The Word “Blind” Is Still Misused in Everyday Speech- Let’s Get Rid of It Re-Post from 7 years ago … and it’s still going on!

“Time-blindness” was recently targeted on TikTok as “ablest,” and I agree!

Blindness is a physical and sensory condition related to the eyes and sometimes the brain. To use the term in this way objectivizes blindness and blind people.

There are contexts where “blind” means an object or set-up which blocks vision such as “window blind,” “blind corner” “ etc. These are fine. And there are other words that could be used  instead of blind and blindness that don’t demean a population.

This misuse of the word burdens anyone new to blindness with a hidden bias against themselves! People with vision loss already deal with prejudice, stigma, and marginalization in social life and employment. Only about thirty-five % of blind people of working age are employed!

Time-blindness substitutes a punchy word for precision.

For instance, I myself am a little time-challenged (always five minutes behind). Some people seem time-disconnected. Some find time an obscure concept or easily lose track of it and others are plain old unpunctual.

Any use of “blind,” “deaf,” or “dumb” to mean unaware, unconscious, or stupid should be shut out of modern usage.

It could be argued that “time-blind” means that time is obscured or occluded (closed off) to that person. If so why not say it? There are plenty of other useful words such as “blinkered,” ”masked,” cloaked,” and blindfolded” that use objects not people to express their meaning. “double blind” studies could be renamed “double blindfold”, or “double-occluded.”

Reputable publications have not banned this damaging practice. “The Making of a Model Minority,” from the January-February edition of The Atlantic contains the following sentence: “This is a reality to which Indian Americans themselves often seem blind.” “Indian Americans are often unaware of this reality” may be less forceful, but doesn’t stigmatize another minority group. A New Yorker in early February had almost the exact same sentence in the review section.

What’s particularly ironic is that blind people are often much more aware of their surroundings – continually interpreting sounds and what’s underfoot – than people who see well.

There will be much more about the perceptions that blindness can bring out next week.

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