16 Nov Blind but sighted
I was surprised to find a blind participant in my recent management assessment. The assessment is both face to face, using role-plays and simulations AND online with psychometric instruments. His participation was a little last minute, so we were not altogether ready with everything needed to give blind people an equal opportunity in the assessment. For example, we didn’t have at hand, the soft copies of all the material; and the online assessments were not altogether screen reader friendly! But faced with the challenge, we responded with speed and he was given someone to “read” the case-studies and convert pie charts and graphs into screen-reader-friendly tables.
In observing this process, I was struck by some new thoughts:
- A blind person relies on working memory far more than a sighted person does. My participant had to keep large chunks of information in his head and manipulate it in order to come out with answers.
- A blind person relies on the content and tone of voice, whereas a sighted person relies far more on visual queues and facial expressions to convey meaning. What is the impact on how he listens, hears and understands things?
- Since he can’t see the way I see, he must “see” things differently… in other words… he has a different line of sight on issues, problems and challenges…. Since his brain is wired differently to enable him to function effectively in a sighted world… he has some completely different brain functions from most of us.
And if these abilities are outside the scope for most sighted people… I decided to rather talk about his super-powers. His disability opens him up to the development of super-powers. And our challenge as leaders is to find the super-power and leverage it, not just in disabled people, but in all of us.