January 27, 2015

Tommy Edison, who often answers questions about what it's like to be blind, offers his questions for sighted people.

That's one of many highly entertaining videos from Edison, whom I encountered for the first time through BBC.com:
Blind since birth, Edison set up a YouTube channel to review films from a blind person's perspective. The comments section was quickly filled with sighted people fascinated about what it's like to be blind. Edison then launched a second channel to answer questions like "can blind people draw?" and "how do blind people dream?"
I've watched a lot of the videos, including the film reviews, and recommend them all, but the questions for sighted people made the biggest impression on me. Not only does he wonder at the sense of sight — what's it like to go into a room and know where everything is? — but he wonders at the failure of sighted people to see what's right in front of them. If you can see, how can you sometimes not see, like if someone is handing you something. He's always listening, and if you call his name, he always hears. How can you not see?

(I've used italics to represent remembered quotes, possibly but not necessarily verbatim.)


tim maguire said...

Very interesting. Love what he had to say about fashion and girl-watching. But I was caught by the part you highlight--on the one hand he is amazed that we can remember what everything is, but then he is amazed that we can not notice certain things.

Aren't these two reactions contradictory?

FleetUSA said...

Thanks for the link Professor.

Original Mike said...

Fashion isn't any less mystifying when you can see it.


Original Mike said...

I watched several of these. My favorite was the one on Intangibles.

What color is the sun? The same color as the door.
The Grand Canyon. Isn't it just like a big, long hole?
The horizon. I guess I get it.

Shanna said...

Fashion isn't just visual. Walking in heels feels different as well.

I like the point about going back to hearing with the cars and his little cackle..

Peter said...

"If you can see, how can you sometimes not see, like if someone is handing you something."

Yet the concept of "focus" surely applies to senses other than sight (i.e., why when you focus on one conversation in a crowded room you may not hear any of the others).

(In addition to not seeing that semi in front of your car because your focus was deep into something "important" on your cellphone.)

Wince said...

Just know I'd like to party with this guy.

Original Mike said...

Did your parents wrap your Christmas presents?

traditionalguy said...

And how did Helen Keller do it???

B said...

All those things you see, how do yo focus on one or recognize one? Same way you can focus on and recognize a voice in a crowded room.

Really ridiculous line of questioning if he would just take a few seconds to compare sight and sound.

Original Mike said...

"what's it like to go into a room and know where everything is? "

Extremely, extremely useful.

Roger Sweeny said...

what's it like to go into a room and know where everything is?

But you don't. You know where a few things are that you notice. And you get a feeling for how the room is organized. But if you were then asked to close your eyes and tell where object X is, there is a good chance that you couldn't do it because you didn't really "see" it the first time around.

What you can do is look around for it when you open your eyes--and probably be able to find it.

Original Mike said...

But isn't that his point, Roger? Sighted people don't have to remember where everything is. He does.

Anonymous said...

It's weird to think about it, but he doesn't realize that site is directed like touch.

If you're not looking at something, you can't see it. Sounds are all around us. If a sound is behind us, we still hear it. But if a sight is behind us, we don't see it.

And while that seems obvious to us, maybe it's not so obvious to a blind person.

chillblaine said...

Saints alive Althouse! How can you be so tireless? I can't even process your processing speed. There can't possibly be anyone else on the internet producing this much content and its attendant apprehension.