Re: [Authentic_SCA] Medieval Visually Impaired/Blind People (was: Experiment)
- On 09/11/06, Sharon L. Krossa <skrossa-ml@...> wrote:
> In any case, it might be interesting to collect together documentedThe British BBC TV show "worst jobs in History" claimed that the sort
> examples of occupations, etc., of historical medieval blind/visually
> impaired people...
of giant man powered hamster wheels used to drive cranes/winches in
construction of cathedrals were generally manned by blind people.
That it suited better as a fully blind person wasn't subject to the
same fear of heights when they couldn't see how far up they were
constantly. And could put in a useful days work, needing only to be
lead to work at the start of the day. This is hardly a citation, but
a starting point for research.
I can imagine a range of manual jobs being given to sightless people
eg polishing or sanding objects, braiding, turning a handle, etc. If
many were considered charity cases (feel free to object to this) then
they might be cheap labour for repeditive jobs- working only for basic
food and lodging with no extras.
- I think sight helps a lot when sanding or polishing. Just my 2 cents, don't
mean to contradict you.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Actually, I think nearsighted people whose vision isn't corrected
might have some advantage when it comes to extremely fine work.
The reason for the most common type of nearsightedness is a
difference in the shape of the cornea, which moves the optimum focal
point closer to the eye than it is for "normal" sighted people. So
while it may be harder to focus the eye sharply at far distances,
it's actually _easier_ for nearsighted people to focus at very close
distances, closer than a normal person can focus. Being able to see
clearly at closer-than-normal distances means you don't need as much
magnification to do fine, close-up work -- though of course, HOW
close you can focus depends on just how nearsighted you are. So while
your ability to navigate in unfamiliar environments, recognize faces
at a distance, etc. might be impaired, you might actually be _more_
able to do certain tasks easily (such as fine embroidery) than your
normal-sighted companions. While some form of magnification was
available at some times and places in the Middle Ages, precisely
ground glass lenses were expensive, so being able to do without them
might be something of an advantage.
(This, of course, leaves out all the possible complications -- a good
many people who are nearsighted also have astigmatism or other visual
problems, which might interfere with good close vision as well.)
I also suspect that many people who have never experienced vision
correction might be less aware of limitations and actually might see
better than modern people who _have_ worn glasses. I can certainly
remember that when I first wore glasses (around age 8 or 9) I was
surprised at how much blurrier my vision was when I took them off
than it had been before I ever tried them.
My eye doctor later explained to me that there's a reason for this:
being able to see "clearly" is actually as much a function of the
brain as it is a function of the eye. The eye always presents the
brain with multiple images, varying in sharpness, and with time, the
brain learns to pick out the one that's clearest and ignore all the
others. Glasses, in particular (it's less true of contact lenses)
change the focal distance in such a way that the brain is forced to
choose a _different_ image than the one it would choose without
glasses -- as witness the fact that most people take a few days to
adjust to glasses with a new prescription (I always found that my
feet looked too far away until I adjusted). Then when you take the
glasses off, the brain still chooses the same (new) image, which is
now fuzzy. So someone who's never tried spectacles might very well
see a bit more clearly at a distance than someone who's used to
While I think most people know, I should also point out that physical
disability didn't necessarily "doom" a woman to life in a monastery.
Parents' reasons to dedicate a daughter to a monastery were many and
various, including how much it would cost to provide a marriage dowry
versus a monastery entrance fee, the daughter's own preference,
possibilities for a politically successful marriage alliance and so
forth. A disability that affected the possibility of bearing children
might well tip the balance toward monastery life, since a woman
suspected to be "barren' would be a much less attractive marriage
prospect, but I'm not sure one could say that other disabilities
would necessarily have the same effect. I don't have a lot of data on
this subject, but it would be interesting to find out to what extent
this common stereotype actually is or isn't borne out by the facts.
O (Lady) Christian de Holacombe , Shire of Windy Meads
+ Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Chris Laning <claning@...> wrote:
>Oh tell me about it---
> Actually, I think nearsighted people whose vision isn't corrected
> might have some advantage when it comes to extremely fine work.
My eye Dr. has *estimated* my vision at 5/1400, needless to say my
*clear* vision stops about 3 inches from my nose. (I am literally at
arms length to the eye chart till I can see the "big E" on top.)
However, withen that 3 inches of clear vision I can see things that
most other people can't.
A for instance - when I was younger I had contact lenses (can't wear
them anymore-->sigh<) and I kept the right one frome the left one
straight by the code numbers around the edge. His Nurse told me that
she needed to use the microscope to see them and I wasn't supposed to
know that they were there.
I now work in the electronics devision and I can't tell you how often
my co-workers call me over to "read" the numbers on the parts. They
need to find an open microscope to read them.
So you won't find me at an event without the specs, I would be too
much of a health hazard to myself and the people around me. (tent
ropes disapear and so do the list ropes at a distace of about 3 feet.)
Mariassa Ashgrove (the near blind - thank you glasses)