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Old 07-27-2011, 10:41 AM   #24
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,154
Re: teaching the blind

I have posted several times on this subject, but I feel the need to post again. I think these are important conversations to hold and I am seeing a common thread draw through the last several posts. In presenting an argument about whether disabled students may or may not practice aikido it is important to remain focused on the argument. Not all people who advocate against disabled persons hate disabled persons. Not all people who present a perspective contrary to political correctness are bigots or idiots. These are not valid responses to an argument, they are occlusive maneuvers to change the focus of the argument. You want to advocate to allow blind people to train, you present your facts and counter the facts presented in the argument.

What if I were to change this argument, specific to vision. What if I were comparing fighter pilots and claimed vision should not be a factor in determining fighter pilots? What about driving? What about sports? What about any activity where our God-given talents are compared to another's? In fact, why do we even correct vision? Everyone is equal, right? Or, is it OK for a blind person to train aikido because deep down, we feel sorry for that person? What if this is our way of apologizing to that person for their condition?

Isn't someone who would shortchange anyone a low-life? Why just blind people? Is short-changing a sighted person OK? Aren't we actually just a little prejudice towards disabled people? Shouldn't we be a little prejudice?

Blindness is a significant challenge to overcome, don't diminish the condition by implying it does not affect a person's abilities. Aikido is a martial art, don't diminish its complexity and effectiveness by implying a blind person can perform to the same expectation as a sighted person.

I feel training anyone with disability is a challenge. I believe there needs to be a better set of expectations for that individual, I believe the students of the dojo need to exert additional care when working with that individual. Its the choice of the dojo to assume the additional responsibility to accommodate the special needs of that student. Can it be done? Absolutely. Should it be done? Conditionally.

Give credit to the courage these individuals display in choosing to undertake activities that strain their abilities. Appreciate the challenge they undertake and support their efforts. But understand your responsibility to set for them reasonable expectations. Understand that when you set poor expectations, you are risking their safety.

Last edited by jonreading : 07-27-2011 at 10:44 AM.
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