Saturday, May 11, 2013

Blind Athletes, Blindness, & Gillard's Star Gazing

From yesterday's New York Times article "It’s Just Another Hurdle for Blind Athletes:"
Holding a fiberglass pole, Aria Ottmueller bent and touched the runway to locate her starting mark. A coach helped position her front foot. The foam vaulting pit at her high school appeared only as a blue smudge. The crossbar was invisible to her.
A thousand miles away, in East Texas, Charlotte Brown struggled to distinguish the runway from surrounding grass or artificial turf. So her coach placed a strip of carpet along the edge of the runway to provide a hazy visual contrast and guide her straight toward the bar.
This weekend, Ottmueller, 17, and Brown, 15, are competing in their state track and field meets in the pole vault, pioneers with severe visual impairment who are further redefining what is considered an able-bodied athlete and what is considered a disabled one. In the past, athletes with disabilities were not accommodated in mainstream high school sports. Now, athletes like Ottmueller and Brown are not only competing, but also succeeding against their able-bodied peers.
For a novel with a blind narrator, try Star Gazing by Linda Gillard:
Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister, Louisa, a successful novelist. Marianne's passionate nature finds solace and expression in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, a man she encounters on her doorstep one winter's night. While Marianne has had her share of men attracted to her because they want to rescue her, Keir makes no concession to her condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, and yet oddly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to "show" her the stars?

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