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Misconceptions

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      Photo of a person who is blind jogging on a trail past a lake

      In our society, there are many misconceptions about blindness and about what a blind person can and cannot do. Many believe a blind person cannot cook a meal, clean their house, take care of their children, manage their finances or work in a competitive job. This is simply not true.

      At the Iowa Department for the Blind, we have found the real problem of blindness is not the physical loss of eyesight but the misconceptions society holds about the loss of sight. 

      Overcoming the Misconceptions

      With proper blindness skills training and the opportunity to implement those skills independently, the average blind person can accomplish the same tasks as the average sighted person. The Department's programs focus on a positive approach to blindness that reinforces learning how to complete everyday tasks without the use of vison. When our clients put these blindness skills into practice, they gain confidence in their abilities and develop a more positive attitude about blindness. In turn, the blind person makes life choices and career goals no longer based on perceived limitations of blindness, but on his or her interests, skills and abilities.

      Read stories about our clients who have overcome misconceptions and are living full, independent, productive lives.

      Myths About Blindness

      The following are some examples of widely-held myths about blindness:

      • Myth:  Blind people see only darkness, nothing else.
        Reality:  Only approximately 18 percent of people who are legally blind are classified as being totally blind and the majority of blind people can still differentiate between light and dark.
      • Myth: Blind people have special gifts: a "sixth sense."
        Reality:  People who are blind are not endowed with a sharper sense of touch, hearing, taste, or smell. Blind people just learn to pay more attention to information from their other senses. .
      • Myth:  Most blind people are proficient in braille and own a dog guide.
        Reality:  Sadly, only a small percentage of blind people have learned braille. Some teachers and educational professionals discourage blind children from learning braille. in favor of using print even when reading print is slow and painful. Some professionals say that braille is slow and hard to learn. This is not true, however, this discouragement often keeps blind people from learning braille. Only a small percentage of blind people use a dog guide. A white cane is a more common travel tool.
      • Myth: People who are blind can't work or hold a job.
        Reality: With the proper training and opportunity, people who are blind can work competitively.  The Iowa Department for the Blind has helped many blind persons go to work in a wide variety of jobs.  See a list of the types of jobs our blind clients currently hold.
      • Myth: People who are blind cannot access print or handwritten materials.
        Reality: The advent of computers and technology has made nearly any kind of print accessible to people who are blind Computer software can translate print into speech, magnify screen images, and enlarge text to a readable size. Occasionally human readers take care of the rest.