Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Profile of blind author Steve Kuusisto

The Gazette, part of the Chicago Tribune, profiled author and Iowa professor Steve Kuusisto on May 19. Kuusisto wrote the 1997 NY Times notable book, The Planet of the Blind, (which is also the name of his blog) and more recently Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening in 2006. (Kuusisto also has a video interview that was part of the Gazette story on his blog site.)

It's a good story and interview that allows Kuusisto to blast some myths about blindness.

"It's not an obstacle to having a good job and a full life," he said of blindness. "Nobody has to have a second-class life. Really, the sky's the limit.

"Blindness is a disability that demands that you find intelligent, useful accommodations at all times, but it's not a life-limiting disability," he said.

A graduate of the University of Iowa (UI) Writers' Workshop, Kuusisto moved to UI in fall 2007 from Ohio State University, where he was part of a disability studies program spanning academic departments.

At UI, he is trying to better integrate discussion about disabilities across the curriculum. He teaches creative nonfiction, memoir and essay writing in the UI English Department, but he also has a joint appointment in the Carver College of Medicine to assist its students in understanding the disability studies perspective. Kuusisto is developing UI's new disability studies program, which will be the first one in Iowa's state-funded universities.