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What do blind people see?

Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | September 13, 2023 (Last update: September 13, 2023)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website: www.lalitkumar.in

The experience of “seeing” for blind people can vary widely depending on the individual and the nature of their blindness. Here are some different scenarios:

Congenitally Blind

People who are blind from birth, also known as congenitally blind, generally do not have a concept of sight or visual experiences, as they’ve never had them. Instead, they rely on their other senses like touch, hearing, taste, and smell to understand and interact with the world. For them, the idea of “seeing” is often not meaningful in the way it is to sighted people.

Blindness Acquired Later in Life

Those who lose their sight later in life may have visual memories and can often dream visually. They may “see” varying levels of light and darkness or different kinds of visual noise, depending on the nature of their blindness.

ALSO READ: Why do Blind People Wear Dark Sunglasses Even Though They Can’t See?

Cortical Blindness

Some people are cortically blind due to damage to the visual cortex. They may still perceive light but not shapes, colors, or objects. In some cases, they may experience ‘blindsight,’ where they can react to visual stimuli without consciously seeing it.

Various Conditions

  • Total Blindness: Some people experience total blindness, which means they see nothing at all, not even darkness or light.
  • Functional Blindness: Some individuals may be classified as blind but have some level of vision, like the ability to perceive light and basic shapes.

It’s important to note that the experience of blindness can be as unique as the individuals who live with it, and there is a wide range of visual impairments and experiences within the blind community. Some people may describe their visual experience as seeing complete darkness, while others may describe it as seeing a void of any kind, without the presence or absence of color.

Finally, “seeing” for blind individuals is often a multi-sensory experience that cannot be easily captured by focusing solely on the lack of visual input. Many people who are blind develop heightened abilities in their other senses and learn to navigate the world effectively using tactile, auditory, and other sensory cues.

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