My thoughts on the RNIB ad that’s causing such a stir

I had been noticing several tweets referencing an ad the RNIB put out for fundraising. The RNIB serves the blind and visually impaired community in the UK.

Today I finally asked what the stir was and was directed to this youtube of the ad. The ad features the story of Emma, a little girl who is losing her vision. The stars fade away and one day she’s blind, calling out to her mother who she can’t see. The uproar over the ad is over the use of such a story to ask for money, because the story portrays blindness negatively and makes being blind sound like the end of a life, since Emma can no longer have the childhood she once had.

Here is where I will try and control myself. We all have different experiences. Someone who can’t remember seeing isn’t going to relate to Emma. Someone who is well adapted to blindness either because they’ve been blind since birth or have been blind for a long time, isn’t going to relate to Emma. Such people will be offended at the way blindness is portrayed.

I relate to Emma. The stars didn’t fade over time for me. The last time I saw the stars I didn’t know it was my last time. My surroundings faded away in the space of one day. I didn’t have the presence of mind to stare at my cat or a picture of my mom before my sight faded. I did stare at my boyfriend as my sight faded, and just made out the three lines on my three year sobriety medallion before my sight faded. So I relate to Emma.

Does my story make you misty? Do you think you might be more apt to donate to an organization that helps the blind? How about my guide dog school? Are you moved to help?

How is that any different than the ad featuring Emma, a child who will have to relearn how to do things with her friends? I had to relearn how to do things with my friends and I wasn’t even a child. I’m in awe of the fact that Emma will be able to ride a bike again and I’m blind. Should I not be in awe of her?

We need organizations like the RNIB, ACB, NFB, local blind centers etc. I wouldn’t have the life I have today without the blind center here or Guide Dogs for the Blind where I got my dog, and those places need money. A person with a lot of money to donate who isn’t blind or low vision or knows someone who is might just have a child Emma’s age and when they think about their own child losing their sight, they can personalize blindness, making it easier for them to open their wallets.

The RNIB wasn’t asking for four pounds a day or whatever it was to fund a vacation for the CEO. They were asking for help for future people who will need their help. I just don’t have a problem with it. I understand those who do, I suppose. I can try to understand, I guess, but all I have is my own experience which is very much like the child Emma’s.

Plus, the narrator sounded like the butler from Downton Abby and I love that show.


Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, GDB, gratitude, misty eyes, mom, sobriety, twitter me this, youtube

6 Responses to My thoughts on the RNIB ad that’s causing such a stir

  1. Ro, I got engrossed in what you have said and realize I am commenting before going to listen to it … but I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying. I know there is a fine line at times … don’t portray like life is over, however, it is a journey, a loss that I can relate to and like you say — I don’t know where I would be without Guide Dogs for the Blind, my local blind center and other organizations that have helped support me. They do need funding and that is okay. I now will go click on it but thanks for letting me know and sharing.

  2. Just listened to it. Agree, love the narrator! I got the message that she lost her sight and needs some help/training to learn some new skills and such to reach for her stars. I see my own experience like Emmas and do see it as a loss that we get through and reach for the stars. I read through the comments and don’t see it that way as far as that she was portrayed as helpless and such … for me realistically it was/is a loss but that doesn’t mean my life isn’t beautiful. I’m probably rambling :).

  3. Ro

    I asked another friend who lost her sight later in life what she thought, and she felt the same way I did and that you do. It might be wrong to say so, but I think those of us who lost our vision after having sight really do see things quite differently than those who have had visual impairments or blindness since childhood.

    You and I grew up sighted and I won’t speak for you but I know I used to be in awe of blind people. I was never one to pity them, though I did see a blind guy crossing the street diagonally once while I was driving, waiting to turn. I couldn’t help, stuck in my car and I felt horrible for him, but he made it out ok.

    I can draw on those experiences to see it from all different sides. The sighted person in awe of the blind one, the sighted person who feels pity for the one in the middle of the road, only to see him come out ok, the blind one who remembers those old days.

    I’m just saddened that we have to focus on things like this when there are such bigger problems in the world. I really think I need to get back into therapy. I’m really slowly losing hope in humanity. That might sound dramatic, but I’m really struggling.

  4. It’s really interesting to hear your views on this. Sensible. We need more of that…

  5. Ro

    Professor! Brought a smile to my face to see you round these parts this mornin’!

  6. Correction: People who have been blind since birth or for a long time who can’t see outside of their own little bubble won’t relate to Emma. I’ve been blind since the day I was born, and I totally get it. You kind of have to be a fool not to get it. Going blind later in life is generally more traumatic and difficult to adjust to than being born this way is. Hello, this isn’t exactly rocket surgery here. All you have to do is meet a few people, observe and listen to them. Some of the struggles are the same because of the nature of the disability, but many of them are different. Even our similarities are kind of different, because things I take for granted are entirely new to Emma here. There’s quite a bit more to come to terms with than there is for a guy like me, because being blind is the only thing I’ve ever known. You can’t miss something you don’t have. I got to learn things my way right away. Gives me a bit of an advantage, no? If you were to give me eyes that work tomorrow, I’d have no idea what I was doing and would, believe it or not, be just as lost as the guy next to me who just went blind.

    I’m a pretty independent person. Can do a lot on my own. But I didn’t just wake up and figure it all out by myself. Organizations helped me and my family out when I was young, and this didn’t happen for free. Ok, so for me it happened for free, but why do you suppose that was possible? It was possible because of donations and funding, which is exactly what the RNIB is after. There are some truly bad fundraising campaigns, but this isn’t one of them. It’s a completely realistic story, one that I’ve seen play out for people far more than once.

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