Essays on Communication and the Blind and Visually Impaired
by J.W. Smith
This text contains ideas and concepts whose time has come. The book brings together a variety of perspectives on communication and the blind and visually impaired. As a blind communicologist, I am often reminded about the significance of vision in the world of TABS (Temporarily Able-Bodied individuals). Because of my lack of sight (I am totally blind), I have often felt isolated, marginalized, and even ignored in meetings as well as social gatherings. I'm sure that my experiences are not unique and as some of the chapters in this text document, they are less dramatic than others. As a junior faculty member, I fault to counter the misperceptions often not uttered by fellow faculty members. Even as a graduate student in an urban university setting, I encountered attitudes and actions that suggested toleration at best for those of us who are blind or visually impaired.
This text is an attempt to expand the dialogue in this area. Its basic premise is that people who are blind or visually impaired should be viewed and treated as people who just happen to be blind or visually impaired. We experience the same hopes and fears as our TAB brothers and sisters and although we may use alternative ways of succeeding in life, we would like to have the same opportunities to succeed or fail as communicators.
The opening chapter in this book is an extension of an article that was written for the ground-breaking text, Handbook of Communication and People with Disabilities, edited by Braithwaite and Thompson (2000). This essay is arguably the first of its kind for the field of communication. The subsequent articles that follow address issues of dating and marriage, family and work life, as well as organizational culture.
I am keenly aware that many times prejudice and ethnocentrism are born out of ignorance and thus the book highlights the personal narratives of blind and visually impaired people with diverse backgrounds (a blind lawyer, minister, and technocrat).
Finally, a book of this nature would not be complete without addressing issues of technology and its role in the lives of the blind and visually impaired. It is my hope that the text will create dialogue in the academic community in general and the field of communication specifically, about issues on communication and the blind and visually impaired. Although many of the questions and issues covered in the text may be familiar to the academic community, the fact that they focus on this unique population is instructive. Let me hasten to add that I would not dare attempt to speak for any of the contributors in this text. However, I believe that I can say with some certainty that it is not the loss of sight that creates most of the communication barriers and often debilitating and negative attitudes when it comes to communication between TABS and the blind and visually impaired community. In fact, it is those attitudes and misperceptions that this text attempts to highlight and address. From the first overview chapter to the final look-ahead chapter, you will meet blind and visually impaired people and their loved ones engaged in a variety of communication settings. These are their stories and recollections. It is my hope that it will not be the last time that these themes are published, examined, and documented.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 13 October, 2010.