Vision

  Mention the words “Seeing Eye,” and most people will associate them with guide dogs for the blind and partially-sighted. Mention the name “Dorothy Harrison Eustis,” and most people will not recognize it, even though she is the woman responsible for founding The Seeing Eye, the first guide dog school in the United States.   Since its inception eighty years ago, The Seeing Eye has trained thousands of people who are visually impaired to use guide dogs. The success of the program has spawned guide dog schools across the country and around the world, and the concept has been further expanded to include service dogs for people with other kinds of disabilities.   Drawing on correspondence, private papers, and newspaper accounts of the day, Miriam Ascarelli chronicles the life of Dorothy Harrison Eustis from her upper class childhood in Victorian Philadelphia to her years as a young mother in the upstate New York boomtown of Hoosick Falls, her widowhood, her failed second marriage to a man thirteen years her junior, and the confluence of events that led to her launching The Seeing Eye. In doing so, Ascarelli reveals both a driven woman and a very private person who shunned media coverage of herself but actively courted it for her organization.  
Traveling Blind is a romance, a travel adventure, an emotional quest, and a deeply reflective description of coming to terms with lack of sight. It reveals the invisible work of navigating with a guide dog while learning to perceive the world in new ways. Although an intensely personal account, Traveling Blind is not simply memoir, for it extends beyond one person's experience to illuminate our understandings of vision informed by the academic fields of disability studies, feminist ethnography, and the study of human-animal bonds. What does it mean to "travel blind"? What is it like to live in a world where things are not black and white so much as shades of gray? How does it feel to navigate through constantly changing imagery that requires changing inner perspectives as well? What can experiences of blindness tell us about sight? The book confronts these questions and more. In a series of beautifully textured stories, the author takes the reader on a fascinating journey as she travels with Teela, her lively ""golden dog," through airports, city streets, and southwest desert landscapes, exploring these surroundings with changed sight. This unusual account of travel will inspire the sighted as well as the blind, offering pointed observations on processes of learning to work with a service animal and on coming to terms with a disability. In remarkably visual detail, Krieger makes palpable an ambiguous world. Repeatedly confronted with social stereotypes (that she should be totally blind and incapable of mobility), she comes to value her own unique ways of seeing and her interdependence with both her animal and human companions. Her descriptions of exquisite natural landscapes and intimate personal moments will touch as well as educate readers.   A companion website to this book can be found at: http://susankrieger.stanford.edu/travelingblind/