It's Blindness Awareness Month. This time is dedicated to the estimated 2.2 billion people who suffer from some form of visual impairment around the world. One billion of these cases could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. So, we should all understand how to maintain optimal eye health and how to navigate life with visual impairments, whether for ourselves or loved ones.
“Why do you make t-shirts for blind people? If they can’t see designs, what’s the point in crafting one for them?“
These are the questions that we are constantly asked. People don’t see the importance of blind awareness in today’s society. They’re under the misconception that the world doesn’t need to know if someone’s blind. That the knowledge is irrelevant and may lead to further division in this growing polarizing climate.
This idea can’t be more detrimental.
Blind man Marco Zepeda experienced police brutality in the year 2018. While searching for a urinal in a gas station, Zepeda accidentally approached a police officer in a stall. The officer mistook Zepeda’s actions and brutally slammed him to the ground.
“I’m blind,” Zepeda screamed while being falsely detained. “Do you see my eyes?”
Though the officer never looked. In fact, the police department stated the officer never realized Zepeda was blind, claiming there weren’t any physical indicators that proved Zepeda was blind - even with his white plastic orbital prosthetic.
Situations like this happen on a daily occurrence - simply due to people not knowing when someone’s blind. Quite frankly, it’s the misconceptions that are the true problem.
Since there are constant misconceptions about disabilities, we must emphasize the importance of awareness.
It’s not just a hashtag. It’s not just a saying. It’s a movement. Today, people suffer from lack of awareness.
If a blind person were to enter a room of unsuspecting people, consider the challenges that would be imposed. The ignorance that would stricken every interaction. The hostility that would arise from not knowing the individual is blind, like Zepeda’s case.
If one were to try to give directions, consider the awkward conversation that’d ensue: “The door is over there” rather than “The door is two feet to your left, but be careful with the desk in front.” With a directive like the former, the instructions would spiral into an injury.
If a blind person were to grab for something and accidentally touch someone else, what would the reaction be? Would that person be understanding? Or would they lash out? Now imagine if the blind person were wearing an indicator of their disability. Would the reaction change? Would people be more understanding?
Of course they would. That is the power of awareness. The entire room needs to be situationally-aware to avoid harm to either party. A foundational knowledge is required to respect one another - and only awareness can achieve that.
T-shirts are not just clothes to Assistees. They’re opportunities to know one another without having to say a word. They’re opportunities to project disabilities. And since cases of mistreatment continue to skyrocket simply due to ignorance, we believe t-shirts can improve the world.
Our blind collection consists of clothes that project braille to associate the shirt with the wearer. When people see them, they’ll automatically realize the wearer is blind, bringing a sense of awareness. Bringing a sense of knowledge. Bringing a sense of respect.
Respect for the blind. Respect for the disabled. Respect for people like Marco Zepeda.