Currently, 1.7 million Americans are either blind or are in the process of losing their vision. Sightless himself and a veteran of four decades of helping people cope with blindness as well as with the possibility of blindness, Alvin Roberts decided that telling stories drawn from the community of the blind and from his fellow rehabilitation workers was the best way to reassure others—especially the elderly, who are most at risk of becoming visually impaired—that "blindness need not be the end of active life, but rather the beginning of a life in which [people] will depend on their residual senses to continue full, active living."
Through good stories well told, then, Roberts offers reassurance that competent help exists for the visually impaired. He chooses stories that demonstrate to those facing blindness that they, too, can learn to cope because others have done so. Yet that is only part of his message. Seeing humor as a great facilitator for successfully reentering mainstream society, Roberts also dispels the commonly held belief that blind people are a somber lot and that those who help them encounter little humor. Many of these stories are frankly funny, and blind people and those in the rehabilitation field certainly are not above practical jokes.
Roberts’s personal experiences and conversations with colleagues have provided a wealth of incidents on which to base stories of rehabilitation workers with the blind going about their daily tasks. He paints a positive picture of what it is like to be blind, replacing fear, dread, and myth with reality.
Although the theme of blindness occurs frequently in literature, literary criticism has rarely engaged the experiential knowledge of people with visual impairments. The Metanarrative of Blindness counters this trend by bringing to readings of twentieth-century works in English a perspective appreciative of impairment and disability. Author David Bolt examines representations of blindness in more than forty literary works, including writing by Kipling, Joyce, Synge, Orwell, H. G. Wells, Susan Sontag, and Stephen King, shedding light on the deficiencies of these representations and sometimes revealing an uncomfortable resonance with the Anglo-American science of eugenics.
What connects these seemingly disparate works is what Bolt calls “the metanarrative of blindness,” a narrative steeped in mythology and with deep roots in Western culture. Bolt examines literary representations of blindness using the analytical tools of disability studies in both the humanities and social sciences. His readings are also broadly appreciative of personal, social, and cultural aspects of disability, with the aim of bringing literary scholars to the growing discipline of disability studies, and vice versa. This interdisciplinary monograph is relevant to people working in literary studies, disability studies, psychology, sociology, applied linguistics, life writing, and cultural studies, as well as those with a general interest in education and representations of blindness.
Rod Michalko Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress HV1780.M53 1999 | Dewey Decimal 362.4183
When Rod Michalko's sight finally became so limited that he no longer felt safe on busy city streets or traveling alone, he began a search for a guide. The Two-in-One is his account of how his search ended with Smokie, a guide dog, and a dramatically different sense of blindness.
Few people who regularly encountered Michalko in his neighborhood shops and cafes realized that he was technically blind; like many people with physical disabilities, he had found ways of compensating for his impairment. Those who knew about his condition thought of him as a fully realized person who just happened to be blind. He thought so himself. Until Smokie changed all that.
In this often moving, always compelling meditations on his relationship with Smokie, Michalko probes into what it means to be at home with blindness. Smokie makes no judgment about Michalko's lack of sight; it simply is the condition within which they work together. Their partnership thus allows Michalko to step outside of the conventional -- and even "enlightened" -- understanding of blindness; he becomes not simply resigned to it but able to embrace it as an essential part of his being in the world. Drawing on his training as a sociologist and his experience as a disabled person, Michalko joins a still small circle of scholars who examine disability from the inside.
More rare still -- and what will resonate with most readers -- is Michalko's remarkable portrayal of Smokie; avoiding sentimentality and pathos, it is a deeply affectionate yet restrained and nuanced appreciation of his behavior and personality. From their first meeting at the dog guide training school, Smokie springs to life in these pages as a highly competent, sure-footed, take-charge, full-speed-ahead, indispensable partner. "Sighties" are always in awe watching them work; Michalko has even persuaded some of them that the Smokester can locate street addresses -- but has a little difficulty with the odd numbers! Readers of The Two-in-One can easily imagine Rod and Smokie sharing the joke as they continue on their way.