The research topic that I chose to do was blindness. I chose to research blindness, because I wanted to know how people adapt to being blind. Also I see a lot of people that are blind in my daily life and I always wonder what happened to them but I am to scared to ask. This research topic relates to Temple Grandin’s Chapter “From Margins to Mainstream” in The Autistic Brain in many ways. From example she talks about how when someone is blind that their brain just needs to adapt to not being able to see. In Temples chapter she writes “What had changed wasn’t his vision. It was the way his brain processed the images… His brain needed time to adapt” (Pg 176). This is just basically stating that when you have vision loss your brain just needs time to adapt and process things. My research question for this assignment is “What are different ways people can become blind, and how do they adapt to blindness?” Blindness is the state or condition of being unable to see, because of injury, disease, or a congenital condition, and it is caused by many different things but there is a way people can adapt to blindness.
Blindness is caused by many different things. Researchers have found that there are more than 23 different ways a person can become blind (Lee, Katherine). Some of those 23 possible ways people can become blind are: retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and strabismus. Out of all those 23 possible ways to become blind I am only familiar with one of those words. That word is Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. This damage is often caused by an abnormal high pressure in your eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults. Scientist have also discovered that older people and diabetic people who are mostly African Americans have a higher risk of becoming blind (Pon, Alfred). This shows why the percentage for older blind people is (6.7%) and that the percentage for blind diabetic African Americans is (2.9%) Knowing that there are 23 possible ways people can become blind and seeing how it can affect some is scary but actually learning that African Americans are more prone to diabetes, and that diabetes cause blindness is even more scary, because I am African American.
On the other hand adapting to blindness can be difficult for some, and easy for others. There are many ways people can deal with blindness to live a more comfortable life. Reading can be challenging for a blind person due to the fact they cannot see, but there is a system for reading called Braille. Braille is a written language for blind people, in which characters are represented by patterns of dots that are felt with the fingertips. Braille also includes symbols to represent punctuation, mathematics, etc… (American Foundation for the Blind). The fact there is a way for people to learn how read without seeing is really amazing. While doing this research I have found that you can use your other senses to do things to. Also that if you can concentrate on certain sounds and where they are coming from you will be able to gain more information about your surroundings (American Foundation for the Blind). Hearing different ways people have to adapt to blindness really allows me to have a positive identity to be able to have empathy for what I learned about. I know that therapy and being at school can be challenging so I really feel where they are coming from when they say it’s hard.
Kids who are blind face a lot of challenges. However kids adapting to blindness may be a little hard but they are capable of doing it. Assuming that they have teachers who are really patient, and parents who really help them. Parents of children who are blind usually home school their child so that their child won’t feel left out. While doing this research I watched a video called A Child with Blindness. This film was about this girl named Emma who was born blind, and her mother just explains the process of Emma going to school, and how she learns to read with braille, and how she learns to type on a braille printer. While watching this film the mom said something really powerful. She said “If you treat your child different than a typical child they’re going to think they’re different ( “A child with Blindness”. YouTube, Lori, Apr 12, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZu1CwSfm0g). This is coming from someone who child is blind so she knows how they will feel if treated different. Children who are blind learn differently from a typical child, because they do have to learn how to read braille also they have to rely on technology. Technology is really helpful and useful for a child who is blind especially when reading is involved (I was born Blind). I feel that if a child is blind there brain can still develop normally if they are treated equally to typical kids. Also that the way they are treated growing up has the power to shape and determine how they will be when they get older. Blind children are still human but they just have some challenges and that’s normal, because everybody faces something hard in their life. Doing this research made me realize that is what Temple Grandin was saying the whole time. She was saying that hard work pays off. So if a blind person gets help and works hard to have a normal life they also have to be determined, and they have to put in the time to go through the programs and therapy.
Being blind is not easy so learning about all the different ways people can become blind is really scary. Learning about what they go through is scary. However learning that there are programs and therapy that can help people is kind of relieving. Doing this really answered my research question and it also did something bigger for me. It allowed me to have empathy for blind people. This research changed the way I think of blind people a lot. It made realize that blind people are really strong, because they have a hard time doing certain things but they still work to get through it. This research really educated me more on blindness. I learned that just 1% of the blind population is born without sight and that 39 million people are blind in the U.S. The majority of people with poor vision are in the world and are over the age of 50 years. There are different stages to blindness. Some people can be visually impaired meaning that they have reduced vision so seeing can be difficult. However there is another stage which is just being blind and not being able to see at all. Knowing what I know now about this topic I would like to know more about why African American people are more likely to get diabetes, and how society plays a role in that. I feel that this research process was very successful, because if someone was to ask me the same question that I asked in the beginning I am 100% sure I will be able to answer it.
American Foundation for the Blind. AFB, 2017, http://www.afb.org/default.aspx. Accessed 3 March 2017.
I was born blind: Julia’s story. Nemours, April 2013, http://kidshealth.org. Accessed 6 March 2017.
Lee, Katherine. 9 Serious Eye Symptoms to Watch Out For. Everyday health, 2017, http://www.everydayhealth.com. Accessed 6 March 2017.
Pon, Alfred. Kids Health. Nemours, 2017, http://kidshealth.org. Accessed 3 March 2017.