When I became blind one of the groups of people I struggled with the most was not children but the Latino community. They were polite while speaking English at bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, but as soon as I began to speak in Spanish, they would flock to my side to share remedies that could possibly get me my sight back. Some involved prayer while other antidotes were radical dietary regimens such as drinking horse radish tea for one year or eating five carrots everyday.

During a late night phone chat with my friend Flor, we both got on the topic of Latinos and blindness. Equally annoyed with the constant attempts at being “saved” by our people, we both brain stormed possible causes for this behavior. As blind writers, we could not really dive very deep into anthropology, sociology or psychology, but we were able to criticize Spanish novelas.

“It’s those freakin’ novelas!” I told her in an agitated tone. She agreed and began to list various examples of characters in novelas that became blind but mysteriously get their sight back – offering the viewer the unrealistic notion that no one stays blind. We both agreed to do something about it; Flor would start a Spanish blog where she would talk about being Latina, a mom, and blind. My project was to write a Spanish novela that portrays realistic depictions of the blind.

My project which I am currently calling “Lo Que Mira El Amor” is still in its infancy and may take longer than expected to finish.

A few months ago I was asked by PG&E to be their keynote speaker for Hispanic Heritage month. My novella may be months or years away from completion, yet I’m pleased that I don’t have to wait that long to start engaging Latinos in dialogue about disabilities. “Insights: the Differences That Make Us All Similar” is taking place today Wednesday, September 28th 2011 at 5:30pm in the PG&E auditorium 77 Beale Street, San Francisco CA.

***Belo Cipriani is a freelance writer, speaker, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. Learn more at belocipriani.com.
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Belo Cipriani is the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams. He is a disability advocate, a spokesman for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and is currently the national spokesman for 100 Percent Wine -- a premium winery that donates 100 percent of proceeds to nonprofits that help people with disabilities find work.