10 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Blind Person
"I'm obviously not the kind of guy who spends a lot of time sightseeing when I'm on holiday."
I met Stephan Blendinger at an erotic fair in Berlin, while we were both taking a guided tour for blind people. I was there as a reporter, he was part of the group. Stephan is 35 and has been severely visually impaired since birth. He has a one-year-old daughter and also has a blog and a podcast about life with a visual impairment.
In the UK, over 2 million people have sight loss, while 360,000 of them are registered as actually blind or partially sighted. During the guided tour I realised that I hardly knew anything about what daily life is like for blind people. Stephan was so gracious to answer my most banal questions, like how he uses Facebook (with a voice output or a connectable braille display) and if he ever goes to the cinema (yes, the app Greta describes to him exactly what's going on on the screen).
Stephan had some questions for me too. How can I see in so much detail without the impressions confusing my brain? How can I look at the road and the speedometer at the same time when I drive? After the tour, we sat down and chatted.
VICE: Are you turned on by different things compared to people who can see?
Stephan Blendinger: I don't know what it's like for them, but I can't imagine it's that much different – touch, taste, smell. The audio track in porn is usually of pretty low quality, so porn sounds don't interest me much. All that moaning does nothing for me. But if you're watching a video on PornHub, there's a function where a (usually) female voice will explain to you what's going on. And I like listening to audiobooks of erotic literature. Plus: I have two hands that function well and a healthy imagination. Instead of visualising sex, I just imagine touch and the movement of my body. Smells don't conjure up in your imagination in the same way, though.
You've never seen your girlfriend. Would you want to know if people who can see think she's beautiful—or would you rather not?
You can tell me, but I wouldn't care. I think she's beautiful. She feels good, has a great voice and does the right things at the right moment. And I have seen her—just with my hands and not my eyes.