UTOPIA – THE MISSUNDERSTOOD DREAM
Ah, a utopian dream; the ideal world. What would be in it then? Well, in my mind, there would be no discrimination, no prejudice, no questionning about the history of my sight loss, no access refusals to taxis and other services, no need for concessions, no need to fight for information in the right format and no need to get annoyed at those who walk into me. Additionally, there would be real and yes I mean real equality of job opportunities, education that was a right not a fight, a real choice of leisure opportunities, services were not based on post codes and all needs were fully understood. Above all, Utopia need not be shaped on everyone fitting the extreme ideal, but should be modelled around the need to ensure that we are all supported to feel positive and part of society.
I’m forgetting one thing though, utopia is a dream really because a reality would have to see a dramatic change in social attitudes, perceptions and interests. Yes, I know there are many situations where people have striven for and gained a great deal of success out of this life and long may that continue. We cannot assume though that because some have been successful (and yes I’ve gained a great deal out of life myself) that the same can be applied to everyone. Just because we have laws that state equality and open access to all, doesn’t mean that human nature and perceptions are going to play along with that.
Attitude and perception change is a huge task. It would mean fundamentally challenging beliefs. It would also mean breaking down the humans need to categorise and associate perceptions of things like disability. To do this, laws not only have to be worded, but they need to be backed by strict and meaningful enforcement. For instance, access refusals need to be fully criminalised and punnishable. Resources also need to be fully put into things like educational and employment support; something sadly that many don’t see as being profitable. Local authorities, for instance, are not willing or able to put the right resources into supporting VI students in local provision, but at the same time, because of an economic and idealistic whim, they will not give them the opportunity of gaining real support through specialised//supportive provision (out of the area).
Utopia is a dream; reality should tell us that this is one that cannot be applied to the world today. Those in authority who believe so, are sleepwalking through a haze of their own misunderstanding and delusion. As visually impaired people, its crucial that support and a realistic understanding of how we experience life must be fully appreciated before any thoughts of utopia (ideal world) are applied.