Blindness as a Social Construct | This American Life [AUDIO]

Can other people’s expectations of you alter what you can do physically? Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller of NPR’s new radio show and podcast Invisibilia investigate that question – specifically, they look into something that sounds impossible: if people’s expectations can change whether a blind man can see.


Lulu tells the story of Daniel Kish, who’s blind, but can navigate the world by clicking with his tongue. This gives him so much information about what’s around him, he does all sorts of things most blind people don’t. Most famously, he rides a bike. We learn why he was raised so differently from the way most blind kids are brought up, and how the book The Making of Blind Men by Robert Scott changes everything for him. (25 minutes)


– Click through for [AUDIO] –



I just heard on This American Life this week (episode 544: Batman), one of the stories is about a blind professor who put forth the theory that Blindness is a social construct. It’s a VERY interesting episode. My mind was blown. What he means is that the label of ‘Blindness’ that is put onto blind people causes society to disallow them the freedom to do many things that they CAN actually do.
I thought, Whoa! This is similar to the concept of Race as a social construct. The racial label causes some segments of society to disallow certain groups of people the freedoms and dignities that they SHOULD actually have.


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