Do We Always Have to Say we are Blind?
By Bob Branco
January 15, 2021
For over three years, I, along with several other sports fans, have been recording a weekly podcast called Sports Round Table. Some of us on the panel are blind, while others are sighted. Obviously, it doesn’t matter if we are blind or sighted. We still know sports. Being that we produce a sports podcast, one of our major responsibilities is to market and promote the show as much as possible. So far, we are heard on several internet radio stations, and on a chat line bulletin board.
Recently, I contacted the director of a local radio reading service about including Sports Round Table as part of their program schedule. Keep in mind that this radio reading service offers material for blind listeners, including major newspapers, radio shows and other beneficial information. When I introduced Sports Round Table to the director, he had a lot to say about it. For one thing, he regards Sports Round Table as a regular sports show. Where there are many similar shows all over the country, he felt that we were too average to be part of his program schedule. However, he said he would consider airing the show on one condition. Those of us who are blind must identify ourselves as blind sports panelists on the air. I guess it doesn’t matter how average our podcast appears to be. If we introduce ourselves on the air as blind sports talk hosts, it indicates to the radio reading service that blind people are doing things for blind listeners.
As far as identifying ourselves as blind people on the show, I have a problem with it. Why should it matter that we’re blind? Despite our blindness, we are capable of doing ordinary things. Think about how this sounds. “Welcome to Sports Round Table. My name is Bob Branco, and I am blind.”
When I ask you if we always have to say we’re blind, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think we should accept our disability. It means that we are ordinary people who conduct ourselves normally. We just happen to be blind. What if we were black, Jewish or homosexual? Would a radio station want us to identify ourselves as such when we only talk about sports?
For the most part, I understand where the Radio Reading Service director is coming from. He runs a service for blind people, so he needs to prove that his programs and services are defined specifically that way. However, if Sports Round Table is too ordinary for his service, why should it make a difference if the panelists are blind or sighted? It is still regarded as an average show.
We, the blind panelists on Sports Round Table, have decided not to identify ourselves as such on the air, meaning that we are moving on from that particular radio reading service. In my opinion, it isn’t worth the extra effort and energy to be included on the radio reading service just so we can say we are blind people on every episode of Sports Round Table. There are many other media outlets that we can approach without this added condition.