How does a blind person do what they do?
Blind people everywhere, seem to surprise people in practically everything we do. And the main question from them continues to be how do you do that? And usually when you explain it to them it’s a “Really? Wow that is amazing!” It’s a stereotype much like that of a blind person sitting on the corner with our little tin cup.
When at a business event, the question I get most often is “How can you help us? You’re blind, you can’t possibly know security?” And then they listen to my experience, knowledge, and presentation skills. They are impressed but not enough to hire me. Because I’m blind I can’t help them because after all I’m blind, what do I know about security (I’ve been in the field for 33 years).
People, including close friends, don’t understand how I can do certain things that most everyone else takes for granted. Items such as:
- Clipping my own finger nails without cutting them to shreds
- Cooking on the stove. And the simple idea of boiling water…
- Hear sounds that most people don’t
- Get around without someone guiding me like I’m an invalid
Being a security professional and being blind is not easy. No one wants to take a chance on me because of my blindness, and a few innovative creative ideas that don’t fit into standard practice. But thank all of those techie geeks out there who make it almost effortless for me to do what I like best, writing and protecting lives. So, keeping on with security, let me explain a few of those things I do in a security context;
- Clipping my own finger nails
When you are conducting a threat assessment on a facility, are you meticulous, careful, & attempting to see things that aren’t necessarily in front of you? Of course you are. Another aspect that I’m sure, you consider is that you have to account for everything that may cause an issue, no matter how remote, small, or trivial it may be.
If I actually cut my finger while clipping… I staunch the blood before it gets worse. Likewise with security, you try to stop an incident before it gets worse. It’s never easy to do but it must be done. It takes that meticulous, attention to detail, & being results oriented to reach your goal. Isn’t that what you do?
- Cooking on the stove
Just like all other security issues you have to be meticulous & have proper planning to accomplish the goal. With cooking food that is scalding, you have to use the pot holders and ensure the pot isn’t too heavy to move safely. If the heat comes through the cloth, then you have to put it down…quickly. Likewise with the operations of your department, you have to be aware of the limitations of your officers & coach them carefully so that everything comes out okay. Additionally, you may have to be mentoring, and training, them over and above the minimum, including what you require, may be.
Sometimes you have to handle certain officers with pot holders. In other words they need to be ‘coddled’ and empathized with for a few minutes. But if it gets too much you gotta put them down & terminate. Coddling is not something any of us like to do but…
- Hearing sounds.
Some say I’m psychotic, or bi-polar, because I hear things that others don’t. And no, my hearing hasn’t gotten better since I’ve been blind, yet another stereotype. You have to pay attention. Especially to detail. Which means noises, sounds, & common items more than most.
When you’re alone in a dark warehouse at 0300 hours on a Sunday morning, your hearing has to be more alert. Rats or other animals can make the same noises as criminals trying to break in or get away with materials. You must have situational awareness and train your eyes (if they work), ears, & nose to recognize what should & shouldn’t be there.
- Getting around without a guide
Do you need a guide to get around a new place of employment? How about your security officers after a bit of on-the-job-training (OJT, can they get around a new post or assignment? Of course they can! So why would I be any different just because I’m blind?
Do you, and your officers, not get turned around and lost from time to time? We all do, whether it is at work or out on the town. Do I make it all the time alone? No. Just as you and your officers might, I get lost on occasion. And sometimes it takes me longer to acclimate to new areas than others but are you bereft of patience? Not trying to be insulting, but if you don’t have that patience then you walk away and don’t help us get around a new office or facility and we get lost. To most of us that means you don’t care and don’t want to be talking to us any way so why bother.
There are times when I do need a sighted guide, especially if I’ve never been to that location before or in a crowd, the worst for me. And to satisfy your curiosity yes I’ve bumped into walls more than once, but they are okay, just minor dents no holes or bad cracks.
There are thousands of people that are blind, or otherwise disabled, that are in management positions and work as consultants. Some are motivational speakers, lead workshops, and innumerable kinds of businesses. So, it’s not unusual for us to be employed and surprise people that we work and are producing for the betterment of society at large.
Being blind is only limiting because you can’t use your eyes in a world that is uisually oriented. I keep moving forward until I get it right. Nothing will hold me back, except myself. But then that’s the lesson for security professionals everywhere isn’t it? “Nothing is impossible. The only one holding you back is yourself”.
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear