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  • Writer's pictureThabo Baseki

Who Do You See?

Updated: Sep 11, 2022


A young man in a wheelchair

When was the last time you developed a perception about somebody else? It is natural for humans to make opinions when meeting other people outside their social circle. This is also the case with those who are disabled. As a blind person, my perceptions are based on the topic at hand, the views you express, the language use and tone. However, some perceptions are negative and may throw off how we look at and associate with others.

Have you ever realized later, though, that what you supposed about the other person was far from who they really are - that your perception was wrong?

For many generations, most in Botswana have believed that the blind sees with their heart. Contrary to trendy belief, we form mental images on objects and people to have an idea on the status. I tend to joke about this because scientifically speaking, the heart does not have optic nerves connected to it. Trust me, if this myth is burst-able, think about having to describe colors to me. That is such a perplexing task because I have never seen colors, so it wouldn't even make sense to me if you tried to describe a color, would it?

Another misconception is that we cannot do anything. Truth be told, we can do quite a lot that we can oversee and exhaust all our resources into. Just as much as colleagues with sight can choose to perform at their best or not at work, and students can do well or badly on their examinations, so can we. The only difference is that the delivery mode might need to be slightly different. For example, when taking an agriculture examination paper, some questions are altered to suit our needs. For example, a question that says, “with the aid of a diagram, explain the lifecycle of a tick" may be changed to "using examples to support your comment, explain the lifecycle of a tick,” but with the same marks. We can feel when we are inside or outside of a building because we feel the change in temperature or atmosphere. The only difference is that we have an eye defect while the rest of the body functions well. We have the capacity to think and reason, even on serious matters, such as acting autonomously.

What would you say? Before reading this article, did you have a perception that you then changed after considering these perspectives? We constantly change our sensitivities over people and life. Let it be your determination that these be based on facts, not on what you think. Never shy away from asking questions. Better to talk about something with confidence than express uncertainty with statements such as “I think he…” or “I doubt he can…” when discussing the subject with others.

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