Originally published on AT&T.com
Blindness is not as scary as the movies or TV would have you believe, according to Susan Mazrui, director of global public policy for AT&T. “You just have to do things differently. I wouldn’t want to minimize the challenge, but blind people are capable of anything except driving — that is until self-driving cars become available,” she joked.
“Disability is just another characteristic, and it can be celebrated.”
Susan, a 26-year veteran of AT&T should know. Blind since age 17, she has redefined “possible” in an accessible environment and supportive community. In October, she will have plenty of occasions to honor those who are blind and low vision, while educating and advocating in the wider community.
Acknowledging there is a lot to celebrate and optimistic that the world is changing for the better, Susan said we still have a long way to go nonethless. “I look forward to a day when blindness is viewed as a characteristic one may have — another aspect of diversity to be celebrated,” she said. “I think this will come as other companies follow AT&T’s leadership with strong Accessibility and Inclusion programs. Once we all understand that disability is part of diversity, people will feel more comfortable sharing that they have a disability.”
October is Blind Awareness Month
Known as #blindawarenessmonth, October is dedicated to increasing understanding, expanding access and cultivating inclusion for people who are blind or have low vision. Events include:
- Meet the Blind Month (#MeettheBlind), October
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), founded in 1940, is the oldest and largest U.S.-based organization of blind Americans. The NFB celebrates Meet the Blind Monthevery October. Through organized Twitter chats and community-based outreach activities, the organization takes this opportunity to engage its members and educate the public.
- White Cane Safety Dayand Blind Americans Equality Day, October 15
President Lyndon B. Johnson first named Oct. 15 as White Cane Safety Day (#WhiteCaneSafetyDay) in 1964 to honor the achievements of blind and low vision people. In 2011, President Barack Obama issued the first annual Presidential Proclamation expanding the day’s focus to promote equal rights, calling it Blind Americans Equality Day. Today, both names are used interchangeably to mark the importance of the community and advocate for equal access.
Recognizing Blind Awareness Month
Throughout October, take advantage of the many opportunities to learn more and get involved. Here are a few ideas:
- Start a discussion with someone in your life. If you are blind or have low vision, ask this person how much they know about blindness, what they aren’t sure about and if they have questions. If you are not, reach out and ask someone who is blind or has low vision about their experiences.
- Learn more. Listen to a podcast, watch a video or read a blog post that is blindness-related. The National Federation of the Blind, American Foundation of the Blind, and Blind New World offer great places to get started.
- Share your own story of blindness or low vision and how it has impacted your life. This could be a Facebook post, outreach at a local organization, a Youtube video or just talking with friends.
- Advocate for safety and accessibility by speaking with others and encouraging them to keep walkways, crosswalks and paths free and clear.
- Use social media to connect with others around the world who are celebrating and to let people know more about blindness in general. In addition to the hashtags listed above, try: #blindawarenessmonth #blindnessawarenessmonth #lowvison and #blindness.
Communicating with those who are blind and low vision
Courtesy of the National Federation of the Blind: Our sighted friends often ask for advice regarding what they should do or say when meeting a blind person. Blind people are ordinary people, so please don’t be nervous around us. We are also highly capable people, so please don’t grab our arms, our canes, or our guide dogs if we haven’t asked you to do so. For more tips, we invite you to read our courtesy rules of blindness.