In one of my (countless, surely) recent posts about blindness, lovely artremis
linked to this this description of a Cbeebies show called Melody
which I'd never heard of because having no kids means I only am aware of the shows my parent-friends complain about (so, Peppa Pig
and In the Night Garden
mostly). But this one sounds really awesome! For so many
First, classical music for pre-schoolers! And not just "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" stuff either; this article uses as an example "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Then, that the animation and soundtrack were specifically designed to be easier for blind/partially-sighted people to follow. I'm really curious to see what this'd be like! Not many things I do see seem created with the likes of me in mind. (Except Mad Max
, obvs.) All this about "working with high contrast colours, having centrally focused action, bigger, definite (sometimes exaggerated) movements and holding on certain shots longer [than usual]" sounds really good to me! Plus, it's all audio described as well.
Next, I like...mostly...that
Melody's sight difficulties are never mentioned. "We often see her using her white cane, or placing her hand on top of her mum's whilst they cut something," he says. "It is never about what Melody can't do or needs help with, but always about what she can do and the methods she uses to do as much as most children."
I like that it's not assumed people need or are entitled to know/ask what other people's disabilities are, what caused them, or what effects they have on a person. But my own experience makes me a bit wary of focusing on what people can do, just because I'm aware of how much more work it can be to complete the tasks by which we're judged to be keeping up with our peers, and how invisible* that work tends to be anyway. "What we can do" is cute and celebrates independence when we see it in a kid, but once we're of working age it seems to be about how conveniently what-we-can-do can be exploited by potential employers and how little we deserve if we don't or can't work. Or maybe I'm just too grumpy lately. This is a mostly-positive point I was making here, honest.
But actually my favorite thing about this is a quote from the head teacher at an RNIB specialist school, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised he's good at talking about blindness in simple ways but I found this a really powerful sentence on the subject of how much blind people can actually see -- which I guess is a topic of great interest to sighted people...but also one that we often get wrong because we tend to assume that "blind" means "can't see anything at all." But this head teacher says "Many blind people and the majority of partially sighted people can recognise a friend at arm's length."
I just love that. I don't know why, but it makes me really happy. Like "I caught myself randomly remembering this on the bus the other day and that was enough to make me grin" kinds of happy. I like that it's true, of course -- being able to do that also implies a lot of useful stuff that should also be possible -- but, actually, given what I just said about defining people by their usefulness and productivity, I think the thing I love about this turn of phrase is that it's more about a benefit to the blind person themselves than it is about their usefulness to the rest of the world. The accomplishment of recognizing a friend will not get you a job or anything, it will just make you happy. This is a great metric, having friends within arm's length.* I tried hard to think of another way to express this because I attempt to keep metaphors equating sight with knowledge or concern and lack of sight with not knowing or not caring, but I'm so used to "visibility" in the context of both bisexual activism (where the main antidote to erasure and other forms of biphobia is visibility, to the extent that our celebration day every year is called "Bi Visibility Day") and disability activism (where much vital work is done contrasting visible and invisible disabilities/conditions as well as the spoons it's easy to see someone's expending, like trying to climb a flight of stairs or push themselves in a wheelchair, versus the less obvious drains on energy like struggling with cognitive demands or pain that is not obvious to the external world. Because of these invisible struggles and the struggles against invisibility, I know of no better word for what I'm talking about here. And I'm not saying it's a bad or offensive use of the word, just that it goes against my usual aims of trying not to talk about sight good blind bad (which of course also ties into connotations of light and darkness and can get pretty racist too).