Guest Post: Ignorance of Our Abilities
Written by: Bob Branco
This article was published in Matilda Zeigler Magazine.
July 7, 2011
Being blind, we know that part of our society looks at us as stumbling bumbling idiots. Not everyone looks at us that way, but those who do either spent their entire life without coming into contact with a blind person, or they just drew their own conclusions anyway. What makes it more pathetic is when professional people look at us as incompetent.
In 1984 I applied for a job as a telemarketer for a local newspaper. My visual disability did not stop me from making the effort, because I knew there were ways to accommodate me on the job. The interview started out okay, but then the employer asked me if I could dial a telephone. At that moment, the interview was finished as far as I was concerned. I could no longer conduct myself in a professional manner with this employer, nor did I have the same respect for him. I suppose I should have given him a pass in case he never saw a blind man dial a telephone, but the mere fact that he asked the question told me that he had doubts about how I could be a telemarketer, no matter how much effort I wanted to put forth. I told the employer that I knew how to dial a telephone. After all, I called him to set up the interview.
The other day I was sitting with a friend of mine who is legally blind. He received a telephone call from the Boston Globe, asking if he’d like to have their newspaper delivered to him. He respectfully told the woman that he was legally blind, therefore he wouldn’t want the newspaper. Her response was as follows: “Then how the hell did you answer the phone?” My friend, who’s a bit more timid than I, simply hung up on the woman and expressed to me how insulted and offended he was at that remark. It’s one thing for someone off the street to ask us ridiculous questions about our capabilities, but when a professional does it, it brings the issue to a new level. Professional telemarketers or company presidents should not make remarks like that while performing a service to the public. If I was on the phone with that telemarketer from the Globe, and if she asked me how the hell I was able to answer the phone due to my blindness, I would have told her the following:
“I put my hand on the receiver, lift it up gently, put the earpiece to my ear, the mouthpiece to my mouth, and say hello.” Then I would have slammed the phone down to show her I was capable of doing that with no problem.
If you really want to know how we do things, you may ask us, because maybe you really don’t know, and this is why, for the most part, I can’t really get mad at those comments.
Robert Branco is a podcast host, “In Perspective”, and a sports talk show host. As well as a writer and editor of an online monthly magazine, “Consumer Vision”.
He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Amy.
This article was taken from his self-published book, “As I See It, from a Blind Man’s Perspective”, Revised and Expanded Edition. For further information about this book, and any of his other self-published work, go to
His website is: www.brancoevents.comm