by Teddie-Joy Remhild
In Paul Edwards' article entitled "Musings: Who is King?," I am responding to the invitation to provide another perspective. Mine is a vision loss experience which did not occur either in childhood or in later years — the most common age groups losing vision today. I cannot relate to the experience of living in an environment populated by both totally blind and legally blind with low vision. I lived in the totally sighted world until I was 32 years old. At that time in my life, I was a married, suburban housewife with 3 small children. I had never known a blind person, either total or partial. Three years after my diagnosis of juvenile macular degeneration, I divorced and became a Department of Rehabilitation client. I needed a job in order to support my 3 children and was directed to DOR by a sighted friend who worked with blind children.
My relationship with DOR led me to "blind female jobs" in the 1970s. I had no indication that my low vision was an advantage, as I worked with several totally blind women as a medical transcriber for 9 years. During my relationship with my rehabilitation counselor, I was introduced to the organizations of the blind, beginning with NFB and two years later, the American Council of the Blind in 1991. I was recruited into the ACB by a totally blind employee of the city of Los Angeles, where I was working at that time.
It was only in my experiences with NFB and ACB that I became aware of a distinction between totally blind and high partials. One of the differences was that I was perceived as a useful guide by many totals. At the time I was flattered to be noticed for whatever reason. I also observed that I was, on the other hand, deemed inadequate as a non-braille reader and lacking in childhood school for the blind life experience.
I also became aware, over the years of my membership in ACB, that a political hierarchy existed. The end result was an eventual realization that I fit neither into the world of the sighted nor the world of the blind, and not even into any world deemed "low vision." It did occur to me that the totally blind did reign supreme in the organizations of the blind.
Thus it is that I traverse an organization of one. This journey I travel is now known as my solitary sojourn, and of that organization of one, I am the queen!