Please share and spread the word. This is a harmful campaign that we need to combat as best we can.
Hi. My name is Stacy Servanka and I live in Sacramento, California with my husband, Greg, and our three-year-old son, Leo. My husband and I both happen to be glind and our son is sighted.
I want to make this video today to talk to you about a campaign that I andthousands of other blind people feel is really, really harmful, and one thing that’s really frustrating is that this campaign is being sponsored by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, an organization that reports to help people with vision loss. I want to begin by saying that neither my husband nor I, nor most of the people who appose this campaign, are against vision research, or—and—you know, many of us have even benefited from vision research. However, we are against this campaign for a number of reasons.
First of all, the campaign asks sighted people to put on blindfolds and do various different challenges under blindfold without any sight. One of these challenges includes putting on a blindfold and trying to take care of your child for one minute without vision. Now, when most people do this, they feel like it’s very frustrating, maybe even impossible, and sometimes the results even appear to be comical. And another video that the Foundation Fighting Blindness has put out recently is a video that shows some kids playing in a park, and slowly, the screen goes dark, and the message at the endsays that vision loss robs parents of the opportunity to play with their children at the park, and to take their children to the park.
Why these messages are so very harmful, especially to parents, is that blind people still today face huge amounts of discrimination in employment, housing—even, you know—although it is against the law in most places to take away custody of children based soley on a parent’s disability, blind parents are still regularly questioned by social workers, child protection agencies… Greg and I, when we gave birth to Leo—I woke up about twelve hours after giving birth to a team of thirteen people—doctors—surrounding my hospital bed who were interrogating me about how my husband and I would take care of our son. They made us meet with a social worker, who of course was able to recognize right away that Greg and I—you know—are very fit parents. And so while there is legal protection for blind parents, blind parents still run into issues with social services agences every day, which is why campaigns that imply that it is unsafe or impossible for blind parents to take care of their kids have real-world, devastating consequences.
That fact is that vision loss, as you can see by my husband, who is totally blindby the way—hi Leo, hi Greg!
[Greg and Leo say hi}
Okay, so, as you can see, right here, vision loss does not prevent parents from taking their child to the park. However, negative misconceptions literally does prevent people from having the experience that you see Greg and I having here today.
We also want to throw out there that you don’t understand the experience of being a black person in the country and all the—you know—social and economic, and you know—all the issues that people of color face by putting on black paste, or dressing up as a Latino person for Halloween. You don’t understand what it’s like to be homeless by camping outside for an evening. Putting on a blindfold and purporting that that’s what it’s like to be blind is completely offensive and does not take into consideration the lived experiences that blind people have every single day.
Furthermore, a lot of these videos are supposed to be funny, like “heeey, well y’know I put on a blindfold, now watch how terrible I am at doing all this stuff.” So, it basically makes it feel like you think our lives are… funny. Which, you know—honestly, often they kinda are. We do do a lot of hilarious things—but, uh, I don’t think that’s the spirit we’re going for.
So, really, one thing that I’d like to implore to all of you—I’m going to try turning this around. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully you can see me. Probably better if you can’t—but, um, as much of you know, that, um, the muscular dystrophy telethon was recently discontinued this year because people with disabilities found it offensive, because people with disabilities were portrayed in a pitiful, sort of pathetic manor, and even though we weren’t against the research that was being done by that organization, we were against those telethons, so finally those ended. So, I’m really hoping that the Foundation Fighting Blindness will take a que from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and start actually listening to people with disabilities, because trying to help us when we’re telling you that something is offensive is really, really disrespectful and condescending.
You know, this might not be the best production video—I’m hoping you can actually see me—but uh… In any case, we just are really asking people to really think before you give money to this campaign, and to perhaps—if you want to support vision loss or y’know vision research—to possibly consider either a donation to the National Federation of the Blind, which is an organization that helps people who are already blind, or making a donation to your local hospital or eye-clinic or some other organization.
In any case, hope you’re all doing well. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in comments. Thank you.]