ABU(Senior group) Excellent Work
Inclusive society for persons with visual impairment, How?
Lebanon Rola Damaa (43/Female)
A society where the blind is integrated is a place where people with special needs are normally present, in their families, in schools attended by other children living in their surroundings and neighborhood, in university, or in the institution where their friends pursue their academic or professional studies. It is also a society where the blind is present in different professional, administrative or employment fields, in both the private and public sectors. It is a society where the blind is present in entertainment centers, in socio- cultural activities’ center, and where he makes his family as a full member in the society. This is the blind-integrating society that we can reach through comprehensive national inter-connected social, educational, professional, rights’, and media policies.
It is normal to consider the social policy as the basis on which depends the success of the national integrating policy; In fact, an integrating society is one where the blind grows with his family, and does not leave it, adapting to it as it does in return, which is not easy to do at the beginning.
In fact, blindness has some specificity that makes the blind himself and his family alike face psychological and physical constraints that are not easily surpassed. As a start, solutions must be found for the daily and personal problems that the blind encounters in order for him to be able to manage his personal and household affairs and to reach, along with his family, a way of communication and understanding that is satisfactory for both parties, given the hypersensitivity that results from being blind. Then comes the problem of adapting to the surrounding and the smaller community he belongs to; this is because the blind does not have the courage to face his surrounding and to move in his house alone. The parents might also not allow him to do so for several reasons among which fear and embarrassment. Here lies the difficulty, because getting rid of the burden of the society’s way of looking at him and of the social shame is not that easy, this is because over hundreds of years social heritage has been constituted, prejudices were anchored in minds, and stereotyped judgments have defeated the reality. Blindness collides in fact with a treatment with inferiority considering the blind less gifted, downsizing his capacities and abilities given that sight is interrelated with the capacity to learn, to know about everything, from the society’s point of view.
Social policies are undoubtedly the most difficult to implement in reality because they are related to different mentalities and social groups, different characters and mixed cultural backgrounds as they are also related to the psychology of the blind, his temperament and abilities; they are in parallel linked to the psychological, social and cultural components of the blind’s family.
The first step consists of creating a state of harmony between the blind and himself first, and finding the psychological and practical technique through which he would co-live with his special need. Then comes synchronization with his family that should get introduced to the world of blinds, their terminology, their concerns, their abilities, and their kinetic techniques, among other things. In order to confidently head towards a society where the blinds are integrated, we cannot neglect the social barriers that hinder the integration of a large group of people as well as the blinds in the walk towards this society. This group includes the blind women who are still suffering from a double discrimination towards them; first, being women made them lose, throughout the years, a lot of their rights and were bound by social, psychological, mental and educational restrictions that limited their capacities and social, scientific, economic and political efficiency. Second, being blind women, they suffer, exactly as is the case of blind men, from an inferior perception for their social and mental abilities, in addition to the fear from abusing them sexually, which is a thing all women are subject to in general, and a blind woman in particular.
The social integrating policy shall take into consideration the specificity of the blind woman in her society, in order for her to move confidently towards a society where the blinds are integrated, one that gives attention to all its constituents, whether they are in the cities or in remote regions that are usually away from the reach of social, education, economic and media policies.
This step within the framework of the social policies is the one on which will be build the other future steps. This step would make the blind believe in his capacity to go out to the bigger society, getting rid of the fear that is likely to paralyze his movement and his mental ability; It will also make parents believe in their son’s or daughter’s ability to rely on themselves and pave the way towards the family, educational and professional future.
Media policies are the ones supporting social work in reality, given the impact of media on the receiver, their ability to change the concepts and perceptions gradually, and to wipe-off stereotyped ideas, through giving examples and models of blinds and their families who could overcome the difficulties and succeed at work, in marriage or other fields. In addition, oriented media policies help introduce people to many other aspects related to blinds and that could be passed directly or indirectly through many programs to become, after some time, something very normal in the culture of the receiver; thus the blind won’t be considered anymore as a strange and urgent case in society. In a comprehensive national policy, social work is interlinked with the media role, and with educational work that constitutes in the life of the blind the most important step through which he is open to the professional and scientific life in order to build his personality, elaborate his interests and capabilities, discover the horizons of his future and choose the education, professional or handicraft path he wants.
The integrating educational policy is a comprehensive education policy for blinds and non-blinds; it is not limited to placing the blinds in regular schools rather than in special schools, nor to providing them with the necessary techniques and help them cope with their pen pals, it is actually about a whole program, about teachers and students who get involved with their friends the blinds.
The educational program is the one responsible for transferring information to the students since an early age, for spreading correct or erroneous ideas, and for helping them know whatever should be known in their community. This program also plays a role in being an integrating one and can assist in the educational integrating policy. Instructors, directors and students alike are part of this integrating educational operation that should take into consideration the issue of preparing the ground of the educational system in order to be an assisting factor in reaching a society where the blinds are integrated. The difficulty posed by blindness in education increases the challenges of educational integration, and might make it doomed to failure if it was not applied in a well-studied way. However, these challenges make the effect of the educational integration in the surroundings even more impactful, constituting by itself a helpful media tool. This educational policy helps as well in finding a new field and a wider margin in the world of professions that could be undertaken by the blind, in addition to the crafts and professions he is used to doing, which would constitute a very important step on the level of his presence in the professional and practical world in the society in a more intense way; this is likely to reinforce our journey towards a society where the blinds are integrated, since the chance of the blind in reaching a kind of financial and moral independence becomes even bigger.
But the chances of providing the blind with new job opportunities will be definitely impeded by the rejection or hesitation of the employers, who don’t believe in their capacities or are worried about the reaction of the customers, in addition to other reasons among which the attention they give to the overall appearance of their employees. This is not limited to the private sector, it also encompasses the public sector; here lies the need for a policy fighting for and legalizing the rights of the blind; this policy would also protect the work of the social, educational and professional policy. However the power of laws and their number does not match the power of social laws and cultural heritage that need a lot of time and effort to be adjusted. Rising up to the challenge and confronting in reality are themselves the power of change. If the beliefs are changed, the society would accept the blind in all the fields; it is a matter of time and effort.
Reaching a society where the blinds are integrated is achieved when the blinds melt in their communities, and become no more obtrusive pieces in a painting that lacks harmony.