Blind Athletes – 5 Facts You Didn’t Know

Blind athletes now have more opportunities to compete with sighted athletes, there are a few differences for blind athletes that aren’t present when competing in a sighted environment.  This article is written to shed some light for sighted people concerning blind athletes.

#1.  Modifications May be Needed

In the last Spartan, I ran, one of the obstacles involved athletes carrying a 35-pound sandbag up and down stadium stairs.  The obstacle itself is not particularly physically challenging for me, however,r to do so safely I need one hand for my white cane and one hand for the railings on the steps.  This leaves me with no way to safely carry the sandbag. The modification for this is simple – a laundry bag with shoulder straps and a luggage strap holding the shoulder straps in place.

#2. Sighted Guides Help Blind Athletes Navigate

Sighted guides make obstacle races, marathons, and other races possible for blind athletes.  They guide in a few ways depending on the athletes’ needs.  Runners use a tether between themselves and their guide.

I have enough vision to see my racing companion, so much prefer to use my cane and get verbal feedback from my guide about where to turn and anything in the path I need to know about before my cane reaches it, such as steps when I’m running.”

#3.  Most Competitions Arent Disability Friendly

Most of the things in this world are not designed with blind athletes in mind.

I’m still searching for a modification that will allow me to get a running start on the walls we are supposed to scale without running face first into the wall!”

#4.  Blind Athletes want To Be Treated Fairly and Equal

In open events, there is no prize at stake, some refs will suggest cheating or at least will allow you to bend the rules.  this special treatment only communicates that I’m not skilled or strong enough to complete the task at hand, which is unacceptable to me.

#5.  People Often View Blind Athletes as Inspirational 

Many people applaud a blind athlete and view them as inspirational.  This is sometimes insulting to the disability world as they are seen as “inspiring” for doing ordinary daily tasks as simple as shopping or going for a walk. Being a disabled athlete is however very different and it is inspirational.