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disABILITY

March 22, 2008

disABILITY: Make people focus on personality

(Continued)

I never said anything right away about my blindness to anyone, though.

At one point I uploaded a new profile picture to the website. It was one that a friend of mine said looked particularly nice.

The only problem, which I didn't realize until a week later, was that the photo showed me with cane in hand.

I had thought it pretty peculiar that all communications with people promptly stopped right after I uploaded that new photo. I was totally clueless, wondering what the deal was.

It wasn't until nearly a week later that one person wrote me back and said he didn't know if he felt comfortable dating a person who was visually impaired.

I was kind of shocked, but I also knew I shouldn't be. Our world chugs steadily along either of two tracks and the tracks are called "physical features" and "stereotypes." Neither serves me particularly well in any way, if I'm in the photo hanging onto a white cane, like I was.

I knew all of that, of course; it was the reason I wasn't interested in disclosing anything about my blindness to anyone too soon in conversation.

So, I immediately pulled the picture off the site and decided not to put any picture up at all. I wanted to see if that would force people to look at my profile and judge my personality rather than any physical features at all.

In some cases it turned people off, although in other cases it did work. I was faced with the fact, however, that I'd need to put pictures back up so those who did have interest could have some idea of who I was, other than a bunch of words on a computer screen.

I only put the "safe" pictures up, though; meaning the ones without my cane showing in them. And things started going smoothly again.

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