Three people sit in a row of seats. The person in the middle wrings their hands and looks with hesitation at the two others, who have raised hands and obvious signs of blindness. One holds a folded cane and the other rests a hand on a guide dog.

Deserving Blind

During my freshman year of college, I learned the term deserving poor which in essence means those who cannot be blamed for their poverty; their impoverishment is not due to individual behavioral or character flaws, but rather to structural or macro forces well outside of an individual's control according to Emory Law Journal. In this article I would like to talk about deserving blind – my ridiculous definition of deserving blind is an individual who is completely blind and relies on guide dogs or canes.

Hesitant to use disability accommodations

A few days ago, I was at the airport on my way back from Jamaica when the airline staff announced that anyone who has a disability is welcome to pre-board. My friend, Mel, looked at me and asked, “Christine, why aren’t you participating in pre-boarding?” I was hesitant and ambivalent at first; Mel did not understand why, as I clearly met the qualifications to pre-board. Eventually, I decided to get in the pre-boarding line. While in line I had so many emotions and thoughts.

Do I look blind enough?

The one that surprised me the most was when I thought to myself, “Do I look blind enough?” Crazy right? To make matters even more uncomfortable, I pulled out my magnifier just in case they wanted me to confirm that I had a disability.

Preboarding for vision loss

After I got through all of those insane feelings and thoughts, I accessed pre-boarding for the first time in my life. It was extremely beneficial to participate in pre-boarding and made finding my seat so much easier which I imagine impacted the overall flow for passengers. Once we got situated on the plane, Mel and I began to process my feelings. I shared with her that more often than not my goal is to appear as “normal” as possible. I do not like to draw attention to my disability.

Discrete accommodations

The accommodations I often access are discrete and personal. My friend went on to say that these are entitlements and resources set in place to assist me with navigating; I 100% agree. Due to my profession, more often than not I am the one providing services and informing people about their entitlements; therefore, when it is time for me to access certain entitlements it feels weird. I recognize that this is super contradictory and something that I need to process, especially because I am a firm believer that how you receive things says a lot about how you give them.

Rewriting the deserving blind definition

Unconsciously, I believe that because I am not using a cane or a guide dog that I am not deserving of entitlements—which is completely false. Just because I do not use a cane does not mean I do not need help. The definition needs to be re-written because the reality is anyone with a visual impairment is deserving blind… at least that’s the way eye see it.

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