A manifesto for the blind

politics-of-blindness_Cover.jpg(First aired on The Current (03/16/11)

Physiotherapist and author Graeme McCreath has no qualms about the concept of the blind leading the blind — and opening the eyes of the sighted, for that matter. In his new book The Politics of Blindness: From Charity to Parity, he examines the general situation of blind people in Canada and makes recommendations to improve their lot.

McCreath himself is blind, having lost his sight at the age of eight to a rare medical illness. He knows first hand the difficulties facing those who are visually impaired.

"The income for the average blind Canadian is $12,000 a year," McCreath said in a recent interview with Tom Harrington, guest host of The Current.

McCreath wants to go beyond challenging the stigmas faced by the visually impaired. He wants, most of all, to empower the blind Canadians who feel they are at a disadvantage.

"I witness everyday the negative approach to blind people, from the whole of Canadian society and I feel the frustrations of my friends," said McCreath.

In The Politics of Blindness, he is highly critical of both government services and the leading charities that support the blind in Canada. McCreath claims that institutions such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) are neglecting their responsibilities and wasting resources instead of providing the visually impaired with adequate opportunities and support to grow.

"Because we appear to be dependent on sighted people the impression has developed that we are incapable of living a full and useful life," McCreath said. "This has been further reinforced by the creation of a charity status for blind people, which inhibits us from being accepted as useful and valued citizens."

To hear the full interview with Graeme McCreath, click on the player above.

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