ACT Equity Keynote, May 23, 2023
My flurry of travel speaking gigs in the spring finished with an online presentation for ACT (known for their college test). It touches on a lot of the #DownWithOcularcentrism/up with #BlindPride points I discuss in much of my writing and have been developing in recent talks, where I also incorporate storytelling techniques to keep things interesting, I hope—you be the judge!
How Disability Drives Innovation and Empowers Students
Because of a degenerative eye disease, I’ve lived on just about every notch of the sight-blindness spectrum. When I first began going blind, I was alone. Now, thanks in no small part to social media, I have a huge blind network. Like me, a number of these friends lost the ability to read standard print early on, and only one of them is fluent in Braille.
Braille is the only way a blind or deafblind person can read silently or aloud, with one’s own voice, and at one’s own pace. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to insist visually impaired students use their eyes for as long as possible, even if doing so slows down their reading and their education generally.
The preference for doing things as close to the way sighted people do them is detrimental to learning, and it’s part of a systemic problem: ocularcentrism.
Ocularcentrism is the unconscious bias that ranks sight as the most important sense — often far above the rest. It privileges sight, sighted people, and sighted ways of doing things. It is a form of ableism and leads to discrimination…