For the last six decades there has been debate about whether there is such a thing as “disability culture”. There has also, by extension, been a serious question as to whether such a thing as blindness culture exists. Most people would accept that there is “deaf culture”. Many would accept that there is such a thing as “black culture”, “women’s culture” and “lgbtq culture”. However, those who have spent time identifying and exploring culture are opposed by those who argue that the interrelationships that operate are insufficient to be called “culture” when applied to people who are blind or have low vision.
Are there characteristics that we can identify that would justify saying there is a “blindness culture”? Does this culture apply to all people who are blind? How does it impact us if it is real? Is it a good thing? Should we be proud of it? Should we do things to promote it?
It is not my intention to make this discussion a sterile, erudite exploration of carefully articulated notions. Instead, I am interested in exploring with you whether there is an identity that operates for those of us who are blind that is strong enough to be measured and noticed. Finally, there is an elephant lurking in the room. Are there factors that are making blindness culture go away? There are lots of “cultures” that were widespread in our country in the past that are far less influential and pervasive than they used to be. Is “blindness culture” in that category? Does it matter? Help us define and perhaps validate “blindness culture”. It could be more important than it might seem.
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