Thips for Halloween

There’s nothing I love more around this time of year than Halloween. It’s my favorite! The pumpkins, the decorations, and the costumes

Speaking of costumes here is a list of tips from braille works so you (if you’re an older kid who is blind) can stay safe while trick or treating. I always used to love that part and reading this brought back so many memories from when I was growing up. halloween safety tips for kids who are blind
Thanks for reading!

Uber sued for allegedly refusing rides to the blind and putting a dog in the trunk

Welcome to Friday, although this was supposed to be posted yesterday, I thought I’d share this

Article

with you all. One comment I have is, why did the lady let the driver take her dog from her? I do not own a service animal yet, but I would never let anyone take the dog out of my hands. Also, how does she not know where her dog was? As a handler, you should know where your dog is at all times, since you’re holding on to the dog.
Feel free to comment on this article.

A Possitive Portrayal of Blindness in Film

Hello, everyone!

So, there aren’t many instances when I will get behind a portrayal of a person with a disability in any creative medium; most times, those depictions are overly-sentimental or terribly misguided. However, I am pleased to introduce a film that shows blindness in one of the most positive lights I’ve seen in a while.

Breaking Free is a 1995 drama directed by David Mackay that is set in a summer camp for blind children, but even though one of the main characters is blind, the story does not focus on her blindness as a plot device to make a point or get viewers to feel inspired, but instead treats it as just something she must come to terms with. According to IMDB:

When troubled, cynical teen Rick chooses service at a camp for the blind over serving time at a correctional facility, he thinks he’s found the easy way out. Instead, it’s the way to a new life. Friendship. Step by step, as Rick helps a blinded Gymnast rediscover the joys of competition through equestrian show jumping, they begin to take control of the most important journey of all… a journey called life.

As the synopsis suggests, the female lead happens to be blind–newly-blinded at that–and she meets a boy at a camp where blind kids ride horses. When I read that, I figured it would be one of those stories of boy meets girl and they fall in love because they did this activity together that made them realize that we are all the same inside… but it turned out to be more than that. The story does not focus on the blind kids or how inspiring they are; it instead focuses on the main character’s journey to finding himself. In fact, the blindness aspect seemed almost secondary, which was quite refreshing to see. It was was as though the entire story could have been written without blind characters and it would have had the same effect on me; blindness was just…well, a non issue. And that’s not even something you see too often in real life!

One thing I found particularly interesting about Breaking Free was the fearless approach it took toward independence. It is a product of the early-90’s, so some of the ideas and tech do stem from that time, but it showed people using mobility skills and assistive technology without any fanfare; it is a camp for blind children so you see those children being children, learning to use the tools available to them at the time–and for the time, those tools were pretty cutting edge. It was no big deal to see those tools and skills on screen because being blind was no big deal–the same way it is generally no big deal to be sited or watch sited people doing what they do the way they do it.
That’s what makes the film stand out to me. It treats blindness as just another character trait and blind people as, well, people. It also gives audiences a small glimpse into the feelings of someone who has recently lost their site and shows that, while difficult and scary, the adjustment period between seeing and then suddenly not seeing is a necessary part of learning to be independent.

Not everything in the film is exactly true-to-life, but then again, it is a movie meant to be inspiring and leave viewers with that classic warm, fuzzy feeling inside. For a film that I had never even heard about before watching it, I feel it does a very good job at showing people the way blindness impacts the lives of people who are blind; sure, certain things are more of a challenge, but we adapt. I highly recommend this film because it does not use disability as a metaphor or a superpower but instead views it as just another aspect of a character, and in so doing, compels its audience to do the same.

Breaking Free is available with audio description as an MP3 download from The Blind Mice Mega Mall, or on DVD from Amazon. I hope you enjoy it!

Yanagram 🙂

My Initial Thoughts On NBC's Growing Up Fisher

The view expressed in this post are the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the blog team as a whole.

Well folks, I said I wouldn’t do it—that I’d wait until the show was more mature—but, last night, I found myself on the couch watching my first episode of the NBC comedy Growing Up Fisher. The show, as billed at the beginning of the episode, is “based on a true story” of a blind lawyer who only ‘outs’ himself as blind after his divorce, before which time his son and his friend (or relative, I don’t remember) had devised many ways to conceal his blindness. This episode was centered around Mel’s dilemma–to ‘come out’ before or after his law firm secured a very lucrative deal–, his son’s discovery that he doesn’t have to pretend to be blind to get a girl to like him, and the rocky relationship between his daughter and his ex-wife.

“But hang on,” you say, “the show is about a blind guy—don’t you want to get behind that?”

As a blind person, of course I do. But the thing is: whenever I hear of a new movie or TV show featuring a blind character, my first thought is very rarely a positive one. This is not because I don’t support the portrayal of people with any kind of disability in the media, because I do (very strongly, I might add); however, I would be very hard-pressed to find any portrayal that is neither bursting with sickening sentimentality nor crushed by blatant inaccuracies. And the thing about this latest foray into the world for a blind person is that it stays clear of both those things, but still manages to tick all the check boxes of “blindy” stereotypes by doing something just as detrimental. It uses Mel’s disability to a comedic advantage—a plot device that just happens to also be able to pull on people’s heartstrings while simultaneously boosting ratings. I’m sorry if I sound callus, but this is how the show came off to me. And this isn’t even taking into account the disjointed storyline and terribly stilted dialogue. Oh no, those things just erm…bolstered my opinion.

I’m not going to get into the finer details of the episode, because, frankly, I checked out too soon to let them really sink in. However, I will say that the storyline seemed very much contrived to get the most laughs from the most absurd situation, such as Mel’s son’s “brilliant” idea to pretend that he was blind, since he was walking his father’s guide dog in harness–which, by the way, I don’t think is protocol. In addition, The multiple plot lines that swung between the father-and-son and mother-and-daughter dynamics made it difficult for me to feel a connection toward any of the characters, and also made me wonder why the second storyline had even been included. Perhaps there were points I missed from not having watched the pilot episode, but it seemed as though the mother-and-daughter scenes were only thrown in because the powers that be did not feel that the antics of a blind guy and his dorky son would be accepted as enough of a story for a half-hour show.

And that’s pretty much what it was for me, Mel and his son were only comedic placeholders and not characters I could get behind and root for. Maybe the general public would not feel the same way, since the blind character is quite a novel sight (no pun intended) on the small screen, but as someone who actually lives that life, I didn’t appreciate the way that blindness was a sort of comedic add-on, rather than an actual lived experience. And, it’s probably just me, but the narration from Mel’s son as an adult made it seem like the show was trying to imitate The Wonder Years, and it fell far, far short of that mark. Sure, there was a point to the episode, which was that one does not have to disguise one’s true self to be liked by others, but it was so general a theme that Mel’s blindness appeared even more as just a means to that end.

One of the scenes that stood out to me came at the end of the episode, when Mel finally told his business associate that he was blind. The scene went into a flashback of Mel performing feats that blind people generally wouldn’t be accredited as doing, such as taking a very expensive car for a test-drive. After thinking about all the things he had seen Mel do, the associate told Mel that he was like a superhero, a phrase not uncommon in sighted-to-blind interaction, but one that serves only to isolate a blind person as someone beyond the norm. Now, I could have missed Mel’s response to this, because I was pretty much over the show before this scene, but from what I remember, he did not correct the assumption. Without getting into the social and psychological nitty-gritty that such comments–or, on the other end of the spectrum, demeaning comments–can have on a person, the show makes it seem that Mel really is super and different, and that it is humorous because he could have saved himself and his friend a lot of time and energy if he had just accepted his superhero status sooner.

I will admit, that maybe, in a subtle way, the show does touch upon issues surrounding the perception of blindness by the blind person and the people in his life, but I think that the comic outlandishness of the situations he and his son find themselves in overshadow this good intention. And while I’m on the topic of comedy, the only time I even thought to laugh throughout the entire episode was at the beginning. The narrator asked something like, “Why does he have a guide dog and a cane? Because you can’t hit a car with a guide dog”, during which time you hear traffic in the background and Mel whacking a car with his cane. Other than that, though, the alleged humor, as well as pretty much all the dialogue, fell quite flat. I know that it is just a sitcom, and as such is really only supposed to be lighthearted entertainment, but I had hoped that it’s “mass appeal” would somehow make it a steppingstone to changing the portrayal of people with disabilities in the media at large, but from what I saw last night, it will have to change the way it approaches Mel and his blindness to achieve this.

I might watch Growing Up Fisher again next week, if only to see where it goes, but for right now, it’s one of those shows that populates my “meh” list. I think it could have potential, because at least there is a prominent blind character on network television, but that alone won’t guarantee its longevity. For one thing, Mel is not the first blind character on a network sitcom–there was a blind character in the show Go On, and from what I remember, his blindness was also a convenient comedic device. But also, blindness issues aside, the show lacks the warmth and authenticity that would help the poorly-delivered jokes to perhaps resonate better with the audience. Maybe, if it gave audiences more heart and less outrageous yet unfunny situations, it could be a voice, albeit an offbeat, funny-ish voice, calling for more characters with disabilities in the media. And then, maybe those characters can finally show people the reality, which is, yes sometimes very funny, of living with blindness, or CP, or CF, or whatever else just adds to the beautiful diversity of the human condition.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my take on Growing Up Fisher. You can disagree, or point out things I missed, because, as I said, I really wasn’t into it. In fact, I encourage you to chime in and correct anything I may have gotten incorrect. I do want the show to succeed so that audiences and directors alike can realize that people with disabilities do have stories that need telling–and that there are people with disabilities that can do that telling themselves. I for one have always loved acting, and it is a sort of dream of mine to one day write a Hallmark movie. But that’s all beside the point…

Thanks for reading!
Yanagram 🙂

P.S. One of the shows that does get at the lived experience of disability (as much as it can) is NBC’s Parenthood. It is more of a drama with comic moments rather than a sitcom, so that probably makes it easier to showcase the reality of autism for Max and his family, but show’s like that give me hope. And, maybe my opinion of “Fisher” could have been colored a little by the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the show that directly precedes it. About A Boy is made by the creators of Parenthood and is also a sitcom, but it’s actually funny and authentic, and Minnie Driver is in it, which makes it just awesome. 😀

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