This morning, I finally realised something. There are many, many people who regularly tell me how lucky I am to be blind in 2016, that it’s ‘never been better’ for blind people, specifically blind teenagers. I tened to smile at these people, and dismiss their comments as positive shit; people like to try and make the best out of a bad situation, and that’s how I saw these people’s words.
I was on Facebook this morning, and noticed that there was one of these automatically generated ‘personalised’ quiz-like pages being shared around on my newsfeed. This specific one was ‘What Status Will You Post in 10 Years?’, which, for the first couple of times, I ignored. Once I saw this link shared perhaps five or six times, I decided, with little hope, to give it a go myself.
What you probably don’t know is that when you do these stupid [but strangely addictive, I might add] web-based quizzes, they actually produce an image as a result. In this case, for example, the potential status was an image, edited by some computer to mimic a Facebook update with the status it had generated for me. Being blind, I can’t usually read these images; they’re never captioned so I don’t know what they say.
To my dismay, the result for this online quiz was, indeed, an image, and so I quit the app, giving it no more thought. Until suddenly I thought of an idea – I was clearly THAT desperate to read this status update!
I saved the image to my phone, and opened up an app which I have had on my phone for a good while now, but have never used. Upon opening the app, I loaded my photo library and selected my recently-saved picture. With bated breath, I watched the app do its stuff, before it announced: “Man I was so dumb ten years ago! Facebook post”.
To you, this may seem small and insignificant – at first, it did to me too. But then I stopped and thought about it some more. Being blind today is, indeed, nowhere near as bad as it was even just 10 years ago – funny coincidence, considering the status my picture was of! But, when it comes down to it, I feel like it’s the little things that make me feel as if I’m truly an equal member of society, that I’m truly on a level playing field to everybody else. It’s the fact that I’m able to access small, unimportant pieces of information, just like everyone else, that makes me feel included. Most of the important information in life – details on medicine boxes, the national newspapers, and so forth – are easily available to me, and that is absolutely wonderful. However, surely access to the small, unimportant and useless pieces of information really does demonstrate that, in some respects, equality is a lot nearer than we think. No one would intentionally provide a blind person with access to that fictional status update, because it’s not important, not needed to live life. But it’s available to everybody else, and so I think that I’m entitled access to it.
Big jumps in equality and accessibility are amazing, and they are, on the whole, celebrated by all, disabled or non-disabled. But the little things, however stupid they may seem, are almost as important as the big things, because they show that we’re not just making some select things accessible: we’re making everything accessible, step by step, area by area.