Naomi Cohn
Entries from the Braille Encyclopedia

Naomi Cohn - Entries from the Braille Encyclopedia

Creative Nonfiction
Naomi Cohn is a poet and teaching artist who works with older adults and people living with disabilities. She’s also worked as a community organizer, encyclopedia copy editor, and grant writer. Her… Read more »
R Dean Johnson
The Boys of Midsummer

R Dean Johnson - The Boys of Midsummer

Creative Nonfiction
R Dean Johnson is the author of Californium: A Novel of Punk Rock, Growing Up, and Other Dangerous Things (Plume) and a story collection, Delicate Men (Alternative Book). “The Boys of Midsummer”… Read more »

Entries from the Braille Encyclopedia

Naomi Cohn

Blind

Blind alley a dead end. Blind pig an illegal saloon. Blind drunk what you get there. Blind staggers a disease of horses. Blind story floor of a building without windows. Blind spot where the car lurks in the next lane.


Total blindness is complete lack of visual perception. No sense of light—unless interpreted by heat. No visual sense of movement. No color, depth, or shape. Less than ten percent of legally blind people are totally blind.

For many years, my obscure retinal condition failed to render me any kind of blind. I described my slowly eroding vision as illegal blindness. Legal blindness is all about determining if a person is considered sufficiently damaged to be eligible for certain benefits. Measured by how big a slice of the world one can see—visual field. Or how sharply one is able to see that world—acuity.

The legal definition of blindness misses most of the lived experience of altered sight. There are many ways of not seeing. Demonstrations of retinal degeneration often show a calm blank circle at the center of a photo or video. My experience is something like that and nothing like… Read more »