My usual response to being treated as invisible, whether because I’m blind or a senior citizen is anger. But clearly other responses are possible. Consider these books:
In Invisible by Lorena McCourtney, “feisty senior citizen Ivy Malone decides to use her newfound anonymity to catch cemetery vandals in the act. She witnesses a sinister crime and puts her investigative prowess to work,” according to a review on Bookbub.
Or in Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies, just published in print/braille by National Braille Press, the bat uses darkness to her advantage to hunt by echolocation.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and many young adult novels share my more painful feelings about invisibility and being overlooked because of belonging to a minority group. In some ways we stick out like sore thumbs, but in other ways we’re overlooked like we’re invisible.
Invisible: A Memoir by Hugues De Montalembert is the impressionistic memoir of an artist who was blinded in a sudden act of violence, leading to his meditations on what it means to see and be seen. As he says, “Yes, close your eyes, you will see what light renders invisible.”
Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion by David Zweig promotes taking pride in what you do whether others notice or not.
Recently when I was not introduced as an author when all other authors in the room were introduced, I was deeply hurt and angry. As I pondered what to do, I considered the hazards of confronting the person, retaliation and/or a brush off of “Oh, I didn’t see you.” As a psychologist, I know how hard it is to look inside at hurtful behavior and I wrestled with how to say what I needed to say in a way that would invite introspection. Am I being overly sensitive?
To take a break from this quandary, I emailed Public Radio Exchange about the total inaccessibility of their wonderful Public Radio Player app to voiceover users. All voiceover can read of the opening screen is “page 1 of 4”. Imagine how hard I’m drooling! Personal invisibility is hurtful, but invisibility of a huge group of us is intolerable. I emailed the help desk but when I went on the Public Radio International website (the parent company I think) to email them, their form had a visual CAPTCHA. Now I’ll have to wait until I have a sighted reader to help me email them and will add the CAPTCHA problem to the email.
Off to Mass to get inspired. The Gospel today is from Luke “gird your loins and light your lamp”. So I’m supposed to gird my loins to deal with the hurt of invisibility and light my lamp and advocate for visibility.
I checked the meaning of “gird” on dictionary.com and it means “prepare for action”. So I pray, nap, walk in the leaves on a beautiful fall day, use NPR and PRI apps that are voiceover-friendly to catch up on news and await email back from Public Radio Player help desk. Sigh!