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Disability Issues - Auggie's Blindness


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#1 DLF

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 11:08 AM

I found it interesting, refreshing, that the CA writers chose to create Auggie as a blind person. Their treatment seems different from the mainstream treatment of the disabled as passive, weak, lacking, or "special." In the pilot, at least, Auggie is clearly a source of strength, knowledge, and comfort for Annie. He is confident and independent in his own right. Just curious--any thoughts on how the writers are portraying a blind character?

#2 sweetbleu

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 11:21 AM

I found it interesting, refreshing, that the CA writers chose to create Auggie as a blind person. Their treatment seems different from the mainstream treatment of the disabled as passive, weak, lacking, or "special." In the pilot, at least, Auggie is clearly a source of strength, knowledge, and comfort for Annie. He is confident and independent in his own right. Just curious--any thoughts on how the writers are portraying a blind character?

I concur. I find that Auggie is my favorite character. I know at this point that I'll enjoy him (possibly) more than Annie. He is snarky, fun, intelligent, witty, and charming. He has a great aura of confidence about him and he stands on his own. They balance him out perfectly with him not being perceived as weak, but him not be unrealistically independent. I mean fact of the matter is, he still needs help on occasion, and I like that. I love that he even jokes about his disability and lightens the mood, not being too political correct, it clears the air and makes others more comfortable. I love that he has the job that he has because it shows that certain skills don't stop because one is blind. I think thus far they've done a wonderful job portraying him.

#3 IrishEyes

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 11:24 AM

I have to agree...I think Auggie will be my favorite character also.



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#4 BetaArtemis

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 03:41 PM

I love that with Auggie, they are defying the mainstream belief when it comes to people with disabilities and those who are techies.

Auggie is strong, intelligent, and more than capable of standing on his own two feet, but he is also not afraid to ask for help when needed. It's an amazing balance and incredibly refreshing to see a character with confidence, yet also knows humility.

He is not weak nor is he being perceived that way by his co-workers, clearly everyone around him likes and respects Auggie. His disability has not taken away his personality or who he is.

And also, I like that they portray him as a techie guy, but one who isn't your traditional nerdy bookwarm type, of course, this is made possible by the fact that Auggie was once himself a special operative in the field, so he's already had the flirty personality and the confidence to pull his mission off. Even being blind now and relegated to sitting behind a desk, he still has his skills and is not shy nor all quiet nor nerdy like Television these days likes to lump techies into that category.

Auggie is an incredible breath of fresh air, and Chris Gorham plays him very well.

I am certainly interested to learn more about the character, especially what is it about Auggie that had the CIA keep him around. And I don't mean this bad in any way, but for a blind agent, the CIA sure went to a lot of trouble to keep Auggie around, they give him a laser-guided cane and not to mention able to fit their tech hardware for all his braile keyboards and stuff. There has to be something about Auggie's knowledge or skill that they want or need him for, or else the job of a tech, especially these days, plenty of people can do and CIA isn't a sentimental place to keep a blind guy around, they would have just given him a medical pension and let him go. So clearly, they must have kept him around and went through all that trouble for something, and it seems like Joan, the DPD's director, is quite fond of Auggie.

So I am curious to learn what about Auggie that made the CIA spend all that money to keep him around when they could easily call him a liability. And I hope that the writers will address that eventually.

For now, Auggie is a sure hit! I LOVE HIM!
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#5 Critical_Eye

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 09:52 AM

I thought Auggie was a step in the right direction, although it's regrettable they chose a sighted actor to play him. He doesn't handle the laser cane well yet, but he'll learn. He did manage to avoid a few cliche blind-isms (such as the overly unfocused eyes) pretty well. They must have a pretty good consultant on set.

Other than the laser cane, I didn't notice any particularly advanced technology. Braille keyboards are nothing new, and ADA has required they be in workplaces since its passage. I had more concerns about his level of Braille literacy given he'd only lost his sight fairly recently, but they were vague enough, I suppose he could be literate at this advanced a level.

I was talking to a friend who said she thought the character felt token-ish to her. I'm not as sure about that. It's refreshing to see a character other than someone with "TV autism" or using a wheelchair, and it's certainly a step in the right direction to see portrayals of disability in an entity such as the CIA. I suppose our general level of comfort with disability is sufficiently low that it's rarely portrayed accurately. At least they're trying, and we'll get there.

My pal also commented on how well-adjusted he seemed. I had to agree with that, although a lot of the bonhommie scanned as a front to cover some real anger to me. Jury's out on the actor and what lies under the surface still.

(Not sure what the "kitten heels" remark was supposed to be telling us.)

Edited by Critical_Eye, 18 July 2010 - 09:54 AM.


#6 Wallyhorse

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 06:45 PM

Interesting:

I didn't even realize Auggie was blind. He seemed like a normal person, and the writers did an excellent job showing him as one who actually seemed close to a normal person.

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#7 Summer_Fun

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 02:57 AM

So because he's blind, he's not normal? Great attitude.

#8 DLF

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:55 AM

So because he's blind, he's not normal? Great attitude.


This is precisely one of the reasons I was interested in discussing the way disability is characterized in CA thus far. Like it our not, we all have perceptions and expectations of "normal." Our gender, age, race, abilities, and disabilities (among other things) define what those "normal" or "expected" boundaries are to us, both as individuals and larger communities.

In reading Wallyhorse's comment, I did not sense that he was being derogatory towards the the disabled community. His initial comment that he didn't even notice that Auggie was blind demonstrates the lengths that the CIA goes to, to accommodate Auggie's impairment and remove the socially constructed disability.

Clearly, the writers will make errors in the accurate representation of a blind person in this type of position. And I agree that it would have created a stronger statement to use a blind actor. But I think the discussion that this show has the potential to open up can enlighten a huge audience that may never think about disability other than in terms of what they "can't" do.

#9 DramaQueenBroadway

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 12:22 PM

Interesting:

I didn't even realize Auggie was blind. He seemed like a normal person, and the writers did an excellent job showing him as one who actually seemed close to a normal person.

They said that in one of the first scenes with Auggie. They talked about his accident that blinded him (which, btw, I think was a good idea so that we can get some background on him). I forgot exactly how it happend and what scene it was in, but I do remember them mentioning it.


This is precisely one of the reasons I was interested in discussing the way disability is characterized in CA thus far. Like it our not, we all have perceptions and expectations of "normal." Our gender, age, race, abilities, and disabilities (among other things) define what those "normal" or "expected" boundaries are to us, both as individuals and larger communities.

In reading Wallyhorse's comment, I did not sense that he was being derogatory towards the the disabled community. His initial comment that he didn't even notice that Auggie was blind demonstrates the lengths that the CIA goes to, to accommodate Auggie's impairment and remove the socially constructed disability.

Clearly, the writers will make errors in the accurate representation of a blind person in this type of position. And I agree that it would have created a stronger statement to use a blind actor. But I think the discussion that this show has the potential to open up can enlighten a huge audience that may never think about disability other than in terms of what they "can't" do.

I agree with what you said in the first paragraph completely. I have a learning disability myself and have found that people treat me differently because I'm not "normal" as they see it. But to me, having a disability is normal because I've had it since I was born. I also know many people that had disabilities (some more severe than Auggie's), so I think it's great that USA is putting a blind character in the CIA. Plus, he seems to defy some of the myths about disabled people, mainly that we're dumb or can't do a job because of our disability (I understand he can't be out in the field anymore for safety reasons). Auggie seems to know a lot about the technology the spies use, and how things run in the CIA, and how to do his job (gathering info and such), thereby disproving both myths.

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#10 Critical_Eye

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 01:29 PM

Wally's comment is the kind of typical thoughtlessness we see among too many people. To him, and many others, disability equates with abnormality, thus the use of the word normal. It's this kind of thinking that maintains the level of stigma that disability carries in American society.

Auggie is perfectly normal. What Wallyhorse and others need to consider is that the goal posts shift when a person has a disability and normal is defined differently. The poster above articulates this point far, far better than I ever could.

We, as people without disabilities, generally are insensitive to this, and view everything from our own perspective, then brand people who have disabilities by describing them as he did. To us, disability is something that must be fixed, not simply another kind of normal, and thus the normal/abnormal dichotomy we cling to.

Edited by Critical_Eye, 19 July 2010 - 02:22 PM.


#11 drsalch

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:57 AM

I found it interesting, refreshing, that the CA writers chose to create Auggie as a blind person. Their treatment seems different from the mainstream treatment of the disabled as passive, weak, lacking, or "special." In the pilot, at least, Auggie is clearly a source of strength, knowledge, and comfort for Annie. He is confident and independent in his own right. Just curious--any thoughts on how the writers are portraying a blind character?



#12 drsalch

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:59 AM

Most blind people I know--especially those who were previously sighted--look directly at the person to whom they're speaking, not, as Auggie does, somewhere off into space.



#13 BetaArtemis

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 03:13 PM

I thought Auggie was a step in the right direction, although it's regrettable they chose a sighted actor to play him. He doesn't handle the laser cane well yet, but he'll learn. He did manage to avoid a few cliche blind-isms (such as the overly unfocused eyes) pretty well. They must have a pretty good consultant on set.


While it is unfortunate that a blind actor isn't in this role, I do appreciate the effort that is put in by Chris Gorham and the Covert Affairs production team to make it as real as possible and create a strong confident character that defies the common mainstream belief about people with disability. The fact that they chose to portray the character as blind and actually making the effort to bring realism into the show is admirable, more than enough shows, especially on the big networks, have fallen prey to those old fashion beliefs and stereotypes, so it's nice to see the USA network taking a refreshing and real approach.

I don't know who they have as consultant on set, but Chris Gorham did do a lot of prep work with the Canadian Institute for the Blind when he was preparing for the role. So hats off to the actor and the staff for taking the steps that few in this industry, or the world for that matter, would be willing to take. They didn't take the easy way out, and I do commend them for that effort. :)

Other than the laser cane, I didn't notice any particularly advanced technology. Braille keyboards are nothing new, and ADA has required they be in workplaces since its passage. I had more concerns about his level of Braille literacy given he'd only lost his sight fairly recently, but they were vague enough, I suppose he could be literate at this advanced a level.


Seeing as how he is portrayed as quite intelligent and a quick study, I would not be surprised if he is quite advanced in skills in Braille. We also don't know how long since Auggie was blinded, so maybe it's been a few years and he has done lots of studies for it. That could be a possibility.

It's not really matters of advanced technology but more the fact that the CIA is making the effort to accomdate him. The CIA isn't exactly sentimental and all warm and fuzzy place, so they could easily call him a liability and kick him out, after all, when it comes to missions and matters of national security, they could easily say a blind guy is not what they need and could compromise their missions. The fact that Auggie is placed at such a high position as head of the tech ops clearly means that someone within the CIA wants him around and is willing to go to the distance to keep him. And it's that part that has me curious. It's no doubt that Auggie is smart and good at what he does, but what is it that has the CIA wanting to keep him around when they could easily replace him with other genius comp techies that are crawling out of the woodworks in this internet/comp crazy age and save the trouble on trying to accomdate Auggie's needs?

I was talking to a friend who said she thought the character felt token-ish to her. I'm not as sure about that. It's refreshing to see a character other than someone with "TV autism" or using a wheelchair, and it's certainly a step in the right direction to see portrayals of disability in an entity such as the CIA. I suppose our general level of comfort with disability is sufficiently low that it's rarely portrayed accurately. At least they're trying, and we'll get there.


I agree with you there! The effort made to bring these issues in the forefront is something that USA does quite good at. And I do like that people around Auggie doesn't take his blindness as some sign of abnormality and ignore him. In fact, the people around him doesn't treat him any different and they like and respect him. It's a good start.

My pal also commented on how well-adjusted he seemed. I had to agree with that, although a lot of the bonhommie scanned as a front to cover some real anger to me. Jury's out on the actor and what lies under the surface still.

(Not sure what the "kitten heels" remark was supposed to be telling us.)


He seems like a happy-go-lucky sort of guy, the kind of person who makes lemonade out of lemons and just go with the flow. Of course, I do think there is some anger simmering beneath and quirky/funny surface taht we have no yet scratched, so there is room for that character development, so far so good through! I think for now, Chris Gorham is doing a good job, I'm excited to see more!

As for the kitten heels, I think it was suppose to show both his rather flirty side and the fact that his hearing is quite good. :)

Most blind people I know--especially those who were previously sighted--look directly at the person to whom they're speaking, not, as Auggie does, somewhere off into space.


Most is not all, every person is different. Just because the people you know look directly doesn't mean others should do the same.

So in this case, Auggie staring in a different direction sometimes is not unheard off or unreal. It's simply a different way that some people act.

Edited by BetaArtemis, 22 July 2010 - 03:16 PM.

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#14 FiRocks

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 10:33 PM

Great interview with Christopher Gorham talking about the laser cane and a whole bunch of other stuff: http://www.ramblings...w-chris-gorham/

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#15 SwitchFX

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 11:27 PM

Special operations officers are trained to the point where they can work in pitch darkness. Given that he was blinded during a mission, his skillset is still valuable.

#16 Klytus

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 02:37 AM

I'm find the character's blindness adds to his believability. The fact that he is also thoughtful and has tact adds to the character's perception. He has some cool toys to get around with when he's in the office. He is certainly likable and is my second favorite next to Annie. Actually, I like all the actors. The married couple who had a marriage counseling session which looked like an interrogation in the pilot were unintentionally hysterical.

Edited by Klytus, 24 July 2010 - 02:37 AM.


#17 spycat

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 04:47 PM

Isn't amazing that the writers have constructed this outstandingly
sensitive portrayal of a blind man when the female characters in
this series are so predictably arrayed in high heels and low cut
blouses? Disability issues reign over womens issues every day of the week
in Tinseltown. Retch. Vomit.



#18 Wallyhorse

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:23 AM

In reading Wallyhorse's comment, I did not sense that he was being derogatory towards the the disabled community. His initial comment that he didn't even notice that Auggie was blind demonstrates the lengths that the CIA goes to, to accommodate Auggie's impairment and remove the socially constructed disability.


Exactly, and that was my point.

It was only when I came on here and read that he was blind that I knew about that. Auggie was simply a normal person otherwise, the way it should be, and the writers didn't make his blindness the issue.

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#19 Summer_Fun

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 04:16 PM

Auggie IS a normal person. It's your attitude toward disability as abnormality that's not. I stand my ground -- your use of normal is grossly insensitive, and your superior attitude stinks.

That's the point which you and the poster you quote both missed.

#20 Summer_Fun

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 07:03 PM

It's also important to remember that these are skills that are learned over time, just as with Braille literacy. We know Auggie's loss of vision is fairly recent, and he may not have learned to orient to sound completely as yet. Mobility skills such as use of a sighted guide and way finding come first, social skills like this come much later.




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