The blind community is particularly vigilant on news stories surrounding our disability. We are very social media prominent and if there is a story out there on blindness, we are on it. That’s why this story hitchhiked its way up to the top of my newsfeed in the first place. The news is that Facebook has banned sight loss charity RNIB’s latest advert. Apparently porn and weight loss stories are fine, but a thirty second talk on sight loss? Get that stuff off our screens.
I do not support the banning of the advertisement as there is so much worse out there but the move does seem pretty petty on Facebook’s part. I am however glad the clip will not be on Facebook. I strongly feel that some sight loss organisations fear monger the general public into giving money and give very little to the VI community in return. Granted, losing my sight wasn’t a bundle of laughs but it wasn’t the worst thing ever. On your list of things to achieve in your lifetime developing a disability is somewhat absent, but so much worse happens every day. War, famine and terminal illness. You can go blind but you can still have friends, you still are alive and have capacity. Things are harder but not impossible. There is no money in an advert showing the cooler parts of sight loss (such as touch typing and cheaper train fares) but I am sick of my disability being portrayed as something that makes life not worth living. A man at a bus stop once told me that if he were to go blind he would kill himself. I thought this was quite a inappropriate thing to say to a sight impaired fourteen year old, but publicity like this reinforces such viewpoints. Blind equals broken.
Sight loss isn’t just something that happens to older people, it happens to children- boys, girls, everyone. I wish that there was a way to spread awareness that blind people do just get on with life. Not ‘despite it all’. Not ‘thanks to my wonderful guide dog’. Just because they are the same as everyone else and want to achieve. We can get jobs and we can have fun. Whether we are at the point that we need an advert showing a blind person walking to the chippy or chatting people up in a bar I don’t know- but we need to be present VI people as people… who do leave the ophthalmology department occasionally.
When RNIB did try to do an advert showing young people with sight loss it was the equivalent of throwing elephant dung at an industrial fan. It was the story of little Emma who used to have a quality of life but has now had it revoked by the cruel gods of sight impairment. She then went into social isolation and became just a waif like existence. One would think from watching campaign videos that blind people have their major organs located in their eye sockets- so on losing their sight they simply cease to exist unless bailed by RNIB or given a labrador. The idea that one might simply want to get on with their life is unheard of.
A lot of people in the VI community do not feel supported by RNIB; in particular the younger generation I am referring to. Adverts like these alienate disabled people. I’m sorry if this seems crass. Actually, no I’m not.