How do people, who have been blind since birth, perceive our world? This is a question that consumed my mind earlier today when I happened to see a young child, around four years old, walking on the sidewalk with his mother. On any normal occasion, this would be something I overlooked. However, after taking a second glance at this child, I could tell there was something different. The young boy had a long, white cane that he poked out in front of him with each hesitant step, and appeared to have a glazed look over his eyes, as if oblivious to all of his surroundings. It was no question to me that this child was blind. As I continued my walk back to my dorm, some questions emerged. How did the child envision this world? Could he dream, and if so, what of? Could his mind make out shapes, textures, or colors? The stream of questions was endless.
After doing some of my own researching, I came to some conclusions. When it comes to the question of blind people dreaming, answers range, however it was typically stated that people who have been blind since birth have dreams with only sound factors, no images. In an article from the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois, a blind woman states that "blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams."
Branching off from the dreaming question, it seems only reasonable to believe that if blind people cannot see in their dreams, their minds don't conjure up pictures in their minds to suit real-life objects. They may see forms, shapes, textures, but can they actually think of it as an object since they have never seen an actual object before?
As I searched for answers, they varied. Some say the blind see nothing at all in their minds and dreams, some say the blind see many abstract blurs and colors in both, and some even say that the blind can make ideal pictures based on what their four other increased senses can understand. I can't conform to any of these, because I don't believe that anyone will ever be able to fully understand this situation, unless they are involved.
Going back to the young child that caused this array of ideas, it seems cruel that such an innocent individual would be punished with the absence of this wonderful gift. It causes one to think how things that seem so miniscule in our everyday lives can be such a treasure. On my walk back, I made sure to take in the reds, oranges, and yellows of the gorgeous late September trees, the skyline of Minneapolis beyond the Mississippi River and the west bank, and the historically beautiful buildings of the UofM. How often we take our sight for granted.