Changing What It Means To Be Blind

Changing What It Means To Be Blind – Using Positive Imagery to Change Public Perceptions

By Graciela Tiscareño-Sato


Parents: you know that great video you have of your child enjoying his or her favorite recreational activity? America needs to see it. Would you please share your video and photos for a new public awareness project?


If you’ve ever heard a stranger’s comments of pity while walking next to your child walking independently with her cane, you understand the need for this initiative.


Adults (if you’re blind) --if you’ve ever been rushed across the street by an ignorant (albeit, well-meaning) stranger, you understand better than anyone why showcasing your independence through the media to the general population is desperately important.


And if you, as a parent, have ever wondered what it’s going to take to change widespread perceptions of blindness in our society so that your child will live and work in a different environment, you’ll want to be a part of this new project too.


What is this new initiative?

It’s called Liberate Us and it is part of a non-profit foundation based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Liberate Us started from the realization by two moms that if we want people to know what we know about blindness, then we must SHOW them these things are true.


In the nine years after completing my global MBA, I’ve worked for a European software and services company in a global marketing and public relations role. I’ve used the power of the web and its proliferation of multimedia and social networking tools to communicate messages to audiences around the globe. My favorite activity has been to interview our customers using our solutions to showcase their success stories using various media. I’ve learned to show not tell to persuade people.


The Liberate Us project is my way of using these marketing and PR skills to begin to change public perceptions about blindness.


A key objective of Liberate Us is to positively impact the general population’s perception of people who are blind by showing videos and telling stories of independent, literate, happy people who just happen to be blind.


America needs to see that people who are blind can lead companies, start businesses, go to college, ski downhill, win medals in Beijing, read, write, raise children, teach others, contribute to scientific discovery, etc We must show positive images constantly so they can see for themselves what blind people can accomplish. And we must show these positive images using the media most consumed by Americans—video, both online and on TV.


If we don’t raise awareness of blindness, our TV/You Tube-watching population will remain uninformed about the capabilities of blind individuals. As the mother of an eight year-old blind child, I simply cannot stomach the idea of status quo attitudes prevailing much longer. In a decade when my daughter begins to look for her first high-school internship, things must be different. Therefore, we all need to take decisive action now.


Liberate Us has already launched a media campaign to SHOW not tell, using video as the medium to demonstrate this positive message. We’ve started this campaign with videos of my daughter Milagro, who is a fiercely independent child. San Francisco’s largest TV station (KGO-TV) recently did a news story about our project. The news story is linked from Below the video clip is the full text article.


Are YOU ready to join in this national public awareness campaign?

Please join us and submit your own You Tube video clip of your child (or of yourself if you are a blind adult) doing something ordinary or extraordinary that will demonstrate independence, competency, literacy, or normalcy to those that don’t yet get it.  Ideas for video you might want to share are - Braille literacy, public speaking, mobility, sports and recreation, performing arts, or anything else that shows a blind person enjoying something they like to do.


  • Got video of your child reading a Braille poem in school? Please share it!
  • Got video of your child writing her name on a Brailler, keyboard or slate and stylus? People need to see it.
  • Got video of your child walking through the mall with his friends? Please share.
  • Got video of your child giving a speech using a portable refreshable Braille display? Let’s see it.
  • How about your child skiing, surfing, doing gymnastics, riding a horse, climbing a wall, hiking, enjoying an amusement park ride? All of these would make wonderful videos to share with the public.

Of course these are just examples. Liberate Us is looking for any video clips showing whatever you believe is positive imagery.


To share your videos – please follow these two steps:

  1. Upload a one to three minute video clip that supports this awareness message at You Tube. Here are two examples:

Toddler walks with cane during O&M lesson

Preschooler descends escalator steps with cane


If you’ve never uploaded video to You Tube before, please write to me directly at and I’ll send instructions to you.


Once your video is uploaded, copy the unique URL that appears in your browser window and go to step two.


  1. Go to Beneath the video clip, we’ve created a “tell us your story” box.  Tell us what’s in the video clip. Describe the person, the event, and anything else you want the audience to know about the video clip and the person in it.  Paste the unique URL to your You Tube video here with your story and send it.


That’s it.


Once Liberate Us has collected about twenty videos, we will aggregate them into a single You Tube channel and begin the national media outreach program. Liberate Us will offer the video collection of positive video images as our evidence to the media that what we say is true. The NFB and NOPBC will be featured prominently in the news releases that will announce the content because we are the community providing the proof.


Liberate Us is actively seeking funding from foundations to professionally produce new content, success stories in video, audio and written forms. The community-created video library will be our best examples of the types of people we will be able to showcase as we build the library of professionally produced content. This new content will be used not only to pitch to the media, but also to inspire families of the youngest blind children, most of whom have never met a person who is blind. All of this content will support the same objective—showing  positive images to change what it means to be blind.


Remember that for these audiences, seeing is believing. People talk about compelling human-interest stories they see on TV and online. Liberate Us will feed the public images and stories, starting a viral conversation about how independent, literate, competent blind people are, beginning with toddlers with canes and building up from there.


Will you please join in? Launching a big multimedia-based push will begin to change widespread attitudes about blindness. Let’s use today’s video-based media to change the minds of many….with proof of our successes as blind adults, blind children and parents of blind children.

If you know families who might want to read about this campaign in Spanish, please write to me and I will send you the link to the first published article in Spanish that recently ran in a California bilingual newspaper. If you have any questions, please write to me at


Please spread the word about this initiative to others so more may participate in this campaign. We look forward to seeing your videos!


Graciela Tiscareno-Sato
NFB and NOPBC California