Main Article Content
insider research, blindness, social construction
Research on blind people has been dominated by literature written from the perspectives of medicine, rehabilitation and psychology, focusing on disease and its effects, psychological aspects of blindness (grief and loss), adaptation and coping strategies, and employment. Blindness is positioned absolutely on the individual, as if it occurs in a social vacuum. This approach assumes that blindness is solely a medical event, and not a social process. One exception to this pattern is Scott's (1969) groundbreaking social constructionist approach to blindness and society. Scott's phrase "blind men (sic) are born, not made" emphasized the role of blindness workers in the socialization of blind people. Scott's work on the social construction of blindness has been built upon in the last decade by interdisciplinary blindness literature, strongly influenced by disability studies (e.g., Michalko, 1999, 2001, 2003; Kleege, 1999; Kudlick, 2002; French, 2001, 1999; 1993). This paper will analyze the contributions of this new literature, and highlight gaps which still exist within the literature on the experience of blindness both as an impairment and as a set of disabling social processes. In this context, I will briefly discuss my plan to do insider research with legally blind people. This paper asserts that doing social constructionist research on both impairment and disablement will help fill gaps in both the blindness and disability studies literature. My own research on blindness seems to be the first study in the United States which utilizes the British-born emancipatory social model of disability. By infusing this model into American blindness research I hope to contribute to the expanding international discourse on disability studies.
French, Sally (2001). Disabled People and Employment: A Study of the Working Lives of Visually Impaired Physiotherapists. Aldershot, England: Ashgate
French, Sally (1999). The Wind Gets in My Way. In M. Corker & S. French. (Eds.). Disability Discourse. Buckingham: Open University Press.
French, Sally (1993). Can You See the Rainbow? The Roots of Denial. In Swain, J., Finkelstein, V., French, S. and Oliver, M. (Eds.). Disability Barriers, Enabling Environments. Maidenhead (U.K.): The Open University Press.
Husson, T. A. (2001). Translated and with commentary by Kudlick, C. & Weygand, Z. Reflections: The Life and Writings of a Young Blind Woman in Post-Revolutionary France. New York: New York University Press.
Kleege, G. (1999). Sight Unseen. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Kudlick, Catherine J. (2001). The Outlook of The Problem and the Problem with the Outlook: Two Advocacy Journals Reinvent Blind People in Turn-of-the-Century America. In P. K. Longmore & L. Umansky (Eds.), The New Disability History: American Perspectives. New York: New York University Press.
Michalko, R. (1999). The Two in One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Michalko, R. (1998). Mystery of the Eye and the Shadow of Blindness. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Sherry, Mark (June, 2003). The Difference that Disability Makes. [Review} Disability & Society, 18(4), pp. 533-535.
Ward, L. & Flynn, M. (1994). What Matters Most: Disability, Research and Empowerment. In M. H. Rioux & M. Bach (Eds.) Disability Is Not Measles: New Research Paradigms in Disability. Ontario: G Allan Roeher Inst Kinsman.
White, Patrick (2003). Sex Education; or, How the Blind Became Heterosexual. In Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 9(1-2), Duke University Press.