’t always meant to be mean but can be said to say something is different) we may in fact make those with sight upset. I think this really depends on the person’s opinion. So what do you think, sighted people? I know for a fact (other blind people can back me up here) that if the hashtag #BlindPeopleAreWeird was given attention like #AbledsAreWeird is, certain advocates would absolutely go off. This would completely split us right down the middle. Half of us would point out that, yes, blind people have “weird” things about us. Blind people’s brains don’t always receive certain signals, but it is weird to see people rocking and spinning isn’t it? Yes it is. I don’t have many blind mannerisms, and most of my friends are sighted, but I have friends who do those things. I will say every once in a while I’ll need to reset myself sensory wise but there are better ways to do that than rocking and spinning. No offense to my blind friends, really. You do you and I’ll do me. I’m just simply saying that sighted people find those behaviors strange. There are nice blind people and there are mean blind people. Let’s come up with ways to break down some of that awkwardness. We’re all worthy of friendship and other relationships, aren’t  we? Of course we are! If you are interested, I am linking a few articles below about the #AbledsAreWeird topic. NPR has an article you should read right here.

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/20/704956960/-abledsareweird-people-with-disabilities-share-uncomfortable-encounters

My friend Ashley wrote a great post about this you should definitely check out. If you’re not following her blog, go ahead and do so. Give this a read:

http://shortshady.com/ableds-are-weird/?fbclid=IwAR1k7mGDthXMU23aAUNfS5Itav8XtwRhmSkZJyZ0meZF6FZogWkdURgMews

Lastly, here’s another great article worth reading.

https://unseen-beauty.com/2019/03/19/why-i-have-a-problem-with-theabledsareweird-hashtag/

Let’s talk! Do you think the #AbledsAreWeird is offensive? Do you feel weird around blind people? Is it weird having them around you and your friends? Let me know by leaving me a comment here on my website. You can also find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley or on Twitter at mirandaloakley

Best,

Miranda ❤