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An Alphabet of Blind and Disabled Joy

Kathie Schneider, retired clinical psychologist and Benetech Board member, reflects on the joy she experiences as a blind adult

Recently, I saw a book, Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration, by Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts, as well as a quote by Regina Gunapranata, that made me think a lot about blind/disability joy. Anger, sadness, and fear abound for me as I grapple with ableism, but sometimes I need to focus on joy instead.

“We need to see stories with BIPOC protagonists experiencing love, joy, and pleasure. We need to practice world building, where we visualize the world that we want.”

Regina Gunapranata, “The Case for Joy in BIPOC Stories”

Alphabet of Blind Joy

Here is my alphabet of blind joy:

A: advocacy work for increased access when you can see progress

B: bird songs, even when I’m not able to identify the bird

C: card game with Brailled cards

D: described video of a popular movie from Netflix

E: escaping with a good book; with Bookshare and other sources there are millions to choose from

F: first fresh asparagus, rhubarb, radishes…from the farmers’ market

G: game of chase with Calvin

H: humor like the silly memes on Facebook that someone has described; even Alexa tells jokes (Did you hear about the cat who thought she was a crow? She kept saying: “paw, paw”)

I: information access – so much better for blind people than it was when I was young

J: jays and crows and other corvids

K: kids who remind me how wonderful ordinary things really are

L: lounging on the back steps and feeling the sun on my face

M: music to fit my mood at the push of a button

 N: naps

O: odors wafting around the neighborhood like fresh-mowed grass and barbecuing

P: phoning a friend and catching up on their world

Q: quiet time to reflect and refresh

R: rain on the roof when you know you don’t have to go out for a while

S: stroking my dog’s soft coat or the needles on my new, white, pine tree

T: saying “thanks” to Higher Power or people who have been kind

U: useful work, paid or volunteer

V: Voiceover on my iPhone reading everything on the screen (except pictures that it can’t read)

W: Wordle – especially when I get it in three or four tries

X: experimenting with a new recipe from the internet or from Alexa

Y: yodeling, yowling, singing, whistling in the privacy of my backyard or shower

Z: Zydeco music from Amazon to do my exercising to

What is your alphabet of joy?

This article originally appeared on Kathie’s blog and is reprinted with permission.

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