Why I Asked a Blind Man to Take My Photo
It was something I had never thought to ask a blind person.
I mean, why can’t someone without vision take a good photo? I handed my camera to Brian Bushway, a flash sonar instructor with World Access for the Blind. He had just finished teaching a group how to use sound to navigate.
He placed his cane at his side, tilted his head a little and wore a puzzled look.
Mine was one of sheer optimism. What happened next brought home the totality of the 2015 No Barriers Summit for me.
Sure, I had captured so much personal transformation at the Summit.
I watched a man pull himself out of a wheelchair and up a rock wall.
I saw a skateboarder with a prosthetic leg nail a trick that made my head spin.
I saw a student stop her cries for help and move one trembling foot ahead of the next, summoning the courage to cross the entire ropes course.
But those were all things those people they did for themselves. In my brain they were catalogued in a folder that started and stopped in the first-person. That was their experience, their barrier. Not mine. I had no ownership of it. No responsibility for it. No contribution to make to it.
Watching Brian confidently guide blindfolded participants around Canyons Resort with the click of his tongue, it was as if he was the only one who could really see. I forgot he was blind.
And when I had to remind myself of that fact, I realized No Barriers isn’t just about breaking the limits people place on themselves. It’s also about exposing the limits we unconsciously place on others.
I know deep down in my bones that people can do anything they set their minds to, no matter their abilities. But my next level of No Barriers awareness came when I started to consider what I could give others the opportunity to do.
How could I use what I had to elevate others?
So in the heat of that realization, I asked a blind man to take a photo of me.
“You want me to take your photo?” Brian asked.
“Why not?” I replied.
He brought the camera to his right eye, asked me to make some noise, and swiveled to place my image perfectly inside of the viewfinder he had no use for.
It all clicked.
It’s not only a great image of me, it’s my favorite photo from more than 13,000 images captured at the Summit.