The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


March 22, 2008

disABILITY: Make people focus on personality


Since that time, I've been asked by several people why I don't disclose my blindness right away. It must be weird to realize that I am indeed comfortable with my disability and yet I hesitate saying something about it to people I meet online.

The reason I don't has nothing to do with my acceptance of my blindness; it does, however, have a lot to do with other people's interpretation of language.

No matter how politically correct or incorrect words such as disability, blind and visually impaired are, they do conjure up very specific things in people's minds.

Just because I see my disability as a feature, just as normal as my brown hair, brown eyes and athletic build, doesn't mean other people see it the same way.

Admittedly, I do string people along for a little while. I do it for as long as it takes for me to convey the scope of my personality and intellect to them. I try to work quickly and also do it fairly subtly so I am not just sounding full of myself. I have made the mistake of laying it on too thick, too quickly before, but I've also learned my lesson about that.

My intent isn't to mess with people's minds; it's to make sure a person has plenty of reasons to believe blindness is the nonissue that it is. My hope is that person will see it like I do, as just a characteristic of mine, rather than a major concern.

I recently met a man online, through a different site. It was actually just a general social networking website this time. He's from the area where I plan to go to med school. I strung him along like all the rest. He ended up swallowing the news I was blind just fine when that had to happen. And, of course, a couple weekends ago I made a visit to the area, and he got to experience his first blind, blind date, whatever that means.

So, is it cruel or unethical to play the game strategically? I think not. I am learning to play strategically, but still play by the rules, also. There's nothing wrong with lifting people over their own mental barriers to see what is on the other side.

Kate Pavlacka, a graduate of the State University College at Oneonta, has been totally blind for 11 years.

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