After the meeting with Paul I had a look at the various projects and what they do or offer for blind or disabled people.
I’ve ordered the book he mentioned (Hull, “On Sight and Insight”) so I can start reading a personal account of a journey into blindness and I also would like to meet up with someone else who wasn’t born blind but became blind.
There are many creative ways in which people can engage, one of such is an app called “BeMyEyes” which my production partner Annie showed me. You can video-skype with a blind person when they need help to identify something, it is a very simple idea but brings people together. Unfortunately it is not available for android atm so I will have to try it out on Annie’s phone. It might also be an opportunity to get in touch with people and just chat about things, who knows.
Then I found an interesting podcast on the NPR news channel, it is a program called “Invisibilia” and there is an episode on it called “Batman” about a blind guy called Daniel Kish who uses a clicking sound to navigate through his surrounding (echolocation) just like bats do and this way he doesn’t get lost and knows where things are located, he can cycle and go for hikes with his technique.
The podcast started off with an account of an experiment that a researcher called Robert Rosenthal did. Two groups of mice, one tagged as “intelligent” mice and the others as “stupid” mice were given to two groups of people who had to lead them through a maze and the result was that the mice that were given to the group that thought they had the intelligent mice performed double as good as the “stupid” ones. Of course there was no real difference amongst the mice, the difference lied only in the expectations the members of the group had towards them. Hence why, the result showed that performance is very much based on whether the others expect the best from you and encourage you to do so.
Daniel said that this is exactly why he thinks his technique of echolocation is not “impressive” or “extraordinary”, he said anyone could do it, the problem is that it is just not expected from blind people to be able to ride a bike or do climbing. This is why so many people with disabilities don’t “perform” as good, because the OTHERS have lower expectations towards them and they are not encouraged enough.
Rosentahl concluded that: “Negative expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies.”
After our meetings me and Annie sat down and talked about our progress and what we can do with the new orientation the meetings gave us. We both understood how important it is to not be too stuck and focused on just one direction but to always be open and flexible and look at as many things as possible from as many angles as possible.