Prompted by Andrea Bocelli: Rather be Blind or Deaf?

The conversation arose because of an Andrea Bocelli DVD Mike and Melina bought me for Christmas. We stood in the kitchen where I had taken my computer, and together we watched and listened to this phenomenally talented man. I cried…because it was so beautiful. His voice, timing and nuance are remarkable; many say the best in the world. A handsome Italian man, as Andrea Bocelli sings, he usually has his eyes closed, and even when the camera closes in on his face and his eyes are open, it is obvious that his eyes are not focused. Andrea Bocelli is blind.

The son of Alessandro (died on April 30, 2000) and Edi Bocelli, Andrea Bocelli was born on September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy, and grew up on the family farm. Having been born with congenital glaucoma, young Andrea had problems with his sight and became completely blind at age 12 after a soccer accident. Despite his misfortune, he showed a great talent for music and began taking piano lessons at age 6. He soon added the flute, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, harp, and drums to his list of musical abilities. Andrea also developed a love for opera at an early age and sang throughout his youth. By age 14, he had won his first song competition. He recalled, “I was one of those children who would always be asked to sing for my relatives. I don’t think one really decides to be a singer, other people decide it for you by their reactions.”

After completing his secondary education in 1980, Andrea attended the University of Pisa and later graduated as a Doctor of Law. He then worked as a court decreed lawyer for a year and used the money to pay for singing lessons with legendary tenor Franco Corelli. To make ends meet, he also performed evenings in piano bars and clubs.

Blind. And so began the talk among us: If we had to choose one, would we choose to be blind or to be deaf?

I’ve considered this question before, and talked about it more than once…and I always decide…I would rather be deaf than to be blind. I can’t imagine living in darkness, having difficulty finding my way, unable to drive a car, not able to hold a book and read, or type on my computer, then see the corresponding marks on its bright screen.

“Not I,” Michael said. “Think about it. If you were deaf, you could never hear music like this, never hear your loved ones’ voices…”

“True…” I granted. And I thought long about being denied the pleasure of beautiful music…and it was terrible to contemplate.

Awful discussion. There is no satisfactory answer, for we who are so fortunate as to possess normal hearing and sight find it difficult to imagine life if either of those important senses were to be taken from us.

And you? If you must choose, would you  lose your sight, or would it be your hearing? Which seems more important to you?

10 thoughts on “Prompted by Andrea Bocelli: Rather be Blind or Deaf?

  1. Pingback: Andrea Bocelli’s Mother Advised to Abort Him | Shirley Buxton

  2. Kitty

    Did anyone respond that is actually deaf/blind or blind/deaf??? I’m curious as Helen Keller answered “blind”. She felt that deafness excluded her from society but blindness didn’t. Interesting!

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  3. Sarah

    Hello, stumbled across this post when I was looking through posts to do with “deafness”…as I often post about deafness myself! An interesting debate here, I’ve had it before myself with others, and yes, I’d choose to be deaf…and I AM deaf, and yet if I was to choose between being hearing or being deaf, I’d choose to be deaf, because even though it’s made life a lot more challenging over the years, it’s part of who I am now. One of my passions is music, yes, I can hear music, despite my deafness, because there’s so many degrees of deafness, it can range from a mild hearing loss, to being profoundly deaf…I was probably born deaf, but it’s gotten worse over time and now I am severely to profoundly deaf in both ears…and yet I couldn’t imagine life without music…and I also couldn’t imagine life without my eyes because I couldn’t get by without being able to see the world around me (even though many blind people can with the help of audio describers etc). There are obviously pros and cons to both being deaf and being blind, but at the end of the day, it’s the same as not having the use of your legs, or having to wear glasses, being deaf doesn’t hinder my experience of life in any way whatsoever…I just won’t ever be able to pick up a phone and talk to those I love – but having said that, we never know what technology will bring us in the future! What I’m trying to say is that being blind wouldn’t impair your life, it would probably enrich it in a way because you would make more use of your other senses and there’s so much support out there, you can get by with trained helpers, courses to help you accept your blindness, dogs for the blind, braille books (so you can still read), braille keyboards (so you can still communicate on the computer), text-voice computer software…and I feel I could go on forever… In the same way, being deaf doesn’t impair your life either; I guess it just depends how you perceive your experiences in life. Sorry for the extremely long comment! If you want to follow me, you can find me over at http://www.starsandrainbows.wordpress.com

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  4. Ahh, easy one for me also, due to my love for photography, my answer is to have my site. Would be hard not to hear my grandson say “I love you mawmaw” but I would rather see the smile on his face.
    I’m still watching you Aunt Shirley, everday ! Thank you for the sweet comment you left on my site !

    Hi, Penny. I think I agree with you, although I can’t imagine never hearing music again. What a great loss that would be.

    Your photography is outstanding. Wish I could be with you to visit some of those beautiful places in Arkansas.

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  5. I am deaf. And it’s a very hard question. I was completely deaf for nearly a year before getting a cochlear implant and the silence was horribly isolating…I was very, very depressed. I am very social and it really cut me off from the entire world. I think I could handle being blind far better. But that’s just me🙂

    Hi, Jennifer. Welcome to my blog. Hope you visit often. I’ve just spent a fair amount of time at your beautiful blog, and learned quite a bit about you–that you have 5 youngsters, and that your implant worked well in one ear, but not the other. Very interesting. I encourage all my readers to go over and take a look at your pages.

    Your view is important for me to hear, and it’s interesting that you believe being blind is preferable to being deaf. What a tough call that would be if any of us had to choose.

    God bless you. I’m delighted that you have found a way to again hear.

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  6. I would definitely choose to be deaf. I think people communicate or recieve communication a lot more with there eyes than with there ears or even their mouths. Kind of like a picture is worth 1000 words. I would rather see what people are doing rather than hear what they are saying. Besides if you want to know what people are doing, thinking or even wearing you can read it on facebook! LOL

    Thanks for your thoughts Lynda. I probably agree. Have a wonderful year.

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  7. Hi Sister Buxton,

    My kids and I have actually talked about this before, and though it would be a difficult decision, we all felt that deafness would be the lesser traumatic of the two, because you could function more independently with deafness over blindness. Still, it would be awful traumatic to suddenly not be able to hear. I would have a really hard time not being able to hear the music in church. I thank God that He has blessed me with the ability to both see and hear.

    The music, the preaching…think how it would be to not ever hear that again…yet I think I agree. I would rather lose my hearing than lose my sight.

    Wonderful thought; likely we will never lose either. Well, that’s not quite true. As we age, nearly everyone suffers a certain degree of both hearing and vision loss.

    Hugs all around!

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  8. I have three grand-daughters who interpret for the deaf and love it. They have established friendships with these people. The ones I have met seem very happy and well adjusted. They just can’t hear what you and I do. I have known blind people and been astounded at how they have developed their other senses. They can tell you so very much about anything they touch little things that I never took the time to see. As they walk they hear many more things than I hear. I do not want to lose either.

    Just my thoughts;
    Mervi

    It is remarkable, Mervi, how when we lose one of our senses, the others seem to become more acute. How did you granddaughters become involved in interpreting for the deaf? At church?

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  9. Martha

    This one is easy for me because I have many friends who are Deaf & they are very happy, well-adjust individuals who treat their Deafness as a CULTURAL difference, not a PHYSICAL difference….Something that we “hearing” people cannot understand. Most of them have never heard as we do, so they do not yearn to hear (or be healed, for that matter!) I don’t see this same cultural fellowship in the blind….no “right” answer, of course; but I feel we need our visual “cues” every single minute to function in daily life – beside the obvious part of missing out on the glorious beauty of God’s great creation.

    Good morning, Martha. I’ve understood before that many deaf people are very happy with their state. I wonder if that is ever true with the blind?

    Have a very happy new year.

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