Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bacon Bits: Growing Up Fisher - How the Media sees the Blind!

By Everette Bacon

There has been quite a buzz in the blind community about a new sitcom that recently aired on NBC called Growing up Fisher

Growing Up Fisher family picture.
This show is about a blind lawyer named Mel Fisher and his family and the challenges the family faces when parents separate. The show is loosely based from the life of the show’s creator, D.J. Nash. 

After viewing the first 9 episodes, I have come to my own conclusion that the media still has a long way to go in properly portraying blindness to the public.

Breaking down the pilot episode, I was truly excited after viewing the first scene. Yes, I said the word “viewing” even though I am functionally blind and only have light perception. 

I “watch” television and movies audibly using technology called Descriptive Audio. This means during the scenes where actors do not have dialogue, a narrator comes on and describes the scene to me. They might describe what the characters look like or how they are dressed. 

The narrator also might point out some key objects that are sure to affect the characters and the entire scene. During this first scene, Mel and his son Henry are walking in the backyard. Mel is clearly holding on to Henry as the boy guides his blind father to a large tree. Mel is holding a chainsaw in his other hand. 

Mel says to his son, “Tell me how high the tree is and which direction the back of the house is."

His son says with trepidation, “Really tall and behind your left shoulder.” Mel tells his son that this is now a danger zone and that the boy should run into the house. The boy protests, but Mel fires up the chainsaw and the boy runs into the house. The next scene shows Mel making a precise diagonal cut of the tree and as he yells, “Timber!” The camera shows his wife smiling with adoration at her husband’s independence.

Now, if the show could have ended right at this point, I would have jumped for joy and proudly state that blind people really have come a long way in the eyes of the media! But as the rest of the show progresses, we learn that Mel is some kind of super human, who has been able to hide the fact that he is blind for most of his life except to his family and very close friends. 

The show states that he was able to make it through law school without anyone learning of his blindness, and that he and his brother, who is also an attorney, are able to hide Mel’s disability from their firm’s clients. Mel is also able to get around without a cane and that a guide dog is the answer to any of his travelling problems.

I could go on and on about the perpetual stereotypes of blindness the sitcom demonstrates, but I will spare you with any more details. My reasoning for this is because thankfully, the show has been cancelled due to poor ratings.

I think that last statement says it all. Maybe one day the media will see blind people for who they really are: just ordinary people with a characteristic of blindness and nothing more. Maybe…. 

Bacon Bits is a recurring post by Everette Bacon, president of the Utah National Federation of the Blind, supervisor of technology and employment at the Utah Division of Services for the Blind, and friend of UATP. You can follow Everette on Twitter @baconev. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Your junk can be a treasure for the Options fundraiser garage sale

Moving? Spring Cleaning? Downsizing?                    
You can donate any clothes, furniture, etc. in good condition to Options for Independence of Cache Valley to support the annual fundraiser garage sale.

Options is a non-profit serving people with disabilities. Funds raised during the June 21st sale will be used to support the Youth program.

Donate items by June 18th, Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Drop-off items at 106 E. 1120 N. Logan.