The Medical Model of Blindness
Went to the eye doctor today. Check up went as usual in that they put numbing drops in my eyes, shinned a bright blue light in my face, poked my eye with a black stick while holding my eyelid still, and were like “hm nothing has changed since last year.”
Me: YOU DON’T SAY.
The actual eye doctor was also extremely clueless about blind people and generally patronizing. I gave her a form to fill out so I can get some standard accommodations for my low vision on the Bar Exam, and she was fairly unaware of what accommodations a legally blind person would need, or the reasoning for a specific accommodation. I told her that I normally use large print (size 24 font), extended time, and extra breaks to rest my eyes. She asked me to explain to her why I would need those things, even though she is the one who should have identified what accommodations I would need any why I would need them, not the other way around.
Then, this eye doctor said she was surprised someone with such low vision would become an attorney. “How did you go to law school? Don’t attorneys have to read all the time?”
Me: Perhaps you didn’t know this, but the blind can actually read. /sarcasm.
[Image description: a gif of the braille alphabet, with braille cells on the left and the print alphabet on the right.]
What’s absurd about this whole exchange is that eye doctors are basically the guardians of visual impairment and blindness–their ability to treat patients and suggest assistive programs or rehabilitative services can radically effect a blind person’s life. They’re the experts on how my eyes work, but these doctors know literally N O T H I N G about how my eyes impact my life, even down to the most basic things like how I could possibly read a book.
It’s always a surprise when people are really uninformed about visible disabilities like this, but it is especially jarring when that person is an actual M.D. with an expensive education.