In the last episode of Blind How, I talked with you about BATS: “Best Alternative To Seeing.” I’m thinking that we should dig into that a little more before just moving on to how to do this or that without seeing. There is a major issue that we need to think through very carefully.
With few exceptions, one alternative to seeing is to get someone who can see to do whatever we want done. If inclination and resources permit, we could simply have someone drive us wherever we want to go, read whatever needs read, cook whatever needs cooked, clean whatever needs cleaned and on and on. As the saying goes, we could just have someone wait on us hand and foot.
You think this sounds silly? On the one hand, good for you. But on the other hand, many people who can’t see, quite easily and without much thought, get into the habit of being waited on. To a significant extent, much of the time and in most situations, having others do things for them becomes their preferred alternative to not being able to see.
Should we always do things for ourselves, without any help from someone who can see? Of course not, especially if there is someone nearby who can and wants to help. Note that I said, “wants to help,” and not simply “willing to help.” To always refuse help would be as silly as always expecting help.
This is quite a bit more complicated than it may seem at first. I’m not sure I fully understand its complexity, since I struggle some with the issue myself. Even so, there are a few points that pop out for me. Perhaps mentioning those here will help you think about the issues from your perspective. I suspect that the help versus do-it-yourself question is personal and doesn’t have the same answer or set of answers for all of us who can’t see.
Let’s start with something that I think is important or at least of interest to me. That could include a hot cup of coffee or clean clothes, reading my mail or a movie on TV, dinner or using my cell phone, a walk around the block or a visit to my doctor, brushing my guide dog or visiting with friends, doing my banking or ordering a pizza, going out for lunch or making a podcast. I could easily put a hundred items on my list without much thought. I’m sure you could put at least as many on your list, although they wouldn’t all be the same as those on my list. We all have things to do, places to go and people to see. Let’s call the things on our lists “activities.”
Here’s the thing. It’s far too easy for many of us to play our blind card. We either wait for someone who can see to help us with the activity or do the task for us, or we simply avoid the activity. Can’t or at least won’t wins. The outcome is cumulative: we gradually do less and less, avoiding more and more.
Please note that I’m not talking about situations where people live or work together, situations where work and other activities are divided up – I’ll do this and you do that. Rather, I’m focusing on situations where a person who can’t see comes to be dependent on others doing most things for him or her, or perhaps he or she just avoids whatever the activity is.
I am simply struggling to describe what can happen to many, if not most of us who can’t see, if we don’t actively resist. Sure, I’m talking about me, but may also be talking about you. Fortunately, knowing the best, and likely only way to prevent drifting down the slippery slope to dependence and non-participation turns out to be simple. But knowing and doing can be far apart at times.
Here it is in the proverbial nutshell. The best alternative to not seeing is to figure out how to do whatever you want done, by yourself, without depending on sighted assistance, unless necessary. Here’s the good news. Most everything you want to do is being done somewhere and being done independently, by a person who can’t see. For those times when sighted assistance is necessary, anonymous help is usually there, on your phone. The bad news is that developing the needed skills and accessing the available resources takes time, effort and a big measure of determination.
Try this, “If it is to be, it’s up to me, so BATS it shall be, for me.”