The English Teacher

Sample #1 Blind or Deaf Writing

My Hour Blind - Heather W.

It used to be so easy to talk about what I thought it would be like if I was blind. I'd think of scenarios I'd face and figure out ways I'd overcome obstacles the handicap presented to me. Actually making an effort to be blind changed the scenarios, because I wasn't making them up. I had to carry out tasks that I usually perform regularly with almost no effort. To my surprise they proved to be almost the hardest because without the sense of sight I had to use my mind to picture where things were, which took a lot of time and energy.

The first fifteen minutes were scary. I lost all sense of direction and was clumsy, which made me nervous and fidgety. I was thankful I decided to do this in the comfort of my own home, downstairs, because I realized that since I couldn't see I needed to count how many stairs there were in order to successfully make it to the top without cascading back down.

The first thing I attempted to do was walk to the kitchen and make a peanut butter sandwich. The furniture in the living had been changed a while ago, but it was situated in a way that I wasn't accustomed to yet, so I managed to bump into both recliners and both end tables. My steps were short and choppy. I walked flat footed; I wasn't confident enough to use a normal stride because I didn't want to step on one of our pets or trip on the end of a rug. Successful in making it to the kitchen still standing, minus the bruises forming on both calves, I proceeded to obtain the ingredients to make that peanut butter sandwich.

This was so much harder than I had originally thought. Not only had the peanut butter been moved in the cupboard, I couldn't tell which jar in the fridge was the jelly. So, I had to open every jar and smell the contents- not the highlight of my day. Needless to say the jelly was the last jar I grabbed. Once the ingredients were within reaching distance to my hands on the counter, I started to make the sandwich. By this time I realized that I had to use my sense of touch and to visualize in my mind what I was doing and mimic the motions with my hands. I spilled some peanut butter onto the floor, but the dog got to it before I could wipe it up. Other than that the sandwich felt fine, and tasted fine. Putting the ingredients back in their designated spots was easier than finding them, my sense of direction seemed to have kicked in. I tried to clean up my mess and then walked toward the living room.

After a while I was bored because everyone had stopped talking and all I could hear were the sounds from the television. I didn't like not being able to see what was going on, and had a hard time picturing it in my head. The dog jumped in my lap a little later and I pet him for a while, until my hour was up.

Even though I didn't do a lot, in a way it was exhausting. When I bumped into the recliners and end tables I felt like every nerve in my body went on full alert, aware of objects in the way. I really realized how a lot of things need to be kept in the same spot at all times so that someone who is blind can function as comfortably as they can. When I went to the refrigerator I realized that for someone who is blind, everything would need to be placed in strategic spot so they could grab what they wanted without having to sift through everything.

Also, television is raw entertainment, and I realized that it doesn't take a lot of mind power to just sit in front of one and watch television. When I was 'blind' I really noticed how the creative side of my head really doesn't get worked and is pretty much nonexistent. I'm so used to being entertained that I had a hard time figuring out what to do for myself with the blindfolds on.

Sight plays a huge role when it comes to direction, and without it I imagine a person's mind would really need to be focused on how many steps were taken one direction and at what point they turned so they could reverse the process and find their way back to where they started from without a lot of hassle. Their mind does a lot of work for them.

I believe that a person is highly dependent on the five senses, but I also believe that we are very capable of adapting. When one of the senses is no longer functioning, I feel like the remaining four become more acute, as a way to help make up for the one lost. I was only blind for an hour, but I had to depend on my sense of smell, taste, and especially my ability to hear and touch. Sounds that I usually blocked out became more prominent, like birds outside and people coming in and out of the house. I just feel like people who deal with this are amazing.

In this exercise I gained a new respect for people who have to deal with a handicap, such as the one I pretended to have. I know I can never really know what its like to be blind because I knew that I could see, that I could take the blindfold off and the original fear I felt quickly left because I comforted myself in knowing that. For people who are truly blind, night and day are the same and colors and shapes don't mean as much to them. Their world is what they imagine in their minds, and it's hard for me to grasp that their blindfolds never come off.

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