Karen Arcos

Karen Arcos headshot standing with white cane

Karen Arcos, 30 years old, totally blind

How would you explain blindness to a child?

Being totally blind means I cannot see anything. Imagine if you couldn't see when you open your eyes.

What would you want the world to know about blindness?

I read with my fingers using braille. Braille is a way in which people who are blind read using touch. You might read print with your eyes. Your brain is your body's boss; it is in your head and has many parts. Your eyes tell your brain about what you see around you. Even though you and I read by touching and seeing, the same part of the brain—visual cortex—gets stoked for reading. My brain takes on new jobs because of something called neuroplasticity. Being blind has its perks. Who's going to save you next time you're in the dark?

See people who are blind as people first when getting to know us; look beyond our senses. Describe clearly if guiding blind people somewhere. For example, say "Walk straight until you reach X and Y streets." instead of "Cross over there."

What does it feel like to live with blindness?

Being blind can be fun! When I'm on roller coasters or water rides, I can forget about how high up I am since I can't see the drop distance! I just enjoy the fall safely! However, being blind can also be hard sometimes. When I was little, students tried guiding me the wrong way and laughed at me. I believe in myself and ask for help even when scared.

What brings you joy?

Reading mysteries, baking desserts, spending time with family and friends, and hiking. I also enjoy traveling to new places with others if we all describe!

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