Letter to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Jan. 6, 2014.  Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer.  All submissions must include the author's name and location.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Regarding 'Who Is King?'

The recent article titled "Musings" by Paul Edwards brings forth a sensitive issue which has prevented organizations such as ACB from becoming more successful and cohesive.  Within the vision loss community, there is often a division between those who are totally blind and those who are visually impaired.  Although it is sometimes assumed that all who have less than 20/20 vision are considered peers, that is far from the truth.  Varying levels of acuity can result in differing experiences and perspectives. 
As someone who has dealt with macular degeneration for over 50 years, my condition contributes to the largest community experiencing vision loss.  However, there are many like me in this community who are uncomfortable with the term "blind," which the general public often views as a total vision loss.  Although my central vision is greatly impaired, I have adapted my peripheral acuity in ways that many find hard to understand.  Though there is no denial on my part concerning the less functional portion of my acuity, it is amazing what individuals like myself must do to get respect for the acuity we retain.  For example, when I describe myself as legally blind, I sometimes get asked why I do not have a white cane or guide dog.  My response has always been the same: "It wouldn't make sense to use either as I mow the lawn or go for a bike ride."
In Edwards' article, he talks of experiences whereby those with some vision who foster a negative opinion about totally blind individuals.  Unfortunately, that and the opposite can occur due to the fact that others' perspectives and opinions are often misjudged or misunderstood.  That is why, as I said in the beginning of this letter, there is a division within the blind and visually impaired communities.  Blind and visually impaired are two different terms with two different meanings.  And a comprehensive conversation about respecting and acknowledging these differences is long overdue.
— D.J. Sullivan, Wausau, Wis.