Blindness is Not a Limitation
by Katia Hadjeb
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Katia Hadjeb, who moved to Philadelphia from Algeria in 2012, describes her experience navigating Philly with a vision impairment.
How long will it take for people to understand that blindness is not a limitation? My vision is not absent or limited but rather different. It is not that i am unable to see at all, but you are unable to see the way I do.
Have you ever thought that vision may be a distraction?
Maybe that’s why you do whatever you want to do, instead of what you should do. Too important to important to follow the rules, and respect the laws. Jaywalking, crossing red lights, speeding up when you must slow down.
My first lesson was to never trust the sights enough to follow. Stand in the corner, wait and listen. Often I realize that i am a distraction, causing everyone’s confusion. Drivers honk and wave. How funny, or ignorant I say.
The reason you wave is my white cane, so I assume you must know that my white cane would not see your waves.
If I had enough courage to get out of my house and decide to walk around people who look at me and see an incarnation of desperation, then I have enough knowledge of what I am doing.
It is true that my eyes do not see as well as yours, but humans have other senses that you may take for granted.
Don’t worry, I know when to go and when to stop.
You look around in all directions, but I do not even have to turn my head; the sound of the engine reveals the speed, distance, and direction.
When I make a move I know for sure that it’s safe.
Eight minutes to cross a lane, listen to the cars, count the lanes, and do the math. Don’t forget the shield cars. Go when the parallel car goes; but when it’s a light cycle, never cross after the third car and wait for the next cycle to come.
Instead of being scared of blindness, take time to learn more about it. It’ll never be enough, but at least you won’t be hesitant to act and react.