Sunday, 30 May 2010


I have recently started playing Go the board game in a Go club in london, I travel there by train, then tube, then it's a short walk to the venue. just about every single time I make the journey there will be people making remarks such as "it's absolutely amazing you can do this when you cannot see...", "how can you memorise the steps you have to take..." etc etc - they are of course referring to walking up and down stairs, going through the tube station.

I think these people, or indeed most people, are misunderstanding what disability as far as being blind is concernned actually means. let me explain by my experience in playing Go.

Go is a highly complicated board game, the playing area is more than 4 times that of Chess (19x19 compared with an 8x8 board), the degree of freedom is quite possibly many thousands times more than Chess. I can certainly see that I have a lot of difficulties in actually playing the game well because it is very hard to keep track of what is going on all over the board. however, many people especially at the beginning experience the same. the most difficult thing for me in playing Go is actually finding the oppotunity to play it, and also the oppotunity to watch other people play in order to improve, let alone all the books, magazines etc that are never available in any accessible format understandably. this is by far the biggest disadvantage to me, because I can only really learn by playing a game myself, I cannot learn from watching other people's games. this is real disability.

every single blind person can walk up and down stairs, and should be able to travel on their own to wherever they need to, or do shopping, or whatever, if they can't they are not just blind they have other problems. but the real disability is really not being able to observe, learning is heavily restricted - that's what people need to understand and if they are kind enough, try to help out with. don't amaze at those who can travel, amaze at those who somehow manage to learn things that are highly restricted to observations.

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