Karen Karsh: "Blindness is one of the scariest concepts on the planet to people who aren't blind"
What do you hope the general sighted public can learn from the work ACBCO does?
KK: It comes down to daily survival. And little things like that can be overwhelming. I have a great time in the dark, because I'm usually the one that's performing (at "In the Dark" events.) (Laughs.) I think it's fun - people have a great time and it gives them a whole new awareness, and that's what "Raisin' Cane" is all about.
The thing that worries me the most is, everybody will eventually have someone in their family who has to deal with visual impairment. We have 30,000 people in Denver alone right now.
BB: The estimate now is that one in three people age sixty-five (and older) will have a degenerative eye disease. That's the boomer population - we're living longer. We're the old hippie generation. Greater incidences of diabetes, stuff like that.
KK: My point is, somehow, in everyone's life, you will be touched by this. Why not learn more about it and understand that even if it is a part of your life, it isn't the end of your life. I am so dedicated and committed to that, I think it's the major reason -- beyond having the pleasure of helping people - that I am part of the council.
Also, the other issue is that we as a group (the ACBCO) do not tell people how to be blind. We give them opportunities and options, and that's the key. I think there are many ways to live your life and handle issues and challenges. You have to find what works for you.
BB: Each person has different learning styles. Some people are very kinetic. The other thing is, (someone) may need help learning how to work an oven, because (he or she is) a big cook. Someone else might need help throughout their whole house. Someone might just need a certain adaptive aid. Each person has different needs and different learning styles. We tailor everything we do to the individual.
Initially, I myself didn't even know how to speak about "blind" or "visually-impairment" in a way that was, I don't know, PC?
KK: It's the way you're doing it. Some people don't like to contend with the language; but I happen to be blind, and I'm not afraid to say it. There are other people who like the words "low vision." We tend to use visually impaired. Some people use "sight-impaired." I would say use blind and visually impaired and hopefully no one will yell at you. (Laughs.)
It isn't something people have to be terrified about -- we're used to not seeing.
Want to participate in the first annual Raisin' Cane race and fundraiser? Head to Skyline Park, at Arapahoe and 16th streets, at 8 a.m. this Monday, October 15. Participants are asked for a $20 suggested donation to benefit the American Council of the Blind of Colorado, and spectators are welcome. For more information on the awareness day, visit the organization's website.