Society holds misconceptions about the visually impaired, yet the blind can communicate well and perform skills with independent mobility, becoming productive citizens.
The term blindness can be defined across a wide spectrum. A person who is visually impaired may have difficulty performing ordinary tasks, regardless of the use of glasses and contact lenses. Blurred vision, blind spots, or tunnel vision could be some characteristics of vision impairment. Eye diseases, such as glaucoma—which causes optic nerve damage—can also cause vision loss. In 2012, the World Health Organization estimated that of the 285 million visually impaired people in the world, 39 million were officially blind. In the U.S., The National Federation for the Blind estimates that around 6.6 million Americans are currently living with a visual disability. The total number of legally blind students, ages 16 and up, enrolled in high schools in the U.S. is over 60,000.*
This photo essay depicts lives of the sightless, including both the blind and visually impaired, in New York City. Some of the people highlighted in the photo essay include a blind employment lawyer, a computer teacher, a karate teacher for the visually impaired, and a waiter at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Some of the individuals face employer inequalities as well as various discriminations based on social misconceptions of blindness.
The Lighthouse International School and The Whitney Museum, both based in New York City, are organizations featured in the photo essay. The Lighthouse International School is a leader in helping people with vision loss. They have developed an integrated pre-kindergarten school where visually impaired children can learn alongside their sighted peers as well as a renowned music school, which helps learners of all ages pursue their interests in music while overcoming the challenges of vision loss. The Whitney Museum hosts a monthly Verbal Description and Touch Tour where the blind can experience art using other senses other than sight.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Civ.7.9-12. Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-LS2-8. Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.