I’d think so but I’m not sure, tbh. I’d say yes because having to wear glasses means you have differing abilities than those who have 20/20 vision. Anyone else have more in depth feedback on this? I admittedly can only answer this when using the idea that “disability” means differing abilities. Hope this helps!
I say yes, it’s just that it’s hard to think of it as such because we’re so used to seeing people with glasses and we can hide that we need lenses by wearing contacts and so on. But without our lenses we are some variation of blind. I’m not at the point yet where I would be considered legally blind without my glasses (and I think you get that designation if your vision can’t be corrected to 20/20 or to within a particular range near that or something similar) but every time I need new ones I can see it happening eventually. (It probably won’t. I’m old enough now that I’ll probably need bifocals or something first.)
Glasses are technically Assistive Technology. This means that they are a piece of technology that we use to help us manage a disability. They are not biologically a part of us, but they might as well be for how strongly we depend on them. They are just as legitimately Assistive Technology as wheelchairs, crutches, iPads, DynaMytes, PECS books, hearing aids, and white canes are.
I actually think glasses and contact lenses are a really good example of how disability and Assistive Technology can become normalized over time. Eventually it can be something people don’t really worry about or think about; it’s almost expected. And so people who use corrective lenses don’t face as much ableism as other disabled people do, because society has accepted and accommodated this particular type/degree of disability. (Note that people who are legally blind don’t benefit from this normalization; according to the social model of disability, if corrective lenses work for you then you aren’t disabled anymore but if they don’t then you definitely are. And this is part of why the social model isn’t 100% accurate; if I take off my glasses, I can’t see, and the world really isn’t set up to deal with me unless I’m wearing them. I am objectively disabled if I don’t have the Assistive Technology in place, and no amount of acceptance of my poor vision is going to fix that.)
Now if they could just make it so that 3D films would actually work for me (and my astigmatism), and if only wearing two pairs of glasses at such movies wasn’t so ridiculous.
(Also, sorry to get into disability theory here. It’s a thing I feel is way overly simplified.)
No. That would not be a disability if your vision is correctable. That would be an impairment, but society is set up to deal with you. It deals with you by giving you glasses. Problem solved.
A disability is a mismatch between the society and the person. In this society, most glasses-wearers are not disabled.
(If your vision isn’t fully correctable, that’s different.)
^ This. Also, I regularly go without my contacts because I’m often too lazy to put them in. I can do this easily without many problems, and my vision is pretty bad. I also think calling one’s vision without glasses/contacts “some variation of blind” is pretty problematic. It’s not comparable to blindness or even low vision. Our lived experiences are completely different, both in terms of how society treats us and what our eyes can do.
I think we need to be careful what we call a disability. I saw a post a while back that compared taking someone’s glasses off of them, putting them on, and saying, “Wow, you have really bad vision,” to knocking someone out of their wheelchair, sitting in it, and saying, “Wow, you have really bad legs.” (This is all paraphrased, and I may be remembering some of it wrong, but that’s the gist of it.) They also said that people “wouldn’t” do the latter, when ableist violence is clearly fucking rampant. So I found that post incredibly problematic and thought it illustrated how trivial most people think ableism is (as shitty as it is to do that to someone who wears glasses, it’s not comparable to ableism, and it’s not on the level of ableist violence). Anyway, I feel like referring to people who need glasses/contacts as disabled opens the door for that kind of thing, which I really do not want to see more of.
Another thing is that people who wear glasses/contacts never identify as disabled due to that fact, in my experience (they may identify as disabled for other reasons, of course). And the reason why comes back to the social model of disability: No one/nothing is constantly reminding them they’re disabled and pressuring them to make their disability a central part of their identity. There is no ableism for them to internalize, it’s just a matter of a lack of utility/necessity.
And how many other assistive devices (which I agree glasses are) can be considered “cool” by abled people in a non-fetishizing way? (Or as a prop, like canes in some performances.) None that I know of. Disability= inherently uncool and ugly. Glasses= depends.
I could give more examples, but you get the idea. I’m really pretty shocked that anyone is even suggesting this. At some point in history, I’m sure near/far-sightedness was a disability, but just because it was then doesn’t mean it is now. Oppressive systems are constantly changing who can and cannot fully assimilate over time.
Well, crap. I obviously buggered that up. I think I got off on a tangent before I even got started (that’s a new record for me, usually it takes at least a paragraph).
I definitely did NOT mean to imply that people who require corrective lenses should start claiming “disabled” as a label for themselves! That would be ridiculous. There are things we have to deal with regularly that we shouldn’t, like insurance not covering the full cost of our glasses (I wear $400 on my face every single day, and my insurance only pays for the eye exam and $250 of the glasses, every two years), but that is not really comparable to the daily systemic oppression of people with disabilities. We just aren’t considered disabled by society now, and honestly that’s okay with me. (Everyone should get eye exams regularly, by the way, not just people who need lenses; it’s important for your eye health.)
What I was trying to say, in the end, was that glasses and poor-but-correctable vision are an example of disability becoming normalized and accepted over time. (And I realize that this is not actually answering the original question. That’s what I mean by “I got off on a tangent before I even got started.”)
I stand by my statement that without our lenses we are disabled, though. If all the corrective lenses disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, I would not be able to see well enough to drive. I’m still good enough that I can read if I get the words close enough to my eyes, and I could probably manage cooking if I stuck to recipes I know by heart. I am by no means legally blind. (And if there’s a better term for the “some variation of blind” that I used in my original response, let me know! I love words and learning better terms for things!)
I take issue with the concept of “impairment” vs “disability” because “impairment” implies that something is less of a problem. The social model of disability states that we are only disabled by society, not by our physical or mental limitations. Here’s the thing about that, though: I have severe ADHD that disables me even with the modifications I have made to my life, even when I was taking medication, even with the systems and techniques I have in place to keep me on track. I’m not disabled by society when I’m sitting at home stuck in executive dysfunction related inertia, and that’s not an “impairment” either. It’s a full-on disability that I cannot do the things I want to do when I want to do them because my ADHD makes that impossible. That has nothing to do with society’s expectations of me. And ADHD isn’t even really a thing that can be accommodated by general society, so what, we’re only disabled if we’re in school or working a regular job outside the home (and only then if we require accommodations)? I call bullshit on that.
It’s also relevant to note that many people cannot afford glasses, and need them. Are they then considered disabled only because their lack of money makes them that way in that they cannot afford corrective lenses? I think that’s ridiculous.
I’m not fully well read on disability being a societally induced status, as I think “disability” can and does exist outside of any societal structure. For instance, regardless of whether I choose to go outside of my house and interact with others, I still have many conditions that impair and severely affect my ability to function within my own space, body, and mind. With or without assistance, these conditions still exist in my life. Assistive technology does not make one’s conditions disappear, it makes them easier to deal with. This means that the status of “disability” does not go away with assistance. To assume it does seems odd and illogical to me. I’m willing to listen and learn more about this viewpoint, though.